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PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ open baffle speakers Review

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Publisher’s note: Also read Doug’s February, 2016 PureAudioProject Trio15TB Review.

 

Some time ago, after I had a chance to do some critical listening to the PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ, the company asked me to comment on the sound. I wrote:

“I have been blindsided by the beauty of the Trio15 Voxativ. I didn’t expect this experience, and it has caused me to reconsider what top end sound is about. With the Voxativ there is a leap upward in terms of the refinement, the characteristics associated with the most beguiling systems. I could take an hour to discuss this ­– and I will in my –-but just as one immediately sees and feels the difference between a sport sedan and a supercar, so also my ears hear the intensity, the focus, and the brilliance of design of the Trio15 Voxativ.

Frankly, this speaker is causing me to reconsider my conclusions regarding premium sound. I had summarily dismissed single driver speakers over the years as inherently incapable of achieving the experience I want, mostly because of their limited frequency response. I also didn’t like the hulking cabinets and the coloration those cabinets contribute to the sound. These perceived drawbacks are both removed by the Trio15 Voxativ, and my ear tells me I am hearing a caliber of sound as legitimate as full range multi-driver dynamic speakers, big ESLs, line source designs, and omnidirectional speakers. In a nearer field setup, the Trio15 Voxativ is second to none in refinement, something I would not have predicted. I have to toss away my preconception that single driver speakers are more convoluted and less articulate than multi-driver speakers.

I’m still wrapping my head around this development; it’s forcing a paradigm shift in my audio worldview. I always knew that as I am a System Builder I would need to explore single driver speakers. I didn’t expect this one to perform at such a level that, from the get-go, it has to be included among the very best I have used. But, that is precisely what has happened.”

Another go round

It is significant that I am following up on the Trio15 speaker line. Increasingly through the years my time is tight for reviews and if a product is merely good I’m not highly motivated to consider a follow up review. Only the best stuff gets another go round. The Trio 15TB (Tang Band) was quite pleasant, so here is another look at the speaker, this time with an upgraded Leonidas crossover and Voxativ AC-1.6 5” full range drivers.

One change to the speaker occurred while I was still working with the Tang Band model, the replacement of the Eminence Alpha 15a woofers with the NEO15 woofers. The changeover to the NEO15 woofers was highly efficacious. The already respectable performance in the low frequencies was improved significantly by the insertion of the NEO15. The speaker has become more prodigious, and both the tonal quality as well as cleanness of the bass has improved. The increased output of the NEO15 is a perfect solution to address any lack of bass impact inherent in an open baffle design. I appreciate that PureAudioProject continues to improve the product and allows for owners in the field to readily access those improvements. It means those who have purchased will not be left behind as a remnant of progress.

I will not recount the particulars of the design discussed in the Trio 15TB review, but will focus on the unique aspects of the Trio15 Voxativ. In addition to the Voxativ drivers the most significant change is the complementary “Leonidas” crossover to be assembled by the owner. It is high-grade DIY audio; you do the work and save the money. The middle baffle that holds the primary driver also is exchanged because the bolt pattern of the full range drivers is different.

The Voxativ is a significantly heavier driver attributable to its massive magnet structure. As with the Tang Band the owner must be cautious to protect the delicate paper driver cones. One brush against it could spell disaster, so keep active pets and small children away! The easiest way to mount the driver is to place the baffle on the floor, place the Voxativ driver into the cutout, raise up the baffle to line up with the driver’s mounting holes, and drop in the bolts. Once the round bolts are secured the driver is safe. The aesthetics are similar to the Tang Band as well. I give a slight nod to the Voxativ driver for being a touch easier on the eyes as it blends better with the natural bamboo baffles I am using.

The “internal” wiring has changed between the Tang Band and the Voxativ versions. This is not an insignificant development, as internal cables push closer to or pull further from a speaker’s optimum performance. I was not able to compare entirely the sets of speaker wiring as the Tang Band version has unusual slip on connectors which prevented easy use with the Voxativ driver. However, the real excitement in regard to the wiring is found in aftermarket cables, and an example from Verastarr is mentioned below.

What you get with the move up the line from the Tang Band and standard crossover to the Voxativ driver and Leonidas crossover is a sea change in quality across the board and more ability to tailor the system to your taste. The Voxativ is an ultra-refined driver made by a world-class company. It represents the introductory level of the Voxativ family, but that introductory level is more refined than many driver manufacturers’ top models! Not just great performance at a bare bones price point, but attainment of a larger percentage of the ephemeral beauty of top performance speakers – that is the goal of the Trio15 Voxativ version. If you have ever driven an auto manufacturer’s mid-level sedan and then driven one of their finest vehicles, instantly you feel the “upgrade” in the driving experience. So it is with the Trio15 Voxativ, as it elevates holistically the PureAudioProject experience.

The major advantage of the Trio15 series is offering potential for that upgrade without the company or owner having to adopt an entirely new speaker. The chief benefits of the PureAudioProject design remain intact, while the shortcomings of the more economical version are addressed. It is among the safest, lowest risk upgrades to a speaker in the industry. I strongly recommend those who own the Tang Band version consider upgrading when possible. If you have a second rig it would not be out of line to use the Tang Band model in the secondary rig and the Voxativ in the primary.

 

Configurability

A big advantage the Neo15 Voxativ is the Leonidas crossover. It was designed for convenience as much as for performance. While one would normally expect soldered contact points, the Leonidas uses connections that are affixed by screws. Heresy, right? Only if you consider the capacity to tune the speaker of little importance. As you might guess, I do not consider such configurability to be unimportant. There are dozens of variables in speaker manufacturing, any one of which can pull down the performance. It is as simple as this: if you can’t get past the lack of soldered contacts, then get them soldered – as long as you realize it would be at the expense of configurability, and perhaps might void your warranty. I am not a master of the soldering iron, yet have done speaker driver changes. If you can handle that, the crossover would not be much more difficult, as long as you are not sloppy. The board for the crossover is so generously laid out that one does not have to be a pro. It also would be inexpensive to have it done by a skilled repairman.

I assure you the speaker is not ruined by lack of soldered connections. The truth of the matter is that companies across the industry use a combination of soldered and unsoldered connections. For example inside some high-end speakers reside slip on pressure clip connections on speaker driver terminals. Another example is the Eastern Electric Minimax DAC series with its socketed Opamps that allow for Opamp rolling. I discuss a couple versions of that DAC extensively in several articles highlighting the Opamp rolling experience. One listen to the benefit of rolling opamps would silence the critic who suggests that it is poor build quality to opt for non-soldered connections.

Therefore, you may want to stop and consider that the Leonidas crossover in the Trio15 Voxativ allows the average audiophile to become a speaker tuner, not merely via cables but via crossover components! This is an outsized benefit that vastly outweighs the disadvantage of the connections. It is the kind of forward thinking that puts power into the hands of the owner, for which I commend PureAudioProject. Configurability is something that appeals to me on nearly a visceral level. As a System Builder I daily encounter the advantages of choices in setting up rigs. I assiduously avoid tone controls – one exception was the commendable controls on the SST Thoebe II Preamplifier/DAC – but look for alternatives provided by the combination of components (I consider cables collectively to be a component). A configurable crossover is a bonus for the owner, and it can mean the difference between satisfaction and elation.

18 Responses to PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ open baffle speakers Review


  1. Riccardo says:

    Hi and thank you for the great review. I am in the process to upgrade from 1.7i to 3.7i although it will probably move from the current Karan Acoustics I-180 to dedicated monoblocks. Your comment about lower end of the Magnepan line let me hope I am going in the right direction. Or should I consider the Voxativ a better option? My source is hires digital via tube dac and I almost exclusively play any subgenre of classical music. I will very appreciate your candide answer. R

  2. AMF says:

    Great report, Doug. It would be great to see pictures of the crossover and construction details.

  3. AMF says:

    Never mind, I saw your February 2016 report

  4. Jerry says:

    I have the Trio 15 Voxative on order. Ze’ev indicated the value of the single film cap was 68. Please identify the Clarity Caps you used and their values.

  5. Gary Anderson says:

    I have the PAP Voxativ

    Mike Powell of Verastarr has been leading the way on tweaks and upgrade pathes for my speakers and for his very own PAP V speakers.

    Brand new shoes to walk with under the speaker. (Footers)

    Crossover off the fame and on Audio Points. Clarity Caps.
    Verastarr’s own custom made ribbon foils from crossover to speakers. I would say with the stock wire that is used for the crossover to speakers is not to be compared to the Verastarr ribbons as it is not even a close fight with Verrastar taking the speaker up in SQ by +30%!!!! The speaker as stock is the best speaker I have owned!! Verastarr has unleashed the incredible potential locked up in these speakers.

    In stock form I would agree with this review as being spot on. The upgrade path for this design is what makes being an Audiophile so much fun!!!

    The team at PAP is the best one could want in customer service. Mike Powell from Verastarr is always pursuing new designs for better SQ and he also is one of the best designers I have had the pleasure to deal with!!!

    Regards,
    Gary

  6. Jerry,
    God’s Peace,
    I believe you will thoroughly enjoy the Voxativ version.
    I had desire to use the Clarity Caps but have not done so at this point.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  7. Jerry says:

    Gary,

    Great info, I was wondering if anyone had taken this speaker under there wing for tweeks, new wiring, crossovers and isolation. But I am really anxious to know which clarity caps and in what values or do I need to contact Verastarr?

    Best,
    Jerry

  8. Gary,
    God’s Joy to you,

    Thank you for the vote of confidence regarding the accuracy of the review!
    I will be working with Verastarr cabling with the PAP in the future.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  9. SM says:

    Hi Doug,

    Congratulations on writing this excellent review. I’ve few questions.

    1) If someone mostly prefers (80%) rock/electronic/indie/modern music and the remaining is vocal/ acoustics/R&B/soul – which one would you think would be more suitable PAP Tang Band, PAP Voxativ and Daedalus Ulysses? Assuming, money is not a concern and listening is done in a moderate volume.

    2) I use T+A Dac8 DSD and upsample everything to DSD 512 using HQPlayer. I think it makes a significant difference. And hence, it won’t be possible for me to switch to Exogal combo. What other amp do you think would be a good match with the PAP Voxativ/TB given my music choice?

    Did you get to use your Vac Phi 200 amp with you PAP? How was your impression? Solid State (Class A/AB/D) vs Tube – which one would be more suitable for listening to modern music with moderate volume? I value dynamics/grunt but also refinement. I currently have a Rogue ST 100 amp was wondering if it’d be a good match with PAP Voxativ.

    3) Do you think a listening room of 15’x12′ would be suitable for PAP Voxativ?

    Thank you,
    SM

  10. SM,
    God’s Peace to you,

    Thanks for your complement!
    I am pressed for time, however, I can say this answer to your numbered questions:
    1. the Voxativ – it is the most beautiful and actually more capable in clean low end than the Daedalus
    2. If you wish to go with a Class D amp the Red Dragon S500 is quite good, as well as the Legacy Audio Powerbloc2; the Powerbloc2 is a bit warmer. You may also wish to read up on my review of the First Watt J2, which sounds very good with the Voxativ, however not as much dynamic impact as with more powerful SS amp. I didn’t have much experience with the VAC and PAP, however, I think it would be a good match.
    Try your Rogue amp; you may love it. However, there are always many options/upgrades and the PAP will reveal all amp changes.
    4. Your room should be ok. You can always put some sound panels behind the speakers if you wish.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  11. Gerry E. says:

    Hi Doug:

    I’m using custom Trio 15s with vintage ALTEC 756Bs and Jensen RP302s. I found your review very interesting, especially the part about placement. A few questions related to that:

    1. Is the 7′ distance between speakers from the inside-edges or centers?

    2. How far are you sitting from the speakers? Also, what is the distance between the speakers and the wall behind them?

    3. Last, are you saying you are using a toe-in angle that is less than usual due to the shorter distance between the speakers?

    For comparison, I’m using my pair in a large basement listening room. The distance between them is 8 feet (edge to edge). There’s approx. 44″ between the speakers and the wall behind them. Last, the sweet spot is about 10.5′ from the speakers.

    I totally agree with you that optimizing image height is critical for best sound. I have my pair sitting atop 3″ high maple cutting boards. I’m also using two stock spikes in front so that they are tilted back as much as possible.

    Thanks!

    Gerry E.

  12. Gerry,
    God’s Joy to you,

    I appreciate the warm and thoughtful reply!

    I actually have that system taken down now and I’m working on other reviews, so this is my recollection; The 7′ foot measurement would be from driver to driver, and I sit in that configuration about 10′ away from them. The distance from the head wall to speakers is about 6′. The toe in angle is not due to the shorter distance between speakers, but rather due to the nature of the single driver, in order to open up the center image more.

    Your placement is not out of line, but if you wish and have the room you can certainly try some rather different relationships between the listening seat, width and toe in.

    One must be cautious the center of balance and stability of the speaker is not pushed too far. Other than that, the raking back of the grill is wonderful!

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  13. Mike Bernstein says:

    Nice review Douglas! I was curious if you compared this with Vapor Joule (I know it is apples to oranges) and provide your thoughts? I have heard Nimbus -they were good.

  14. Mike,
    The Joy of the Lord to you,

    I appreciate the appreciation!

    I did not do direct comparison as the speakers are in vastly different categories in every respect. However, I have had occasion to handle both in several systems. Predominantly the cabinet of the Joule White 3, while quite inert does impart the classic “box” sound as would be expected versus the open baffle design of the Tre015 Voxativ.

    The Voxativ cannot be beat in terms of coherence, as might be expected in a comparison between a 3-way and hybrid single driver setup. The edge in terms of absolute cleanness and detail retrieval would go to the Joule White 3. The sense of ease in bass extension would be won by the Voxativ, as might be expected with twin 15″ drivers per channel. However, the overall most pleasing nature of the bass would likely be a draw given the beauty of both.

    I suggest both are marvelous examples of good design and execution for their price points, otherwise I wouldn’t be using them! One last remark; when Ryan Scott delivered the Joule White 3 at that time I was using the Nimbus and struggled to relinquish it in partial payment for the Joule White 3. Ryan reassured me that the Joule White 3 was far superior and I would come to love it. He was right; I do appreciate the tighter performance of the Joule White 3 and likely would not go back to the Nimbus if given the chance. Most other 3-way speakers at the price I would likely return to the Nimbus. If I add subs to the Joule White 3 I get the foundation of the Nimbus, but with the holistic performance of the richer model.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  15. Bill Baker says:

    Greetings Douglas,
    It is nice to see a review of this speaker as I have been looking at their design concept for some time with great interest. With the return of Purity Audio Design, I believe these speakers can be built and customized, especially the crossover, in a way that they can become a reference in one of my test systems. I even have some copper foil wiring set aside to be used to wire up the drivers when I decide on my next reference speaker. I will continue researching this line before making any final decisions.
    Thanks again for reviewing these speakers and happy to see you’re still involved in this great industry.

  16. Mike Bernstein says:

    Thank you Douglas for taking time to reply- appreciate this!

    Mike

  17. Bill,
    God’s Joy,

    Lovely to hear from you! I’m sure that with your special TLC the speakers could become a lovely reference for you. I would find it interesting to see what you have planned for them. Feel free to contact me via my Dagogo email address and let me know what the plans are for the speakers, should you go that route. I appreciate your support of my reviewing.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

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