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PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ open baffle speakers Review

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The secret red jumper

One aspect of configurability built into the Leonidas crossover is the furtive red jumper placed near one of the red inductor coils on the crossover board. It allows either inclusion or omission of the inductor in the signal path. This is a highly efficacious option as it alters the speaker’s sound without undue deleterious effect on the sound quality, and no need to source parts. The red jumper is pulled off the pins it rests upon and with a slight turn is pivoted on one end to occupy an alternative pin. The most difficult part of the process was trying to get my fingers into the cramped space to pull the jumper off for repositioning. I found it was easier to take a small tool, such as a needle nose pliers, and gently pull off the red jumper. This is easy tweaking, no skills are required, so owners should not be fearful about it. As with any change to the signal path on a speaker, turn the amplifiers off before repositioning the jumpers to avoid potential damage to the amplifier.

The effect was not unlike that obtained when rolling tubes in a component. The degree of difference immediately passed my Law of Efficacy, but the change was not such that the speaker seemed “out of character” or fundamentally different. The angled positioning of the jumper made the Neo15 Voxativ more plump and slightly less transparent, as though seeing a beautiful morning sunrise with a bit of golden morning fog, a lovely scene but not absolutely clear. Such an impression is only sensed when a direct comparison can be made; the speaker sounds clean innately, but when the red jumper is repositioned it sounds less colored and a bit cleaner.

With the jumper in the perpendicular position to the circuit board’s side things were cleaned up, as though the morning mist had burned off and now there was no perceived haze. However, there was also a slight thinning of the images as they became clearer. The plump notes went on a bit of a diet and were not quite as rich. I am speaking in terms of a few perceived percentage points, perhaps 5% perceptually, so do not get the notion that there was something amiss with the speaker. Some audiophiles have a knee jerk reaction to any discussion of a product that might perform less cleanly in certain setups. The truth is that a change of cables and most certainly a change of component can bring about similar changes in performance. To have such an adjustment on the speaker means more adaptability in the system, a valuable feature in a speaker at this price point.


Very good vibrations

As the Beach Boys say in their song, “Good Vibrations,” “I hear the sound of a gentle word on the wind that lifts her perfume through the air.” Indeed there is something about those waves of sound that touch us, and I hear very good vibrations emerging from the Trio15 Voxativ. Even though most speakers that move through my room are high performance models, most do not have the effect of settling me down to calm my reviewer’s analytical mind. Although the Trio15 Voxativ has absolute limits in performance, as discussed below, it covered them so gracefully that I was able to enjoy the speaker holistically without being perturbed by perceived shortcomings.

Over the years I have turned increasingly to electric bass players to get my fix of Funk. I was one of those people who actually liked Saturday Night Fever, who enjoyed Disco music. I think it was the nearly militant happiness of it, the refusal to be down, that clicked with me. If you ever invite me over, you had best not play dour, dismal music! I do not listen to music in order to be brought down in my spirit! I want to leave the session energized, feeling good, not thinking what a bummer life is.

How does one get highly energized music, often with tinges of synth, to sound palatable to the audiophile ear? Very carefully! Most of it is not recorded well, and this shows readily enough. The problem is most speakers cannot both reveal the imperfections and at the same time handle them delicately enough that they are not off-putting. America’s “Tin Man,” Michael Martin Murphy’s “Wildfire,” and other period pieces with compromised recordings are pretty ragged sounding compared to well engineered vocals of today. However, the Trio15 Voxativ floated the vocals without undue strain or hollowness. Background noise in the recordings was handled well enough that it did not encroach terribly on the performance. The single driver technology lent a nostalgic quality to these pieces without sounding as though the technology was defunct.

I enjoyed a re-mastering of Alan Parsons Project I Robot, and was pleased to hear a wealth of minutia heretofore buried in the original recording. I thought that the full range driver would have a tendency to stifle the nuances Parsons worked into each song, but I never felt the speaker was blockading the music. Parsons’ music is harsh, not the kind of thing you want to hear when relaxing. The older I get the less of it I can take in large doses, despite his being among my most favored nostalgia artists. It is much to the credit of the Trio15 Voxativ that I could revisit “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” and “Breakdown” at 85dB with my eyes closed, comfortably absorbing the retro-rock performance.

James Taylor’s “Up on the Roof” is my favorite nostalgia get-away-from-it-all song, and Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day” is my nothin’-wrong-in-the-world piece. Taylor’s voice can be edgy and Withers’ anemic if a rig isn’t right in the upper midrange. Here the beauty of the speaker shines through. Though it can perform respectably as a rock speaker its native character is more suited to the easygoing, relaxed spirit of listening. Those who want drive and action with high intensity and high information delivery can make the Trio15 Voxativ behave in that fashion, but it is such a winsome speaker at comfortable levels and mellow music!


Too many good vibrations

Good vibrations, that’s what the song spoke of, but when in the bass one gets too much of them strange things happen. Most often extreme LF at high levels in my room results in telltale sympathetic vibrations in the ceiling panels. My walls do not vibrate noticeably because I massively overbuilt the room and used triple the normal amount of drywall screws in the walls. I’m certain the man who came in to finish the walls I hung cursed me under his breath, but the room has never budged no matter the assault from the bottom end.

I encountered one operational issue during the review period, noise associated with vibrations issuing forth from the right speaker when playing music with extreme LF. When I would play my standard demo piece “Metropolis” by Bass Addiction, a pronounced thrumming sound in the right speaker would accompany the music. It struck my ear as a sound produced by vibrations, and I checked to see if the panels and drivers were secure. They were, which left only one source of mechanical vibrations, the crossover. The crossover being attached directly to the metal frame and the speaker lacking massive damping from a heavy, inert cabinet opens the possibility of severe vibrations playing havoc with the crossover.

A couple things must be kept in mind, the first being that this is a modular speaker with a modular crossover that the owner assembles. The crossover components by their nature are not affixed to their board as tightly and perfectly as a factory-built crossover. This is not error, but rather a design intended to allow freedom to swap crossover elements with similar specifications. I have had a rather heavy review schedule this year so I did not delve into swapping capacitors and resistors with the Leonidas crossover, though I dearly wished I could. Perhaps in the future I may explore this. I can’t imagine buyers being disappointed with the performance, but there are always some who want to take such a speaker to the next level. They also can use the comments section following this review to report on the results of tweaking the speaker.

Significantly, the mechanically induced noise was the reaction only to severe LF, beyond the pale of most polite listeners. “Metropolis” is in many ways a grotesque piece of music, with little character. It’s a pile driver sonically with no finesse. I use it only to see how far a speaker’s bass can be taken. In that respect the Neo15 woofers superseded my expectations. With clean power the speaker can take whatever low end you dish out. Even orchestras in full flight will not induce the percussive boom that created the vibrational noise. I anticipate that most owners would never encounter this anomaly.

I heard somewhere in the past that capacitors are sensitive to vibrations, so as the music pulsated I touched my finger lightly to the capacitor and felt it shaking violently. When I put more finger pressure on the capacitor to still it the noise disappeared. I placed a beanbag weight on the crossover to still the vibrations and the noise stopped immediately. Remember, this was only in the right speaker, and upon careful examination I discovered I used slightly longer leads on that crossover’s capacitor (they can be trimmed prior to assembly), allowing too much “sway” and thus admitting vibration. Regardless, the issue is one that is easily rectified and the dampening fix completely addressed the problem.

Another, even more sure fix is to physically isolate the crossover by detaching it from the frame and placing it atop isolation devices placed in the space at the bottom of the frame. That way no vibrations of significance enter the crossover. I noticed that PureAudioProject is now giving owners chunky rubber washers to isolate the crossover, but when dealing with extreme LF this is not enough. Either way, dampening or physical isolation, works to ensure no mechanical noise will protrude on the listening experience.

It is lovely that so simple a solution presents itself; if this were a speaker with a closed cabinet such an anomaly would be disastrous, but in this case it is merely a niggling issue to resolve in a matter of minutes. I have not downgraded my opinion of this speaker because of such a discovery. The PureAudioProject Neo15 series is brilliantly designed with excellent parts quality and executed with the capacity for superb performance. I have found idiosyncrasies in products at all price points and many are not fixable. In the larger scheme of this review the isolation of the crossover is a quirk, not a roadblock.

20 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!!!


  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.

    Douglas Schroeder

  7. Jerry says:


    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?


  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.

    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,

  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.

    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.


    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!

    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.

    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!


  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.

    Douglas Schroeder

  18. Shama says:

    This brought back some memories of a “Speaker Builder” journal series by Warren Hunt & Joseph Janni called ‘A Full Range Open Baffle System’ published back in 1994 – 96. This implementation is a natural outcome built on their & others work. Love the wide range Voxativ application. Keep the Faith.
    Carefully Hear
    Carefully Consider
    Carefully Live

  19. Paul Letteri says:

    Doug Great review, I sold my new Marten Logan 11-a,4 months old based on Dougs review,
    My brother is a critic ,but he was very impressed considering the Xover parts were only 24 hours old
    As well as the Verastarr wire which is exceptional,I now use Verastarr throughout my system a realism
    Not found before ,the power cord alone took my digital to new heights. Getting back to my speakers
    I have been modding xovers for years my new average spend is a great capacitor for the Leonitus Xover 1-68uf Clarity CSA,,And Fostex Copper,tin foil,2.2uf as a big bypass for flavor soldered together
    For $250 Madisound carries and get them close matched 1%. Magical compared with the average white Mundorf cap. The feet too need to be addressed a bunch oh hockey pucks. ,spikes are better elevate the front 2 inches if possible . Doug makes many fine points and a Big Thank you .i owned a Hifi store.K for years before coming back home .for shear enjoyment for about $7k
    With capacitor upgrade, and Verastarr wire harness. I have yet to find a more you are there presentation .i have had 5speakers in 4 years several over $10k 1 $22k ,none the equal .

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