Perfect Storm Black

Vapor Audio Perfect Storm Black

What is a Flagship Loudspeaker?

In our opinion, to truly be a Flagship design, a loudspeaker must effortlessly cover the entire frequency of 20hz – 20,000hz (or higher). Speakers that merely claim to cover the range through overly optimistic specifications need not apply. A flagship design much push the cutting edge of driver, cabinet, and crossover technology in ways not yet seen before from other companies. And finally a true Flagship must make a bold visual statement as well as an audible one. In short, a Flagship Loudspeaker should thrill the ears and the eyes, it should incite wonderment and imagination.

How has Vapor Audio managed to create a Flagship?

When we began in 2008, our goals were simple. With each design we wouldn’t stop advancing until it was as optimized as could be. The Cirrus Black, our very first effort, was quickly hailed as one of the best monitors available at any cost. It employed cabinet construction unseen at the price, drivers the best available, and meticulous obsession with the details. Over time we moved into larger loudspeakers as our capabilities and skills improved, the elegant Derecho, the cutting edge statement Nimbus, and the classy and refined Joule. With each of these we learned and incorporated these new discoveries into existing ones as well. We are quick studies here, and by early 2013 the idea of creating a Flagship gained traction because our much greater understanding of what matters in a speaker meant confidence in ability to execute a very complex and ambitious undertaking.

The Perfect Storm concept went through numerous iterations and revisions in the following 2 years. Many different cabinet layouts were examined, materials were investigated, and new drivers were scrutinized for possible implementation. After the Joule was finalized it became clear to us that was the basic format that should be used, it’s level of performance is breathtaking, it’s only shortcoming is in terms of ultimate dynamics and scale. So it was decided the Perfect Storm would build upon that success, and make it one without shortcomings of any kind.

Many individual components of the Joule were retained for the Perfect Storm, the incomparable RAAL 140-15D tweeter, the 10:1 tapering Transmission Line cabinet that results in textbook perfect port output, laminated stacked ply cabinets, a Zero Diffraction Signature cabinet around high frequency transducers, Inversion Layer treatment to cabinetry, and a Finite Element Analysis designed cabinet interior. These elements would lay a proven foundation without compromise.

To take these elements to the next level, it was obvious that scale of the design would have to be taken to an entirely new level for us. A larger woofer would be needed to give effortless extension to 20hz, and higher sensitivity would also be greatly preferred from the woofer to allow use with lower power tube amplifiers. AudioTechnology provided just such a driver with their 15” Sandwich Cone, a larger version of that used in the Joule which has thrilled listeners and owners. Hoffman’s Iron Law states that lower extension and higher sensitivity must result in a larger cabinet volume, and the Perfect Storm bass cabinet is nearly 7 cu/ft. To continue the goal of greater scale and dynamics with higher sensitivity, new midrange drivers would be needed as well, but no suitable drivers existed at the time. To meet this end we turned to our past proven partners, AudioTechnology and Accuton. Both provided us unique to Vapor Audio 8” midrange drivers ideally suited to covering the vocal range, drivers that could do so with authority and clarity unmatched. But in transitioning to a larger and more impactful driver to cover the vocal range, a hole opened it their ability to ‘bridge’ or match with the RAAL tweeter. Another driver would be needed to fill that hole, turning the Perfect Storm into a 4-way speaker. Again, when the needed was identified, no suitable candidate existed. However Accuton expertly filled this need with their all-new C51 Cell midrange. This small dome driver delivers the high sensitivity needed, and does so with amplifier like low-distortion levels, it is exactly what’s needed to cover the gap between 8” midrange and ribbon tweeter.

Although the research and development efforts put into drivers alone was extensive, the Perfect Storm story goes much further. For years materials research has been an obsession of ours, working to find the perfect combination of strength and damping in our cabinetry. Baltic Birch plywood has been used by many manufacturers for decades, but only a small handful has attempted to use it in the way we do – with CNC cut stacked laminations. Building cabinets this way exponentially increases difficulty and labor involved, but opens possibilities that simply could not be done with traditional cabinetry. Complex interior and exterior cabinet shapes can be created with this method, advances such our Zero Diffraction Signature and textbook perfect 10:1 Transmission Line would not be possibly otherwise. Also not all Birch Ply is equal. Since our creation we have consumed thousands of Birch plywood sheets, and quality has varied greatly. Because of this extensive hands on experience, we have sourced a provider who delivers quality head and shoulders above the rest.

Birch ply provides the cabinet foundation, but for driver mounting we have long wanted a much stronger material. Currently only two candidates exist, metals or phenolics. Each was investigated extensively, and cost with either would be very similar, so only final performance was considered. Phenolics are a high tech form of plastic, formed under very high pressure and heat, they can result in tensile strength and Youngs modulus equal or greater than aluminum alloys. But unlike metals, phenolics also have excellent damping properties, which means no ringing. In our view phenolics yield the perfect combination of qualities for this application.

At 360 pounds each, the Perfect Storm represents quite a challenge for us to build by hand. The bass cabinet alone uses 80 pounds of our Inversion Layer material, which could just have easily been omitted. It’s invisible to the outward eye, and most potential customers would never know if it wasn’t there, but the sole reason to pursue a Flagship speaker is to realize every incremental improvement possible. So the extra 80 pounds of heft certainly makes our job more difficult, but the complete elimination of cabinet resonances makes it a must have in our minds.

The crossover is like the suspension of a sports car. The drivers are the engine, but what good is 600 horsepower if you can put it to the ground? And again, no compromises were made in crossover design. After years of comparisons and evaluation of every capacitor on the market, we have chosen VH Audio as the standard capacitor provider for our capacitors. Of course custom options such as Duelund RS are available as well. Inductors are virgin copper wax/paper from Jensen, and resistors from Duelund. Internal wiring as well was carefully chosen after years of evaluation, and for a no-compromise loudspeaker, we chose Verastarr.

To make an impactful visual statement, all new metalwork was incorporated into the Perfect Storm design. Large and sturdy metal outrigger pods were added, and an aluminum faceplate was added to visually integrate drivers into one elegant form. Also added is a new binding post plate that can accommodate up to 4-way wiring if so desired. The possible combinations of paint and veneer are nearly infinite, and satin or buffed piano gloss can be laid onto it. The Perfect Storm is a classy giant, a Cary Grant.

Have we succeeded in our pursut? The market will tell over time, but we certainly think so. The Perfect Storm can go toe to toe with any speaker at any price. It can convey state of the art transparency and resolution, addictive musicality, starting dynamics, ability to be driven by nearly any amplifier, and a breathtaking visual impression. And best of all the Perfect Storm can do this at a price many multiples less than other Flagship’s available today.

Perfect Storm pricing – $74,995/pair

  • Drivers Used RAAL 140-15D Amorphous Core Tweeter with silver/gold Transformer
    8″ AudioTechnology custom Vapor Audio exclusive lower midrange
    2" Accuton Cell C51 upper midrange
    15+″ Sandwich Cone Audio Technology 15F woofer
    Cabinet Tuning 10:1 Tapering Transmission Line, slot ported, 20hz tune
    Freq Response 16 – 38,500hz +/-3db, 24 – 26,000 hz +/- 1.5db
    Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
    Sensitivity 94 db
    Recommended Power 8-500 watts via Tube Amp
    15-500 watts via Solid State Amp
    Weight and Dimensions 450 pounds
    64″ Height x 32″ Deep x 20″ Max Width
    Crossover Details Asymmetric slopes with crossover points of 300hz, 1000hz, and 2500hz
  • Exclusive custom Amorphous Core RAAL Ribbon Tweeter Element
    Extreme High Efficiency AudioTechnology lower midrange, all custom design
    World's First High Efficiency Accuton Cell upper midrange
    Sandwich Cone AudioTechnology 15+″ woofer in tapering Transmission Line
    Solid Phenolic baffle material for extreme stiffness and damping
    Stacked Ply cabinet construction with mass loaded constrained layer top
    Vapor Audio’s proprietary Acoustic Inversion Layer dampening treatment to reduce cabinet wall resonance by over 20db.                  
    Acoustically isolated crossover compartment

    Standard Crossover Features:
     12ga wax/paper Foil Inductors
    Duelund RS Capacitors
    All point-to-point hand soldered with Cardas Silver Solder
    Path Audio Resistors
    Crossover in separate vibration isolated chamber

    Connectivity and Wiring:
    WBT 0710 Silver Binding Posts
    Wired internally with silver/gold wire

  • Below is a listing of some more popular upgrades, many others are available.
    Crossover components, wiring, and binding posts can all be chosen by the customer.
    Contact us for details and pricing.

    Driver Upgrades:
    Accuton upgrade to Diamond upper midrange – $10000 (Ultimate Resolution)

    Finish Upgrades:
    Upgrade from a standard veneer to premium veneer (burl, crotch, etc) – Included
    Hand Rubbed High Gloss Piano finish – Included

    Crossover Upgrade packages:
    Dueland RS Silver capacitors – $5000 (PERFECTION) (only possible upgrade)

    Binding Post Upgrades:
    Upgrade to WBT 0710 Silver – Included (Finest binding posts available today)

    Internal Wiring Upgrades:
    Antipodes Reference
     Silver/Gold Litz wire throughout – Included