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Vapor Audio Nimbus White Speaker Review

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Extenuating circumstances apply, perhaps, as Ryan currently is adding on to his house and running a speaker manufacturing company! Does this sound like enough to schedule for each day? Does this excuse him from timely customer service? No, but it does explain why it’s not up to par. Ryan seems to bite off far more than he can chew, then will chomp like a food eating contest champ to prove he can get it all done.

I asked Ryan about the delays of Vapor Audio speakers reported online and his response was instructive, “…quite literally from the first day I made the website live, orders started coming in. I wasn’t prepared for things to take off so quickly! There have been delays in he past, and honestly I’m sure there will be in the future. Even though we have four full time guys now, the number of orders and time required has scaled up as well. Our build process will likely never be measured in weeks, the designs are just too labor intensive to produce quickly.”

“There is an extreme level of personal contact with the designer when one orders a Vapor Audio speaker. The process starts with a simple email or phone call. I will personally talk to every potential customer for however long it takes to be assured you’re ordering the perfect fit for your space and listening desires. We enjoy the customization process, no two speakers that go out the door are identical, and that keeps it fresh for us. It also gives the customer a finished product that is uniquely theirs.” When Ryan says that no two speakers are identical I conclude he is talking about the finish, not the internals, though the speakers are customizable.

Inquiring about the warranty, as I had purchased a demo pair and did not have paperwork for them, Ryan responded, “The best way to put it is the warranty is informal, and that I’ll do anything I can to satisfy the original owner for life. Parts cost is covered for life; if you live within a 10-hour drive I’ll come myself and replace them for life. If it needs to be shipped back for repair, I’ll give 3 years that I cover shipping both directions.” Where else have you ever heard of such conditions for a warranty? If these conditions are not in writing I could see how some would with some sense of justification dismiss them. However, with such extreme personal commitment of resources if Ryan were to commit to these demands in print he might be on the hook as the company grows. I suspect this program of “Ryan Scott, Vapor Audio Serviceman,” will have to give way to more realistic approaches as the company grows. However, it shows Ryan’s desire that not only the product be superb, but the owner ultimately be most satisfied long term.

He is not alone, for many are the boutique manufacturers who are downright challenged by success! They make a product, show it a couple times, and WHAM, they have more orders than they can handle. In some cases it is because the manufacturer has paid a slick marketing agency – you know, the guy in between the distributor and customer who gets his cut, too – to ramp up interest, but in the case of Vapor Audio the company is swamped because the product is too good at the price point! You read that correctly, for if Ryan would ask $20K for the speakers he would still sell plenty of them to make him comfortable, but would ease his crush of orders.

Therein lies the perverse truth of the niche manufacturer who wants to do the audiophile a favor; if they give you too good of a deal they get buried. It actually eases production stress by raising the prices, potentially resulting in happier customers. Ryan doesn’t want to do so; he would rather a person strain through the ordeal of waiting for the $10K Nimbus than cut out half the potential owners by demanding a higher price. Audiophiles, get on your hands and knees and thank God situations like this exist in our hobby!

Now, if Ryan is promising the Moon and delivering moonstone, then he deserves the headaches. But, he did come through in his own fashion. To shed some light on my particular situation, the delivery date was changed twice; in one instance Ryan was going to kill two deliveries in one trip, but the paint application for a pair of speakers to be delivered to the next state were delayed due to the painters vacation time. Bump, bump, bump goes the schedule for the customer awaiting a custom build.

Now, balance those points out with the fact that Ryan likes to deliver speakers in person. He has driven hundreds of miles for customers to deliver their speakers! How is that for a radical involvement in the customer’s satisfaction? He also drives his speakers across the country to shows. It seems he loves driving, and does it himself because he wants to be in control of how the situation develops. That is the double-edged sword when it comes to Vapor Audio, as Ryan has to do it himself and that takes more time than he has in life. So, you have to be patient as Ryan’s life catches up with his outsized agenda. You must simply be willing to wait, perhaps waiting through several changed delivery dates, but the speaker is oh, so worth the wait!


Ryan has had help in the persons of Peter Schumacher and Ed Rosenquist. Peter has an EE degree and has been building speakers since the 1980’s and has designed his own preamp and amp under the Arte Forma brand name. Like Ryan, Peter wanted superior sound in a speaker without a huge price tag. Peter and Ryan’s wife worked at the same financial firm (small world), as their homes were nearby. As a favor to an individual interested in a speaker Peter had built Ryan stopped by to listen.

As Ryan and Peter became friends they attended a DIY event in Indiana with exhibitors such as Jim Salk in attendance. Peter’s effort, named Byzantium (see pic below), with its beautifully crafted bent wood cabinet, was on display as well, paired with electronics from Arte Forma. Peter and Ryan were now seeing potential for collaboration, and with Ed’s help the Byzantium was reformulated with a larger 15” woofer and higher sensitivity to accommodate better the lower powered 30 Watt SET Arte Forma amp. The resultant Nimbus allows the user to be unrestricted in amplifier choice. Enthuses Peter, “We have so many ideas and it seems no where near enough time to implement them all.”

If you have watched shows on TV about custom motorcycle or car manufacturing you begin to get the sense of what Vapor Audio is doing. The website calls the company, “… a true custom design shop,” which means no setting the presses and pumping out the mass market products. This needs to be kept in mind by the potential purchaser.

Perhaps you feel I have spent far too much time on the mundane matters of Ryan’s operational foibles. If the speaker were not sensational I might not be reviewing it at all. There is only one thing which will get me to stick my neck on the line for a company without a rock solid in-print customer relationship, an exquisitely rare product which I believe is simply unattainable elsewhere at the price.

Feel free to apply the cynicism, doubt and ridicule now, because I am comfortable waiting out the long-term consensus. People are getting to shows and are hearing the Vapor Audio speakers. The truth about a fantastic sounding speaker can’t be hidden for long in the audiophile community as the buzz builds to a deafening level. Is the buzz a slew of shills or audiophiles having thrills? Sometimes it is impossible to say, but here you have one reviewer who unequivocally states this speaker is all about thrills!  Here for your entertainment is the unedited reaction of my friend Dave, who owns another sizzling hot speaker, the Volti Audio Alura, in the message he sent to me the day after his first listen in my room with to Nimbus White:


Just a few audiophile comments:




Holy Mackerel!



What precisely does this tell you about the sound of the Nimbus White? Well, nothing. But it does tell you that this man with a very fine speaker system who is quite reserved went nuts over them. Why would that be? Three words, design and parts.

Vapor Audio Nimbus White Speakers

19 Responses to Vapor Audio Nimbus White Speaker Review

  1. Ed Rosenquist says:

    Thanks for the heartfelt words, Doug! Nimbus is like more like a sculpture for me to build; it is NOT a box. When others enjoy what I build, that makes the time spent worthwhile. Thanks again!

  2. alan trahern says:

    I, like many of your other readers, I’m sure, have followed the travails of the many who have posted on the various fora regarding what can only be described as the minefield of the order/delivery process for these speakers.

    You state in your review that you purchased a demo pair so that certainly implies that they were already built when you spoke up for them and even then, there were delays and periods of silence in finally taking possession.

    So the clock is now ticking as regards your most recent order. In fairness to all, I hope you will be as forthcoming with updates and status reports for these as you were in this review.

    I, for one, have never laid eyes or ears on the Vapor line but it seems a bloody shame that so many “shenanigans” seem to be part and parcel with the procurement process.

    I sincerely hope they are worth the trouble.

  3. Alan,
    God’s Blessings to you,

    I can neither absolutely verify, nor falsify claims made online. I considered the forum complaints – no, I do not have time to read every last one, nor the inclination – when I contemplated writing the article. It was the reason I specifically discussed the structure and methods of the company. It should be obvious to all by now that 1. Vapor doesn’t operate like a regular speaker company, and 2. it doesn’t build a speaker at a valuation point like a regular speaker company.

    Perhaps if I share a bit more about the current project people can understand Ryan and Vapor Audio better. Here’s an update: I was initially looking to have the Joule White in Brazilian Rosewood, as per Ryan’s recommendation. About four weeks into the process Ryan said he would like to change it to Saeple. This was shocking to me initially, as I had my heart/mind set on the Rosewood. I imagined it in the room, prepared for it. Now, in a moment he was suggesting something quite different.
    So, was that a problem? Did it mean he was running roughshod over my wishes or that he didn’t listen to me? Perhaps I should not give an inch, and take high offense that he “changed the plan” on me, then go online and complain. I decided to give Ryan an ear, and by the time we were done talking, even though I emotionally wasn’t there yet, decided to trust him on the color scheme. Now, two weeks later, I’m there emotionally and believe the change will be good.

    I share this because Vapor Audio truly seems to be a custom speaker shop, not a “crank out the basic template” factory. My wife has a small high end costume jewelry business called Splendor by Connie Schroeder (Yes, that is a shameless plug because I am very proud of her!), and she would be driven nuts to produce myriads of cookie cutter products. She makes nearly every piece unique. I see Ryan similarly; he wants each speaker to be a creation, an expression of artistry and excellence. Engaging with a company like this is quite different than walking into a B&M audio shop and buying a speaker. If the audiophile doesn’t want to have any inconveniences involved in obtaining a custom speaker, then they should not buy a Vapor Audio speaker. They can go and spend two to four times as much to buy a speaker on a perfectly tracked timeline for delivery which will have a very good chance of sounding worse.

    I do feel for people who engaged with Vapor early thinking there would be hard timelines, no potential disappointments, etc. They likely have a very different view of Vapor. OTOH, there are some truly callow, demanding, quite unreasonable people who will tell only half the story online, and who when they get it stuck in their craw will become quite vengeful in an attempt to hurt the manufacturer. I sometimes hear the horror stories from manufacturers who must tolerate customers from Hell, even when the manufacturer has gone far beyond reason to satisfy the customer. The manufacturers swallow their anger and frustration rather than damn the customer publicly, for they fear it will hurt their business more than just letting it go.

    So, Alan, I am going to cut this right down the middle; Vapor operates in a fashion which disgruntles certain audiophiles, and conversely there are certain PITA audiophiles who should never buy a speaker from any company which they cannot receive reassurance, nearly down to the minute.

    I chose to largely ignore any controversies in forums for that reason, for the same reason I prefer not to walk into quicksand. I shared my experience candidly so that others can weigh it for themselves. I have never been a fan of the politics involved in my hobbies, so don’t hold your breath waiting for me to resolve such issues. 🙂

    Douglas Schroeder

  4. Hi Doug,

    Reading your review almost made me blush. You put into words exactly how I felt when Ryan and I first powered up Nimbus White. It was without a doubt the most amazing audio experience I’d had to that time. Then, Joule White happened . . .

    I just want to point out that while I do handle Arte Forma in the US, I’m only designing a single amplifier for Arte Forma. Norman Yang’s team in Formosa is responsible for their excellent lineup. I’ve only consulted with them on a few things related to electrical engineering questions.

  5. Alan Hendler says:

    I heard both the Nimbus and the Joule at the last Rockey mountain show. The Nimbus was being driven by a single ended tube amp while the Joule was driven by a solid state amp. The Nimbus with tubes was much better sounding than the Joule. The Nimbus with the tube amp had a very livefeel to it while the Joule simply sounded on the dull side. If I was in the market for a speaker I would definitely consider the Nimbus but not the Joule. I think it is a mistake to by a speaker that you have not listened to. By the way I have Maggie 3.6 driven by a Shindo preamp and two Berning ZH-270 power amps. This combo is still the best I have ever heard but the Nimbus with tubes is close
    Alan Hendler

  6. Peter and Alan,
    God’s Joy to you Gentlemen,

    Peter, thank you for your clarification; sometimes the seemingly small assumptions or terms are misused, leading to great confusion. I have attempted an editorial fix for the article since this has been brought to my attention.

    Alan H, I do not doubt your experience; the sound caliber of the Vapor speakers are such that they dramatically show the nature of the gear ahead of them. In addition, the delights of show goers varies incredibly. I might have concluded the same as you had I heard the two speakers set up as they were. In fact I had heard similar comments from others, so your helpful comment has already been factored into my decision.

    Knowing what a Vapor speaker can do in terms of varying sound with different electronics, and having walked through in careful discussion every aspect of the differences in design, construction and performance between the Nimbus and Joule with Ryan, I am pretty confident that I am making the right move, especially since upper end drivers from the RAAL and Accuton lines are employed in the Joule White. You notice also that Peter alludes in his post above to the Joule being superior holistically. Who knows? You may be right, but I don’t think so. 🙂

    You have lovely pre/amplification; I am imagining what it would sound like with the King Sound King III ESL. You might wish to read my thought provoking reviews of the King and then the King III, both of which are found on this website. Brace yourself for my assessment of other panels as compared to the KingIII.

    Douglas Schroeder

  7. Chuck Groeller says:

    As a current owner of the Joule Whites I believe you will be MORE than satisfied with your decision.
    The best thing that I can say about them is that when people hear them they don’t want to leave. It’s always oh, just play one more song which leads to just one more song and one more song. Enjoy!

  8. Chuck,
    God’s Joy to you,

    Thanks! I don’t think I’m making a mistake, either! It would be awfully difficult to improve upon the driver set across the board and with the same designer end up with a poorer speaker. That’s just not going to happen. Even mass marketed speaker manufacturers can easily improve upon their models as the line goes higher. So, when Ryan indicates the Joule White is perceptually about 30% better, I do not find that difficult to believe.

    Part of the problem is that the Nimbus is so fantastically visually appealing that people begin to think it must sound better. I find myself so enamored not just of the sound, but also the appearance that it is hard to contemplate selling it. But one does not achieve greater things by sitting with the status quo, however, lovely it may be.

    Douglas Schroeder

  9. Ryan Scott says:

    First off, thank you so much Doug for the thoughtful and thorough review! Also thanks to Dagogo for making it all possible. Being an outsider in the audio World, it’s a bit stressful trusting people you don’t know to convey to the World what your creations are all about. But those worries proved unfounded, the experience with Doug and Dagogo could not have been better.

    About the Joule at RMAF, when that side of the room was working properly they sounded quite nice if a bit thin. But we had many equipment failures, and ended up chasing our tails for the better part of the weekend. However, the pair of Joule that went to the show had 30 seconds, literally, of time on them before arrival. And no voicing had been done at all. When we got them back home we found the midrange was around 2-3db too hot, so the final product sounds much different than what was at the show. We’ll leave it to Doug to after he receives his pair to let people know just how they compare.

  10. Runi says:

    Great looking speaker, no questioning that. Bet they sound as good also. Can these compare with brands like Magico, WilsonSasha, Tad or other known brands? Will try and get me one pair of these…Do you consider these to be ” first generation” Nimbus, since they are quite new, and will they improve even more within the next year? I miss a stand where it would be able to adjust the tilting/angle of the speaker, since not all floors a 100% horizontal. Is that something you have considered?

  11. Michael Brown says:

    I was at the audio show in Denver and can attest to Ryan’s frustration with the equipment problems powering the Joules so evaluating that speaker at that show is not a fair depiction of the speakers potential. I am sure Doug the reviewer will play with a lot of stuff to get the best sound possible in his room which will be nothing short of spectacular . I have my Cirrus back at Vapor to have a base unit designed for them so I can get to (I hope) 85 – 90% of what the joule will sound like… I was quite enamored with the look and sound of the Nimbus at the show and if the Joule is better whew… As with most boutique companies be patient and be rewarded…

  12. Paul Mah says:

    So Doug, did you like the speaker? Just kidding. I too thought the Nimbus performance/price ratio was off the charts as evidenced in my Newport Beach show report. Constantine gave you the long straw for the review, so I live vicariously from your review.


  13. Runi, Michael,
    God’s Peace to you both,

    Regarding whether the Nimbus White can compare with brands like Magico, Wilson, etc. – all speakers can be compared, as we well know. I assume you mean “compared favorably,” and though I have not done so directly I would answer yes. I have heard Magico, Wilson, TAD, etc. and the Nimbus White while not perhaps made from an in-house design process is made from an extreme performance perspective. As such it performs way past it’s price point, and I believe into the territory of these other speaker brands. Whether one would consider it superior is a subjective judgment, but it would not be a foolish thought to consider the Nimbus White when thinking of these other speakers.

    Like many other manufacturers the design is subject to running changes, and I assume Ryan will incorporate them. This question is best directed to Vapor Audio, as I do not wish to speak for the company regarding design particulars which may or may not come about. I know one thing; an audiophile can pine for the “next version,” forever and never acquire the fantastic products of a manufacturer. To do so with the Nimbus White at such prices would, imo, be very short-sighted.

    Finally, the speaker has adjustable spikes, as with nearly every quality floor standing speaker.

    Michael, that sounds like a thrilling update to get an accompanying bass module! Yes, the Nimbus is a stunner, but sonically I fully expect it to be fairly easily surpassed by the Joule. I have learned not to place limits on what I expect can happen in terms of performance; there have been too many times that the doubt, “It can’t get much better than this,” has been shattered by a new product/model.

    Douglas Schroeder

  14. Robert says:

    Pete/Ryan: congratulations – have been out of audio for quite a while but wanted to say “GREAT!” on Vapor and becoming successful in the hobby.

    Cheers / Robert (old PE Board/inDIYana/Iowa guy)

  15. Faisal says:

    Hi Doug,

    So how do you compare this speaker to the Giya G1, in terms of dynamics, imaging, and naturality among other attributes?


  16. Faisal,
    God’s Peace to you,

    In brief, I would not compare many speakers to the Vivid speakers, as they are exquisite. I would, however, compare the Vapor speakers to the Vivid. I cannot speak definitively about it, as I have not had both in my room. From hearing the Vivid line at various shows I would suggest that many of the characteristics of superior sound found in the Vivid brand are also present in the Vapor brand.
    Generally, I would rate them both as superb in terms of micro dynamics, but the Nimbus White superior in terms of macrodynamics. As regards imaging, the Giya G1 model is better only because the Nimbus White incorporates dual Mids; in this regard the G1 would be more closely matched with the Joule White. “Natural” is a fairly nebulous term when it comes to audiophile, however, I have heard them both sound convincing in terms of fooling the ear into thinking it is hearing a live event.

    Additionally, the Nimbus White is the best dynamic speaker I have used to date in terms of imitating the speed, coherence and scale of a panel speaker like the King Sound King III.

    Perhaps you would also like to reach out to Ed Momkus of Dagogo, as he has the Giya G1, I believe.

    Douglas Schroeder

  17. Guy Azrouel says:

    What a GREAT review!
    I loved every line of it.

    I now see that I’m no different then others, still waiting for Ryans reply to my e-mail.
    I was just about to give up and move to the two or three other candidates when I read this review that I decided to wait a bit longer…

    However, I am using a pair of VTL MB-125 monoblocks.
    These puppies run at 55W in triod and 100W in tetrode.
    (The triod is greatly better and my end choice).
    So my concern is would my VTL’s be enough??
    After all, a 15″ driver is not child’s play and the specs list a much higher recommended amp supply than a 55W push pull.

    What do you think? Have you tried the Nimbus White with anything similar?

  18. Guy,
    The Joy of God to you,

    No, you are not being discriminated against by Ryan for having to wait. Vapor Audio is “under the gun” with success exceeding current capability to make speakers – what a horrible problem, eh? I have been in conversation with Ryan several times and know the maddening delays he’s experienced with third party parts suppliers. Things are moving forward, just not as smoothly as a company with an in house CNC machine, etc.

    I have also had delays on my planned Joule White upgrade, some of them due to upgrades Ryan and I have been discussing, and others due the aforementioned issues. I’m not foolish, however, such that I would get pissed off and cancel my order. That would be a dumb move, given the performance level to cost of a Vapor speaker – even after the price increase.

    Vapor is not a churn-it-out, cookie cutter speaker manufacturer, but instead a custom speaker builder. The eyes and ears pretty easily see and hear what the result is if an individual can endure some wait time, even if it is extended.

    Regarding the 55wpc VTL’s, no, this is not ideal. However, Ryan has run lower powered amps with his speakers at times at shows and they have sounded satisfactory to him. I certainly would not dismiss the speaker for that reason. I would much prefer hearing a superior speaker with a bit underpowered amp, than an inferior speaker with plenty of power. One simply cannot make an inferior speaker take the performance leap to compete well.

    Would a higher powered amp result in a different experience? Of course, but I suggest it would be a mistake to turn away from the Vapor speaker simply because it might be underpowered. Would it be “enough”? That’s your determination, but if it wasn’t enough, I would strongly suggest you get a different amp, perhaps upgrade the VTL to another model, rather than dump the Vapor speaker. This is a case where if it doesn’t sound right, you change anything else, not the speaker.

    Finally, you might just conclude that with the right cables you prefer the VTL in tetrode with the Vapor. I have had similar changes in preference in regard to an amp’s operational mode when switching speakers. I would certainly not discount that possibility, but would try it!

    Douglas Schroeder

    • Guy Azrouel says:

      Hey Douglas,

      Thank you for the informative and kind reply.
      I fully acknowledge what you are saying regarding the long lead time duration’s in contrast of the the Vapor product level which by all means seem to be exquisite.
      I have no problem with a long wait for a new speaker of this grade, after all, bringing together a proper hi-end system takes a tremendous amount of time & energy and obviously patience.
      After reading your review I just made a switch in the state of mind regarding Vapor. 😉

      Regarding my current amps,
      Well, upgrading was not in the initial plan. I’m very very happy with them.
      But as stated, I assumed from first glance at the Nimbus that 55wpc push pull won’t do the job.
      So I started investigating, and I regretfully have to say that the Nimbus is becoming ever far from making it to my home.
      I’ll explain,
      I live in Israel. So I am buying blind.
      I spoke to Ryan last year, Vapor does not participate at the annual Munich hi-end show.
      They are (at this point) only within US shows.
      So for me, listening to them has pretty much become impossible.
      Now, we’re looking at ~$15,000 / $20,000 for a pair of Nimbus Whites or Joule (bearing in mind a few upgrades).
      Shipping, local tax, import fees, paperwork etc. all come to around $5000-$7000.
      I am OK with that.
      But, if I end up spending another ~$5000 upgrading the VTL’s it’s just way off budget.
      And I must say, there is no scene in this adventure.

      All this said with conceptual comprehension that I like the sound.
      If not, I’m pretty much screwed (pardon my french).

      I’ll wait for Ryan’s reply and see what are he’s thoughts.
      I do hope for the best, like I said, I’m keeping an open mind.

      All the best!

      Looking forward to you’r next ‘Vapor’ review!!!

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