November
2018

Country of Origin

Poland

Midi 150

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega 
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands 
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: €4'000/pr, add €500 for stands

Call him Jay. Like the long form of J as the short form of Jarek. Which is the first name of Waszczyszyn. Yes. Don't ask me how to pronounce that either. I know no suggestive trick like eBay-en for my own last name.

With that out of the way, you might have come across J as the man behind Ancient Audio before. After all, it was arguably the first Polish brand to put its imprimatur on the global market as a real high-end marquee from that country. Think CD players and top-loading transports mounted to solid speckled-black granite slabs; 8 x BNC I²S mono outputs; tubes mounted military-style inside. Think valve amps. If that prompted sudden recall, forward a few years. Suddenly Ancient had compact active computer slash desktop speakers.

A bit later Jarek had developed a proprietary algorithm coded to a special chip to correct for basic speaker flaws. Though mum on its specifics, I always speculated that he inputs the dimensions of a speaker box, then lets his math calculate internal modes—exactly like you would for a room wall to wall, ceiling to floor and diagonally corner to corner—to create compensation in DSP. Perhaps he even has coefficients for different box panel materials and thicknesses like the ubiquitous MDF, HDF, solid wood and metal. That would neatly eliminate typical box talk.

In this montage, we appreciate Fram's origins in the exotic boutique-style Ancient Audio electronics; Jarek's first active monitor still under the Ancient banner; and his P-3 sound processor chip.

If my assumptions were even halfway correct, the next step would seem obvious. Apply the same algorithm to your very own box speakers which won't need odd shapes that are costly to produce. And since you'd already work in the digital domain, add digital inputs, amplification and presto – active DSP speakers. Instead of continuing to fly those under the Ancient Audio flag, Jarek formed Digital Speaker Manufacture again out of Kraków. And today that company runs Fram Audio the active speaker brand.

A year ago I was all set to review one of its models which did end up on HighFidelity.pl. Then dialogue between the two of us with the unusual last names fizzed out. As it turned out, Jarek was simply biding his time. Fram v2 was around the corner.

"One year ago we started a new speaker line of what we called the Mini, Midi and Maxi models. All were built from solid aluminium and equipped with our Ancient Audio digital speaker processor. We called them hi-fi because they matched good sound with attractive industrial design and affordable pricing. We planned to send you one of those for review.

"However, I believe that our current line will be even more attractive despite its higher prices. This year we introduced the new Fram Midi 150 and Maxi 150. We consider this entry-level high-end due to its excellent very spacious sonics.

"The enclosures remain solid aluminium but now have stainless steel dress rings coated in 24K gold. Initially we're offering silver and black cabinets but other colours will be added soon. We now use bigger SB Acoustics cellulose mid/woofers, their silk dome tweeters and special Peerless passive radiators to facilitate a very deep wide soundstage.

"Both 150s are equipped with 24/192 coax/Toslink inputs plus analog RCA and 3.5mm stereo ports to make for easy connections. In fact, they include a DAC plus analog inputs plus amplifiers in compact boxes. The Midi runs on 120 built-in class D watts, the Maxi on 240 watts of equivalent total power. Our special processor includes three selectable programs to adapt to different acoustics. Both the Midi and Maxi share a 15x15cm foot print. Midi is 43cm tall, Maxi 99cm. Suggested pricing is €4'000/€6'000 respectively."

Without knowing any specs yet, I spontaneously asked for the Midi 150. Considering its active nature and driver complement, I felt quite certain that our room needed no more. If you question Fram the name as not sounding very Polish, it's Norwegian for forward. And that Scandinavian connection isn't just for clean industrial design. It's also because Jarek's first small active monitor shown above was called the Oslo.