Nearfield FR30 loudspeakers

June 2, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

The first round of FR30 loudspeakers are almost ready to be shipped to anxious customers. We’re close. Very close.

How exciting!

Never ones to rest for very long, as we’re waiting for the FR30s to be released into the wild we tasked the FR30s designer, PS Audio senior loudspeaker engineer Chris Brunhaver with building us a pair of custom nearfield monitors for Octave Records. These are one-of-a-kind, active nearfield monitors tuned specifically to the main control room at Octave Records.

This is super exciting. As many know, one of our goals at Octave is to be end-to-end perfect. To hear everything from the microphones to the final master on the FR30s. This will not only ensure we hear every last nuance possible, but the level of consistency in recordings will be quite remarkable.

Problem is that in the tracking control room where we lay down the recording tracks, the engineer has to be fairly close to the window looking out into the studio. This means that when he or she is making decisions based on microphone techniques and creating the rough mix they will have to be closer to the FR30s than they were designed for.

Enter in our resident speaker genius to save the day.

If you’re curious about how these turned out and the thought behind them, I put together a brief video that you can watch here.

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28 comments on “Nearfield FR30 loudspeakers”

  1. Indeed, it’s always about getting the timing correct when it comes to (multiple driver) loudspeakers and going active with DSP is the only way to reach that goal – as I always stressed here. I recently replaced my old TACT Audio room processor by a much more sophisticated processor from Trinnov Audio and the results and improvements are most stunning. And obviously the Hypex modules used here seem to be not “bothered” by cabinet vibrations from the FR30! 🙂 When can I order this near-field version of the FR30s.

  2. Based on the FR30, but not the FR30.
    FR30’s are passive: these are active & I don’t see 4 x 8″ bass drivers.
    Smaller cabinets?
    Paul has been telling us how it makes sense to use the FR30’s for recording monitoring & yet…
    As long as they help the recording process, I guess that’s all that matters.
    Only time will tell.

    Could this be PS Audio’s foray into commercially available active home-audio loudspeakers…
    with DSP, DIRAC or REW???
    Only time will tell 😉

  3. Very interesting. Active DSP needed in the control room – bass down to 10Hz. – passive Crossovers eliminated?

    What size is the mixing room? And what are the distances there? Will modified near/ mid field monitors be needed?

    One of a kind speakers using Hypex modules….
    I guess until ‘the industry’ decides that this technology with FR type drivers is acceptable, then the average consumer just drools with hope while wallowing in the passive world.

    Just think of the profit margins, possibilities and market share expansion…

  4. I’m confused (not unusual) about your statement “The first round of FR30 loudspeakers are almost ready to be shipped to anxious customers.” Several months ago you posted videos of two installations of the FR30 and reviews of them have started to come in. You have also shown photos of pallets of FR30 boxes in your warehouse. I don’t recall the specific first delivery date from the order page, but surely it has passed. Is this a matter of semantics?

    1. No it’s not semantics and apologies for any confusion. We had a small batch of beta FR30s delivered which is what you saw.

      The production units have yet to arrive. If you go to the product page you’ll see we sold them in batches or “rounds” of orders. The first round was due this month and they will be on time.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Paul! I don’t recall hearing about beta testing of the FR30 so that would explain my confusion. I did see the deliveries were in batches, but thought at least the first batch was already delivered. I will add that I was very impressed with the sound of the FR30, I heard the pair at PS Audio back in late March and they weren’t the full production version. Can’t wait to hear what regular customers think of them!

  5. Paul, I was shocked when I watched the video to see how different the Nearfield “FR30” is from the FR30. The nerafield ( NF ) may shear some of the drivers with the FR30, but from what I saw and what you have said that is where the similarity ends. The speakers certainly do not look the same ( what is the “port” in the upper cabinet on the NF ). They do not have the same amps as used with the standard FR30. Then Chris is talking about getting the response flat in the recording booth which is great but unless your going to insure that the response in the mixing study is the same as the recording booth ( as measured by the exact same microphones ) your dream of keeping the sound system the same through out the producing chain ( recording, mixing, mastering ) is pretty much gone.

    Finally, as we all know no two people hear exactly the same. So unless the person working the recording booth is the same person doing the mixing and mastering you might as well use ATC’s in the recording booth and JBL’s in the mixing studio.

    Have I got this wrong, what am I missing here?

    1. Hey, Tony. You’re right, it isn’t perfect but jumping to your conclusion that we might as well use ATC or JBLs is even more incorrect.

      Here’s my experience so far. The sound is different but not so different as to matter with respect to tonality. If we nail the tonality in tracking it is identical in the mix room. That’s a huge step forward and a mile and a half from where we were using ATCs.

      The difference is found in imaging and that remains an issue. We cannot yet get the imaging to line up so that’s going to take some work and learning. Fortunately, fate’s on our side. What we’ve found is that when we get the basic mix and imaging to sound good in the tracking room it sounds even better in the mix room.

      Whew! We’re only about 10 days into the new facility. We’ll get it dialed in.

  6. Thanks for sharing this customization of the FR30. I am in the slow-learning minority and don’t yet get it. Maybe because I don’t fully understand DSP. Also, it is hard for me to imagine how a speaker designed and optimized for distance listening in a normal sized room can be the best choice for nearfield listening in a small room, and the specific adjustments you are implementing to make it work. Might this lead to an FR30 version for people with smaller rooms? Or are these tweaks specific for recording studio application?

    1. Hi Joseph. No worries. The main differences are to be found in tonality. In a far-field speaker (like the kind we normally use) the tonality is a function of the speaker output and the room (and its amplification and subtraction of lower frequencies). When Chris, for example, measures the FR30s he has to lift the speakers well up into the warehouse to eliminate the room’s effect on frequencies. He then tunes the crossover for best guess of an average room (this generally involves a gentle rise in the lower end and top end).

      In a nearfield monitor you’re eliminating the room so that means some tweaks to this tonal balance.

  7. What was the name of the software Chris mentioned?

    I am familiar with Cubase from Steinberg and the ur242 audio interface.
    One of the things its good for is adjusting the pole screws on humbucker pickups to get the outputs (each string) level. Its all about desired tonality.

  8. Wow! These would have been the speakers I would have been interested in! Hypex modules (not ICE I note), multi amped. And, by the way, the DSP is in the digital domain (PCM) and not in DSD. It means that the signal is either received in PCM (digital input) or converted by the speaker. It is not clear what Chris has done from the video.

    There are already loudspeakers that take REW signal in them for correction. No need for DIRAC. There are speakers also that come with mics for room correction (especially in the bass). My KH310s do this through the subwoofer, not in the speaker proper.

    You can EQ these speakers much better than using the passive version of the FR-30 to the proper curve.

    This is the near future of loudspeakers. Digital signal directly to them, or even wireless.

    Fantastic!

      1. Yes, right, sure.

        D&Ds or Kiis are not state of the art speakers. Sure. They have cheap electronics. Of course. And Genelecs are “bad” speakers. Obviously.

        By the way, the Neumann’s I use in my office have AB amps in the mid/tweeter and D for the woofer.

        There are so many misleading statements in that video that it becomes ridiculous. It is a parody.

        The only “truthiness” is that actives are preferable. They are the present too. Unless you only look backwards.Then, steam engines are fantastic and state of the art for pulling trains.

          1. Actually, no, my comment is not negative.

            Paul willfully ignored speakers that are active and considered state of the art. Even by subjective reviewers in the types of magazines that don’t “measure”.

            My sound system had improved a lot over the years by some of the tips provided by Paul, but lately, he has digressed completely to the kind of parody of audiophilia that I find surprising.

            Why does he have to say that there no good active speakers? It is so obviously false!

            Just look at the example of the type of amp inside. He states they are all D when it is obvious it is not true. You don’t need measurements to see this.

            I will give you a very old example. Do you think that the JBL M1 powered by Mark Levinson amps is a “bad” speaker?

            1. Hmmmm, well, now you have me confused. I think I’ve been pretty consistently saying I love the idea of active speakers but do not believe our community is ready for them and thus haven’t made any for sale. It is true I don’t know of any from a personal level though I am told the new KEF active (small Blade) is quite good as well as is Bruno’s. I just haven’t heard any of them.

              I believe I have been very consistent in my thoughts on the matter but, if not, let me restate them for the record. If I were to start from scratch and if there were no audiophile community, the only speaker I would consider designing and selling would be active. This is because with an active speaker we can dial in every parameter to perfection. It would be analog in and analog amplified with subtractive phase perfect analog crossovers. The bottom end would be Class D and DSP’d for best advantage.

              However, there is a community, and within that community we love to customize our systems. PS Audio is a big part of that.

              So, for now, active speakers don’t make sense for our community. And no, I have never heard or been excited by an active speaker. And the one we made for Octave Studios is not yet as good as the passive version as powered by all that external stuff. But, it’s really good.

              Hope that helps clear the mud.

              1. Paul, thanks for your honesty.

                It was clear to me a long time ago that the decision to make them passive was clearly a business one. The FR-30s are a classic case of business school. Your source of income is the electronics side and you are protecting your business base. The FR30 is a vertical integration.

                But the state of the art speakers nowadays are by companies that do not make electronics or electronics are not the primary business. Modern amps and DACs are extraordinarily cheap and completely audibly transparent. It is the “software” side of speaker design that matters. How to correctly design xovers and DSP to have a flat response, great directivity and low distortion. You need great software designers and proper “FAST” testing. It is becoming easier to design waveguides but you have to test frequently to make sure they deliver correctly. This is why I was puzzled by your decision not to get the Klippel NFS. You hired a great designer but you tied his hand behind his back. What that apparatus can test quickly, reliably, repetitively and without getting bored or in danger cannot be done by Chris himself, no matter how talented he is.

                In my case, I moved from boxes to integrated speakers and will continue in that path. I’m pretty sure my next (primary) speaker will likely be wireless. My primary system is not active yet, still passive with Class D.

                But your decision to bet on DSD also limits your ability to deliver active speakers. Xovers and DSP are still in the PCM domain. You are targeting a sliver of a minuscule segment by focusing on DSD to market your DAC.

                The problem is not for you, it will be Scott’s.

                1. CtA,
                  Only you think that it will be a problem for Scott.
                  Question: Where would Paul be without you to advise him about what he is doing wrong?
                  Answer: Oh, I know, he’d be running a successful high-end home-audio business that is going from strength to strength.

                  Many SOTA loudspeaker companies don’t bother manufacturing active/DSP loudspeakers nor do they bother using a Klippel.
                  I’ll start the list with Wilson Audio, Von Schweikert, Joseph Audio, Magico, Harbeth, Graham Audio & the list goes on & on.

                  You only need a Klippel if your loudspeakers are not giving you the results that you planned & designed for.
                  And now you can cease being “puzzled” 😀

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