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My Trapezium review (Read 1096 times)
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My Trapezium review
10/08/18 at 09:13:06
Recently I purchased these speakers in the hope they could pull off the not inconsiderable trick of producing musically satisfying audiophile sound within my limited budget and moreover, my limited space: specifically some space on the top of a desk. Well they are here now, answering the needs, yes indeed. So in appreciation I thought I'd take a stab at writing a sort of review to resemble what we might wish they receive in the audiophile press, if you will. There probably are errors, oversights and any manner of flaws. Please forgive if I gush and waffle on a bit in my enthusiasm.

DECWARE Trapezium

DECWARE offers the audiophile a purpose-built desk top speaker.

Speakers by Bob and Mike Ziegler of Turning Point Audio for DECWARE; Passive 2-way bass-reflex; max. dimensions: 10"H x 9"D x 7"W; price: $699; available direct from DECWARE at decware.com

Changes in living and work situations as well as technology have often resulted in dedicated music systems giving way to multi-purpose multi-media systems with the computer in its varied forms working its way to the core. In many cases the literal desk top has become the most practical place for speakers. Unfortunately, speakers on a desk top face additional challenges to their performance potentials, chief among them being size constraints and what is typically a less than ideal acoustic environment, due to the unavoidable presence of the desk top itself and often to additional factors such as adjacent walls or partitions. These challenges are seldom satisfactorily addressed when confronted and consequently, many people seeking audiophile quality sound in such situations have found the typical solutions for speakers wanting.

A typical approach has been to put standard box 'bookshelf' speakers on the desk, often downsizing them to be a more reasonable fit. The results seldom look at home on a table and tend to sound either too anemic or heavy on the boom and sizzle. The other typical approach is style-based. This tends to result in function following a form meant to follow function. They tend to sound, shall we say, different and while they may take up a lot less space, the aesthetics of something resembling, say, dinosaur eggs merged onto mini monitor stands may go well in the pages of a High Fashion magazine, but then, about the only thing that generally doesn't is something we'd actually like to live with. Certainly a lot of money moves one from plastic junk to nicer products but sound quality tends to remain somewhat compromised.

Enter veteran speaker designer and builder Bob Ziegler and son Mike, the latter of whose concept it was to offer a speaker designed to produce audiophile quality sound in the challenging desk top environment. Angling all sides of the cabinet to mitigate standing waves helps to minimize the effects of nearby rear and side surfaces while designing the bottom of the cabinet and the desk surface to work together as a well-tuned port takes best advantage of the surface it's sitting on. The interior angles and rigid construction help to make the best of the available cabinet volume. Aesthetics benefit as well, its tapered angles lending it a more integrated and less bulky presence.

Physically, the speakers have a satisfying size and weight, being about as large as one would like on a desk top without appearing too bulky and heavy enough to stay soundly in place while being easy to handle and position. A single set of simple, very solid binding posts on the rear accept standard banana/spade connectors or bare wire. While the black elements (side panels and speakers) have an industrial and technical character, the remaining surfaces warm the look with well finished, handsome real wood, resulting in an understated and functional appearance which should sit well with a wide range of quality furnishing.

Their whole reason for being, however, is to provide audiophile quality sound and that is where they shine. In place of the tinsel-and-plastic attack of many-a desktop solution, the Trapeziums offer a warm, more full-sized sound, a blessed grasp of subtlety and a solid musicality.

These days it seems we must be sure to discuss bass with all undue prominence, so we'll start at the bottom. The bass performance is remarkable, particularly in terms quality, thanks to the 4-inch SB driver and the superbly tuned integration of its direct sound with the cabinet and its novel port design. Given the volume of the cabinet and size of the driver, one isn't going to get proper subwoofer-level stuff. However, unless one needs to rattle the building with artificial bass noises or get the lowest cathedral organ notes ever piped out, there is no need to trouble with a subwoofer and all the problems that go with them. By themselves, as is, the Trapeziums have bass that goes low enough (to perhaps 50hz before rolling off) to present all normal musical sounds and do so with admirable linearity and sense of weight.

If well captured by the recording, no lines of an acoustic bass go missing. The punched up drums on The Cars' 1984 smash Heartbreak City (Audio Fidelity, AFZ-033) have all the intended muscle and drama. The bass guitar so instrumental to illustrating as much as rocking Creedence Clearwater Revival's classic Born On the Bayou from River Country (DCC GZS-1038) works just fine. The synthesized low, humming bass notes in Kevin MacLeod's Floating Cities (freemusicarchive.org) are present and coherent. The organ and bass in the St. Gregory The Great movement from Ottorino Respighi's Church Windows (Clark, PS, Reference Recordings RR-15) are represented just deeply and well enough to tell what's going on down there and give the intended effect.

What matters most to me lay in the quality of the mids. Voices are full toned and dynamic. Female voice is particularly well presented. Billie Holiday is pungent, Ella sanded smokey glass and Sarah Brightman as crystalline as expected and in case one hasn't heard it too many times, one can enjoy the charms of every impurity or quirk in Stevie Nicks' vocal on Dreams from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. John Fogerty's vocals on the afore-mentioned Born On the Bayou are more richly depicted than the flat shout often heard from lesser speakers. Barry White's voice is as dulcet and persuasive as one could hope for.

The color and dynamic character of instruments are as richly conveyed. Edvard Grieg's In Autumn (Ole Ruud, Bergen PO, BIS SACD 1191) sounds the autumnal trumpet, so to speak, with robust color and thrust from all quarters. Electric guitars are reasonably distinct; one can not only play 'which Beatle is on guitar' but playing 'which guitar is the Beatle on' is also about as easy as it gets. Likewise, the instruments in Dvorak's 'American' String Quartet Op. 96 (Jerusalem Quartet, Harmonia Mundi HMC 901899) are warm, full-bodied and in the presence of their resonances both individual and collective.

The undulated dynamics of the orchestra in The Flight Into Egypt movement from the above-mentioned Church Windows are delivered with enough nuance and weight to feel out clearly. Hallingen from Gorset & Friends' Nodebog (2L Norway #2L088) finds folk instruments well captured in the acoustics of a Church. Where many similarly sized speakers may encase the 'Norwegian folk drum' with an overly boomy effect, as if recorded for an action movie, here both the natural resonance and punch of the drum are given with admirable honesty, whilst the flute moves about it, the soundstage perspective of both proving to be on par with a decent floor-standing setup and better than one expects for speakers on a desk top.

Highs are just as agreeable, being out of your face and back in their place while retaining detail even in cases where detail can be easily lost. The brush work in How Deep the Ocean from You Get More Bounce with Curtis Counce (Contemporary OJCCD-159-2), is correctly, if subtly, depicted rather than the flat puff I've heard it become from less refined speakers. Even in a case such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie - First Time - The Count Meets the Duke (Columbia Legacy SACD CS 65571), brass are about as distinctly resolved as one would wish while the absence of aggressiveness minimizes the risk you'll get an unexpected free shave.

If one can opt for a setup with the dedicated space, larger floor standing speakers and budget, one can look to the other models DECWARE and Bob Ziegler have to offer, including the HR-1, a most formidable speaker. Such a setup can offer even more refined sound, provide higher SPLs and do a better disappearing act while at it. Good single-driver speakers can be a touch faster and may not have the phase effects when moving off axis, but need rather larger cabinets and/or subwoofers to approach the range and full tone offered here.

It should also be pointed out that if one didn't need to use the Trapeziums on a desk or table any more, they can work on stands and be used in a floor-standing context to very good effect, whereas few if any floor-standing speakers, or bookshelf speakers for that matter, will adapt as well to use on a desk top.

Although the Trapeziums can give good results with mediocre electronics or in unfavorable situations, such as backing against or situated right next to a wall, as high quality speakers they can and do clearly benefit from optimizing their position and are revealing of the character and quality of the rest of the gear in the chain. As for efficiency, its rated 89db @ 1W seems about right; certainly a 6-watt per channel S.E.T. tube amp provided more power than I had any use for.

Putting it on the table, so to speak, with Bob and Mike Ziegler's Trapezium speakers, DECWARE offers an outstanding speaker that doesn't need to literally stand out on its own. The unique design, the high quality of the drivers and construction and the refinement of voicing result in speakers which can stand as the ideal for their application.

Review notes:
All evaluation was done on a small (18"D x 44"W) antique desk, solidly built of real wood, with the speakers placed directly on the desk top, mildly toed-in perhaps 20% and at mid points about 9" from the rear wall to the top back of speaker and a couple inches in from the sides of the desk top. The computer monitor was behind and between the speakers. Acoustically the room is not lively (carpet, acoustic tile ceiling, curtains etc but no special treatments). Sources included Well-Tempered 'table w/Soundsmith Othello, Schiit Mani phono pre, Pioneer DV-79AVi and Xonar Essence ST DAC. Amplification was a Musical Paradise MP-301 MK3 (S.E.T. integrated using RCA 5693 & Tung-Sol 7581-A).

Thanks Bob
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Decware CSP2+ + Sennheiser HD-600 or SEC84C+ + Trapeziums - PC or Pioneer 79DVi + Schiit Bifrost Multibit - WTT + Soundsmith Othello + Schiit Mani - DAG, BJC 10 white - IS500 isolator - Feline Gain Limiter
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Seasoned Member

"Love without
guts is
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 15707
Re: My Trapezium review
Reply #1 - 10/08/18 at 12:19:06
Great review! I have been running Trapeziums to fill my upstairs loft room with sound. I ad hoped to do so with the Taboo Mk III or Mk IV, but in that space there just wasn't quite enough power to get the tonal balance I look for and the volume I need to fill that space. But I hooked up a Torii Mk II and it's a perfect pairing. Plenty of volume, wonderful tonal balance, exciting sound. The Torii Mk II has made me love these speakers.
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HR-1,ZTPRE,ZBIT,ZROCK2,SE84UFO3-25th, CSP3-25th.Taboo Mk IV+MK III;Rega P3 w/modPS Audio:DMP+DSD,P10,NPC,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs; Mapleshade:SamsonV2+V3,double helix Plus spark cbl;Oppo UDP205;VooDoo:Cremona+Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner; headphones: PM1,HD800S,LCD-
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Steve Deckert

If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

Posts: 3686
Re: My Trapezium review
Reply #2 - 10/10/18 at 04:57:00

Indeed, the speakers have even been able to covey a convincing performance in the 17 x 27 x 15 Decware listening room stand mounted and driven by around 6 watts.  More power and suddenly the little speakers get really big, which is real head shaker, trust me. Obviously the speaker gene runs in the family.

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