The Making of the Passif 50

October 4, 2022
The Making of the Passif 50

Half a century of sound-making channelled in a legacy design

The highly anticipated Passif 50 Loudspeaker is an anniversary-edition design released in celebration of PSB Speakers’ 50-year milestone. In continuation of the PSB legacy, the launch of this standmount loudspeaker bridges the gap between one of PSB’s most iconic designs from 1974 and today’s advanced speaker technologies.

PSB Passif50 Speakers
Image showing a pair of Passif 50s

The Inspiration

When he founded PSB Speakers in 1972, Paul Barton had a key guiding principle: he wanted to reproduce sound coming out of a loudspeaker to mimic the realism of music being played during a live performance. In 1974, PSB Speakers launched the Passif I loudspeaker, the main inspiration behind the design of the Passif 50. The Passif I, along with the Avanté, Avantini and Passif II which launched together in a series were monumental for being among the first designs to successfully implement the driver behind ‘True to Nature’ sound signature that PSB is widely recognized for to this day – one defined by a high degree of tonal accuracy, spatial realism and freedom from distortion. The formation of the ‘True to Nature’ acoustic philosophies and principles originate from Paul Barton’s early days of research at the NRC (National Research Council) where he measured prototypes in the NRC’s anechoic chamber, then correlated these measurements with extensive subjective listening tests.

Paul Barton at work in his lab at the National Research Council
Image of Paul Barton working in his lab at the NRC (National Research Council)

The Passif II, which featured a 6 1/2" woofer and 10" passive radiator, was picked up by Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, now known as CBC/Radio-Canada and approved as a standard reference speaker for studio monitors across their Canadian locations, catapulting PSB into becoming a household Canadian speaker brand. Its smaller sibling, the Passif I, is the model which Paul Barton himself exclusively selected as the protoype to inspire the Passif 50 anniversary loudspeaker.

The Design

The design of the Passif 50 standmount loudspeaker echoes that of the iconic Passif I speaker, taking vintage-inspired elements from the early design and marrying them with modern materials to suit contemporary tastes and décor. A retro-style open-grained walnut veneer enclosure alludes to the classic ’70s loudspeaker aesthetic, bringing a warm accent to any modern listening room. Attached woven grille cloths and dedicated floorstands pay homage to the early Passif I design while harkening back to the brand’s rich heritage.

Image showing the original Passif I and Passif II models from 1974
Image showing the original Passif I and Passif II models from 1974

“We wanted the Passif 50 to show where we started and how far we have come.
Paul chose the Passif I as the point at which he was convinced he was on the right path. With the Passif I as the principal design, we applied every resource PSB’s design team has at its disposal. We employed modern design and measurement equipment, and adapted the finest components initially developed for our flagship speakers.” – Joe de Jesus, Product Manager

Image comparing the Passif 50 design to the original Passif I
Image comparing the Passif 50 design to the original Passif I

The Logo

One of the most prominent ‘vintage-inspired’ elements of the Passif 50 is a pull tab on the front grille featuring the original PSB Speakers logo from 1972. This logo design was first hand-drawn by Paul Barton himself using Letraset, in the same grade eleven geography class where he met his wife and high school sweetheart, Sue (The woman behind the ‘S’ in ‘PSB’).

Image showing the original PSB logo and pull tab on the Passif 50
Image showing the original PSB logo and pull tab on the Passif 50

The Technology

The Passif 50 marries modern technology with a vintage design. While the exterior of the Passif 50 evokes a classic ’70s look, the interior componentry optimizes the most current technology trickled down from PSB’s flagship models.

The Passif 50 driver employs a 1” dome tweeter, 6.5” paper cone woofer and 8” passive radiator. The titanium dome tweeter employs a powerful neodymium magnet and ferrofluid damping, for higher output, improved power handling, and reduced distortion. A phase plug in front of the tweeter’s dome directs the
tweeter’s output to ensure a wide and consistent dispersion well beyond the traditional listening window. The result is a speaker which creates a wide and deep soundstage, very acute imaging and substantially deeper bass extension than its ancestor.

“Every aspect of the development process was carefully directed with the kind of precision and craftsmanship that comes from 50 years of know how. The result is a speaker which captures the brilliance of that early landmark design while making a clear statement of what we have accomplished throughout the years” – Joe de Jesus, PSB Product Manager

Image showing the Passif 50 rear on stand
Image showing rear view of the Passif 50

50 Years and Counting

The Passif 50 celebrates the timeless sound of PSB Speakers that has been hailed by music lovers and audiophiles worldwide for five decades. At the rear-panel, a plaque adorned by a maple leaf carries an inscription that reads, “Passif 50 – Anniversary Edition – 1972-2022.” to commemorate PSB’s 50-year milestone. As a show of gratitude for PSB’s devoted fanbase, the first 500 units sold of the Passif 50 contains
a signed letter from Paul Barton and an optional gift pack (registration required).