The Lenbrook room, Paul Barton, and PSB's Flagship Synchrony T800 Tower

Industry legend Paul Barton (above) has been designing speakers for more than half a century. He's also quite the speaker himself.

I'd sauntered into the Lenbrook room to check out Barton's new PSB Synchrony T800 floorstanders (PSB is a Lenbrook brand). My visit was serendipitously timed. Not only was the man himself present; he and I, along with the gregarious Joe Corona of Chicago retailer Saturday Audio Exchange, were the only ones left when the doors closed at 6pm. We settled in. Corona provided slices of coffee cake, and Barton supplied wisdom and bon mots.

For a very enjoyable hour, we listened and he held forth: about anechoic and real-world measurements; about psychoacoustics; about the blind listening tests to which he'd sometimes subject audio journalists and others; about hearing loss and the brain's incredible ability to compensate for it. Last but not least, Barton talked about the T800. This is PSB's flagship speaker, costing $11,999/pair.

Of course we also did some listening. My host demoed his brainchild with "Time of the Season," a 1994 recording by the Nylons. That reminded me of the masterpiece that is 1968's Odessey and Oracle, the Zombies album on which that song first appeared. So then we played that. (Long live Qobuz!)

The T800's refined treble comes courtesy of a 1” titanium dome with ferrofluid. A 5.25” carbon-fiber cone takes care of the midrange, while three 8" woofers in cast-aluminum baskets (and ringed by mass-loaded rubber surrounds) bring the bass, rated to go as deep as 21Hz. Each woofer has its own internal enclosure, as well its own rear port. Two of those ports come with covers that T800 owners can put on or leave off to tune the bass response to the room. Though Barton isn't prone to chest-thumping, he'll allow that the crossovers in the T800s are "the most advanced amplitude-perfect, Linkwitz-Riley, 4th-order crossovers of any PSB speaker."

In what may be an industry first, the speakers' outriggers have integrated IsoAcoustics GAIA feet, a $600 value. (At AXPONA, I clearly heard the GAIAs' beneficial effect during a demo in the Focal/Naim room, identical to the intriguing A/B test that Jim Austin described here.)

Driven by an NAD Masters 33 BluOS streaming DAC/amplifier ($5999, above) and cabled with AudioQuest, the PSB towers sounded smooth but resolute, balanced yet forceful, producing first-rate micro- and macro-dynamics . . . and oodles of enjoyment.

padreken's picture

It never ceases to amaze how often a track mentioned in an audio gear review (or in this case, blog post) ends up a new discovery. I’m a huge Zombies fan (we’ve seen them live at least a dozen times) and somehow this cover made it under the radar, just listened on Tidal and really enjoyed it!