PureAudioProject's Trio15 open-baffle speakers powered by Pass Labs, Aurender, Denafrips, VPI

On the Renaissance hotel's 16th floor, in the room occupied by PureAudioProject, folks were utterly baffled. Also, occasionally horny.

Apologies. The fact that I'm away from home for four, five days to cover AXPONA means I temporarily don't have my teenage offspring to mortify with dad humor, so now I'm inflicting it on you. PureAudioProject, you see, makes open-baffle speakers. Some have horns. There's a reason I write for Stereophile, not Saturday Night Live.

Israeli proprietor Ze'ev Schlik (above) had brought his Trio15 boxless speakers, plus a playlist full of fine tracks to show them off. I liked the Trios a lot, as I figured I might; in 2020 I'd spent a few happy months with PAP's five-drivers-per-channel Quintet 10s. As I wrote in my review (for another publication), "Playing Sketches of Spain on the Quintets conjured a mid-career Miles Davis right there in my room, almost 60 years after the fact. I was frequently startled—and chuffed—by this time-machine-like quality."

In more ways than one, PureAudioProject marches to a different drummer. Its speakers are largely modular, allowing the end user to swap, let's say, a coaxial midrange-and-tweeter cone for a horn transducer, or vice versa. Schlik and his team also encourage adventurous customers to experiment with capacitors and other crossover components that the company will gladly make available or help source.

One advantage of open-baffle speakers is that it's easy-ish to customize them, because neither the drivers nor the crossovers are entombed in a box. If you're moderately handy with a screwdriver and an Allen wrench, you can in effect add sugar and spice, or pepper and salt, to taste—often in mere minutes.

The Quintet 10s I reviewed had arrived half-assembled in flight cases, because they'd previously been demoed at audio shows. This caused me to miss something about PAP's direct-sales model that I only understood when, at AXPONA, I asked the always-amiable Schlik about the company's ordering process. He explained that customers fill out a form on the company's website, specifying the parts they want. Those parts are then drop-shipped to the buyer by their respective suppliers. For instance, if you were to order the Trio15s that took pride of place in the PAP room, you'd receive at least four separate shipments. The crossovers would arrive from Germany, because they're manufactured there. You'd get the coax drivers from Spain for the same reason, and the woofers from the USA. Meanwhile, PAP would send you the modular frame and the rest of the necessary hardware, along with detailed instructions so you can put everything together in a few hours.

Though I'm sure this quasi-DIY approach isn't for everyone, it's pretty smart. The pieces don't have to be shipped to a central facility and assembled, nor is an elaborate parts inventory necessary. There's great economy in that approach. Plus, PAP uses no dealers, cutting out the middleman. Schlik told me that under a traditional business model, the $8500/pair Trios15s would cost closer to $20k.

Sonically, the speakers did subtle and sweet to great effect (Amy Winehouse's "Wake Up Alone"), and they did plump and punchy just as well (Infected Mushroom's "Head of NASA").

The rest of the splendid system consisted of a Pass Labs INT-25 integrated amplifier ($7250) and an SP-17 phono preamp ($4300); a VPI Scout turntable ($3300); a Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC ($6300); and an Aurender N200 server and streamer (also $6300). Literally tying it all together were cables from Silversmith and Shunyata.

George S's picture

I really liked this room! They really had impressive low end for an open-baffle speaker... And seemed very reasonably priced.