Baffled by Pure Audio Project

Words Harry Meewisse  Photography Jussi Puikkonen  

Pure Audio

At CODE we like audio. And we like game changers. Innovators. Rule breakers. PureAudioProject is one such company, and their loudspeakers are taking the audiophile world by storm. Expert reviewers rave about the sound, some even claim that these ‘open baffles’ outperform speakers four-times their price.

“Open baffle?!” Put simply, this is a speaker which has no cabinet: a speaker outside of the box.

Although conventional speaker design prescribes that reproduction of sound is done by means of a box, there have been many speaker designers which strayed away from that norm. While a cabinet is an easy solution to many things (like adding bass to the sound and they providing a rigid frame to hold all the components in place, these boxes also bring internal reverberations and vibrations that can interfere with the sound fidelity.

To put it simply: A lot of R&D time and money is invested in creating a box which is not bothered by the box. Speakers without a box, often lack bass though. However, Ze’ev seems to have found his way around that.

Ze'ev of Pure Audio Project, new open baffle DIY speakers

Like many trailblazers in audio, Schlik started PureAudioProject as a side project, born from a love of music. He set out with the vision of a product which could marry the theoretical advantages of a box-less speaker (speed, easy to place, no interfering sound waves) with the need for some thump. Another element of his vision was to offer a high end ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ product.

In his words, “the market for speakers which cost 20K, yet don’t always offer anything unique, can be challenged. We wanted to highlight the simplicity, that is so important in audio design, instead of hiding it. Based on past experience  in the high tech industries, we developed the loudspeakers with some of the best players in the business like Morel, Eminence and Mundorf.”

‘Let’s think outside the box’ may well have been used a million times too often, but in the case of Ze’ev Schlik of PureAudioProject, it could not be more appropriate.

The Israeli techpreneur hand picked and tested components from a range of different suppliers all over the world, resulting in two complete models, the TRIO15 and the TRIO10. The latter is obviously the smaller one, but it also happens to be the one which we had shipped to our office to test.

Our demo the TRIO10s with Mundorf tweeters arrived in three separate shipments, three different boxes for the frames, speaker units, crossover and wooden panels, which was unusual to say the least. PureAudioProject speakers come in a series of components for you to put together yourself.

Pure Audio Project: new DIY Build open baffle speakers

After downloading the manual we started putting all the parts together. Around the same time Ze’ev happened to be visiting Amsterdam and stopped by to help. The design is well thought-out and almost self-explanatory – most IKEA closets are harder to assemble than these high-end loudspeakers. While you do need to have some working space and take the time to look at and understand how all the parts fit together, all in all it’s fun to put together your own set of speakers.

Since Ze’ev had decided to join us, he was able to explain a lot about the choices he made with every component. For example, the wood is more than the standard ply with a layer of plastic, it’s the real thing: German Oak, beautifully treated and solid. Holding it all together is an aluminium frame which feels as rigid as the skeleton of a well built sports-car.

How do they sound?

Some say that 70% of the sound of an audio system is determined by the space it’s playing in. Room acoustics make up the other side of the coin of sonic pleasure. Unfortunately, our office is far from perfect acoustically, with sub-prime dampening.

Still, the personality and characteristics of the PureAudioProject loudspeakers were undeniable. We listened with our reference Bryston 4B Cubed amplifier and the incredible TotalDac, as well as with the Bryston B135 Integrated amplifier and a Chord Mojo Dac.

The performance of these speaker depended less on the space’s acoustics than most speakers, which makes them pretty easy to place within a room.

The TRIO 10s have a fluid and spacious quality which makes all kinds of music sound organic and natural.
We played the September 2016 release by Travis Scott – ‘Goosebumps’ (feat. Kendrick Lamar) which, living up to its name, actually gave us goosebumps and track five of the same album – ‘Biebs In The Trap’ (feat. Justin Bieber & Nav) – also sounded incredibly good.

Often, when loud speakers excel at the reproduction of voices and mid-range frequencies, they lack fast pace, impact and the all important party “oomph” when fed with electronic music. However, with the TRIO 10s we felt the deep emotional impact of James Blake’s ‘Unluck’ and Moderat’s ‘Rusty Nails’ even in our office space. Feeling the power, energy, weight and fast pace, while still hearing the emotion and texture of a track, was testament to these speakers’ excellent performance.

We also fed the TRIOs some jazzy and classical tracks. Think: Norah Jones, Diana Krall, some Mozart played by Jan Lisiecki and Liszt, sonatas and etudes by George-Emmanuel Lazaridis. The TRIOs reproduced these instruments well, and the pianos had a dynamic and credible sound even at low volume levels.

For guitar-powered singer-songwriters, like Ben Howard’s ‘The Wolves (live)’ there was a sweet, intimate and open realism. The subtle details of Jack Johnson’s 2011 remaster of the Brushfire Fairytales had an enormous impact, especially with the steel drums at the beginning of ‘Flake’.

Pure Audio Project: new DIY Build open baffle speakers

The verdict

All in all, the TRIO-10s struck us as hugely versatile loudspeakers which accommodate anything from hip-hop to ambient and shines with jazz vocals as well as with orchestral pieces. The bass is definitely there, and it’s detailed. The TRIO-10s reproduce music in a beautiful way.

One thing to remark is that these speakers will not be satisfied by low-wattage tube amplifiers. We fed them with the Bryston 4B cubed and the B135, and this proved to be an ideal match. The TRIOs need power and precision and a tight grip on the woofers in order to perform. In return you get a powerful full bodied, yet still controlled and precise sound – an immersive listening experience all in all. In short, the TRIO-10s are a must-hear.

Aside from the speakers, we found that Pure Audio Project operate a very personal service, and to keep the pricing honest and the communication clear, Pure Audio Project sells direct, working together with local auditioning locations.