To those familiar with PSB, the acronym (Paul & Sue Barton) could very well mean People, Sound and Business. For years, audio critics have attributed the performance of PSB Speakers with founder, Paul Barton and his love and passion for music and loudspeakers. A look back into the history of PSB will show you why… Paul's admiration for natural sound recreation was key to PSB's beginnings. However, today, it is easy to see that PSB is no longer a small business operation; it's no longer about just one individual or two, or even 10. PSB Speakers International is about a much larger team of good people who, themselves, are the vital foundation for the company's success. Today, PSB brings audio enjoyment to customers all over the globe, through its nearly 50 distributors and approximately 1000 dealers/retailers. And yet, while the company itself has grown to the level of worldwide distribution, the company's philosophy of performance and value has remained unchanged for almost 40 years.
If you have a moment, read our inspiring story. And in advance, we welcome you to the PSB family…
A Humble Beginning
PSB Speakers International, founded by Paul Barton (also the Chief Designer), is a company about People, Sound and good Business ethics. PSB gets its name from its founders, husband and wife with a good idea: to build better sounding loudspeakers. Back in the late 1960's Paul Barton, then an 11-year-old kid, was already very musically inclined. He enjoyed playing the violin – one that his father actually crafted in their family woodshop. Paul and his father, recognizing that loudspeakers back then didn't sound all that good, set out to build some loudspeakers in their woodshop. "They didn't have true-to-nature performance," recalls Paul. "They didn't sound natural." So, in that small woodshop, Paul and his father began to build speakers. By the time Paul was in high school, he was selling the loudspeakers that he continued to design and build. "I worked at a hi-fi store," Paul said. "Not just selling, but I was able to build [speaker] kits for university students near the University of Waterloo, which is where I lived. I built [them] and created [them] in my father's little workshop where he built my violin, and I sold those to the university students. So really, PSB started back before 1972 – that's just the official registering of the company."
Another tidbit of information: The PSB Speakers logo was also Paul's creation. He designed it in 11th grade Geography class – a class in which (his wife) Sue was also enrolled. And so the story goes…
PSB Speakers International is now located in Ontario, Canada, and the company has been designing and engineering loudspeakers under the registered name since 1972. Today, PSB is a well known and respected leader in the consumer electronics industry for audio, creating a broad range of high performance, high-value loudspeakers for music and home cinema applications.
PSB designs are a collaboration between founder and chief designer Paul Barton and the rest of the PSB team. This team continually challenges themselves as they bring new speaker products to market; their emphasis is on making those products innovative. In order to remain fresh and current, PSB has developed outstanding partnerships with leading industrial designers and manufacturering engineers in support of the PSB design mission.
Beyond the Passion – Scientific Support
One aspect that PSB Speakers considers of utmost importance is their dedication to psychoacoustics research. PSB's relationship with the NRC (National Research Council) is their foothold to producing high performing, reliable loudspeakers. The NRC began in 1916 in Ottawa, Canada, and is a facility that offers a knowledge base of physical resources and a wealth of research for PSB and all Canadian speaker companies, but PSB was first company to use the NRC for loudspeaker development. PSB has been using facilities and resource tools at the NRC since 1974, and currently are one of the most active users of the NRC facility. This experience is PSB's largest advantage, and how they interpret the data they collect and provide more value for their tools is what sets them apart from other speaker manufacturers. The NRC is a place that allows PSB to focus on task at hand: the design and development of good sounding loudspeakers.
Paul Barton: Who We Are Is What We Do
"PSB always has and always will design loudspeakers that are true to nature. There is nothing added to what is in the music and there is nothing taken away that was intended in the music. And that's what a speaker should be – it should be a window to what you see or hear – just like a glass is what you see through the window without any tint, or any coloration; which are sometimes spectacular, sometimes bigger than life, but they're not natural. We like to think that our speakers are true to nature. And that is the goal. That is the objective of PSB."
Paul Barton continues, "Perfecting a listening experience, we find, cannot be done by simply listening, but by measuring the loudspeaker and by controlled listening tests – double blind screen tests."
Today's Consumer, Today's Market
Here's a glimpse: we live in a fast-paced society, rich in consumerism, quick to want and with tall orders for performance and value. What we desire – require, even – is that our lives be full of products that we will have less and less to do with, yet that present and provide us with more and more. We want high performance products that are simple to integrate into our homes and operate, and that we consider a value – or "valuable" to us. More specifically, the demand continues to rise for high-end loudspeakers in the home. A growing number of consumers want home theater sound and whole house audio entertainment.
Many homeowners also want custom design and installation to reach beyond the conventional corners of their kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. Today's savvy homeowner realizes now, more than ever before, the importance of high quality audio – not just video – and the "invisibility" factor of those high-end loudspeakers. "Plasma" and "flat panel" may still be the buzzwords of the day, but more and more consumers want to equal the visual experience already in their homes with high quality audio throughout their homes.
With in-wall/in-ceiling speakers becoming so prevalent and even in-cabinet speaker options making their way into new home models and furnishing and design stores everywhere, increasing numbers of consumers are looking at custom speaker installation and built-to-suit cabinetry. The possibilities are truly becoming limitless.
Of course, increasing consumer interest in home speaker systems results in new challenges for custom retailers/installers and manufacturers alike – a chance to look at a given home speaker application with new eyes. For, though we all may want a theater in our home or even whole house entertainment/audio, we all want it a little differently.
PSB Speakers are an ideal choice for today's home audio consumer. PSB offers a broad range of high performance options, including Synchrony, Imagine, Image, and Alpha in-room speakers, in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, and in-cabinet speaker. With all these options at your fingertips, you're sure to find a speaker system that will be just right for your listening preferences and the size of your listening room or even your entire house. The dream of whole house audio entertainment is not out of reach.
PSB realizes that there are those individuals and families who are satisfied with a "home-theater-in-a-box" solution, with miniature speakers for any sized room… and that there are others, like yourself, who look beyond what's merely possible to what's better. High performance audio at value pricing is what PSB has always been about, and today, more than ever before, educated consumers are looking for dream systems for their homes that just a few years back were unimaginable and out of reach.
40+ Years in the Making – A Formula for Success
"When designing a loudspeaker," says Paul Barton, "there are technical attributes that are reached for – comments that listeners have made when they were subjected to a variety of different designs were taken into account. Some designs were preferred over others for the way they propagated sound, partly because of their bandwidth, partly because of their dynamic capabilities. Good dispersion is a very important attribute in a loudspeaker, the importance of which we discovered through the double blind screen test, when listeners were comparing speakers. A lot of the design direction and philosophy has come out of what people's preferences were when listening in a double blind screen listening environment. And, of course, that changes all the time. Listening preferences… dispersion, dynamic range, the ability to play the softest versus the loudest passage in music, and the bandwidth – which means how deep does it go and how high does it go. And certainly everything in between is only as good as it can be."
Our Philosophy: Performance & Value
To offer high performance solutions at a reasonable cost.
PSB, like any company, points to four attributes for their products: Performance. Appearance. Value. And Reliability. Performance is the main objective in delivering products. PSB evaluates loudspeakers in an anechoic chamber, and compares them with room measurements and listener preferences in various rooms. Value is equally important. Appearance is also very important. Everyone has different tastes and PSB works hard to supply a broad range of sizes and applications (in-room, in-wall/in-ceiling, and in-cabinet styles) to appeal to everyone. And Reliability – it has to work. Along with performance, reliability is equally on the mind of the consumer purchasing audio equipment. With the endurance tests that we put our systems through on a daily basis, with high highs and deep lows, it's got to withstand. PSB's psychoacoustics research includes testing the critical interaction between loudspeaker, listener and room acoustics.
Paul Barton credits his musical past experiences in his childhood for his excellent ear training and consistent, proper interpretations of comprehensive measurements which correlate with PSB's ability to produce loudspeakers that listeners enjoy and, more importantly, that they prefer.
A Variety of Solutions
Today's loudspeakers are "solutions" that have evolved out of increasingly desirable applications, such as home theaters and whole house audio systems. And each application faces unique acoustic design challenges. For instance, take the following speaker groups:
In-Room speakers include the floor standing and bookshelf variety, surround speakers, center channels and subwoofers.
In-Wall/Ceiling speakers, as well as On-Wall speakers, include the obvious wall- and ceiling- mounted speakers (most commonly associated with wall-mounted flat panel TVs and multiple room home entertainment systems). All-Weather/Outdoor speakers are also included in this group.
In-Cabinet speakers are physically and sonically designed to perform at their optimum levels within custom-designed or standard cabinetry.
As mentioned, each speaker's application meets with challenges. In-wall/in-ceiling speakers have unique acoustical and design challenges in that they are limited to the volume/capacity within their enclosure. One crucial element considered in the acoustical design of this category of speakers is that enclosure volume greatly affects bass performance. Wall construction also plays a factor; typically, walls and ceilings are thin (not built to any volume standard) and, to the installer, therefore, often considered flimsy. Generally speaking, where walls may be limited in density and volume, the speaker enclosures themselves must be robust and spacious in order to reach levels of deep bass. With sufficient acoustical space designed and built into an enclosure, a speaker can extend to its full and intended capacity of lower frequencies.
Moreover, because open-back in-wall/in-ceiling speakers must work within a variety of wall cavity volumes, PSB engineers these high-powered woofers with a higher mass and stiffness than its conventional in-room speakers. And, while a wall's cavity volume isn't as important within a one-room speaker application, where it makes a difference is with whole house audio systems, in order to keep the tonal balance and even frequencies throughout the home. Additionally, PSB in-wall/in-ceiling speakers feature wall brackets to ensure positioning stability. All of this helps to create a dynamic cinematic or musical experience for you.
Speakers placed in cabinets have their own special challenges. While many high-end home theater systems "hide" their components, including speakers from sight in cabinetry, this can lead to performance issues. Understanding this is what drove many speaker manufacturers to develop purpose-built systems, specifically for in-cabinet installations. Several of these unique speaker systems feature crossover compensation switches that adjust for in-cabinet boundary effects and center channel applications behind a perforated screen. Systems like these are measured to fit inside specially built cabinets, away from sight.
Understanding that not all speaker systems need to be "invisible" and that some listeners much prefer the look of a well finished, high performance floor standing speaker, elegantly matched to a center channel and pair of bookshelf and surround speakers, PSB continues to engineer and design speakers of an in-room variety in many sizes and color choices to compliment any décor.
Value. Value. Value.
Recognizing and understanding what today's listeners want is what PSB is all about. Fulfilling those demands is where PSB excels. And providing the highest performance rated speakers possible, at the best value, is where PSB places its stamp of integrity.
Real Sound for Real People.