Interview by Stuart Smith, HiFi Pig Quarterly Magazine, April 2019

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Interview by Stuart Smith, HiFi Pig Quarterly Magazine, April 2019

Ze’ev Schlik launched PureAudioProject at Munich High-End in 2013 where they showcased their modular open-baffle loudspeaker concept. Since then the brand has launched several new models and here Hifi Pig talks to Ze’ev about his background and the philosophy behind PureAudioProject’s creations.
[/av_textblock] [/av_two_third] [av_hr class=’default’ height=’50’ shadow=’no-shadow’ position=’center’ custom_border=’av-border-thin’ custom_width=’50px’ custom_border_color=” custom_margin_top=’30px’ custom_margin_bottom=’30px’ icon_select=’yes’ custom_icon_color=” icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ av_uid=’av-rtq2dx’ admin_preview_bg=”] [av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” av_uid=’av-shu4dx’] HP: What is your background and what were you doing before
you were involved in PureAudioProject?

ZS: I hold a BSc in Electrical Science but my career spanned between hi tech and music worlds. It goes without saying how important music is in my life and as a hobby I play piano and owe a small indie music label. My professional entrance to the music world was back in 1998 when I formed a start up company that allowed legal usage of music over cellular networks without the need for DRM. This technology was implemented by Comverse, world leader of added value services at the time… We then worked with almost all major music labels and from there life led me to manage a major music label in Israel during the most turbulent days of the shift from CDs to files… a very challenging time indeed… back to hi tech in audio and content worlds and in 2012 I slowly started working on what grew to be PureAudioProject. PureAudioProject actually owes its kick off to Munich High End Show who invited us to be Newcomers at their 2013 show, and to reviewers that HiFi Pig was the first one, who raved our concept and provided us the tail wind and the confidence to go all the way forward !

HP: Where did the inspiration to launch PureAudioProject come from?

ZS: It was more of an evolution process rather than a one time sparkle… Being exposed to the sonic bliss of Open Baffle somewhere in year 2011 was an eyes opening experience that slowly pointed also on unique business challenges and potential opportunities, that are in line with today’s online world. I think the blend of love to audio, the unique product concept and business model was the ground on which PureAudioProject seed was planted.

HP: Your loudspeakers are modular in design with customers being able to change the component loudspeakers to a greater or lesser extent. Can you explain this concept and what exactly is available to potential buyers?

ZS: Our products are more of a platform with various pre designed configuration choices. Let’s take the Trio15 as an example. All Trio 15 speakers reside in the same chassis that features our metal frame, baffles, our proprietary 15” OB-A15NEO woofers (designed and made for us by Eminence), and our ‘Thrier’ or ‘Leonidas’ crossover. The various models are defined by the main driver and the specific crossover components, e.g. Trio15 Horn1 comes with our Horn1 while Trio15 Voxativ comes with one of Voxativ’s full range drivers and we integrated four different models of these. Once you own our Trio15 you can easily swap the main drivers and the crossover components and experience the different models. You can also try various capacitors and resistors and decide which ones suit your sonic DNA the best. And on top of all this, if you wish to move to Quintet15 all you will need is the frame, the additional woofers and baffles and few crossover components. The Quintet15 is an extension of the Trio15 and in both we use the same woofers, the same baffles and the same main drivers ! This is how straight forward and simple it gets

HP: Some of your designs use horn loudspeakers for the mids and tweeters, how difficult do you find the integration of horns with open baffles?

ZS: as frequencies raise higher the radiation pattern becomes more directional. Our Horn1 is very wide and a careful blend between our fast dipole woofers and the Horn1 was the design challenge. If I may use an example from food, here is one. When the tomato, the olive oil, and the garlic taste really good, the pasta souse will be amazing and no additions nor corrections are needed… The OB-A15 woofers are very fast and can play beautifully the mid range as well. The Horn1 is a neodymium motor, polymer cone 1.5” compression driver that sounds smooth and pleasant, these two are crossed with a simple series topology first order crossover at ~550hz. One coil for the woofers and one cap and two resistors for the Horn1. That’s all ! The result is well described by the many customers feedbacks on our page, industry members, reviewers and awards we received for this and other models.

HP: You use traditional crossovers; how complex a job is it to get the crossover you want and how do you go about achieving the final product that goes to market?

ZS: designing a crossover is like walking on a fine line between the technical and musical intuition. Some great measured crossovers sound bad and vise versa. Our guideline when designing crossovers
is 1) if you can, make all to keep it simple 2) the end result has to be reasonably good measured but sounding great.

HP: Many people are using DSP to make the whole driver integration simpler, have you ever been tempted t use DSP and if not then why not?

ZS: temptation is nothing to do with this 🙂 DSP is a great tool and allows an unprecedented level of control and experimenting. Our speakers allow bi amping with DSP and we even offer a distribution board for cables and an Active Analog Crossover, PAP-C1, that was designed for us by Nelson Pass and PassLabs. However, the simplicity and the analog magic a well integrated crossover can offer is unbeatable for many audio fans !

HP: How easy are your speakers to integrate into normal room environments?

ZS: Our speakers are Open Baffle and dipole and their radiation pattern is not dominated by a box. Boxes recreate the feel of scale while small components are playing into a box. Open baffle speakers with large woofers simply move enough air without any need for additional energy transformation to make music feel live ! …Open Baffle Speakers therefor become part of the room and integrate with it’s acoustics rather than trying to impose it’s sonic signature on it. This is one of the reasons they sound so ‘natural’, no fatigue, and need no specific room treatment ! Our ears are accustomed to our rooms ambience and our speakers simply become a naturally integrated part of it…

HP: How important has the DIY community been (or not) in the development of the Pure Audio Project?

ZS: What amazed me with Open Baffle at the time is the fact that in the Pro Audio and DIY worlds Open Baffle concept is extremely popular, while Home Audio fans were totally not exposed to it. There are good reasons for this and IMO none of them has anything to do with sound but more with considerations such as margins, speakers size and the wish of the manufacturers to keep their design well hidden in a sealed box. Among DIYers one can find super talented people and we indeed interact with DIY community. This interaction goes as deep as some designs of ours. The Leonidas Crossover is a great example for this. A well known DIYer from Netherlands, Leon Huijgen, has implemented a series topology crossover with our Trio15. The result was stunning and we adopted this topology and named this crossover on his name, the Leonidas ! Also, our Modular Open Baffle Architecture allows audio fans without any technical skills to experience various drivers, various capacitors and other crossover components, and even careful voicing of the speakers to their personal preference, just like DIYers do, but all in a finished product and a guided procedure that doesn’t require any technical skills except of a use of a screwdriver.

HP: Your loudspeakers look esoteric and some potential users may be put off by this, how would you reassure them with regards to the efficacy of the design?

ZS: We entered the market in 2014 with a unique design and modular offering of finished products that come in a disassembled form and are assembled by the customers with a Hex key and a screwdriver. Our customers circle grew fast and we to date score an unprecedented zero return rate. Many have replaced speakers that cost multiple sums that probably wouldn’t be called by you ‘esoteric’. However, we do see the border that needs to be crossed when purchasing our speakers and we therefor are now launching our most popular Trio15 in more traditional, call it a classic form, to allow fans who won’t go for self assembled speakers to enjoy the magic of Open Baffle and a bit of our modular concept.

HP: Of all the designs you have produced which is your personal favorite and why?

ZS: We did not release any specific configuration we weren’t fully happy with and it is well reflected in our selection of the drivers and the components. The various models differ by their sonic signature and each one has it’s character but no ‘better’ or ‘worthier’ there… Instead of pointing on a ‘favorite’ please allow me to point on what we are proud of.
We do feel proud with our Horn1 as we managed to design a horn based speakers that are smooth and soft sounding but have all the dynamics and speed that horns are known for… we are very proud of our Quintet designs that bring a true wall of sound feel into regular rooms and do that for a reasonable price… and we are extremely proud for putting together a solid modular offering that allows a simple upgrade path from model to model !

HP: In a wider sense, and I ask this because I have noticed you use relatively modest ancillary equipment at shows, when putting together a system, how important is the speaker choice? And why do you think this to be the case?

ZS: We indeed do this sometimes to show that great sound is not a result of cost only but a result of good choices and match. Simplicity, when made right, is a well proven concept in audio !

HP: What is the latest development from PureAudioProject?

ZS: We are just about to release the first ‘Trio Classic’, that is our popular Trio15 speaker with Voxativ Full Range driver, but in a newly designed and finished form. This model chassis was designed by a very talented industrial designer name Omri Gino, who BTW is a fanatic DIYer! We also work on few basic acoustical extensions to Open Baffle that are currently on a research level. We hope to cross the critical design milestones and we see then…

HP: What can Hifi Pig readers expect to see from Pure Audio Project in the coming months and years?

ZS: I believe that our Trio and Quintet offering is field proven and will be there for years, so we hope that HiFi Pig readers will also join the PureAudioProject family, enjoy our unique concept, and have their music playing from one of the PureAudioProject speakers they have assembled themselves !


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