PS Audio aspen FR10 Loudspeaker Page 2

Get everything right, and the FR10s offer a seamless presentation across the frequency range. Successfully integrating multiple drive units is never the easiest of tasks, especially when two are planar magnetic and the others are conventional moving-coil types. Fortunately, the FR10s never once gave the impression that I was listening to a few different drivers that just happened to be playing simultaneously. By contrast, PS Audio's 'blending' of its various drivers proves to be truly harmonious.

Taking Aim
The FR10s have a charming openness and spatiality, but I also loved the way this could be fine-tuned by the degree of toe-in. Aim them at the listening seat and the central image solidity is quite uncanny, albeit with a tiny hint of glare from the tweeter firing directly at you. Go wide and the whole soundstage just opens up, but the focus becomes a little more diffuse. You'll want to experiment to strike the preferred balance.

For my room, that balancing point was with the speakers toed in to aim around a foot or so behind my head. In this set-up they created a soundstage that was wide and deep, but also well ordered. Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson's version of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' [...VH1 Storytellers; American Recordings 3145869522] gave the two singers a vast ambience to work in.

Every breath, string pluck and strike or tap of percussion was clean and focused, while the audience applause was truly vivid.

Grand Designs
It became clear to me very quickly that the FR10s are a compelling companion if you want to have your music presented in a way that properly fills your room. It's easy to forget that – at just over a metre tall and 30cm wide – they really are quite compact. However, they sound considerably bigger than their sleek cabinets would suggest, generating an impressive feeling of scale and authority from a soundstage that's typically 'grand'.

This is achieved without favouritism over musical genre or number of performers. Give them a big orchestral piece to work with and the FR10s will fill your listening area with unflappable precision, ensuring nothing important is missed. However, they will also take something simpler and seemingly expand it to ensure you are put right into the heart of the action.


The planar mid and treble drivers crossover at a ‘low’ 1.75kHz but there’s a split at 550Hz that allows for separate bass [bottom left] and mid/treble [bottom right] 4mm input terminals. Three 150x230mm ABRs substantially augment the FR10’s bass output

As a result, stripped-down tracks like Nickel Creek's 'Reasons Why' [Reasons Why: The Very Best; SUG-CD-4022] suddenly became incredibly powerful. Sara Watkins' bluegrass vocals soar during the verses and can cause some loudspeakers to edge into raucousness, but the FR10s took every crescendo in their stride.

Can You Dig It?
As the icing on the cake, the sheer musicality, nuance and finessed imaging of these speakers is underpinned by a bass weight that, again, appears to make a mockery of their compact dimensions. The FR10s dig impressively deep and are more than happy to thunder out a window-rattling performance if required, as evidenced by the solidity and scale they bought to Propellerheads 'Take California' [Decksanddrumsandrockandroll; Wall Of Sound WALL CD015].

That said, they really come into their own when things are softer and more considered. Much as they made me grin when fed something punchy and hard-hitting, on occasion I wished their dual bass driver/triple ABR combination would rein things in just a little. The aggressive synth bass lines on the dance track 'Jumbo' from Underworld's Beaucoup Fish [JBO 1005438] bounded along superbly but the FR10s were slightly casual in applying the brakes. Some low notes or percussive effects, such as the foot-tapping that accompanies Eric Clapton on 'Hey Hey' from his Unplugged LP [Reprise Records 9632-45024-1], failed to stop on the proverbial sixpence.

Richly Deserved
Where the music is inherently more restrained, however, the level of low-end detail, generous weight and enveloping warmth offered by the FR10s is hugely appealing. Relaxed and with my eyes closed, the double bass on the Holly Cole Trio's version of 'I Can See Clearly Now' from Don't Smoke In Bed [Manhattan Records CDP 7811982] seemed right in front of me, its performance deep, rich and deliciously resonant. Add in Miss Cole's exquisite vocals, and I was one very happy listener.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
PS Audio is definitely on a roll with its aspen loudspeaker series. The new FR10 slots comfortably into the range alongside its bigger brothers, promising a big-hearted, ebullient and hugely enjoyable performance across the board. They do need care and time taken in their setup but, once suitably positioned, they reward handsomely, offering a scale and level of authority that belies their compact dimensions.

PS Audio
Boulder, Colorado
Supplied by: Signature Audio Systems, UK
07738 007776