Aspen update

February 13, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

The Aspen FR30s in Music Room 2 have so enamored me (and everyone that has had the chance to listen) that I’ve taken Octave Record’s new mixing console out of the studio and plunked it down right in front of the sweet spot listening position. The setup is funky. I am using a Taylor Swift album cover as a mouse pad. But the sound. Oh, the sound is hypnotic and the clarity and transparency—the sweetness of the midrange!—are unlike anything I have experienced in over 50 years of listening. I find it hard to break away from the room.

Future Octave releases will be mixed on these amazingly revealing speakers. We are making magic.

I can’t wait to share them with you.

The first pair have shipped! I was going to video their departure but the truck showed up when I was in the middle of a management meeting. Ugh.

Next week we’ll ship out 10 more pair. Each is on its own pallet, and in this country, hand-delivered by our hand-selected shipping company that will bring them to your door, take them to where you wish them to reside, and unbox them for you.

Within the next few weeks, Chris Brunhaver (the speaker’s designer) and I will travel to several of the first owner’s homes and help set them up and (of course) video the whole experience so you can see how this is going to work and what their reactions will be (these are some of the easiest speakers to setup I have ever worked with).

In the meantime, we’ve managed to sell out Round 3 reservations and have opened a 4th.

Round 4 will ship by August 31st.

I know that’s an awfully long time to wait, so if you’re interested in upgrading your system to these magical speakers, get your reservation in now before this latest round sells out too.

Can’t wait for you to hear the magic these speakers make.

Go here to reserve your pair before Round 4 sells out.

(If you’re outside the United States, don’t fret. Our international distributors have all placed their orders and in April we will begin big shipments worldwide. Several of our bigger distributors will be receiving their showroom samples this month so please reach out and see if your country is among the chosen few)

Subscribe to Paul's Posts

67 comments on “Aspen update”

  1. Bravo Paul!

    Even though my current listening room is too small for the FR30’s & they are out of my loudspeaker budget range, I truly hope that they will take the high-end loudspeaker market by storm.

    There have been quite a few people over the last 6 months that have been bitching & moaning about the price of a pair of these, but realistically if you look at the price of a pair of Wilson Audio’s, B&W’s, Magico’s, etc. (I could name at least another 7 high-end loudspeaker brands but I don’t want to labour the point; if you can believe that 😀 ) in the same SQ range then, in my opinion, these are not overpriced at all.
    I can only believe that with your decades-long track-record for designing & delivering top-notch home-audio products to the audio market, that the ‘aspen FR30’ floorstanders will be a great success.

    PS Audio amplifiers with tube inputs & SS outputs & PS Audio loudspeakers with Planar Ribbon tweeters & midranges & conventional cone woofers…could you be anymore mix ‘n match 😉

    Btw Paul, we are still waiting for internal schematic drawings that we asked for nearly three months ago…how’s that going? ✌

      1. Drawings of the internal schematics for the FR30 cabinets, showing crossbracing & internal joins…how they are ‘slapped together’ so to speak 😉

        Also, how long is ‘burn-in’?

        1. Is the FR30 named after you FR? 🙂 I don’t see why internal photos cannot be released. Many speaker companies love to show off their work and innovations. Auto companies do the same by displaying the inner workings of their state of the art engine designs. If it needs proprietary protections one would seek a patent to protect against reverse engineering. Most people want to know everything about what they are purchasing before plucking down the big bucks. They shouldn’t have to tear the speaker apart to know what they bought. Like Pelosi who says we must pass the Bill first before you know what’s in it.

  2. Now wait just a second, wasn’t it not so long ago, there was a post about how studio monitors used to mix in the studio by the engineer being so inappropriate for home listening?

    1. Plenty of companies make speakers that are sold both as studio monitors and consumer speakers, active and passive (ATC, PMC, Adam, Harbeth, Kim, Grimm, just for starters). Plus it’s his audio company and his recording business so he can do what he likes.

      1. Steven,
        With regard to the slow death of ‘The Great Barrier Reef’.
        Young people need to understand that every time they
        buy a new product, manufactured anywhere in the
        world by burning coal or gas, that they are contributing
        to the death of coral polyps in the oceans.
        Then let’s see how many are prepared to give up their
        ‘new toys’ & their ‘disposable consumerism’ way of life
        to save ‘the reef’.
        That’s the acid test…pun intended.

        1. Caitin Moran is a popular and brilliant feminist writer and former music journalist, but you don’t always have to take her too seriously.

    2. You’re right 😉

      I didn’t catch the latest one but found two statements of the past, explaining things in reverse order.

      This one from 2018, telling why there are totally different demands to studio monitors and high end home speakers:

      And this one from 2012 which is great to read, as it shows Paul‘s dream coming true. The dream of having a studio and using the same speaker setup for studio and listening room. Goal reached. Paul didn’t even assume he builds those speakers himself by then 😉

        1. Well if I remember correctly there were some other arguments, too, like different dispersion patterns, an advantage of a more analytical voicing than home speakers should have etc. and I really guess someone who’s mixing/mastering for a lifetime will have add. and partly subjective demands to Paul‘s, but generally you can do whatever you prefer.

          1. This is all rather academic given almost no one has heard or seen measurements of FR30.

            Studio and consumer speakers may be designed for specific uses, whether studio or more, and some can do both well. But we have no idea with FR30.

          2. You are correct, Jazznut, on both accounts. Of course, opinions vary by as many people as there are to give them, but IMHO nearfield monitoring for recording or mixing of material intended to be listened to on farfield stereo equipment makes no sense.

            One of the beauties of Octave Records is that we know our audience. They are people like us who listen to music either on headphones or stereo systems. And, we know the quality of those stereo systems are like ours. We don’t have to worry if the receiver or Apple speaker won’t reproduce certain notes. In fact, we could care less.

            If we can get music to sound perfect on a pair of FR30s in a standard listening environment we’ve reached nirvana for our intended audience.

            1. Yes, to be honest, the idea to mix and master a recording at the same place where we listen to the results on media has always convinced me to a point and I like it. But I think the arguments of the other side are, that you then have all the implications of your listening room and environment in a recording, which is usually the goal to be avoided with a usually more neutral surrounding and equipment in the studio.

              So if you now say, you’re listening room and equipment is as neutral as as a studio surrounding and therefore suited to mix and master recordings, that’s comprehensible. If you say at the same time, that this equipment also fulfills all usually different demands to a home audio situation, all this is a bit harder to follow.

              But as we all know, there’s so much crap produced in dedicated studios, that I think in many cases it couldn’t have been worse in any home environment, especially if it’s so well done as yours.

            2. Luckily most of what I listen to was recorded in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s when recording was at it’s best. If any of the artists I listen to are recording today they still take the quality of recording very seriously.

        2. That is exactly correct, Stephen and one of the beauties of the FR30 is how flat its frequency response is as well its almost zero stored energy. From a measurement point of view few speakers come close.

          I will endeavor in the coming days to post some measurements for us.

          1. Oh, there’s so much to this story, Jazznut, that I cannot share….

            If my hair hadn’t already lost all its color you’d see it turn. Let’s just suggest that for some, change from “that’s the way we do it” to let’s try something new is more difficult than for others.

            1. I understand.
              I guess, and some past stories suggest, that a lot of “we always did it like that” or “I’m used to that” hindered progress or even caused bad quality. On the other hand many professionals probably are professionals because they know what they do and why they don’t use high end home setups for mastering. I have no clue what would be better, but love the discussion, it would fill a thread.

              How relevant for the final sound quality is the monitoring equipment at all, given a certain level is reached already and given an engineer is used to whatever he uses and knows how the outcome sounds at different homes?

              What could it help to mix/master on a high end home speaker? Different and/or better tonality for home situations? If so for which (the rooms with or without acoustic measures)?

              My guess so far was:

              The ideal monitoring precondition for mixing/mastering is reached when…

              …the mastering engineer knows the result of his work on “the end result” (not only one of the various home audio setups/situations)
              …his work is done in an ideally standardized, but at least neutral environment/setup
              …his monitoring process for him (which could be strange or flawed for others) reveals what has to be done for the optimal end result

              If this is correct, it wouldn’t matter what speaker to use, as long as the engineer is used to what he uses. Only if his gear isn’t good enough to notice certain differences, home audio high end does, it should be upgraded. But my impression so far was, that that’s why monitoring gear is designed towards a more analytical character than home audio, which helps the process, even if it doesn’t sound the same.

              Is it a good idea to market a speaker as suited for both? Is it analytically enough for typical mastering and at the same time not too analytical for home audio? I think it needs further arguments why exactly it will be an advantage (for all buyers of Octave recordings, not only those buying the FR30 or yourself even having the same surrounding room and gear) to produce media on the same equipment they are played back at (one) home.

              I would love a thread about this with several pros.

    3. Yes, Barsley, you’re correct. However, as others have pointed out, the opposite may not be true. That is, if your goal is the same as ours at Octave Records.

      Over time I have become increasingly aware of a big disconnect in the recording industry. Studios have their equipment and rarely is it ever the same as home audio. Which is weird since the end goal is something close to home audio.

      The two fields grew up separately, each with their own goals and aspirations.

      One of the beauties of Octave Records is that we know our audience and don’t care about those who are not interested in what we are into. We will make great recordings to be played back on the highest-end home audio systems in the world.

      Given that credo, it’s illogical to record and mix on anything other than the end result.

      1. I remember years ago that some ( certainly not all ) audiophile vinyl ( I’m not sure it was called that back then ) would say on the back cover what speakers and other gear was used in the mixing and mastering. Too bad that it is not that much anymore.

      2. I would bet that 5 time Grammy Award winner Frank Filipetti might see things in a different light than what you have promoted over this last decade. (His work on James Taylor’s ‘Hourglass’ and the track Gaia is certainly known to you) Obviously everyone has their own thoughts concerning audio, but I personally do not subscribe to your rational as presented numerous times concerning studio monitors.

  3. It’s a rock and a hard place. Do you put in an order for several million dollars with a Chinese factory you’ve not used before without your own production management and hope it doesn’t go wrong? Do you start with a few small batches and rely on potential customers’ patience?

    Even in the UK can get a pair of Magico A5 from stock and the B&W are factory made in the UK. Wilson are usually made to order because of the multiple colour options that few others (like Focal) offer, so you can expect to wait, but I got mine ex-demo because they were the colour wife wanted and that they no longer offer.

    There will always be customers that are not prepared to wait, like me. If I want a product, I will buy from what is available, after a home loan or a dealer demo. I was told this week that a product recommended by Jazznut is on 12 months delivery, which means they have no idea if they can deliver, so I’ve gone elsewhere.

    At the end of the day these are commercial decisions and the fundamental difference between PSA and other established brands is that the others have established production capability and know the likely demand for new products.

    1. Your last point is key, Steven. PSA is really just getting started in this category (speakers) and it makes sense to learn how to walk before you run. Establish your supply chain first, then make sure it can consistently supply the level of quality you must have before ramping up production. And of course, make sure your customers are convinced your product is as good as you claim it is. This speaker is still largely sight unseen and unheard. And who knows if Chris will have a break-through discovery next year to justify a Mk II?

  4. Congrats to you Paul on achieving the sound success… & Chris in particular for designing and delivering the speaker part of it to you.
    To finally have the something you’re are so enamored with after 50 years of listening is a pretty big statement.
    Do you listen the V‘s any more, or with the same frequency as you used to?

    I wish the FR30’s fit my room size. It’ll be interesting what the next version down will bring. I saw mention in Stereophile of the low end speaker price of $3K with ‘trickle down technology’. In the over all scheme that leaves room for a couple of models in the middle?

    You need to think about scheduling management meetings around 4:30 pm. It amazing how much can be accomplished in a half hours time. Especially when 1700 hrs fast approaches. 😉

    1. Mike, that’s some of the best advice I have ever gotten. Thanks. The halls of PS somehow seem to empty right about 4:59. It’s odd. 🙂 Short meetings would be a godsend for me.

      I rarely listen to the IRSV anymore. It’s still a cool speaker and in the rare times we get visitors I show it off to them but even to the untrained ear that visits us the FR30s are obviously better.

      The trickle down models will be coming hopefully this year. I’d love to see the next one down a single box model that is less tall and deep, perhaps $10K less and the one after that following that same pattern. We shall see.

      1. Paul,
        Mike & I were playing a guessing game last week & I came up with the
        ‘aspen FR20’ having two less 8″ woofers & two less 10″ ABRs but the
        same 10″ midrange & 2 x 2.5″ tweeters as the FR30 for around US$17k
        & the ‘aspen FR10’ will be something like a Buchardt – ‘S400 Mk2’ at
        around US$7k…there might even be an ‘aspen FR15’ in between those two.
        I’ve got the next 3 years to see if I’m right 😀

        Also, how many playing hours do you &/or
        Chris recommend for ‘burn-in’ of the FR30’s?

  5. Wow. I was just going to say ‘Congratulations Paul!!!!’ And we are talking about coral and some controversy about using the FR30 in the studio !!! I don’t know how you guys do it! Lol. So….


    1. Thanks, guys! I couldn’t be more excited or pleased. What’s fascinating to me as an engineer is watching the process Chris went through to get us where we are. Chris is all about measurements.

      After having lived with Arnie Nudell, one of the world’s great speaker designers, it is fascinating to witness the difference between the two. Arnie would tweak, listen, measure. Chris measures, tweaks, measures, tweaks, until way past the point I get bored. And then we listen.

      If measurements aren’t what Chris is hoping for he digs down to find the root cause in the driver, cabinet, or construction. Anyone else I have worked with instead fixed the problem as best they could in the crossover. Not Chris. I recently marvelled at the process he went through to fix a 2dB bump in response of the midrange—something easily fixable in the crossover. No way. After a few days of intense measurements and inspection he figured out the midrange had been improperly mounted by 1/10th of an inch. He 3d printed a gasket to solve the problem and voila! The frequency response anomaly vanished. The crossover remained untouched.

      I could go on. What an amazing process to watch.

      1. Hi Paul,
        in my opinion Chris is on the right side, it is better to solve a problem at its source than constructing a patch. I am very excited how the press will rate your masterpiece. In Germany the sound quality mainly depends on price, sad but true.
        I wish you every success, keep going this way…

  6. Hi Paul, This is such great news and i know you are so pleased as this has been such a long term goal for you. I think about the progress of your company in the past twenty years going from such humble products as the Ultimate Outlet and Lab Cables, to the FR30’s and PP P20. Even though you are not a youngster, your drive and work ethic would put most 40 year olds to shame. Truly Congrats are in order to you, your audio family, and to Chris.
    Be Well.
    Kent Tager

    PS: As a few mentioned above, the FR30’s are just too big (and expensive) for my situation, but boy oh boy do i look forward to some of the smaller models. They may be the ticket to finally make me want to part with my wonderful Thiel 3.7’s.

  7. Confirmation if you wish of Chris Brunhaver’s knowledge — he features in some earlier episodes of the “hifi podcast”

    Always full of deep experience.
    (But I wish their voices were less alike)

  8. Congrats! I knew if ANYONE could find a use for a Taylor Swift record, it would be you! LOL
    Snarkiness, aside…great to hear about the FR30s. I wish you all the success! Hope to hear them one day.

    1. I’ll do my best to get photos of the crossover as well as release CAD drawings of the inside bracing. Just been slammed and have been told to stay away from Chris for the next few weeks as he is on deadline to get speakers out the door and finish documenting the product (our engineers are pretty anal as far as having every little screw and nut accounted for in drawings and details).

  9. Just out of curiosity, have you ever tried to make a live-in-the-studio recording where all of the musicians play together in the same space and the the console has been set up to feed what is de facto the final stereo mix into the DSD ADC. This unmodified file will then be used as the to make the SACD. Sort of like a direct to disc recording where the console goes directly to the electronics for the cutting lathe. I know there are many good reasons for doing things the regular way (missed cues, microphone bleed, unexpected overload, etc. etc.) and everything needs to be well rehearsed and set up properly before hand; no “We’ll fix it in the mix.” Sure it would likely be less than perfect, but this could make for a very interesting recording. If you really want to go full tilt purist, you could use a single stereo pair of mics or even (gasp!) a single omnidirectional mic for a monophonic recording. Hey, it worked for Sun Studios.

    “To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable!” — Ludwig van Beethoven

  10. It’s great to hear that the new speakers perform so well at both ends of the process. I’d like to hear a bit more about “Octave Record’s new mixing console”. I take it this is a more recent one than the Studer, as I can’t imagine ‘plunking’ the Studer down in your listening room! I would love to see some more posts about the development of Octave records front end – the thin end of the wedge – where the sound is captured before being digitized. Are you designing, or have you already created, some analog electronics to connect all those lovely microphones you showcased in a post recently?


Leave a Reply

Stop by for a tour:
Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm MST

4865 Sterling Dr.
Boulder, CO 80301

Join the hi-fi family

Stop by for a tour:
4865 Sterling Dr.
Boulder, CO 80301

Join the hi-fi family

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram