November
2018

Country of Origin

Belgium

Vocalis

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega 
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands 
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: TBA

Suspend the suspension. The Ilumnia speakers from Belgian brothers Tom and Jef Nuyts do. As Marja & Henk reported in full detail on their floorstanding Magister—a mandatory first read to understand the 'why' and 'how' of the bold tech involved—they did away with a conventional dynamic driver's surround of butyl rubber, pleated paper, foam or leather. They also eliminated its inner equivalent called a spider. That's typically corrugated impregnated cloth. If one asked Leedh's Gilles Milot what's wrong with dynamic drivers, his website would name "a soft iron pole piece in the motor, a foam edge and a spider in the suspension as the three components which produce the majority of defects in traditional speakers". There's also Fertin Acoustic's Model 8 driver which rethinks how to elude limitations of traditional suspensions with its three carbon-fibre stalks. Ditto Cube Audio. Their proprietary widebanders retain the classic surround but replace the conventional spider with a machined phenolic spring. Just so, none of those are perhaps as radical as Ilumnia's inverted pyramidal 8-incher.

Marja & Henk had opportunity to hear an early Vocalis monitor side by side with their Magister loaners.

"Vocalis was ~80% final. As such we initially intended to listen to it only casually in our downstairs lounge, temporarily replacing the Soltanus Virtuoso ESL. Vocalis sat on Target stands Tom had brought for the occasion. Because Vocalis uses their free-floating cone driver, power was desirable. This early version had no adjustable damping. Once connected to the AC, that value was fixed.

"Where Magister was equipped with 3 ports—one fore, two aft—Vocalis only had one at the front, albeit adjustable. Its aluminium port tube sported a felt-clad insert that could be moved to adjust effective port length, hence raise or lower its tuning.

"Aside from fewer ports, Vocalis also lacked aluminium top and bottom plates. In our photo of the Magister and Vocalis side by side, one notices a different top geometry. That of Magister rakes at 9° whereas Vocalis angles at 13°. This gives away the monitor's intended use at closer listening distances. But the photo also shows that Vocalis soon ended up in our main upstairs listening space.

"Why?

"Because of its truly stunning sound quality on the downstairs Devialet D-Premier streamer/DAC/amp all-in-one. Being pre-production, we couldn't be definitive other than think Vocalis to be a real contender. Whilst being aimed at bigger/smaller rooms and different distances respectively, both models shared the extraordinary characteristics of Ilumnia's free-floating 40Hz-7kHz widebander.

"Usually, monitors are quicker than their fuller floorstanding mates. In the Ilumnia models this distinction was absent. The only real difference was bandwidth where Magister pressurized our large space without the help of two Zu Submission subwoofers. To live it up, those added to Vocalis netted very comparable overall performance but extended even lower."

In short, Vocalis is a mostly omni-directional nearly point-source monitor of standard sensitivity whose unique driver mates to a double-walled bullet-housed ScanSpeak Illuminator tweeter on a stalk.

The stacked Plywood cabinet contains an active current supply which creates the widebander's electromagnetic suspension via its second voice coil. Note the IEC power inlet at right. As a result, two types of common electrical distortion and one mechanical as suffered by conventional dynamic drivers are banished.

Given our Magister review which ended in a most rare Lunar Eclipse award, my ears were indeed ringing. And you know what that means. Someone was talking to me. Vocalis was whispering from across the distance. It sounded like "soon"…

… to be continued in Q2 2019 when first production commences…