As we saw, the current Maxi 150 doubles up its transducers except for the tweeter. That combines active d'Appollito mid/woofers with matching rear-firing passive radiators and adds two more passive radiators to the front. Hence both V2 models agree on coupling each active mid/woofer to two passives. It effectively renders the narrow Maxi 150 a 12.5" 2-way. Given the 5.9" foot print it shares with the Midi, that would otherwise be impossible. Put in even plainer text, both current Fram move a lot more air than your typical two-driver 5" 2-way could. And that promises uncommon bass reach and dynamic potential from attractively compact boxes.
Evolution: From Ancient Audio's active computer speakers to bigger earlier Fram efforts.
Why no USB? "When we started to design our first-gen Maxi three years ago, we envisioned active speakers that would play with/off everything: USB, analog, WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplay, FM radio. Only a direct connection to an MC turntables was off the book. Then reality brought us down to earth. We realized that customers needed fewer but perfectly working options. Perhaps I'm wrong but I think that 95% of users won't even use our existing coax/Toslink. For that I'm the best example. At the last Warsaw show, I presented Midi and Maxi 150 via their analog inputs despite knowing that their digital inputs sound better. Why? I had a well-tested convenient speaker switch to run my presentation. But this switch only handles analog inputs."
"Of course we are developing a USB input for our next generation. Most contemporary sources have USB outputs after all. Still, for many users it creates more trouble than just using our stereo mini plug which works perfectly. My initial idea was not to bundle too many options but present well-implemented basic functionality. A Swiss Army knife looks really pretty. But if you want to slice bread, you suddenly need a real knife. If you want to cut paper, you need real scissors. The case was similar for Bluetooth. We're a small company. We had problems fulfilling all the licensing requirements. Since our metal cabinet acts like an impenetrable shield, we opted not to install a Bluetooth module. Instead, we gifted our buyers with a popular outboard receiver. And you know what? Nobody used them."
"At the Warsaw show, I presented both 150 models between which my switch could swap instantaneously. I always started my presentation with Midi at low volume and without bass instruments, then switched. Without fail, visitors were impressed when they heard Maxi even under such non-challenging music conditions. It's why my partners suggested that I send you Maxi for review. But after that, you'd be disappointed with Midi and I'm planning on a longer cooperation. The question is, why does Maxi perform better? Both use the exact same drivers and electronic PCB. Then why does Maxi improve microdynamics, resolution, space and palpability? On paper, it looks like a doubled Mini. Even bandwidth is similar. Midi is rated as 38Hz-22kHz, Maxi as 35Hz-22kHz. The answer is line-source propagation. Maxi's sound wave has another shape. It's cylindrical, not spherical. And that creates less reflections from the floor and ceiling and expresses better coherence across time and space."
"Which gets us at your question on why no active digital xover. At first blush, a digital crossover looks brilliant like a Maserati sports car; until you try real roads, especially my street. Friends, I and students from the Academy of Mining and Metalurgy all built active speakers with digital filters. The idea was good. Divide the audible bandwidth into bass, midrange and treble with almost perfect FIR filters for independent amplitude and phase corrections. It reads promising but in actuality, the radiation pattern of your drivers still differs. Even digital filters still have a slope. There will always be driver overlap, hence radiation discontinuities. While a digital filter can perhaps control the electrical signal to the amplifier to perfection, it manages zero control over the radiation pattern or sound wave of the final output.
"That's why I reverted to a passive filter of a pure 6dB/octave slope with single coil and cap. I treat the totality of all the parts—the converters, amplifiers, drivers, crossover, cabinet, cabling and power supply—as one single sound-producing mechanism. My digital speaker crossover then creates an inverse algorithm to address the errors of the final output.
"That is the main difference between our Fram concept and typical digital-filter active speakers. Our approach is far more complex but also far more efficient.
"Finally to your question on recommended room size which is really more about quality than quantity. Midi 150 works perfectly in rooms of 12 – 25m². Maxi will play up to 60m². The real question concerns quality. For the very best sound even in a small room, the Maxi 150 line source set to its bass-cut program still seems the best choice. How long should your cable between the speakers be?"
I asked for 5 metres to account for stand height and three different rooms in which I wanted to try Midi 150.
"Currently the aluminium box can be finished clear or black anodized. More colours will be possible in the future. What would you like for the review?"
Still hating black hifi, I asked for silver.
"The trim rings surrounding the drivers are stainless steel. Those can be finished silver or gold. What rings would you like?"
Thinking about photogenic contrast, I opted for Qatar and gold.
"Finally the stands come in two finishes – natural oil oak or black-stained oak. Which would you prefer?"
Being given this many choices for review samples was a rare treat. Considering how our faux parquet wasn't black, I'd stay natural. Next we see the lower part of a V2 enclosure. The self-locking end cap illustrates how opening up this box without specialized tools is impossible.
Finally a look at Fram's SB Acoustics tweeter and Peerless passive radiator.
Once I had UPS tracking numbers, I followed the shipment's route from Krakow to Tamworth/UK to Shannon/IE. Including a weekend, this took a week to deliver.
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