Review: PureAudioProject Trio15 TB Loudspeakers
PureAudioProject is a relatively new company in the hi-fi arena with a clear objective to bring high-fidelity sound to consumers at affordable pricing.
Based in Israel, PureAudioProject have just one simple mission statement, “unleashing the beauty, bliss and savings of the DIY world to non-DIY music and audio enthusiasts”.
The man behind the mission, Ze’ev Schlik, is one of the most humble, genuine and remarkably likeable people you are likely to come across, who started the company after many years working professionally in the Music, Electronics, and IT industries.
Schlik recognised the sheer scale of the global music and hi-fi enthusiast community, and particularly the growing do-it-yourself (DIY) market. Noticing that many enthusiasts vary in their skills, knowledge and ability, Schlik set about creating a range of products that would appeal to those without electronics knowledge, or those without the hands-on skills and workshop tools to build their own loudspeakers.
The result is a range of high-fidelity, flat-pack open baffle loudspeakers that can be assembled at home with nothing more than a screwdriver. This is ‘PureAudioProject’.
With his professional background also extending to business and marketing, Schlik has created a direct-to-consumer business model that is streamlined and ready for global expansion as his company grows.
When StereoNET first spoke with Schlik, the company was just preparing to debut their latest open-baffle creations at Munich’s ‘High-End’ hi-fi show.
After some quick email correspondence with the exceptionally friendly Schlik, PureAudioProject’s ‘Trio15 TB’ was being arranged to be sent to us here in Australia. Schlik also made us one more promise, to treat us just like any of his customers so that we could get a true feel for the ‘experience’ dealing with PureAudioProject; a very welcome approach.
Trio15 TB is a modular, free standing, open-baffle loudspeaker consisting of a hardware kit, baffles, 2 x Eminence Alpha 15” woofers and 1 x Tang Band W8-1808 8” full range driver.
As a keen DIY type, I’ve always had a persisting interest in open-baffle, or ‘dipole’ speaker designs. While there are certainly disadvantages over the far more common ported or sealed enclosure loudspeakers, inefficiency to name the most obvious, there are also many advantages in this design.
With an open-baffle speaker, there is no chance of sound colouration from the enclosure, often negatively referred to as a ‘boxy’ or ‘boomy’ sound, nor are there any pesky resonances or standing waves within the enclosure, because obviously, there is no enclosure.
Speaker control relies solely on the speaker’s motor design and suspension, and not on the acoustic loading of the enclosure. For this reason, not all loudspeaker drivers are suited to open-baffle configuration. PureAudioProject told us they tested an extensive range of drivers before settling on the chosen drivers, which offer a great balance of sound quality, linearity and affordability.
Another typical advantage of open-baffle loudspeakers is their ability to project a wide and deep three-dimensional soundstage, and a bigger “sweet spot” than with conventional loudspeaker designs. I’m not a loudspeaker designer or an acoustics engineer so the theory on why this is the case is beyond my technical ability, but experience tells me what can be typically expected.
It can be said that in theory, open-baffle loudspeakers are not perfect, but the same could be said for conventional speakers hence the many thousands of commercial options available for the consumer. There seems to be a divide amongst enthusiasts that will probably exist forever, no different to the digital vs. analogue debate. All loudspeaker designs have their strengths and weaknesses.
So with building anticipation, a number of boxes containing PureAudioProject’s Trio15 TB vital components soon began arriving at our office. The very affordable drivers were ordered from Parts Express, while the hardware kit is shipped direct from Israel. In our case, the Oak baffles were shipped directly from the German manufacturer.
Laying out all components on the floor it becomes immediately obvious that this loudspeaker is very simple to assemble. There is no doubt that anyone could tackle the essentially tool-less assembly.
Clear and concise assembly instructions are provided with the hardware kit. The timber legs are assembled to a steel support frame through a very clever design using thumbscrews and set screws. The free-standing modular structure begins to take shape and after mounting the drivers to the baffles (you will need a screwdriver at this point), the final step is to attach the baffles to the frame. A final tightening by hand of all the thumbscrews and you have a solid structure, all comfortably within about one hour.
PureAudioProject offer very flexible pricing of their kits. A confident wood-worker could simply order the hardware kit, which includes a technical drawing of the baffles to either DIY, or have a local cabinet maker make them to save a few dollars.
Reiterating PureAudioProject’s configuration flexibility, we were also supplied with a prototype passive crossover utilising Mundorf components, and designed specifically for the Trio15 TB, in conjunction with BluePlanetAcoustic, the German Tang Band distributor. At the time of publishing this article, the passive crossover development has been completed and is available for purchase separately.
Schlik happily provides detailed crossover and slope suggestions for those wanting to run actively via MiniDSP or similar products.
No information is offered on speaker placement and / or typical room setup characteristics with the Trio15 TB, however some rough trial and error quickly established the best placement to be at least 1m from the rear wall and at least 2.5m apart. In this case I actually feel they would benefit from even wider spacing, however I’m unable to move my listening chair position back further in proportion to the speaker width, in our limited size listening area.
Having had experience with Eminence Alpha 15” woofers previously, I knew they would certainly take some time to break-in and as expected, bass response was a little soft upon initial listening.
While widely used by DIY’ers, the Tang Band 8” full range driver is not a speaker I have had much experience with, so I didn’t have any preconceptions for this driver. At this point I found it a little bright, but was not too concerned until the drivers and crossover components had settled in.
Associated equipment included a Wandboard digital streamer running CSOS (Synology NAS / LMS), DIY turntable with Univector Tonearm, Triangle Art Zeus MC cartridge, Eastern Electric Minimax phono stage, DEQX HDP4 DSP/Pre-amp, and two Burson Timekeeper amplifiers running in mono (230w RMS). Cabling includes Audio Metallurgy and Lenehan Audio.
After a week of background music while working in the office, I felt the Trio15 TB sound had settled down and become much more stable. I still found the Tang Band 8” driver on the bright side, but acknowledge that our untreated room which is full of hard reflective surfaces would not be helping in this regard. After running some room measurements I contacted Schlik and comparing our results indicated this was most likely a room problem. This was further enhanced by the relatively close listening position, in fact, when moving the listening position further back into the room, this brightness vanished. Based on this, I would suggest the Trio15 TB suits mid to large sized listening rooms.
PureAudioProject Trio15 TB portrays a very large, convincing sound stage. What it lacks in clear and precise focus, it makes up for with engaging and dynamic, musical sound. Live recordings, including United Blues Experience – “The Cologne Concert” LP, with great ambience and fantastic instrument placement, takes you on a journey to a blues bar somewhere in Germany, mesmerised by the tunes from Bernreuther, Bayer & Kossowska.
Sonny Boy Williamson’s – “Keep it to Ourselves” blues LP recorded in 1963 and re-released in 1990, features the deep vocal tones of Williamson in contrast to the harmonica breaks and slides through the pass-bands of the drivers with ease - a credit to the crossover design and linear frequency response.
For interest’s sake, I decided to remove the passive crossovers and run actively via the two Burson Audio Timekeeper amplifiers in stereo mode (2 x 80w RMS) and set crossovers and time alignment via the DEQX HDP4.
After some quick dialling in of crossover points, I was able to achieve a similar sound to that of the passive crossover. I suspect the passive crossover point to be between 450Hz – 500Hz. In my listening I found great results running the crossover down as low as 250Hz, but ultimately the lesser power of the amplifiers running in stereo mode resulted in less control of the 15” woofers, losing some punch and authority in the bottom end.
To test this theory further, I connected a Chord SPM5000 Mk.II amplifier in place of the Timekeepers. The SPM5000 is a remarkable amplifier from the UK company comfortably delivering 560w RMS into each of its channels.
Now we’re talking. With serious power on tap, the authority of the Eminence Alpha 15” woofers became obvious and was truly impressive from an open-baffle design. The Trio15 TB just kept sucking it up as the SPL kept rising.
Alan Parsons Project – “Eye in the Sky” LP cycles through a number of differing styles from funky, to lyrical, to orchestral. A well recorded album that at times becomes complex, the Trio15 TB handled the orchestral transients with ease. I also enjoyed the percussion on this album, with the kick-drum having a real ‘snap’ that I often find lacking in many conventional loudspeakers. This is a direct benefit of the woofers in the open-baffle design.
Moving over to the digital stream to cycle through an array of musical genres, it’s obvious that Trio15 TB’s really do shine with orchestra and big band recordings. Again, the large size of the sound stage is convincing, and with these genres perhaps its takes the focus off the need for pin-point image placement. That’s not to say that vocals and instruments are not centred where they should be, they are, but I just couldn’t poke Jennifer Warnes in the eye on “The Panther” as I can do with some other loudspeaker systems.
After hours across many days auditioning various music, I had really warmed to the Trio15 TB’s style. They’re in your face with four 15” woofers standing proudly front of room, but all comments received from visitors were very positive and they’ve certainly got some ‘wow’ factor. Add to this the ability to finish the baffles in whatever you like; timber, gloss white, Ferrari red, they could ultimately be customised to suit any décor.
The possibilities really are endless with PureAudioProject’s modular open-baffle speaker design. Swap drivers out for the countless available options, experiment with horns, but for those not quite as technically minded, the Trio15 TB with passive crossovers will give you very high-fidelity sound at remarkably affordable pricing given their sound quality and power handling ability.
In fact, at this price point, I’m yet to hear another speaker in our listening room as capable in terms of liveliness, dynamics, realism and the ability to play nicely across multiple genres.
If you have a keen DIY interest, have solid power amplifiers on hand and a good medium to large sized room, PureAudioProject Trio15 TB is a keeper.
PRICING AND OPTIONS, USD (less shipping)
* at time of writing
Tower15 Hardware Kit (includes baffle drawings) $749.00
+ Baffle Set (Bamboo / German oak) $999.00 / $1,299.00
+ Crossover Kit (Mundorf MCap Grade) $399.00
+ Crossover Enclosure Kit (Cardas Binding Posts) $199.00
Drivers (Parts Express)
Eminence Alpha 15a $65.00 each
Tang Band W8-1808 $211.00 each
For more information visit PureAudioProject.
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