Up to 37% in savings when you subscribe to hi-fi+

Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

Back in 1979, a Danish music lover called Ole Klifoth founded a company called Audiovector. His goal was to make a loudspeaker that brought together all the good qualities of the best loudspeakers of the time and iron out all the wrong bits. So, no biggie, then! The first model was a giant eight-driver, six-way trapezoid design. The more manageable three-way Trapez followed soon after and proved a hit. And now, 45 years later, it’s back and brought up to date in the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined floorstanding loudspeaker.

Why would Audiovector recreate its first commercial success? Simply because it’s still in the public domain. Audiovector fans—especially in Europe—swear the Trapez is the best speaker ever. Times change, and floorstanding loudspeakers look very different from the wide-baffled designs of yore. However, some still feel the move to more svelte tower speakers loses as much as it gains. The Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined floorstanding loudspeaker addresses these concerns without falling into the trap of being a pastiche.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined: Isobaric Compound Bass

The new Trapeze Reimagined is a three-way, Isobaric Compound Bass-loaded floorstanding loudspeaker design. It uses a 12-inch high-power mid/bass driver (with an eight-inch driver in an isobaric configuration), a five-inch high-speed midrange, and an Audiovector SEC Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter designed explicitly for this loudspeaker. That relatively short description unpacks several things, the most notable being the Isobaric Compound Bass design.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

While isobaric loading is not unique, Audiovector has developed a unique solution to the design. The term implies ‘equal’ (‘isobars’ meaning ‘equal pressure’, derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘isobares’ meaning ‘of equal weight’). This unique approach to isobaric loading sets the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined apart, piquing the interest of audio enthusiasts and potential buyers.

A typical isobaric chamber has two identical drive units, laid cone-to-magnet in phase, with both units in identical sealed enclosures. This configuration ensures the pressure between the cones of the two drivers is equal, and they act in parallel, effectively behaving as one larger driver with twice the enclosure volume. The result is a deeper bass response than what you would typically expect from a given drive unit size. It’s like having two smaller loudspeakers perform as one larger one, but with half the compliance and impedance, a unique advantage of the Isobaric Compound Bass design.

Redraws the rules

The Audiovector Isobaric Compound Bass redraws these rules by using a smaller internal driver in a larger volume cabinet to partner with a larger external driver and a port between the two chambers. Pressure is equalised between the eight-inch internal driver and the 12-inch unit. This chambered internal construction couples the masses of the two drivers, making it somewhere between a classical isobaric and a bass reflex solution. However, the result is functionally the same and delivers a good combination of weight and speed. Audiovector uses a similar system in its tower loudspeakers, such as the R6 Arreté and R8, and delivers uncanny bass levels from a relatively narrow-baffle design, so it’s not without precedent.

That eight-inch internal driver is met by a 12” bass unit at the front of the cabinet. This bass driver is a custom design manufactured to Audiovector’s specifications. The membrane is a lightweight yet stiff, long-fibre paper cone with a corrugated ‘concertina’ surround. It uses a 4”, hysteresis-free, fully vented voice coil. It also features an aluminium/magnesium chassis. The bass unit crosses over to the midrange at a relatively high 500Hz, which is rare in any sized drive unit but almost unheard of in a 12” unit.

Blisteringly fast

The midrange must be fast enough to handle that blisteringly fast AMT tweeter. The five-inch custom-made Trapeze Reimagined midrange driver uses a lightweight, impregnated paper cone, once more featuring a ‘concertina’ surround instead of the more commonplace rubber half-roll design. Like its big bass brother, it also features a hysteresis-free voice coil and a chassis made from aluminium and magnesium. However, in this driver, the magnet is a powerful vented circular Neodymium magnet, and the design includes a copper induction shorting cap on the pole piece.

Audiovector has long been a proponent of AMT designs, and the company claims its open-back Air Motion Transformer tweeter is the only one remaining true to Dr Oscar Heil’s original design. The pleated membrane uses an extraordinarily light and well-controlled mylar membrane with aluminium leading strips and powerful N 51 Neodymium magnets. Mylar was chosen because of its good internal damping and inherent low distortion. Audiovector perfected its etching process to produce the diaphragms for its current range. This is mounted to the cabinet with a clever three-point installation system, and its front fascia is made of aircraft-grade aluminium, milled with a circular pattern.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined: Occam’s crossover

Audiovector designed the crossover network to meet the problem-solving principle known as Occam’s razor. Attributed to 14th-century English philosopher William of Occam, it’s popularly stated as ‘the simplest explanation is usually the best one’. The Trapeze Reimagined’s crossover is simple (although no simpler than it should be!), developed for the loudspeaker, and uses high-quality components. It sports custom capacitors, which use polypropylene dielectrics with a tin-flashed copper foil, which are ‘double cryogenically’ treated and selected to have less than ±0.3% tolerances. Its copper inductor coils are also subjected to the same ‘double cryo’ treatment because one cryogenic treatment takes simplicity too far!

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

The Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined also uses high-quality film resistors instead of the more commonly used reactive wire wound resistors in the tweeter section. There is also an Audiovector x Duelund bypass capacitor for the AMT’s extreme high-frequency component.

Throwing shapes

Loudspeaker designers constantly try new cabinet designs to help reduce internal standing waves. A conventional rectangular cabinet is uniquely designed to promote such internal resonance. Something as simple as a lute or boat-shaped enclosure can help. However, just as non-parallel walls can make for better-sounding rooms, so non-parallel internal surfaces of an enclosure help reduce internal standing waves. This is where the trapezoid shape of the Trapeze Reimagined does so well. By angling that front baffle, the cabinet is effectively a standing wave-free zone.

However, to correctly achieve that goal beyond its non-parallel shape, there’s some deceptively complex alignment of the acoustic centres of each driver. This has another benefit alongside the substantial reduction in standing waves; the correct placement of those drivers’ acoustic centres contributes to creating 6dB/octave slopes between the drivers. The less perfect the positioning, the more complexity goes into the crossover network. Also, by angling the front baffle and the drive units on that baffle, toe-in is achieved while the rest of the loudspeaker is parallel to the rear and side walls. Not only does this aid installation, but it fits well with many listeners’ domestic demands.

A big hardwood, high-density board cabinet also allows for lots of bracing. It doesn’t necessarily need lots of bracing (once again, the thin-walled cabinets of BBC designs famously had ‘minimal’ – British understatement for ‘bugger all’ – internal bracing), but the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined takes advantage of bracing to help lower cabinet-induced distortion and coloration.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined: Compatibility

A lot has changed in the audio world since the Trapez first appeared 45 years ago. Most notably in amplifiers, the prevailing technology was a solid-state Class AB amplifier with a moderately good damping factor. Connecting a loudspeaker to a single-end triode design with a very low damping factor or a behemoth power amplifier with an extremely high damping factor was still some years away. Fortunately, Trapeze Reimagined is one of the few designs that factor in an amplifier’s damping factor, with a three-position switch on the rear panel.

You can also use this like a tonal compensation switch, taking some of the tautness from a dry-sounding amplifier. The effect is noticeable, but given I spent an hour or so thoroughly enjoying the Trapeze Reimagined in the wrong position for the amp used, it’s neither a deal-breaker nor a speaker-destroyer if you leave it in the middle position. It’s worth experimenting, though.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined, Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

And that word ‘enjoying’… well, it often comes up when playing the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined. It’s not a fussy loudspeaker, even though it’s worth experimenting with accurate placement, partnering equipment and that damping factor switch. But Trapeze Reimagined is the opposite of the stuffy audiophile loudspeaker that only springs to life when fed beautifully recorded music.

No shame

This is the loudspeaker you can happily surf through Tidal’s or Qobuz’s less salubrious sections, put on a musical horror, and enjoy. Play ‘Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody’ by Louis Prima or ‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth (I have no shame), and it raises a smile. Play ‘La Mer’ by Julio Iglesias, and you start sauntering across a room like you are Colin Firth in the closing scenes of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Or play Infected Mushroom or Iron Maiden and start headbanging until something bursts. It’s that kind of speaker when it wants to be.

Given the Isobaric Compound Bass, I’m trying not to make it sound like word-association. Still, I can’t help thinking about the old Linn Isobarik loudspeaker when listening to the Trapeze Reimagined. In the late 1980s, I used to sell Linn ‘briks’. They did a lot wrong, but what they did right few other loudspeakers could do. That still holds, although the ‘did a lot wrong’ part in today’s market will arguably weigh heavier.

Doing it right

So, what did Linn Isobariks do right? They made bass at once deep and visceral and rhythmically ‘bouncy’. Everything else sounded like a slow, one-note drone by comparison. And if you liked that staggeringly good, forceful bass, you would likely overlook the Isobarik’s lack of stereo imaging, relatively weak vocal articulation and midrange clarity, and its treble that could sound underwhelming or screechy.

The Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined is a Linn Isobarik with the nasty bits smoothed off. It’s got that same sense of a visceral, ‘meaty’ and rhythmically precise bass, but this time coupled to a midrange that expresses itself beautifully and a treble that is at once detailed and never peaky sounding. Like most Audiovectors—and like most wide-baffle designs—it gives an excellent presentation of stereo imaging. And it all hangs together beautifully.

Take it down a notch

Playing more informative pieces of music reveals a loudspeaker of depth and subtlety, too. Imaging is first-rate, with the loudspeaker creating an image slightly more profound than it is wide but still cast wide of the loudspeaker cabinets. ‘The Ghost’ by Anna B Savage [in|Flux, City Slang] has an atmospheric mix of natural and synthesised instruments with her voice front and centre. It’s easy for the mix to leave her almost removed from the music because she’s close-mic’d. Still, the point of the track is to be claustrophobic and intense, and the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined presents that effortlessly.

Unlike many high-end designs, it’s a detailed and honest performer, but the detail is not thrown at you. It’s a more compelling and coherent sound than that, and you never feel the interaction between drivers or any tonal shifts as you move through the registers. It just sounds natural, ‘right’, and always enjoyable.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined

As with many of the best loudspeakers, it gets the midrange very right, but the Trapeze Reimagined never pushes this midrange clarity and absence of coloration. ‘Entr’acte’ from Caroline Shaw and the Attacca Quartet’s Orange [Nonesuch] shows this midrange at its best; it swings between pizzicato and glissando, with moments of attack and other Phillip Glass-like repetition. Get the midrange wrong, and it sounds like the string quartet is warming up. The Trapeze Reimagined locks your attention to the point where finding another track before it ends would seem like musical heresy. The same applies throughout; listen to ‘Peace Piece’ by Bill Evans [Everybody Digs Bill Evans, Riverside], and the world stops for six and a half glorious minutes. Even though the improvisation falls mainly in the middle registers, the bass brilliantly roots the sound in place.

Normal rooms

The downsides are few and trivial. This is a loudspeaker-sized, shaped, finished, and priced for ‘normal’ listening rooms rather than an oligarch’s winter palace. As such, it doesn’t reach the lowest octave where 64’ organ pipes live. But those deepest bass notes are often more of a curse than a blessing. You usually need to control and contain them. The Trapeze Reimagined is small enough to be used in homes where space is at a premium. This is as ‘full-range’ as you need in such rooms, and anything else is excessive.

Audiovector’s Trapeze Reimagined are barely on the high-end nursery slopes. You can buy power cords that cost more than these loudspeakers. Still, I suspect they will have the same staying power as the Trapez of almost half a century ago. And it’s the same motivation in people who still play their music through Linn Isobariks today. The Trapeze Reimagined is a loudspeaker that stays in your system. You could move up to some seriously high-end electronics and not feel a burning desire to upgrade the loudspeakers.

More or better?

Sure, spending more gets you more. However, if there’s one thing you take from this review, it’s that ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘better.’ The bass has impact and slam. The overall sound is coherent, with a simple sense of fun. This makes the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined floorstanding loudspeaker a tough act to follow. No matter how much money you spend on your loudspeakers.

A wide-baffle loudspeaker will always be a minority interest in today’s audio world. For good or ill, most people buy slimline tower loudspeakers today. For those people, many options are open to them… including several from Audiovector’s range. But some see slim loudspeaker design as a sonic misstep. But not all want the easy-going, laid-back sound of a pair of BBC-derived designs either. For those who want something that plays music with fun and force, those who want something that can produce detail and danceable tunes, and for those who wish to bass that has depth, slam, and a wicked sense of rhythm… the Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined floorstanding loudspeaker is calling you.

Audiovector Trapeze Reimagined: Technical specifications

  • Type: Three-way floorstanding loudspeaker with isobaric loading
  • Drive Units: High-frequency Unit: 3800 mm2 Audiovector SEC AMT. Mid unit: High-resolution 5” paper cone with Neodymium magnet. Bass Unit: High Power 12” paper cone with 4” Voice coil, with internal 8” Isobaric Compound Bass driver
  • Frequency Response: 34Hz-52kHz, ±2.5dB
  • Average Impedance: 8 Ohm
  • Minimum Impedance: 6.5 Ohm at 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB SPL at 1m for 2.83Vrms input
  • Distortion: <0.2% THD at 90 dB SPL
  • Crossover Frequencies: 500 and 3.000 Hz
  • Terminals: High Current, gold-plated copper/brass binding posts accepting 4mm plugs or spades
  • Finish: Nordic Oak, Italian Walnut, Black Ash, White Silk. Custom piano colours on request
  • Dimensions: (HxWxD): 87.5x42x43.5cm
  • Weight: 50kg per pair
  • Price: £15,500/$19,950 per pair




UK distributor

Renaissance Audio


+44(0)131 555 3922

Read more Audiovector Reviews

Back to Reviews


Read Next From Review

See all

Adblocker Detected

"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..."

"There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."