Inside an FR30

April 20, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

PS Audio’s reference loudspeaker, the FR30, has replaced the venerable IRSV.

That was a bitter sweet pill for me. For as long as I have been in the field of high-end audio I have been in love with the IRSV. My first listen to it in Sea Cliff, New York at the home of The Absolute Sound’s founder, Harry Pearson, set the course of my life for the next 50 years.

Old friends are hard to part with.

The FR30 is the first loudspeaker to have everything the IRS had: speed, delicacy, resolution, transparency, musicality, and (above all) unfetter dynamics, and then take all of that to a new level that I had only dreamed to be possible.

The secret to the FR30 is to be found in its drivers and crossover.

Many of you have been drooling over a chance to see how this speaker is built. The speaker designer, Chris Brunhaver and PS Audio’s industrial designer, Chet Roe, put together for us an exploded view to give you an idea of what’s inside and how it is assembled.


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26 comments on “Inside an FR30”

  1. It is really a privilege to see this and I for sure can get a sense of how hard it was to come up with the design to limit vibration and control airflow. It is really neat.

    Thank you, Paul.

  2. I was certainly struck by the great look of the FR30s, not so the AN3s that looked too much like furniture.

    Interesting, seeing no mounting screws for the 8” speakers when Paul demos them I thought ‘long bolt pressure from the rear’ had been used, as this seems good to prevent resonance.

    From the full photo in the email I see how the top section seems to have a push on surround to hide the tweeter screws. The bottom section, however, doesn’t seem to have any ‘push on’ holes for its large surround? So how is this screw hiding surround fixed on, surely it can’t be glued as that would make speaker changing rather destructive?

    Not picking fault as I’m sure these surrounds don’t resonate bad, or any of the fittings, so such wondering how that was achieved?

    Certainly a great looking speaker and of course I’m sure they sound great, judging by your comparison with your beloved IRS5s. I certainly hope to listen to them in the UK, though will have to wait for the more modest models to see how they compare.

    1. Alan,
      The 4 x eight inch drivers have two push-on surround panels, just like the top section.
      One panel for the top 2 drivers & one for the bottom 2, but they are not evident in this exploded view.

      1. Yep, I can even see them, but only in the image sent as part of Paul’s email but the bottom section doesn’t have holes for the surrounds as the top does, it is only a selected schematic.

        They look good and hide the screws, but mean more ‘bits’ to resonate. Hence my comment about thinking ‘long pressure bolts from the rear’ were used.

        1. A few of weeks ago Paul did a couple of YT presentations
          wherein he & Chris went to the first two customers homes
          to help set up & discuss the FR30.
          I think that it was the 2nd presentation where they pulled
          the bottom 2 panels off & I thought the same as you…
          Resonator Blues 😮
          However, I’m very sure that Chris & Paul were NOT going
          to let that happen.

          I’m wondering why they bothered painting the internals white 😉

    2. Thanks for the comments! Yes, we had considered using this approach (long screws mounting the baffles from the rear of the cabinet) and that may be something that we employ in the future (along the lines of what KEF does in their LS50 etc.). There are some challenges with that approach because of the way our midrange cavity is so large and constructed.

      As it stands, these are mounted with a metal pin into a rubber cup and are very non-resonant. We use the same approach for the trim rings on the passive radiators. We may have missed the inserts in the rendering but they’re definitely there.

  3. Beautiful design and oh wow, 2 spiders on the woofers! The sign of not skimping! Those must be awesome drivers. Interesting how Chris decided to deviate from the OB IRS design and enclose the BG-like drivers in a sealed cabinet. Did you do spinorama tests? I’ll bet they sound fabulous! Did I miss details of the crossover points and slopes? It looks like I’m going to have travel to CO sometime soon & now without a mask requirement…

    1. Yes, we will be posting some measurement data. We did our own spin measurements during the development process but are using a 3rd party lab to get some higher resolution measurements for higher resolution measurements for publishing.

      Yes, I used to work for BG for 5 years (and David Graebener – the “G” of BG, used to work for my father’s speaker business and our planar drivers are close relatives of those, with some changes/improvements).

      The crossover points and slopes are on the product page. We are using 4th order Linkwitz-Riley filter slopes and 400 Hz and 2.5 kHz and are doing some conjugate notch filters in the crossover to present a quite flat impedance curve to the amplifier.

      1. Thanks Chris, metal pins into rubber cup sounds like a fine alternative with such deep cabinets. I’ve been drawn to narrow but deep speakers for a long time, as to me these are well suited for more typical living room sizes. The FR30s may well be the pinnacle for this design approach, great work which from reviews so far sound as great too.

      1. Nice.
        They were one of the first non-UNIX 3D CAD simulation programs.
        Pretty cool to be able to build, assemble and test/simulate before you even print it to paper.
        We used Pro/E for mechanical design & thermal modeling and Mentor Graphics for circuit board layout and simulation. 25 years ago you could spend 100 grand pretty easy on a HP-UX or Sun Sparc station and CAD software. With fluid dynamics s/w you can model air flow simulation.
        Todays PC’s have more computing power and are far less expensive. We have an automated optical inspection system. The mother board has 12 Intel processors on it. Windows is not a true multiuser/real time operating system like UNIX and still does not manage memory very well… which really does not matter anymore unless you’re a big bank and can’t afford a lockup or crash, ever.

      1. Looks impressive to me, with my limited knowledge of proper speaker construction. Paul, is the second batch still scheduled for Aug.31st?. I can hardly wait and am giddy with anticipation.

  4. Beautiful! A work of electro- mechanical art! Bascom King played the IRS-Vs for me at Infinity in Chatsworth back in the 80s when I was designing amps for Harman. I’ll never forget it – effortless and detailed, dynamic and focused. Among the best I’ve ever heard. I hope to hear the FR30s someday.

  5. Purrrrdy.
    I used to design and build (vehicle) sub boxes in the way back yesteryears of mobile audio infancy. I still run a pair of AVI Kevlar 10″ in a box designed by Howard Doctor himself tuned to 29Hz. Term-Pro was pricey software (in the day) but was pretty slick. That MDF makes THE BEST sawdust! I would charge customers by the sneeze.

    However I STILL need someone to explain to me like I’m a 5 year old why passive radiators produce bass and not cancel out bass in a shared enclosure – sealed or ported….Woofer moves out – passive moves in. Especially when they are both on the same front baffle and an inch apart? What is my BB in a boxcar brain missing here?

    Canuck side note: I met up with Howard in 90/91 when he was a year or two into his AVI speaker business. They had done extremely well with their subwoofer line and were just starting their mid & tweeter production. There were spiders, baskets, cones, coils, surrounds, magnets… scattered all over the floor of his office.. He was very passionate and excited about it. He was showing me the new 6.5″ mid-bass (8 lbs with a 5-1/2″ magnet!!). Hand built production had commenced that day. He described the engineering, design, materials and their sources (from all over the planet..), the testing, like it was his first born. He said “it even passed the water test!” To this day I have no idea what the water test was. At varying times during our conversation (ie me gleefully listening) he would just stop and look pensively over my left shoulder for a few moments and carry right on where he left off. After the final pensive pause into space, he just raised his index finger, held it motionless, gave it one frontward tilt, stood up, patted my shoulder without eye contact and exited the office. After about 20 minutes I deduced he wasn’t coming back and I left.
    It is simply quite nice and memorable when much smarter brainiac folk like that take the time to talk to cranially challenged simpletons like us. It sparks excitement, creates enthusiasm and makes one want to learn more and more.
    He spoke like the Jordan Peterson of audio. He used many big words my little pea brain did not grasp. What a superb visit. I just love extraordinarily smart people.
    Now if we could only get the smart people of the world to speak more and the idiot-sticks to shut the f’up – we’d be gettin somewhere… My tolerance for stupid people in inversely proportional to the constantly rising rate of said stupid people.

    Howard’s 6th order 6″, 8″ and 10″ fully enclosed two chamber 4 port bandpass boxes were some of the best ever produced. The 6″ bandpass box would outperform most dual 8″ or 10″sealed boxes out there. I still hoard one of each…

    Crep – sorry – that was supposed to be a ONE line comment and ONE line inquiry…. getting dang good at this self-employed 3rd coffee work avoidance skill! Time for THIS idiot-stick to shut the f’up!

  6. Wow. The FR30. First a great picture and description of the beautiful Cross Over Board layouts and now a look inside the Magical Disappearing Box itself. How something so big with so much mass can sonically disappear is a wonder to me. Thank you for sharing and giving us a look inside. Can’t wait to see and hear for myself in the not to distant future.
    Thanks for sharing your design.

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