During Germany's early February 2017 event, die Norddeutsche Hifi Tage von Hamburg*, Holger premiered his new Z-Bass subwoofer. That unexpected introduction is a compact dipole, so natural playmate for the small Hagen monitor. Assuming the obvious—that it'd be equally perfect for the existing Zeth—I wondered. Why would the small tower still get its own active woofer now? Hadn't that project just been killed?

"Yes, the Z-Bass was a great success in Hamburg. Like you said, the opportunity of this smaller dipole woofer is to match the Hagen and Zeth both. So far, so good. We are debating whether we should then still work over the Zeth to integrate its own woofer. Or do we simply offer it with the Z-Bass? We must weigh whether customers would really prefer four over two boxes; or enjoy even greater setup flexibility. We shall keep you informed."

Either way, to me Z-Bass seemed an overdue opportunity for widebander fans everywhere. No matter how cleverly rear-horn loaded theirs might be, nearly all roll off at 40Hz if not rather sooner. Voxativ's new dipole subwoofer created specially to keep up with high-efficiency single drivers might be ideal to get busy well outside its own Berlin backyard?

Finally, was 'z' smartly tongue in cheek for our infamous German proclivity to pronounce 'the' as 'zee' because the tongue won't come out? That would make it The Bass, quite self-assured for a compact subwoofer. But given the actual focus, it could be very well deserved...

* Checking with German online magazines fairaudio and hifistatement which covered the show, I found no mention of this room. As far as they were concerned, Voxativ may as well not have been there. Was I in the minority thinking the Z-Bass introduction most newsworthy indeed? If so, all the more reason to mention it.

"In developing the Z-Bass system, we combined the Ripol® concept** with our Acoustic Stealth Technology®. The result is a completely open bass system that has to move nearly zero air volume. Our 96dB woofer has very low moving mass and a strong Neodymium motor to be extremely fast; as fast as Voxativ widebanders.

"The result is powerful bass down to 20Hz driven by a 240-watt class D plate amp with adjustable low-pass filter frequency. We recommend the line-level connection but speaker-level entry is also possible."

Voxativ/Berlin as seen from the air field

Dimensions are 33 x 30 x 32.5cm, making it the near perfect 1-foot cube to Americans. Weight is 19kg/35lbs, with finishes to match any Voxativ speaker.

** Ripol® is an enclosure geometry patented by Alex Ridtahler which controls dispersion pattern, increases radiation resistance and lowers its driver's resonant frequency, an effect maximized with smaller cabinetry. Unlike the spherical radiation of a sealed subwoofer or the symmetrical fig. 8 pattern of a classic dipole, a Ripol radiates as an asymmetrical quasi dipole. This reduces standing waves in the room. A correctly implemented Ripol relies on special impulse compensation filtering; and suitable driver/s with sufficient throw and ventilation. The following graphs from Alex Ridtahler's German PDF show his radiation pattern at right versus sealed (left) and open baffle (middle) using the same 40cm woofer.

340 litre sealed box, FS 24Hz
1x1m² open baffle dipole with fig. 8 pattern
72 litre Ripol, FS 14Hz, equal distribution of frequency content

Holger Adler
Voxativ graffiti in Berlin: "If you build drivers, you throw music."

About modifying the Zeth or not, "the decision is made. We will keep it as is. It is a good speaker that has its friends. With just one woofer, the Z-Bass is so powerful that it matches perfectly. The Pi bass uses two drivers and is a bigger affair so I'm very happy to have something more affordable for my smaller systems. The Z-Bass can run as a normal sub or operate as a bass extender up to 200Hz with wonderful resolution. I will have such a Zeth B setup at the Axpona show next week with my integrated amp while my China team handles the SIAV event in Shanghai the very same weekend. I will ship you a set of Zeth B after Munich."

Catching up with Holger at the show, I was given a closer look at his smaller widebander. Again, this comes in sundry magnetics and Qts tunings. The highest-performance driver is the most bandwidth limited, hence sold only when below 100Hz, the Zeth is augmented by the Z-Bass. Now the widebander can focus on resolution and treble illumination rather than maximal bass and its rear horn gets additional stuffing to cut its reach. If the Zeth or Hagen work solo, a different version of the same driver expands bandwidth in trade for some resolution; and the Zeth rear horn runs wide open.

... to be continued after HighEnd Munich...

Voxativ website