Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Loudspeakers

PSB Speakers Celebrates 50 Years of Audio Excellence

What started as a labor of love for Paul Barton, is now a global business and 50 years of audio engineering excellence. PSB is 50 years old.

PSB Speakers 50 Years with Paul Barton

Paul Barton was a student when he started PSB Speakers in 1972 outside of Toronto, and his dedication to engineering and developing award-winning loudspeakers that people can actually afford has made him a legend in the world of consumer electronics.

As a hometown kid, I was always drawn to his loudspeakers; I owned a pair of PSB Stratus Gold for 6 years and currently use PSB speakers in two rooms in my home. Paul has also been a wonderful resource over the years and mentor for many of us in the high-end audio industry press.

When PSB asked me last year to moderate the launch of their brand new “Synchrony” Series to a live global audience, I was deeply honored by the opportunity.

50 years is an impressive achievement for any company, but even more so for a small Canadian company competing against far larger American, Asian, and European competitors with deeper pockets.

PSB’s fortunes changed dramatically when they were acquired by Lenbrook and it’s great to see Paul’s handprint on numerous Bluesound and NAD products as well.

The brand new Synchrony Series are reference-quality loudspeakers and I had a lot to say about the PSB Synchrony B600 in my review.

PSB Speakers, the loudspeaker company that, more than any other, create the “Canadian Sound”, is celebrating 50 years of delivering high value hi-fi speakers at the intersection of science-based sound reproduction and musical enjoyment. Founded in St Jacob’s, Ontario, in the summer of 1972 by classically-trained violinist and self-taught acoustics designer, Paul Barton, and a couple of his high school friends, PSB Speakers soon became a pioneer in marrying psychoacoustics research with loudspeaker design.

Paul Barton in the loudspeaker testing chamber
Photograph from the Archives: In the Testing Chamber

The scientific approach Barton took in designing loudspeakers was rare at the time, and over the course of the late 1970s and early 1980s, he conducted thorough and detailed measurements of loudspeakers at the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Canada, utilizing its state-of-the-art anechoic chamber and instruments to perfect the sound signature of his products. In spending so much time in and around the laboratories at the NRC, Barton found himself embedded with some of Canada’s leading scientific researchers in the areas of psychoacoustics and acoustic measurement, including becoming a close personal friend to world-renowned Dr Floyd Toole, whom he would collaborate with until Toole’s later move to California. The acoustics research Barton helped to pioneer and commercialize would eventually become common industry practice, and the foundational principles first discovered by this research continue to be the basis of much of speaker design today.

Paul Barton with the Stratus Gold Loudspeakers
Paul Barton with the Stratus Gold, deemed the “10,000 Watt Speaker” by audiophile press

“As a musician and acoustics designer, it has been such an honour to work with some of the top scientific minds in the field over the decades,” says Barton. “In academic research, like what was happening at the NRC, it wasn’t uncommon for research to get published and then just gather dust on a shelf somewhere. But I got the unique opportunity to take that research and turn it into real products that PSB customers could enjoy their favourite music on, and that has been the most satisfying thing for me throughout these 50 years.”

Update: In conjunction with the brand’s anniversary, PSB released a documentary on June 2, 2022 to commemorate five decades of acoustic excellence.

Filmed and produced over a four-month period in and around Toronto, the documentary runs approximately 20 minutes and offers an intimate glimpse into the brand’s founding, its expansion, Barton’s legacy, and the brand’s exciting future.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

It features interviews with Barton about his childhood influences and personal anecdotes, interspersed with perspectives from inside and outside the company, including from Simmonds, as well as from a former dealer and now Chief Strategy Officer of Lenbrook, John Banks; Canadian business journalist Gordon Brockhouse; Headphone Category Manager, Matt Simmonds; and Schneider, who got to know Barton while at the NRC himself, conducting speaker measurements for his publication’s reviews.

Visually, the documentary is peppered with archival photos, videos, and mementos over the decades, deftly weaving in stories about some of the brand’s most iconic and popular products. It is a fitting tribute to a brand that, in the documentary, Schneider calls the “grandfather of the Canadian loudspeaker industry”.

Paul Barton as a child playing the violin
Paul Barton as a child playing the violin

“PSB Speakers, despite all of the outstanding reviews it receives for its products, is in many ways still a hidden gem of a brand,” explains Gordon Simmonds, CEO of Lenbrook International, the parent company of PSB Speakers. “The documentary is our way of reinforcing the brand’s incredible story and scientific contributions to the speaker industry so it can be appreciated not just by those who already follow the brand, but also by new audio consumers that are looking for great value products for their mobile and modern lifestyles.”

The celebrations continue into the month of June, when PSB Speakers goes back to its roots – the love of live music from Barton’s childhood that inspired him to pursue a career in acoustics. PSB Speakers is committed as a Main Stage sponsor for the 2022 Northern Lights Festival Boréal, a music festival happening in Sudbury, Ontario, that is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Small town Canada has produced some of the world’s most enduring musical acts and these two Canadian musical legends – PSB Speakers and the Northern Lights Fesitival Boréal – will join forces in a digital campaign in the weeks leading up to the festival to promote the festival’s exciting line-up of Canadian talent.

The anniversary celebrations will culminate in a very special announcement from the brand on July 1st, coinciding with Canada Day.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mike Cornell

    May 16, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    Ian, I can still remember to this day when I had popped in to Bay Bloor Radio to pick up a new stylus for my cartridge and as I was about to exit the store, heard what I thought was a live jazz band playing in store. This would have been maybe late 80’s /early 90’s I think. I turned back and went toward where the music was coming from, and much to my surprise, it was coming from a modest system set up in one of the hallways. There were 3 or 4 pairs of speakers (all PSB I think), a couple of small towers and a bookshelf pair on stands. I had to walk right up to them to even determine which speakers were playing (it was the bookshelfs). I was blown away not only by getting fooled into thinking there was a live band in the store, but that these PSB speakers completely disappeared into the room. (should have bought them on the spot!) Looking forward to the documentary.

    • Ian White

      May 16, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      Mike,

      I had the same experience with Sol at BBR. I bought the Stratus Gold and never should have sold them.

      Ian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

New Products

Morel Biggie portable Bluetooth Speaker Ruby Red Music Listening Lifestyle

New Products

At $299, the Morel BIGGIE is a small but mighty 60-watt portable Bluetooth speaker that is only 7-inches tall and wide.

r_volution PlayerOne 8K r_volution PlayerOne 8K

New Products

At $899, the R_volution PlayerOne 8K is a high end media player and a media server capable of 8K resolution.

Audio-Technica ATH-WB LTD Over-ear Wired Headphones Audio-Technica ATH-WB LTD Over-ear Wired Headphones

New Products

At $1,599, Audio-Technica's limited edition wooden audiophile over-ear headphones are handcrafted in Tokyo, but only 300 will be made.

Chord Company Epic Digital Tuned ARAY Interconnects Chord Company Epic Digital Tuned ARAY Interconnects

Audio Cables

Improve digital connections between devices with Chord Company's Epic Digital Tuned ARAY Interconnects with RCA, BNC, or AES-EBU terminations.

Woman wearing Meze Audio ALBA IEM Woman wearing Meze Audio ALBA IEM

Earbuds & In-Ear Headphones

At $159, the Meze Audio ALBA in-ear headphones include a convenient inline USB-C adapter to easily to connect to iPhone 15.

Theory Audio Design Landscape Outdoor Speakers Bollards Theory Audio Design Landscape Outdoor Speakers Bollards

New Products

Theory Audio Design has adapted its award-winning in-ceiling and subwoofer drivers for outdoor use.

You May Also Like

Gift Guides

Escape into sonic bliss while traveling with some great ways to create the soundtrack for your summer of 2024.

Gift Guides

Looking for the ultimate tech or hi-fi gift for Father's Day 2024? Upgrade Dad's lifestyle with gifts he'll enjoy all year and beyond.

Reviews

Powered by BluOS, PSB's Alpha iQ is one of the most complete wireless loudspeaker systems available below $1,300.

Podcasts

On this episode Editor in-Chief, Ian White discusses his picks for the best wireless speakers of 2024 (so far) under $4,000.

Gift Guides

Whether enjoying music at home or on-the-go, you don't have to spend a lot to experience high fidelity sound.

Integrated Amps & Stereo Receivers

Depending on your budget, the $499 NAD C 316BEE V2 might be the ideal stereo integrated amplifier to build a hi-fi system around.

Earbuds & In-Ear Headphones

For $199, the PSB T4U TWM wireless earbuds calibrate their sound to match the listening capabilities of each ear.

New Products

Precision-engineered with dual 8” drivers and nCore amplification to deliver power and accuracy with minimal distortion.

Advertisement

ecoustics is a hi-fi and music magazine offering product reviews, podcasts, news and advice for aspiring audiophiles, home theater enthusiasts and headphone hipsters. Read more

Copyright © 1999-2024 ecoustics | Disclaimer: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.



SVS Bluesound PSB Speakers NAD Cambridge Audio Q Acoustics Denon Marantz Focal Naim Audio RSL Speakers