October
2018

Country of Origin

Switzerland

Vox 3

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, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref as USB bridge/SD transport, Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII 
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar [on loan]; 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 ZL 3000; Zu Event; KingRex uArt 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

To these pages, Martin Gateley is no stranger. Having already covered his Wave 40, SK16 and Libération models, our loose association goes back to my first soundkaos review of February 2013. Actually, it goes back to 2012's HighEnd Swiss show. 6moons then was still headquartered in Switzerland's Canton Vaud to make coverage of the small Swiss show a matter of regional support. There in the Regensburg hotel close to Zürich, I'd first met this designer in a static exhibit of his signature egg-shaped tonewood speakers. Those had sported Armin Galm's never-seen-before Enviée widebander. The Wave 40 cleverly augmented it with a Raal ribbon. Fast forward five years. Brexit was in the wind. Gateley—his London-based kaosevents firm specializing in multi-media tradeshow exhibits had led to the 'kaos' part of his audio atelier—was about to permanently relocate to his childhood home in Feutersoey. That's in Switzerland just outside Gstaad. By then, 6moons already worked out of their second home on the Irish west coast around Co. Mayo's Westport. Yet for delivery of production Vox 3 samples, our paths might once again cross if Martin and his wife Ursula felt like braving the rainy Irish winter. Otherwise it'd be our trusty DHL driver to ring the bell.

Using shows in the UK and US to generate first word of mouth on his upcoming monitors, Martin had used earlier Vox 3 iterations. First prototypes still had the custom Raal ribbon turned sideways. That sat below an off-the-shelf TangBand 4-inch widebander acting as stand-in for an eventual replacement. Production would move the super tweeter to the top and use the ceiling as a 360° diffuser. Production would also replace the TangBand with a custom Enviée. Their Armin Galm is a contract driver engineer who has worked predominantly with Backes & Müller. The Enviée project of modern full-range drive units has been his labour of passion on the side. Martin's Wave 40 became the first commercial speaker to embrace Armin's whizzer-fitted 8-incher. So the Martin/Armin collaboration goes right back to the beginning of Enviee's commercial adoption. It's by now carved in wood you might say.

For his Vox 3 mini, Martin approached the German driver expert for a small 100mm Alnico-powered wood-fibre membrane in a bronze basket. That is shown above. Before that driver could finalize, samples of the Vox 3 shown in the UK and Denver used the TangBand as seen at left and below. For rear-ported bass augmentation, Martin added two 130mm horizontally opposed sidefiring woofers. One imagines that their magnets must butt right up against each other to clear the narrow cabinet.

For assist in the brilliance region and to broaden dispersion, there's the upfiring ribbon super tweeter in a bronze face plate custom-commissioned from Serbia's Aleksandar Radisavljevic.

This four-square driver lot somehow manages to cram into an 8.2kg solid-wood enclosure of just 16.8 x 27.5 x 34.5cm WxDxH. Yet sensitivity remains a standard 89dB. This recommends amps of the 25-150wpc persuasion. For Denver's pre-production premiere, the Vox 3 teamed up with Bakoon's brand-new 25wpc AMP-13R which, given the room's smaller size, also was preferred on the big open-baffle Libération siblings rather than Bakoon's 50-watt AMP-41.

If the Vox 3 doesn't use its miniature integrated support to sit on a desktop or credenza, the optional perch transforms it into a typical stand-mounted affair. Of course 'typical' and Vox 3 don't really meet anywhere. As a concept around a custom-commissioned 10cm/4" widebander assisted by twinned 5-inch woofers and a ribbon super tweeter, I'm aware of nothing quite like it. The closest would be the W5 of Martin's Swiss colleague Sven Boenicke. Both speakers agree on solid wood construction in various species of the customer's choice and a 4-inch widebander. Then the Boenicke diverges with only one sidefiring woofer and an auxiliary soft-dome not ribbon tweeter placed on the rear not top. On sheer driver count centred on a unique widebander, the soundkaos Vox 3 would seem to have no equal. How 'bout sonics? … to be continued…