PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ
To OB, or not OB, that is the question. That is the question I answered decades ago when I brought home Dahlquist DQ10s because they connected with me like none of the other speakers I auditioned. The die was cast. From there I migrated to Apogee and Quad ESL-2805s. All the OB designs work for me in a way most box speakers don’t. Enough said. This is not a debate, but know my bias going forward.
After reviewing the PureAudioProject Trio10 MundorfAMT (reviewed here,) I looked forward to getting up close and personal with one of its bigger, badder brothers under development. I had ended that review with the promise of more to come from PureAudioProject and they did not disappoint. The lineup now includes their flagship Stellar 12, four Trio10 models, and six Trio15 models including the Trio15 Voxativ which I heard at T.H.E. Show Newport in 2016 and the latest addition, Quintet15, that debuted at the California Audio Show July, 2017. After discussing the Trio15 models with Ze’ev Schlik, Founder and Managing Director of PureAudioProject, I decided the Voxativ was the one most likely to please this Quad die-hard.
Some Assembly Required
All PureAudioProject loudspeakers come in a kit form with all parts needed for assembly and all holes pre-drilled. The only tools needed are a 3&4mm hex wrenches and proper-sized Philips screwdrivers. Each frame comes in nine pieces but don’t panic, six pieces are screws. The two heavy-gauge aluminum vertical supports and base go together quickly. This newest design is not only more attractive, it also eliminates any part of the frame being directly behind the drivers. Isolation feet are the high-quality Soundcare from Norway. All screw holes are reinforced and the final assembly is very solid. Bass drivers are mounted from the rear using wood screws. The Voxativ driver is mounted from the front using through-and-through bolts with thumb nuts.
Assembly tip 1: the Voxativ driver frames have small, black washers embedded in the front face mounting holes. They are fairly invisible and prone to falling out. I found a couple on the floor and it took me a while (months!) to figure out where they had come from.
Populating the Leonidas crossover is easy. No soldering is involved. the five components connect to gold plated terminals, mounted on an audiophile-grade circuit board, designed by PureAudioProject and made by Mundorf in Germany. The stock capacitor supplied is the Mundorf MCap Classic. The crossover includes a jumper that engages (angled position) or disengages (straight position) a 0.2mh (millihenries) inductor that trims high frequencies when in the circuit.
Assembly tip 2: Do not try to pull the jumper up with pliers or squeeze too hard with fingers. That compresses the jumper and makes it hard to pull up. A better approach is prying it up from the bottom with a flat blade screwdriver. It really comes off easily if not squeezed.
Assembly tip 3: For assembling the crossover I recommend two more tools. A pair of skinny needle-nose pliers is useful for removing and reinstalling the top clamp plates and screws from the connecting terminals for the driver wires. That is easier than trying to thread braided wire. A small wire cutter is handy for trimming leads and cutting excess from cable ties.
Four screws attach the crossover to the base of the frame. Connecting crossover wires to the drivers is even simpler. Bass drivers have spring loaded connections and the Voxativ drivers have thumb screw binding posts for bare wire, spades or banana plugs.
The two OB-A15 15” woofers are designed and manufactured exclusively for PureAudioProject in Eminence Kentucky, USA by Eminence Speakers LLC.. They are upgrades to the Eminence Alpha15a and designed specifically for open baffle applications. Design features include a very open cast basket, 2.5” voice coil, shorting ring, and Neodymium magnets.
The Voxativ AC-1.6 is a nominal 8” (7.5" install diameter) driver built in Germany by one of the premier manufacturers of full-range drivers. Its stated frequency range is 20Hz to 20 KHz but, in the Trio15, low frequencies not audible on the Voxativ driver in an open baffle are filtered by a serial capacitor. There is no reason to drive it full-range in a two-way design. The Voxativ drivers are surprisingly beefy at eight pounds each.
The Leonidas crossover connects the woofers in parallel but serial to the Voxativ driver, allowing all drivers to perform independently in their optimum frequency range. To accomplish this, the Leonidas crossover seamlessly blends the drivers together in the 350-450Hz range. Frequency range and the SPL balancing between the drivers is a function of the value of the components with coils affecting primarily woofers, capacitors affecting full-range and high-frequency drivers and resistors balancing SPLs between drivers.
PureAudioProject provides a default setup with recommended components and values, and detailed voicing guidelines for every speaker model that is released with Leonidas crossovers but users are encouraged to experiment and tune their speakers to their personal taste and to match the electronics used. Have a favorite capacitor you want to try? Its easy with Leonidas crossovers. Just grab a screwdriver. The Leonidas crossover offers the electronic equivalent of "tube rolling". PureAudioProject is happy to lend personal guidance to owners based on their electronics and music preferences.
Has your therapist told you that you have a problem with commitment? Fear not, the PureAudioProject Trio15 series is just what you are looking for. No commitment required or asked for. All five 3-driver models share the same 15" drivers so swapping between models only requires two new center baffles and drivers plus a crossover modification or replacement. The frame is already pre-drilled with extra holes that allow swapping the smaller middle baffle with the larger top baffle if you want to try that configuration. The new Quintet also uses the same bass drivers but to upgrade to it you would need more drivers, more baffles, and a new frame in addition to crossover changes.
With the Leonidas crossover available on all full-range driver models, tweaking the crossover for new values is simple. All changes can be made in a manner of minutes. Other models require a complete crossover swap. Or use the PAP-C1 available from PureAudioProject to bi-amp. The PAP-C1 is an active analog crossover, designed by Nelson Pass and First Watt for two way open baffle speakers with woofers and full range drivers.
The design of PureAudioProject speakers makes them a tweaker's paradise. Driver hookup wire can be changed in a few minutes and the Leonidas crossover is something special in its own right with so few parts and easy access. Here are some of the tweaks I tried.
Others disagree but I have always found spiking through carpet onto concrete is superior to using feet or isolation cups on that type of floor. With the Trio15 Voxativ speakers spiking immediately improved overall focus and dramatically tightened up the bass. I actually decreased the volume on the preamplifier because the speakers played louder spiked. Isolation feet on carpet muted performance. I used three, inexpensive Yung YBLCG long (2.15") tiptoes. The Trio15 Voxativ speakers share the same 8mm thread size as my Quads so trying them was a no-brainer. The base of the Trio15 Voxativ has five threaded, reinforced holes allowing the user to choose a three or four spike configuration. 8mm spikes can be hard to find. The good people at Adona Corporation are your friends for custom sizes.
I have sometimes wondered how much vibration affects crossover performance. With the Trio15 Voxativ I had a great opportunity to find out. Ever since seeing the IsoAcoustics Aperta equipment isolation stands at T.H.E. Show Newport I wanted to try a pair. They are so damn cute. They are too tall to fit inside my equipment rack but the smallest model is the perfect size to take any PureAudioProject crossover outboard. I can't say I noticed much change detaching the crossovers but it made my reviewing job much easier. In addition to possible sonic benefits they are a great accessory for those wanting to swap crossover components or driver connecting wire. Removing and reinstalling the crossovers is easy but tedious. Want to try A/B testing high frequency performance with the conductor jumper in the Leonidas crossover? If the crossovers are mounted as mirror images for ease of connecting speaker wire, one jumper will not be accessible. The Apertas are very affordable and readily available online. If your budget is tight, the IsoAcoustic Iso-L8R series is even more affordable.
Although published posthumously, instead of penning You Can't Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe, if writing about audiophiles, would have written "you can't go backwards". After installing a ClarityCap 68µF ESA Series polypropylene capacitor into each crossover I could not go back to the supplied Mundorf. The ClarityCap opened the soundstage, added more warmth, and actually improved the bass perception by by fleshing out the midrange. This resulted in bass with more body and less of a hollow feeling. I don't feel bad about using the non-stock capacitor for this review because a pair can be purchased for less than $80 delivered and the Leonidas crossover begs to be tweaked.
Pure Fun Factor
Writing, like any creative process, is often visited by epiphanies at odd moments. While I was doing some mundane household chores it struck me that PureAudioProject speakers have a high "Pure Fun Factor". The idea and term hit me simultaneously. No other audio product made me think that. What other loudspeaker manufacturer offers even a small opportunity to morph their product to the users needs and tastes? I tweaked the Trio15 Voxativ because I could. Like climbing the mountain because it is there. Audiophiles are constantly thinking what if I...? That certainly was behind my tinkering and that is probably one driving force behind the rapid creation of so many speaker and crossover options being developed by PureAudioProject in such a short time.
My comments on performance are based on a ClarityCap installed in each crossover and my usual suspects: Laufer Teknik Memory Player 64 (32 core), Aesthetix Calypso Signature, Sanders Sound Systems Magtech amplifier, ARC Reference75 amplifier with KT-150 tubes, Bybee Stealth power conditioner, and all JPS Labs Aluminata cables.
The combination of high efficiency drivers and no box has two, seemingly opposite benefits. They whisper! The combination creates a perfect environment for low volume listening. I did not need to turn up the volume past much more than a whisper to get Emmylou Harris to join me in my room. On Wayfaring Stranger from "The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches and Highways" [Rhino/Warner Bros. R2 73123] the heartache, nuance, and modulation in her voice is not lost. Neither is the soft guitar strumming nor the soundstage with Emmylou centered but guitar accompaniment on either side. As a long-time Quad owner, I demand seamless blending between drivers. The Trio15 Voxativ easily met the challenge. I could not find any discord. The Trio15 Voxativ is an excellent choice for late night quiet sessions. These speakers do with ease what many box speakers struggle with, they set your music free.
They roar! The combination of high efficiency drivers and no box show off their other, wilder side on the entire 2-CD collection "An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House" [J*R Adventures PRAR944445] by Joe Bonamassa. I especially enjoyed the building tempo and volume of Slow Train. which is anything but slow. A high volume level can be easily reached without breakup or noticeable distortion. But if you want to go to insane levels I think you will find the Voxativ driver limiting. Its forte is nuance, not head-banging. Bass response did not plumb the depths like a subwoofer would but the quality was much better to my ears. I think subwoofers can be a blessing and a curse and appreciate speakers that can stand on their own without them. With the Trio15 Voxativ, drums were tight, focused and had significant impact but did not load the room and "boom" like boxed drivers tend to do. They are much more room "friendly".
Trio15 Voxativ loudspeakers are eminently enjoyable in stock configuration but also offer owners the unique opportunity to tune them to their personal taste and changes in ancillary equipment or rooms to ensure long-term enjoyment. Testimony to the value brought to you by PureAudioProject is a final price not much more than it would cost an individual to purchase the components separately considering the high MSRP of the Voxativ drivers. All too frequently loudspeaker manufacturers appear to price their products with no relation to the cost of the components or performance. I realize there are other cost considerations in speaker design and building but my charity and credulity concerning value only stretch so far. In addition to an attractive price to component value, the Trio15 Voxativ is an exceptional price to performance value.
Accessibility to PureAudioProject speakers is better than many other brands in their price range because PureAudioProject is an international company with operations in Iowa, Frankfurt, and Tel Aviv. Ze’ev Schlik loves earning frequent-flyer miles by globe-trotting to exhibit at audio shows. But more than that, he genuinely loves bringing good performance at affordable prices to music lovers everywhere. Check out the show schedule on the PureAudioProject website.
SPL: 94-96db measured in a typical room
Frequency Range: between 29-32hz to 19Khz (in a typical room)
Impedance: 3.5 to 8ohm
Size: (WxHxD) 21.25" x 45.7" x 10.6" (54cm x 116cm c 27cm)
Weight: 66 pounds each (30kg/each)
Price: US $5,790.- shipped from the US
EUR 5,790.- shipped from Germany
Prices are excl. VAT and Shipping
USA: +1 877 927 2233
Germany: +49 151 686 49581
Intl.: +972 54 258 4258