Behind the Screen: PSB at the NRC

Ever wonder why there are so many great Canadian speaker companies? Here’s one reason: government intervention. Canada’s government-sponsored National Research Council, which, among other things, facilitates research in the fields of speaker measurement, signal processing, and noise control, has proven to be a breeding ground for speaker design. In fact, most major Canadian makers — PSB Speakers, Paradigm, Axiom Audio, Energy/Mirage — can trace their lineage back to the NRC. Several American companies, too, including Definitive Technology, GoldenEar Technology, and Harman/JBL, whose one-time director of research and development, Dr. Floyd Toole, once roamed the NRC’s halls as an in-house researcher, can also claim a connection.

Paul Barton, PSB Speakers’ founder and chief designer, knows the NRC like the back of his hand, having regularly used its facilities for his own R&D over the past four decades. Paul recently invited S+V along with a few other A/V mags up for a tour of the NRC’s audio research facilities in Ottawa, Ontario — an occasion that happened to coincide with the company’s 40th anniversary. Our visit started deep in the bowels of NRC’s unearthly-looking anechoic chamber, and it ended in a listening room custom-designed for blind speaker testing where we were given a chance to flex our subjective listening muscles. Check out the gallery for highlights from the tour.