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RMAF 2017: Voxativ single-minded in pursuit of great sound

 

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It’s almost become a cliché for reviewers to say a loudspeaker’s drivers “speak with one voice.” I’ve used that phrase myself at least once in my Rocky Mountain Audio Fest coverage this year, and I’m only a dozen stories in. I am about to use it again, however, and I can’t really keep from it.

This report, you see, is about the Voxativ exhibit in Denver. Voxativ speakers do a particularly outstanding job of presenting a cohesive image, likely because they have a single point-source per channel handling most of the frequency range. That driver is proprietary.

In the model I heard — the Voxativ 9.87 — the company also addresses a potential weakness of such designs by reinforcing bass response with a powered dipole subwoofer.

FullSizeRender-597-1“This all comes from the mind of a former Mercedes-Benz engineer, Holger Adler,” Voxativ marketing director Christopher Owens said. “Everything Voxativ is born in Berlin and hand-made in Germany.”

The 9.87 ($44,900/pair USD) is a two-part floorstander. On top is Voxativ’s second-generation “Pi monitor,” which features a single, wooden-cone driver, run full-range. On bottom is an active bass module with a built-in Class A/B amp.

The design strategy, which uses no crossover, is highly efficient. The 9.87 has an astounding rating of 104 dB, and can be driven by as little as 2 watts per channel.

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At RMAF, Voxativ was driving the 9.87 with its own T-211 SET integrated amp ($19,900 USD), which puts out a whopping 11 watts a side. Volume didn’t seem to be a problem, however, as we worked through a variety of test tracks.

One song, in particular, really caught my attention. I asked for something by Dire Straits, and the cut turned out to be “You and Your Friend.” I am a rabid Straits fan, but my favourite period is the initial “Dylan backed by a pub band” era before the original lineup dissolved. “You and Your Friend,” though, is from the band’s lame final studio album, On Every Street. By then, the group wasn’t much more than Mark Knopfler and hired hands.

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RMAF 2017 coverage is proudly sponsored by Noble Audio.

I cringed as the composition began playing, but soon the furrows in my brow relaxed. The texture of Knopfler’s fat guitar sound (which he grew to love in the late 1980’s and ‘90s) was stunning. It also was easy to follow the parts being played by keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher, and the bass line by remaining founding member John Illsley was deep and well-defined.

And, then there was that seamless presentation from the single drivers. The sound had considerable weight, impressive layering, excellent tempo and polished highs, although I had to focus hard in my mind to analyze the separate frequency bands, since the music was emerging as a whole.

There, in a nutshell, was what I’ll call the Voxativ Effect. “You and Your Friend” is a song I normally detest, but on these speakers I was so taken by the reproduction that I listened intently until the last note faded away.

Completing the rig was Voxativ’s Ampeggio speaker cables ($4,500 USD) and Ampeggio interconnects ($2,800 USD). The rack was a prototype, also made by the company.

Elsewhere in the room, on static display, was a pair of Voxativ Zeth tower speakers (starting at $12,900 USD), which have a base efficiency of 96 dB; a stereo pair of Voxativ Z-Bass active dipole bass modules with a built-in Class D amp ($3,900 each USD); and a set of Voxativ Hagen mini-monitors on stands with newly developed AF-1.5 5-inch, full-range drivers made from calligraphy paper ($5,900 USD).

For lovers of flea-watt amps or anyone who prizes a cohesive, engaging sound, Voxativ is worth checking out.

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About John Stancavage (185 Articles)

Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile