In yesterday’s post, I riffed on the subject of panel speakers and their lack of bass and dynamics.

We all love thin-film drivers like ribbons, planars, and electrostats because of what they do right—effortlessly reproduce sound.

That benefit of speed, transparency, and effortlessness can extend down in frequency all the way to 20Hz. Amazing if you’re employing it in limited loudness environments like headphones.

Not so practical if you’re trying to move big volumes of air at lower frequencies.

Over the years, manufacturers have schemed on how to solve the problem.

One obvious approach is using brute force, like the giant Soundlabs electrostats. These floor-to-ceiling beasts have dynamics, bass, and speed. The holy grail of panels.

They are not for the faint of heart.

Or, the Infinity IRSV. Floor to ceiling ribbons with a hybrid subwoofer.

Even better than the Soundlabs, but still a major commitment in internal real estate and finances.

A more practical approach is that of Martin Logan. Because panel speakers are very directional, ML came up with a clever curved panel. To solve the bass problem of not being able to move air, they created a hybrid by integrating a built-in conventional subwoofer.

This approach almost solved the problem. What it missed is the all important midbass—the frequency range where most of music’s dynamics lurk.

In the end, what we’ve learned is that in order to have it all in a form that is practical we need thin-film drivers (where the diaphragm’s mass is less than the air it is moving) covering the frequency range of the highest notes all the way down to where we get into the midbass area. There we need lightning-fast pistonic drivers capable of moving mountains of air.

And that is exactly how the PS Audio FR30 came to be what it is.

Paul McGowan / PS AUDIO

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