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Active loudspeakers

MAXI 150

Price (when reviewed): 23 000 PLN (pair)

Contact: Jaromir Waszczyszyn
ul. Malawskiego 50
31-471 Kraków | POLSKA



FRAM is a company that was set up with a market different than the audiophile market in mind. It offers active loudspeakers looking like lifestyle ones, but built like top-class audiophile loudspeakers. We are testing the company’s largest model: the MAXI 150.

could see this coming – the active, DSP-corrected FRAM Maxi 150 loudspeakers are now in my room. Well, we have tested a lot of different products, but these are loudspeakers different from 99% of products featured in specialist audio magazines. These are lifestyle, active, nice, innovative, etc. loudspeakers. To cut a long story short – they are not too “audiophile”. However, those who were able to listen to the Fram system during the Audio Video Show 2019 exhibition know that things are a bit more complicated here.

Fram is a brand created on the initiative of Jaromir Waszczyszyn, the owner of the Ancient Audio company. He is a co-owner of the new company and also the author of the most important solution that we will find in its products, i.e. a signal processor which corrects the imperfections of loudspeakers. However, Fram would not exist if there were no other investors – ones who care about the remaining aspects of the company’s activities, e.g. cabinets or the organization of production. Only a combination of those people’s abilities and skills has resulted in the creation of the loudspeakers that I have in my room now. You can read more about the company’s origins in an article from October this year (HF | № 185).

| MAXI 150

What are the Maxi 150? It is a complete stereophonic system which only needs digital or analog signal fed from a source – a CD player, turntable or a file player, or sent via Bluetooth from a smartphone. These are active loudspeakers with two amplifiers per channel, an analog-to-digital converter (for analog inputs), a DAC and a DSP signal processor called the Digital Speaker Processor in the company’s jargon. Its software was developed in cooperation with specialists from the AGH University of Science and Technology.

Signal can be supplied to the Fram Maxi 150 in three different ways: digital through RCA and TOSlink (S/PDIF) inputs, analog via the RCA or mini-jack, and wireless (i.e. also digital). The RCA input has 2 V sensitivity, so it is suitable for inputs such as CD, DVD, TV, a turntable or a game console, while the mini-jack input has 1 V sensitivity, so that a smartphone or tablet, etc. can be connected to it using a cable.

The Maxi 150 simply look gorgeous. They are narrow, excellently made and very functional. Their cabinet is made from perfectly fitted black-anodized aluminum plates. The loudspeakers are tall (1040 mm), but very narrow (150 x 150 mm). However, they include as many as seven drivers: three speakers and four passive radiators, as well as two amplifiers (per channel). Bass-midrange speakers with a paper membrane are located symmetrically on both sides of a 25 mm soft dome. Below the system, which looks like the D’Apollito array, there are two passive radiators; two more are located at the rear of the loudspeakers.

We get a unique remote control with the loudspeakers. It resembles a metal pen, has four buttons – volume, mute, input selection and on/off, and there is a wooden stand for it. The loudspeaker plinths are also wooden, which looks gorgeous. The remote control stands and loudspeaker plinths have been made of the same kind of wood.

Co-owner, constructor

Jarek Waszczyszyn during the Audio Video Show 2019 exhibition with the September cover of “High Fidelity”. Next to him there are the large flagship Fram loudspeakers and the tiny Midi 120 which made an incredible impression

The Maxi 150 are the largest loudspeakers from the second Fram series. The first one was liked by music lovers so much that our appetites increased. In a sense, it is a continuation of the first model, as it also has an aluminum cabinet and double amplifiers, it is active, as well as has two drivers plus four passive membranes for low frequencies per channel. However, it is different in reality. The loudspeaker itself is larger, 1040 mm high, 150 deep and 150 mm wide – and hence the name of the new series.

It is a two-way loudspeaker based on, like before, SB Acoustic drivers with a 130 mm paper membrane of the midrange-bass drivers and a 25 mm silk dome. There is a classic first/second order crossover. Double amplifiers power the lower woofer and the tweeter, as well as the upper woofer. The loudspeakers have their own amplifiers and power supply units: 240 W in class D in total.

Most of the electronics is located in the right loudspeaker, while the left one only contains its own power amplifiers. Similarly to the former Maxi model, the new model is connected using a mini-jack cable. The input circuits are another change compared to the previous series. The Maxi 150 has digital electric (S/PDIF) and optical inputs. They can be controlled using audio PCM data up to 24 bit, 192 kHz. Such a solution has resulted in more advanced electronics, but now digital data from a source such as a CD player, computer or file player is immediately fed onto the processor and the D/A converter. The omission of D/A in the source and A/D in the loudspeakers is clearly audible in all aspects of sound.

At the rear of the right loudspeaker there is also a USB slot that is used for supplying power to e.g. a phone or a Bluetooth receiver. The latter was screened using a metal casing, so it had to be placed on the outside. The receiver communicates via a digital optical connection. The final effect is quite nice. Although even the fifth version of Bluetooth is characterized by slight data compression, but the omission of analog processing compensates for the losses.

The Fram Maxi 150 next to a prototype of flagship loudspeakers, in the Ancient Audio company listening room

The Maxi 150 also have analog RCA inputs of 2 V input sensitivity and a mini-jack of 1 V sensitivity. Sources can be switched using the remote control or by shortly pressing the power button at the rear of the loudspeaker. A white flash of the LED on the front panel signals analog inputs, two flashes – the digital electric S/P DIF input, while three – the optical input. From a user’s point of view, the Maxi 150 are a real audio harvester. There are: a DAC, a preamp, the Digital Speaker Processor, power amplifiers and loudspeakers in one cabinet.

The sound of loudspeakers is, obviously, the outcome of the operation of drivers, amplifiers, cabinet and passive radiators, under the control of the Digital Speaker Processor.

The Maxi 150, as well as the Midi 120 and Midi 150 from the new Fram series have a unique arrangement of passive radiators located behind the bass-midrange drivers. They also operate in the midrange, adding a significant amount of space behind the speakers, thanks to which they operate similarly to dipole loudspeakers.

The processor oversees the operation of the whole, quite complex acoustic system. There are three programs to select from (neutral, with bass reduction, with treble reduction) that can be switched at the rear of the right loudspeaker. The loudspeakers are offered in a silver anodized or black anodized finish, with silver or golden rings. The cabinets are made of anodized aluminum and polished stainless steel. ♦


When I talked to Jarek about the test, it was natural for us that I would use my Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player as the source – and so I did. However, after some time I thought that it is a system that one would probably not encounter in real life. So, I carried out the rest of the listening sessions using the Lumïn T1 file player. I connected its analog outputs to RCA analog inputs, and the digital outputs to the digital RCA input in the loudspeakers. And this test was conducted in such a system.

FRAM in "High Fidelity”
  • REVIEW: Fram MAXI | active loudspeakers
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY | Meeting No.119: FRAM (celebrating Christmas and the New Year)

  • Recordings used for the test (a selec- tion)

    • John Coltrane, Coltrane ‘58: The Prestige Recording , Craft Recordings/Tidal, MQA 24/96 (2019)
    • Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, Last Dance, ECM Records/Tidal Masters, MQA 24/96(2014)
    • Mike Posner, A Real Good Kid, Island Records/Tidal Masters, MQA 24/48 (2019)
    • Neil Young, Colorado, Reprise Records/Tidal Masters, MQA 24/192 (2019)
    • Noon, Algorytm, Nowe Nagrania/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2019)
    • Stacey Kent, I Know I Dream: The Orchestral Sessions (Deluxe Version), Okeh/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2017)

    The Fram Maxi 150 loudspeakers sound as if a nice and pleasant, but small A-class tube amplifier was connected to large floorstanding high-class loudspeakers, e.g. an amp based on EL34 tubes that would effortlessly control them. I am neither exaggerating, nor giving additional colors to the story – listen to the Fram loudspeakers and you will know what I am talking about.

    That is why we will spend the first few minutes of listening on rubbing our eyes. Yes, we know that these are expensive loudspeakers and we also know that they were made by a person who also makes amplifiers and CD players that can compete with the best devices of their kind. But knowing is one thing, while hearing is something else. Even the best craftsmen sometimes make bad things.

    However, the Maxi 150 belong to a completely different group of products. They have it all: excellent sound, great looks, precise craftsmanship and high functionality. The sound is exactly like what we can imagine when we connect the abovementioned amplifier and loudspeakers in our mind. It is warm, dense and incredibly saturated musical message. If you have ever heard lifestyle loudspeakers, you know that sound is most often one of the least important things about them. They sound flat when it comes to dynamics, usually clamor in the treble and midrange, and they offer no good resolution.

    The Fram loudspeakers are exactly the opposite – they have everything that lifestyle loudspeakers cannot have. It is because apart from great tone color, there is also exceptionally good tonal balance. Tone color can be regulated here using the switch that Jarek talked about earlier, but this does not bring about great changes. What we can hear here is slight emphasis on the low midrange and a little lower highest treble, which is clear to me. However, I saw these the way I see such modifications introduced by tubes: as an advantage – something that shapes the whole sound, not only frequency response.

    The loudspeakers also have incredible dynamics. Whether it was the new Neil Young from MQA 24/192 files or Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden from the Last Dance album, each time I had real performers in front of me, with varied volume, shadowing, with wonderfully balanced contrasts. With more compressed recordings, e.g. Mike Posner’s great album A Real Good Kid or Noon’s Algorytm, the dynamics was lower, but it still was not a flat message. I would even say that, subjectively, in such wisely made recordings everything seems even more live, dense and “to the front”.

    I think that this is largely due to the way space is presented. These are loudspeakers that give us an incredibly big panorama, with depth, width and height. They do not offer the best resolution in the world, so the differentiation of instrument heights and their location is not too clear. On the other hand, something like that can be done by few passive systems from this price range. Here it does not matter too much, as sound is large and we do not pay attention to such differences.

    Finally, a few words about the bass. I should have started with it, as it is the element that makes the greatest impression (after space is considered). However, I did not want you to fixate on this aspect of the sound of the Fram Maxi 150 and neglect its other, equally important elements. The bass is unique in every respect. We see it and do not believe it – it is a classic cognitive dissonance. One could use this as an example to teach students of philosophy or psychology what it is about. It is because these are small loudspeakers with two 130 mm drivers. However, they sound like big floorstanding loudspeakers with well-tuned bass.

    The bass goes very low and is incredibly dynamic. When it comes to tone color, it resembles the sound of Harbeth and Dynaudio loudspeakers from the new Confidence series. It is because it is rather warm than neutral, but its warmth comes from natural light, not from “burnout”. At the same time, it is nicely differentiated, although we will probably pay attention to its dynamics and to how it stretches than to little flavors. It is similar with the other side of the range, too. The treble is sonorous and dynamic, but also rather “golden” than “iron”, if you know what I mean. The treble will often surprise us with its sophistication, but it mostly does not bother us and completes the midrange.

    The loudspeakers sound best with sophisticated musical and sonic material. ECM, Blue Note or Impulse! records (especially older ones) show everything that is best about the Fram Maxi 150 loudspeakers. However, music where scale matters, i.e. rock and hip-hop, also sounds equally good. Recordings with acoustic instruments on a larger scale also sounded great, e.g. Stacey Kent’s excellent I Know I Dream: The Orchestral Sessions (Deluxe Version) album.

    It is because these are really universal loudspeakers. The more compressed and mainstream signal is, the more strongly upper midrange is shown, which will not be liked by everyone. The manufacturer has equipped the loudspeakers with a small switch which allows us to reduce the disadvantage a little. Another solution might be using the analog and not the digital input. This results in less selective, but a bit warmer and thus more pleasant sound. So, when we listen to albums from ECM, we do it through the digital input, but we listen to Pet Shop Boys through the analog input or via Bluetooth.


    These are loudspeakers for those who care about sound and are not satisfied with sound crap commonly present in this type of products, but also do not want to build a classic stereo system. The Fram Maxi 150 will not replace expensive loudspeakers with a costly amplifier, but they will not be much worse and will give us something that the former do not have – dynamics, swing, space and density. They are also a complete system that just needs to be connected to any file player – and everything is ready. If I were to choose a lifestyle product for audiophiles and music lovers, the Fram Maxi 150 would be one of my favorites.


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