Voxativ 9.88 Pi Speaker System and T-850 Integrated Amplifier, Weiss Medus DAC and DSP502 D/A Processor, EAR Acute CD Player

Purists might disagree, but for many listeners, having equipment that enables subtle sonic adjustments is welcome. This rings true for me, as I enjoy a wide variety of musical styles. Evidently Voxativ's Founder and Chief Engineer Inés Adler does too. Adler, a former designer of engines for Daimler's Mercedes-Benz marque, has made modern updates and options available for vintage hi-fi approaches.

The Voxativ room presented previews of a couple of forthcoming products, including upgrades to their 9.87 two-box (Pi-Monitor and Pi-Bass) speaker system (above). There's a new .01 Mid-Module midrange module with an 8" driver using a neodymium magnet. A niftier part is the .01's crossover with three user-adjustable filter curves to tailor the sound for preferences and/or music types. Adler mentioned that these filters help with the challenges of reproducing heavy-metal music, for example, where low-end gets emphasized and highs take a back seat.

The aptly named .01 Mid-Module is one of the upgrades to Voxativ's top-end two-box 9.87 speaker system to become the new 9.88 system. Another is an updated design for the Pi-Monitor's wide-band array—or "widebander," as Inés calls it—a horn-loaded tweeter with a doped white paper cone concentrically surrounding it. It uses a gold-plated magnet system derived from Voxativ's AF-4F Gold driver array. This new full-range AC-4NP array's basket is now CNC-milled instead of diecast; a sample unit was shown in a display case (above).

In the demo, the wide-band driver way crossed over at 350Hz to the midrange module, which handed off the bass signal at 80Hz. The Pi-Bass bass unit is active, contains 200W of class-AB amplification, and serves as the base for the two enclosures above it. It's a Ripole design, a German type of dipole, used with the permission of designer Axel Ital, Adler told me. Controls for crossover, phase, and gain are on back.

Current 9.87 system owners can upgrade to the 9.88 by adding the new Mid-Module ($17,000 for the module), which fits right in between the 9.87's wide-range and treble enclosures. Customers can also choose to install to the new AC-4NP driver ($18,000) as another upgrade. Another option: Upon request, Voxativ's field-coil drivers can be factory-installed. These are the company's modernized take on a very early—as in very old-school audio—transducer approach using electromagnetic force. A display case showcased the new driver array and the field-coil model.

In addition to the 9.88 speaker system ($75,000 expected retail), the active demo setup included the lovely 30Wpc Voxativ T-850 tubed integrated amplifier ($34,900, above), which has a configuration of 805, 211, and 845 tubes. A Weiss Medus DAC, a Weiss DSP502 audio processor, and an EAR Acute CD player completed the setup. Cabling was from Voxativ, as were a pair of N5 tube power supplies (below).

There were also a few Voxativ components on passive display, including a pair of Voxativ Hagen stand-mounted speakers in a cool new gold piano lacquer finish ($8500/pair).

In the listening seat, on a live Mighty Sam McLain track recorded during a concert in Germany, drum impact—thwacks—startled me. Kick-bass kicked ass. Getting such leading-edge transient attacks from tube power felt powerful (though these speakers are quite efficient with sensitivity approaching 105dB). On a funky, jazzy rendition of Mancini's Pink Panther theme with guitar effects, 3-D images floated in air. Sustains were long. The filter was on the second setting.

As usual, I had little time for listening, which is a pity since Adler and team always have a great digital playlist of unusual tracks. It's always refreshing to be exposed to new music.

michelesurdi's picture

like heavy metal?get cerwin vega

Fleschler's picture

An EAR Acute CD Player was their first model from the 2000s. Then the Acute 3, then two piece transport/DAC combo, now the Acute Classic. People get easily mixed up with the names (there was no Acute 2).

Julie Mullins's picture

It was an EAR Acute CD player (I didn't see any numerals or other descriptors after the name.)

Bacheaudio's picture

Finally she added Midbass module , realized that all wide band divers got issues with midbass reproduction ---Thin sound

Julie Mullins's picture

It was an EAR Acute CD player (I didn't see any numerals or other descriptors after the name.)