PSB Speakers marks 50th anniversary by looking back on its history

This year, Canadian hi-fi company, PSB Speakers is celebrating 50 years since it was founded in St Jacob’s, Ontario by classically trained violinist and self-taught acoustics designer, Paul Barton, and a couple of his school friends.

Marrying psychoacoustics research with loudspeaker design, Barton took a scientific approach to designing loudspeakers that was rare at the time. Over the course of the late 1970s and 1980s, he conducted thorough and detailed measurements of loudspeakers at the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottowa, Canada, utilising its state-of-the-art anechoic chamber and instruments to perfect the signature sound of PSB Speakers that we know today.

Spending a lot of time in and around the laboratories of NRC, Barton found himself mixing with some of Canada’s top 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 commercialise would eventually become common industry practice, and the foundational principles first discovered by this research continue to be the basis of much of today’s speaker design.

“As a musician and acoustic 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.”

PSB Speakers is kicking off its 50th anniversary celebrations with a virtual live event on 1 June 2022 at 4pm EDT (1pm PDT, 9pm BST, 10pm CEST) which will feature an intimate conversation with Paul Barton moderated by Doug Schneider, founder of ‘SoundStage!’. Registration for the event is open now (www.psbspeaker.com/50years) and attendees will get the chance to submit any questions they have to the PSB team for the live Q&A with Barton.

Attendees will also be the first to watch a documentary about the brand, specially produced for the 50th anniversary, which will be release to the rest of the world 24 hours later.

Friends of PSB Speakers, including IsoAcoustics and Bluesound, have offered up some exciting door prizes, and there will be a grand prize draw for a pair of PSB Speakers AM 5 Powered Bookshelf Speakers at the end of the event.

Gordon Simmonds, CEO of Lenbrook International, the parent company of PSB Speakers added: “PSB Speakers, despite all of the outstanding reviews it receives for its products, is in many ways still a hidden gem of a brand. The documentary is out 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 consumer that are looking for great value products for their mobile and modern lifestyles.”

Around 20 minutes long, the documentary was filmed in and around Toronto and offers an intimate glimpse into the brand’s founding, its expansion, Barton’s legacy, and its future. 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 CSO 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.

The documentary also features 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”.

Celebrations continue into 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.

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