So far it’s been installed in Space in Ibiza, Sound in LA, Output in New York and has been used at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and Serbia’s Exit Festival.
In this Audio Pro International exclusive, we uncover how the system went from being a thought in Tony Andrews’ mind to a fully developed product "unlike any other..."
The PSM318 story began back in early 2011 at Funktion-One’s headquarters in Surrey, UK, when renowned DJ and producer Carl Cox called in. “Carl Cox was here, I think it was March 2011,” recalls Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews. “We tried him with the PSM18 – the wedge monitor we’ve got – and he absolutely loved it. He was really pleased with it, which was encouraging.”
The PSM18, while taking the shape of a low-profile wedge monitor, offers significant performance advantages over conventional monitors, Funktion-One says. It features a triple concentric arrangement, comprising a high-power 18-inch driver with a coaxially mounted two-way compression driver, as opposed to a standard 15-inch and compression-driver configuration. While it is a standout product in its own right, there were other considerations for Andrews to contemplate.Article continues below
“We were encountering a demand for large monitoring systems – from DJs and from distributors in different countries,” Andrews says. “Around the same time, people were talking about sight lines and how much commercial value there is in selling the VIP section around the DJ booth. So I started to consider a new concept in DJ monitoring.”
With an idea in his head, Andrews began to focus on a bass solution that would be most effective in this particular near-field application. “I decided I was going to make a bass reflex speaker to go underneath it,” he explains. This would work with the desired height, plus it would give the company a new kind of bass sound to work with. “Our bass is really punchy and dynamic. We wanted something that has a plush, elastic feel, which is one of the characteristics of the reflex-loaded stuff.”
Work then began on the BR218 bass reflex speaker, which would help form the bottom section of the PSM318.
The bass reflex work was progressing quite naturally – there was no specific deadline to hit, only the flexible aim of the ambitious inventor. That was until the PSM318’s development took on an unexpected urgency.
Space in Ibiza needed a new monitoring system for Richie Hawtin (pictured, left) who was opening his new night ENTER – in ten days time. Things quickly took on a more impelling nature.
“I had ten days to design, build and put the new monitor out there, and I believed I could do it, so I spoke to Richie’s engineer,” comments Andrews.
Johannes Krämer has been Richie Hawtin’s sound engineer for more than five years. In that time, he has supported the DJ on countless appearances all over the world and on headline tours. “Johannes agreed with the bass reflex approach for the low frequency section,” continues Andrews, “and he was all over the fact that it was to be a point source low mid and high frequency giving a larger sweet spot. I said: ‘Look, we’ve got this, I’m going to do it. I will have you some monitors by Thursday’. And basically got off the call really adrenalised and stormed into it.
“Within two days I’d come up with a tuning for the bass and developed a cut down version of the PSM18 more oriented to mid bass, which then fitted nicely with the dual 18” bass section, giving it the possibility of angle adjustment. Plus it gave it a bit of a look.”
Just as calm was being restored – thanks to an incredible amount of work in a very short period – the timeframe took another direct hit. “We found out that Carl Cox was playing on the Tuesday before Richie Hawtin, so that ten days came down to eight,” Andrews reveals.
Disregarding what most would view as an impossible challenge, Tony and the Funktion-One team pushed ahead with the shortened lead-time. “We managed to do it,” Andrews says. “We finished the design and build, and had a pair of PSM318s in place for Carl Cox’s Tuesday night in Space.
“Everybody loved them to bits. Richie and Johannes loved them so much that they bought a pair – that was the second pair and the other pair stayed in Space for the rest of the season.”
(Above: Carl Cox with his PSM318s at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Photo: Doug van Sant)
It is quite a remarkable success story, considering the timeframe, strength of the product and the magnitude of its initial application – in one of the biggest nightclubs in the world. For many, the story would reach its happy conclusion here – the PSM318 had been turned around in record time and received some powerful endorsements from two of the world’s biggest DJs.
Other companies might sense the potential commercial gain, and be drawn to market at the soonest possible moment, but not Funktion-One. “We wanted to allow Carl and Richie a period of exclusivity and I knew that I’d get feedback from them that would probably be quite useful – so we waited.”
In November 2012, Richie and Johannes took their PSM318s on a three-week college tour of the States. Now very familiar with the monitors, having used them throughout the summer and in various different environments, Krämer, particularly, had started to notice little things that he felt could be tweaked for even better performance.
Andrews and Krämer had several discussions about possible improvements. “I’m really glad it happened because we got an even better result,” Andrews reflects. “It was snappier and even more defined in the mid bass because of the things we’d done and it got onto a whole new level again.”
The PSM318 is made up of two-parts – the double 18-inch bass reflex enclosure (PSM318L) on the bottom and a separate triple concentric enclosure (PSM318H) on the top. The two enclosures are joined by a quick-latch system, which also allows simple angle adjustment for different monitor positions and DJ heights.
While the PSM318L provides very strong near-field sub-bass, the PSM318H supplies the rest of the frequency spectrum. The combination offers "outstanding full frequency output, accuracy and immediacy," according to the manufacturer.
For Andrews, it’s been quite a journey. But when you have two of the biggest DJs in the world inspiring then appreciating your DJ monitors, then you have a right to be pleased with your work. “Carl Cox kicked it off and got to use it first at Space and was overjoyed. He loved it and still does. Richie tried and had the same reaction, and gave me the benefit of his more prolonged experience. It’s a joint collaboration. Two very different DJs too and they both love it,” concludes Andrews.
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