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PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ open baffle speakers Review

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Pick your setup: Power Drive, Renaissance or Highly-Refined Listening

I build many versions of systems when I assess products. For the Trio15 Voxativ I will comment upon three variants to show the wide range of performance possible and how it can fit into different budgets.

Let’s say you have an older system, one with a big ‘old power amp you love. No problem, keep the power amp and swap out those wretchedly indifferent, bland speakers for the vivacious Trio15 Voxativ. This will breathe new life into your listening. Given the choice of freshening up an old amp or an old pair of speakers I would typically select new speakers. Particularly with the single driver magic of the Trio15 Voxativ you will be astounded at the refinement possible with a full range driver.

Yet, you are likely to retain much of the smoothness, warmth and lack of edge that lovers of older gear insist upon. The Voxativ is adept at presenting the character of amps, and yet I was not able to make the speaker sound hard-edged or flinty. I enjoyed the use of an old Belles Theatrix Amplifier that I acquired from a friend who was stepping up in a big way to one of the VAC Phi200 amplifiers I had previously reviewed. The Voxativ helped offset the sometimes mumbling, less distinct character of the Theatrix, the primary reason the previous owner let go of it.

Alternatively, you could go on a power drive by mating the Voxativ with a set of amps having the ability to crush the bass line, such as the Red Dragon S500, my favored class D amps that I put into use often. If you want to switch between refined and raucous music, having the dynamic gusto to belt out Ramstein or a rollicking run with The Record Company, put the Trio15 Voxativ with an audacious class D amp. PureAudioProject was wise in mating the full range driver with a pair of 15” woofers in the open baffle because when powered mightily they pound out the bass line with more authority than pricey box speakers with a line array of 8” or smaller drivers. Even a 10” in a cabinet can hardly compete with the force generated by the Trio15 Voxativ and big class D power.

While moving to such a setup will require you to spend on new amps, it is not usually as costly as seeking a higher power class A or A/B amplifier. It is a great intermediate step for those on course to turn the Voxativ into their final speaker. It’s also the preferred choice for younger enthusiasts who are passionate about precision as well as impact. The Voxativ can be made to drill down on details and if that fires you up, then put class D with them.

I care to spend the most time discussing a thrilling new set of components from Exogal that that drove the Trio15 Voxativ to a crazy good performance level, an erudite system belying its price point. This was the most thrilling system I built with the Trio15 Voxativ:

  • HD-Plex Linear Power Supply with Verastarr Grand Illusion II Power Cord
  • Salk StreamPlayer Generation III file server/streamer with embedded ROON and
  • Tidal streaming music service (powered by the HD-Plex power supply)
  • (Alternate) Clarity Cable Organic USB or Silnote Audio Poseidon USB, both 1M
  • Exogal Comet DAC powered by Clarity Cable Organic power cord
  • Exogal Ion PowerDAC powered by Clarity Cable Organic power cord
  • PureAudioProject Trio15 Voxativ


The neon sign flashing “Best Sound” is illuminated with the Exogal components. I gushed effusively about the Exogal technology in combining the Comet DAC with the Ion PowerDAC in the latter’s review; the former has the preamp functionality and the latter the power amp functionality. This is a company and set of components not to be overlooked. If you want the best sound from the Trio15 Voxativ and do not want to spend well over $15K for the system, then buy the Comet and Ion. That is as close to a slam-dunk, guaranteed massive system upgrade as you will find.

What is it about the Exogal set that is so great with the Trio15 Voxativ? Frankly, it’s not the speakers. That sounds bad, but it’s not bad at all! The speakers as I have said previously are marvelous, but they are the end of the chain, not the start or midpoint. The Exogal Comet and Ion were the only components in more than 10 years of reviewing to escalate to new [near-reference?] reference five different speakers of varying technology. Never has any one system, much less one comprising a core of twin components from one manufacturer, done such a thing. Essentially, the Comet and Ion represent the closest to a perfect purchase as I have found, a veritable “no way to lose” single brand solution.

I must interject here that it has been several weeks since the release of the Ion PowerDAC review. I knew the “doubt level” would be high as the review sounds hyperbolic – but it is not, it is accurate. I spoke with Jeff Haagenstad of Exogal this week and he shared that the company had been receiving strong feedback on the review that motivated people to purchase. The common response among buyers was pre-purchase suspicion that the Comet and Ion would not live up to the review’s accolades, but upon ownership discovery that the praise was well deserved.

Video arcade games offer “multipliers,” which jack up the points won to boost overall performance. Pairing the Trio15 Voxativ with the Comet and Ion was like running the system on multipliers, jacking up the speaker and the sound quality as though PureAudioProject had delivered a new and improved version with 18” bass drivers and an 8” full range driver. The same intent existed in the speaker’s performance, but with a much superior outcome.

The most endearing aspect of this was what I will call the “beauty multiplier,” a makeover, a smoothing and tightening of sonic wrinkles formerly difficult to detect. Fullness, oh such glorious fullness, from a single driver speaker I had not heard in previous encounters. I still strenuously disagree with those who consider the midrange the meat of the music; I do not accept diminishment of any part of the audio frequency spectrum in pursuit of state of the art sound. Still, the palpability and richness of vocals from Sarah Jarosz, London Grammar, and Annie Lennox sent chills up my spine, and I almost never get chills listening!

I have a friend who loves pop music and is a sucker for a young pretty voice. Who can blame him? Diva-ettes have an allurement with their saucy, perky chirping despite the inanity of their lyrics. But so many of their recordings are scary, as in ugly, uncultured sounding. He followed my lead and now has the Comet and Ion, and couldn’t be happier listening to his Daedalus Ulysses speakers, which I sold to him. Now he is reworking his home theater and inquired about speakers. I advised he move the Ulysses to the HT and get a set of Trio15 Voxativ. That is no disrespect to the Daedalus speakers, but it is an endorsement of the Voxativ speakers. He is in for a lesson in highly refined listening when he puts the Comet and Ion with the Trio15 Voxativ.

Already when listening to the Trio15TB (Tang Band) my mind would wander back to one of my single driver reference speakers, the Lotus Granada. With the Trio15 Voxativ I can close my eyes and successfully imagine I am hearing the Lotus Granada, but that is only so with the Exogal components.  I now have approximately 190 selections in my review “crash and burn or take off and soar” music list. I wind through them, barraging systems with extremes from Funk to twangy Country to Broadway tunes to Spirituals. The Trio15 Voxativ delivers them in style.

The hallmark of the Trio15 Voxativ is intimacy, profound intimacy with the music. All of us can think of places we have visited, or perhaps a favorite room in our home or that of a neighbor, which is inviting. The décor soothes the soul and the mood in the room turns subdued rather than businesslike or sterile. These are rooms we enjoy and we gravitate toward them to refresh ourselves. In the same way the Trio15 Voxativ is a restorative speaker that soothes the ears to hear it. I feel replenished as an audiophile when I hear the above system, as though I have cocooned acoustically for a while.

An enormous speaker system such as the Legacy Audio V System pulls you out of your chair and sets you in the midst of action, a hive of activity that is a live recorded event, or the hustle of a band playing a rip-roaring number. The V is not about gentle persuasion but rather overwhelming immersion. Conversely, the Trio15 Voxativ is at its best playing at a moderate level, though it is completely capable of pounding with the best of mid-sized towers. Its forte is massaging the soul gently, especially with acoustic instruments and simple settings for vocals. It can do synth and what I would call modern, fractured music lacking syncopation and flowing harmonies, which I normally avoid entirely, well enough that I become interested in hearing them out. But that is its alien function; its best form is to convincingly render the subtleties of non-amplified performance.

One particular musical piece that has seen much play in telling when it comes to the capacity of speakers to cleanly and convincingly tell what is in the signal, Sarah Jarosz’s “Green Lights.” Her voice is enchanting as she has an angelic luminous character, as did Eva Cassidy. In this piece there are what I would call wretched backing sounds in the song. The anomalies recorded are so ugly, so antithetical to her demeanor that they detract noticeably from the experience. When friends of mine come to hear my system and the song is put on they all hesitate and suggest that the speakers are exhibiting a telltale noise, as though there is a problem with the system. It’s not the system; it’s the ugly electronic elements of “Green Lights.” I understand the motivation for the noises, as they are to represent the expanse of the universe, the vastness of the space in which she finds herself miraculously together with her lover. However, on many very fine systems those electronic elements make the system sound broken!

I test using such music because it is as important for a product to turn a bad performance into a good one as to turn a good one into a great one. There is a lot of poorly performed and/or engineered music, so I look for speakers that won’t drive me from my listening seat when I encounter it. Electronic music has a remarkable range of sound potential with different systems and speakers. With a cheaper, less graceful speaker, hard-edged performers such as Daft Punk come off as ragged, punishing. But with the Trio15 Voxativ, electronic haze nearly takes on the nature of acoustic notes, as if generated by a form of alien instrument, and Daft Punk’s relentless pounding and piddling with keyboards shows character, not merely flat notes of a certain tone. This is so with consistency from the treble through the bass and with balanced intensity across the frequency spectrum. The speaker is particularly commendable for its lack of hot spots, or extra reinforcement of the mid-bass or mid-treble that would cause my mind to mentally push back from the speaker sounding too forward.


A comparison to the huge Legacy Whisper DSW Clarity Edition

The Trio15 Voxativ is a form of hybrid speaker, a full range speaker with supplemental 15” woofers. Can it match much larger, more expensive hybrid speakers? Having the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition ($23K) on hand, I sought to find out. The Whisper is similar to the Trio15 Voxativ in that it also employs top and bottom 15” open baffle woofers, though the Whisper has stacked woofers set in closely placed parallel baffles. The Whisper also has a closed cabinet construction for the quad of 7” Mid-bass drivers, 4” neo-ribbon Midrange and 1” Super Tweeter.

One might expect a speaker with such a prodigious complement of drivers to have a superior sense of ease, presence and power, and the Whisper does. Formidability is a hallmark of the large Legacy speakers and in that sense the Trio15 Voxativ sounds smallish by comparison. The Whisper also generates a larger center to the soundstage, a larger center span or range between the Left and Right speakers. The entire soundstage is larger with the Whisper.

So, one does get a lot more for the money in terms of those parameters when moving to a somewhat similar quasi-open baffle design; however. it costs four times as much. If one accepts the point source full range and that it cannot generate as broad a sound field or as much gravitas in the Midrange through to the dregs of the frequency spectrum, then the Trio15 Voxativ stands well in its own right. One hears the difference, but it is commensurate to the design and cost. The Trio15B does not supplant the Whisper, but neither does the Whisper negate the beauty and merits of the Trio15 Voxativ. Component quality is crucial in this regard. If the Whisper were run with less capable components and the Trio15 Voxativ with more capable, the performance of the two would begin to merge, not entirely but more so. It is a testament to the quality of the Trio15 Voxativ that it can be compared to the Whisper.

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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