Cat’s out of the bag

August 31, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

In case you have yet to see the latest issue of Stereophile Magazine, I wouldn’t want you to be the last on the block to know what’s going on.

In that latest issue is a two-page color spread showing for the very first time our long-awaited FR-30 loudspeaker.

At 60″ tall it’s not as big as the IRSV it’s pictured in front of, but it’s not small either. The FR-30 features 4 custom designed ultra low distortion long throw 8″ woofers supplemented by 4 10″ side-mounted passive low-frequency radiators. Ribbon tweeter front and back and a 10″ ribbon midrange. No internal amplification, this speaker will light up the room with as few as 100 watts per channel.

It’s been a long time coming. To my eyes and those of the few that have been lucky enough to see them, they’re are a thing of beauty.

Hopefully you can make it to RMAF this year to hear them (and hopefully RMAF actually happens!)

And sonically? Hang on to your hats my friends. Hang on to your hats.

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97 comments on “Cat’s out of the bag”

  1. That looks like really good design. I like the base a lot, and by making it appear to float it takes weight out of the look. It looks like the front is machine cut in three parts, which seems very effective and allowing a nice scalloped look. If the drivers are 8″, it looks like quite a narrow enclosure, which is attractive to many. I wonder if at any time it was considered rounding the top in the same way as the bottom. If there are 4 passive radiators on the side, that’s 8 drivers in the lower two-thirds of the enclosure, so I wonder how structural rigidity is maintained, as that’s a lot of driver and not a lot of enclosure. The designers must have put a lot of thought into the construction.

    p.s. Had a look at Stereophile and cannot see anything. One speaker stuck out as beautiful, something called R8 Arrete, which costs $70,000, a large chunk of which seems to be on CNC aluminium and burr walnut. If this FR30 is coming in under $20,000, never mind what it sounds like, I’m impressed.

    1. p.p.s. I see the concentric midrange and tweeter ribbon has gone. That makes sense. Piega designed theirs 25 years ago and it apparently costs a fortune to make. I thought the original PSA design was a fudge.

    2. 4 drivers Steven.
      You can’t call an ABR (passive radiator) a driver, since it (they) do not have a motor.
      Being forced to move by the air generated by the motor of another driver does not count.

      1. Appreciated, but that’s 4 x 10″ and 3 x 8″ cut-outs in the enclosure. Must pose a challenge for the bracing or however it’s constructed inside.

        1. Ok, I understand your point.
          If It was a ‘Magico’ it would be made out of
          cross-braced 6061 aircraft-grade aluminium.
          Maybe PS Audio has chosen a similar product
          with rock-solid cross-bracing.

    3. I had a look through my copy of “Stereophile” as well and nothing in there about this speaker. The only PS Audio advertisement in my copy is a smiling photo of Scott on a two page spread. This must be coming in a forthcoming issue that us mortals don’t have copies of yet!!

        1. Paul I take it that you have seen the review and already gave your manufacturer response. My guess is class A or high class B at worse and highly recommended by the reviewer.

    4. Thanks, Steven. That means a lot. You’ll be less impressed because the FR-30 is likely hitting the market at $25K, still a major bargain for what you’re getting (IMHO).

      Structurally it’s a thing of beauty inside, one any structural bridge engineer would admire. It’d be fun to make one of those 3D models so you can see the internal bracing structure.

      The industrial designer, Myles Hammond, did some great work and you have a good eye. His words too were making the heavy beast float with that base made it look light when in fact it’s more than 200 pounds.

      Myles did present to us some renderings where the top too was rounded but we liked the contrast of this better.

      The speaker is rather deep. I’ll be anxious over the coming weeks to show some side views so you can get a better feel for it.

      The front baffle sculpting was so complex our 3d program, Solid Works, couldn’t handle the angles and we had to acquire a plug in for the complex geometry. But it adds a touch of class that really helps.

      1. Good morning Paul!
        There is one question, I forgot to ask you about the FR30 speakers yesterday.
        Can these speakers be driven by just about any amp?
        I’m asking because, I mostly have low to mid powered amps that are all tubes.
        The most highest powered tube amp I have, is my Jolida JD-1000P.
        It can crank out 150 watts per channel in to 4 8 and 16 ohms.
        I’m also looking at a Vac Amp Signature 200 IQ all tube amp.
        It can put out 100 watts per channel from 4 to 16 ohms.
        It can also do 200 watts mono bridged.
        Oh, by the way, can I both mix and master using the FR30 speakers too?
        Thanks in advance!

  2. Congratulations! Hope to see more of it soon, but very interesting looking so far.

    Also the concept of two directional chassis above ear height (as I assume by this size) is at least unusual…will be fun to experience more about them from now on!

  3. I’ve often said, most speakers sound like they look.
    It’s difficult to judge the look from the Stereophile print ad.
    From the speculation, expected something more furniture grade.
    A four-way design, the crossover must be interesting!
    How do they sound?

    Mercury enters retrograde the last week of September.
    RMAF arrival and set-up day is a Dark Moon.
    Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter & Neptune have been retrograde since late spring and will finally begin to go direct in early October.

    Pay attention to the girl scout motto: be prepared!

    1. Old Doctor Who (Mk. IV) minor antagonist: ‘I am a Great Astrologer. The future revealed. The past explained. The present … apologized for.’ Or words to that effect. The Doctor is not impressed, but never-the-less offers him a jelly baby from his omnipresent white paper bag of the candy. Pockets (possibly dimensionally transcendent) in his customary great coat (and not to forget the very long scarf) are so useful.

      1. Astrology, just like psychiatry, is an incomplete science though the former does have certain entertainment value imhe. 66 % of those who attend University to study psychology are there to work on their personal issues.

        As far as the speaker is concerned, i concur with jb4’s assessment, it is reminiscent and inspired by the work of Danish Borresen and Raidho designs and just a smidge of the Canadian Paradigm Persona 9H.

        We already have a pretty good idea how the midrange and top end will present themselves. The great unknown is how the mid bass and low frequencies will integrate with the upper frequencies to present a complete and balanced musical presentation.

        McGowan has easily invested $750K on this project without shipping a single unit so one can only imagine how anxious he is to move forward. The other unanswered question is will this product launch fly along the traditional PS Audio in-home 30 day audition guidelines or will they execute a travel to Boulder headquarters showroom for a proper PS Audio System presentation / audition program and then reimburse travel expense upon completion of a sale?

        Recall the line from Indiana Jones; “I don’t know, i’m making this up as i go!”

  4. Lightyears away from the 1st (and 2nd ?) design, I think.
    And as far as I can see on the photograph, a change for the better.
    A fresh, modern, not bulky look.
    But of course we can’t judge a speaker by its cover. So let’s wait and see (hear).
    If I count the speaker units I do not understand the text of today’s post…
    Is that just me or is it not the FR30 in the photograph ?

    1. Definitely the FR-30 in the picture. Did I mess up? Do you not see the 4 8″ woofers? You can also see the 10″ midrange and the tweeter. What you cannot of course see is the 4 side mounted passive radiators nor the rear tweeter.

  5. The base looks like the Townshend Seismic Isolation Podium. That would be a good thing as they work magnificently, but I’m not sure Max Townshend would be that happy. If that is the case, the knobs I presume provide adjustable spring loading. There must be something to that, otherwise there would just be spikes.

  6. I’m pretty sure that George Jetson of ‘The Jetson’s’
    had a pair of those floorstanders in his living room.
    I vaguely remember ‘Rosie’ running a feather duster
    over the top of the right-hand side one in an episode.

    Paul, my KRIX – ‘Harmonix Mk2’ floorstanders are
    also designed with the squawker above the tweeter.
    Could you explain the benefit(s) of this design compared
    with the usual tweeter above the squawker layout.

    Oh, btw, congrat’s! 🙂

    1. FR, Some speakers have the tweeter below the mid-range to keep the tweeter height closer to the ear position when the “average” human is sitting in the “average” chair.

      1. Hi Tony,
        Not in the case of the KRIX.
        Even with them sitting on 3 IKEA bamboo chopping boards, the tweeters are still about 4″ too low.
        Another friend of mine in Malaysia has a pair of Audio Solutions – ‘Figaro M’ floorstanders & same thing (but worse); midrange above tweeter but his tweeter is even lower than mine…way lower than ear level & he is 5’8″…’average’ height (average back length)

        Magico – ‘A5’; 113cm tall with tweeter at the top.
        Audio Solutions – ‘Figaro M’; 112cm tall with tweeter in the middle.
        KRIX – ‘Harmonix Mk2’; 104cm tall with tweeter in the middle.

        The Magico – ‘A5’ is the closest to ear level when sitting on an average height seat.

        1. FR, Magico S7 – 137 cm tall, tweeter below the mid-range. We sit in two Barcelona chairs, which are low seating, and the tweeter is above our ear position. As I said, average human, average chair and always, YMMV.

  7. That’s a hell of a cat, and I can’t even imagine what the bag looked like.


    This corner of the world is waiting with eager anticipation. Congratulations to you and the team for making it to the launch.

    Thanks, Paul.

  8. Paul, Congratulation to you and the PS Audio team! We need a thumbs up emoji.

    I assume more details will follow, such as enclosure material, cone material, etc.

    1. Thanks, Tony. I can’t wait to share with everyone the details. These woofers are a thing of beauty. We’re working now on refining sound quality. Darren and Chris are hard at it with Dunlevey’s, KEF Blades, and Wilson Sashas for reference.

      I think we’ll turn some heads. BIG sound from these beauts.

      1. If the FR-30’s can ‘beat’ the Sasha DAW’s
        then you’ll definitely have a winner there Paul.
        I have no idea how you can get to sleep these days 🙂

      2. Paul, It is an interesting positioning choice you made going after $25-$30k floor standing speakers. I do agree on using the KEF, but I am not impressed with Wilson’s. Maybe a Magico?
        Interestingly, Magico uses a Klippel to measure their speakers. I would be curious if you did the same thing. Testing your speakers and listening blind versus your choices would be terrific.
        On the other hand, for $25k you can get D&D plus a RME DAC and a mac mini as a server and keep $10k left over for whatever you want.
        Kii BXTs are $10k more but you don’t need amplification and the speakers, D&D or Kii, “learn” about your room so you know you will get the proper sound quality.
        I presume that “smart” speakers were not your target audience. When I decide to replace mine, this will be the way for me.
        You can decide to run DSP in your mac or DAC but then you wouldn’t be able to use DSD to correct for room interactions.

        1. You can get all sorts of things for $25k. I’m pretty sure there are lots of people who will buy these and barely look at the price or work out how many boxes of Cheerios of high class ladies of the night they could get for the same money. Not clever to judge people by how they spend their money.

        2. I am not big on DSP but I will say the drivers Chris designed were (and are) all Klippel tested. The manufacturer we went with has a full Klippel system. What a fantastic piece of equipment. Maybe someday we can afford one.

          1. This is good news that Chris tested them.
            I don’t believe in DSP for frequencies above the bass. This is where the room interaction matters most, as you know.
            For midrange and high frequency, a well designed speaker should not require modifications to the tonality.

  9. Congratulations, that looks like a great speaker. I’ve always preferred a dark finish for speakers but the looks of those are exceptional, without too much brightwork on the front. I’m also impressed by the stands, too many I’ve seen looked stressed or even insubstantial (though I know they aren’t). Those look good and beefy.

    On a personal note, we got lucky and didn’t get any real damage from Ida. I greatly overprepared for everything except what the problem is turning out to be. That being getting my wife back from Washington state without making an overnight trip to a somewhat distant airport. When I talked to her last night I was ordered (quite literally) to find a way to get her home. lol. Her flight into New Orleans is scheduled for Saturday, keep your fingers crossed for me.

        1. OHT,

          Glad Ida damage skipped you.
          Sounds like you’re under some strict “orders” 😉
          I hope it works out or you might want to start planning the road trip to the next closest airport to the west. ✌️ Overnight or not…

          1. Thanks! Yeah I’m afraid a trip to Memphis is in my future. I probably won’t know if the NO airport will be open for her flight until Thursday. They’re updating day by day so I’m still hoping. Round trip to Memphis is in the neighborhood of 500 miles which is a stretch for me to do in one day anymore. At least we’ll be able to get some good BBQ!

            1. Up there a day early….
              Leave at 6am be there at 2pm. Get a hotel to freshen up get some bbq and maybe some good live music and a beer or 2.
              Then sleep in and arrive at the airport just before she lands.
              You’ll be all rested up and can use the line “I can’t wait to get you home so we’re headed there now”

              Just one idea… I hope you don’t have to go to that extent…

      1. Looks like money well spent on the design effort, Paul. Glad to hear you’ve got a dark gray planned, as a lot of us like to listen in the dark. I guessed $30k when I first saw the photo. Hope you can send a pair out to Capitol Audio Fest. I’d love to hear them. Best of luck.

    1. We got out of Dodge too. So we’re in limbo until they fish the transmission lines out of the river and get power restored. It’s strange being a refugee.

      1. That stinks, hopefully they’ll get on with it and we can all go back to something approaching normal. Normal for a pandemic anyway. I never knew they had the xmission lines over the river. Laying them on the bottom seems like a no brainer to me. It might cost more initially but short of a ship sinking and cutting them they should be well out of harms way.

      2. Last time we had to go out of our house (Lincoln, NE), it was due to a major freezing rain/ice storm. The power was out for about 3-1/2 while the city and utility company took care of downed tree limbs and fixed the power lines. We had a still little kidlette, so I tried calling around for a motel to stay at. The first several places were either booked up or also without power. Finally, on a whim, I called the ‘luxury’ hotel in town where my wife and I had spent our wedding night. They had 3 rooms available, so I reserved one. Not cheap, but not a total budget buster either. The aforementioned little kidlette had started beginner swimming lessons the summer before and was delighted by the small swimming pool in the basement.

        Best wishes for the victims of Hurricane Ida and the California and adjacent wildfires. We were able to return to our house in essentially the same condition as when we left, so ours was more of an unplanned vacation rather than a refugee situation.

  10. Paul, big congrats to you and your amazing team!
    FR30 are terrific! Contemporary design matching that tremendous work of superbly talented team that was done to create them. I bet they’re going to sound amazingly!
    Good luck on the final tweaking!

  11. Best wishes to you and your entire team in what must have been a Herculean effort to bring PS Audio into the realm of speaker design. If memory serves me correctly, this is the fourth iteration of your dream speaker design and I’m sure there’s a lot of excitement in the air as well as incredible sound.

    I’m trying to recall the buzz over your initial introduction of the first design at RMAF(?) which I read was the talk of the show. I can only imagine what the reviews are going to say. I’m getting the feeling there will be a lot of superlatives thrown around.

    I do have one question. What is your confidence level that the FR-30’s sound fantastic with all musical genres to call them a speaker for every listener?

    Once Again, Best of Luck!

  12. I really like the look of the new FR-30 speakers and I’m looking forward to reading about them sometime soon,I was not so keen on the Scandinavian style chair leg look that was muted as more furniture than speaker.
    Is the implications from the photo that the FR-30s will be bigger sonically than the IRS V,unfortunately 25k more with import duty and VAT in the UK is not in my price range.
    Now to the most important thing is this design scalable up and down as there is never any mention for the Stellar speaker range,I do hope this has been developed in tandem so it will not be to long before everybody that wishes to can join the club.
    Well done Chris Brunhaver and Myles Hammond.

  13. Congrats to Paul and all the staff at PSA! The new FR30’s certainly compete very well in the ergonomic/modern/room presence aura realm and if their sound just matches their looks, they’ll be a big success in the audiophile world!

    Would have loved to hear them at RMAF, but “H. Ida” has changed any possible trips out-of-town…way too much to take care of (refugees for now), but blessed all family and friends are Alive and Safe!! 🙂


  14. Purrrrdy! “Two page spread” – makes me envision grown men drooling as the rotate their Stereophile magazine sideways and open up the FR-30 centerfold…
    You must be absolutely and deservedly tickled like a new father! I hope to experience them one day. If you need someone to tour them around Canada – I’m your guy!

  15. Paul, congrats to you and the team on this one.

    It appears each cabinet has three sections. Do they separate and plug together to make handling easier?

    Also, if I remember correctly, when you began talking about designing a PSA speaker you mentioned a few different models/price points. Not to jump ahead but this design appears to be adaptable with a reduced number of drivers for a lower priced model, can you say anything about that yet?

    Lastly, that’s “Dunlavy”. And quite a good reference point for comparison I might say.

  16. Multiple 8″ woofers are the way to go. Look great Paul. No doubt sound great too. Congrats. I will be looking for that October issue of Stereophile.

  17. Very pretty and very nice.
    $25k is outside of my level of comfort, but I understand the people that want to pay for this. I just upgraded my office speakers to Neumann KH-310s. Though my office is not big, I think I will get the KH750 subwoofers….No separate amps!
    Will you have Klippel data for them? Will you let Erin measure them? It would be great to have objective measurements.
    Is there any reason you decided not to have a wave guide around the tweeter? Or does it have good dispersion on its own?

  18. Good looking design. The ‘floating’ base does give it the illusion of lightness. Frankly, I thought the previous one looked like two picnic/car camping ice chests stacked end to end. I once owned a pair of the white plastic clad Advent 2s, but I followed Mick’s advice and painted them black. The charcoal gray option would probably my personal choice ($25k? yeah, in my dreams).

  19. I agree with others. Looks great. The base is sophisticated and modern. Are the front, back and sides of the speaker all vertical? I like that there is no internal amplification to go wrong. How low (Hz) does it go? Is the treble/tweeter module detachable from the base, or is the reveal between the the treble/tweeter section and the base just cosmetic?

      1. Joseph, Thanks for the link. It really makes it clear what the foot print really looks like and that the enclosure is a polymer of some type ( e.g. Wilson Audio ).
        If I were going to have these speakers charcoal grey would be my choice.

        1. Color is a big design factor. Light colors make the speakers look bigger in scale. Darker colors make them look smaller and less intrusive. In a large room white or silver speakers can be gorgeous. In a small room, black or dark gray speakers may be the better visual choice.

  20. Ok, much prettier than the previous really ugo rectangular ikea looking ones… phew! not that I can think about shelling out $25k… wonder how much of that is to cover the previous gazillion iterations…

  21. Great job, I like the look of the final design a lot! Looking forward hearing them at RMAF! If that is the medium version of the new speaker line I’m really looking forward to the big version, must be one incredible speaker 🙂

  22. Hi Paul, I don’t normally post but the new speakers are just stunning. I’d buy them as floor art alone.
    It appears that apple isn’t the only one with talented design people. If they sound like they look……..
    You are to be congratulated for the dictum that the most important investment in a company is the people you employ. Clearly you believe this and you and your team should get all the plaudits they deserve.
    These are speakers for the 21st century and appear to push many sonic boundaries.
    After such a long gestation, I have no doubts as to the reviews.
    Having said that, you just can’t please all the people all the time, just 99% will do!

    1. Thanks for posting this! We hired a wonderful design team out of Canada called Studio 63. Miles Hammond and Brett Hooper were the principal design gurus on the FR30 and it is truly a work of art.

      Couple their brilliant design work with the stunning achievements of Chris Brunhaver and voicing of Darren Myers and, indeed, we have one hell of a team.

  23. Glad to see you went all in on this speaker. It’s above your original target price, but it’s not about that, it’s about the sound. Looks good too.

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