Vol'ti - v. - to turn over a new leaf; to move forward


8/25/2014 - NL28

Uggh, the Summertime sales blues.  This is how it is in the Audio business during the summer months - completely dead.  It's just now starting to show signs of life, but the last few months have been rough.

I've still got more work than I can handle in the shop though.  Speakers that were sold earlier in the year are being finished up, as are a whole new batch of V-Trac horns.  A new batch of Vittora cabinets are in the works and there are several other projects coming up.  It's good to be busy, and I'm thankful for all the work I have to do.

No, we haven't moved to Tennessee yet.  We're working on it every day.  Right now I'm just finishing up on the new shop design, and it's looking real good.  I wish I had the money to build it, because I can't move down to TN without having a shop to work in.  It will happen eventually.  It's a step by step process, and we're patiently moving forward every day.


There's a lot to talk about regarding the 2014 Audio Shows.

First, T.H.E. Show Newport, May 30, 31 and June 1, 2014, was a great success.  I managed to talk Gary Dews of BorderPatrol Audio into joining me at the show, and his gear really made the Vittora speakers sound their very best.

'Triode' Pete did not join us in California, but his cables did, and we were happy to be using them.   Triode Wire Labs cables really helped solidify the sound we were making.

We also used an UberBUSS power distribution box.  The UberBUSS did not show up in time for us to use it on Friday, but we did use it in the system on Saturday and Sunday, and what a difference it made.  The sound of the system became more relaxed and controlled.

I'm sounding like a broken record with these show reports, but once again, our system sounded fantastic, and more than one person thought it was the best of the show.  I love it when people write their comments on our board in the room.  The comments are unsolicited, although I do encourage people to write on the board what they are telling me to my face.  At every show there are hundreds of people who give me the 'thumbs up' and tell me it sounds great.  But then there are also a couple dozen people who come up to me and with that wide-eyed look on their face, shake my hand, and say the nicest things about the Vittora speakers.  It is very humbling to me, and I appreciate it so much when someone takes the time to so sincerely congratulate me on a job well done.  I remind them that they are hearing more than just speakers in the room, and then point them towards the dry-erase board.

Here's the pictures of the boards from T.H.E. Show Newport 2014

Most Dynamic + Beautiful - Kev
Best Sound @ the Show - RRoss
Makes Me Happy To Come in this Room!
Only The Best Comes Out of Maine!
Great Music  .  .  .
Very Nice System - Wonderful Sound!!
The Best Sound!! I've been in a concert   : )
One Of The Best Sounds At The Show
Terrific Sound!
One of the TOP Sounds at the Show
Best of Show - Dale
Very Impressed!!
I'm a Bass Player and You've Nailed The Sound I Like  .  .  .
Put In Any CD-SACD, & it ROCKS!!
Totally Intoxicating - They Must Be Bought!! - Dave W
Damn Nice Sound!!
This System Gels! - Eric
Best Horn Speaker Ever!!
Best Of Show + Kills The MBL's! - Marty Hernandez LAOC
Best Sound at Show!!! Thx - The Dirtbag Audiophile
Just Plain Superb!
Wow! #1 Incredible!! - Sandy Porter
Super Sound - Chuck
Where Have You Been All My Life

The next show for Volti will be The New York Audio Show!  That's right!  A last minute decision on my part, I just felt like Volti should have speakers at this show.  

Volti Audio will be teaming up with Raven Audio, Triode Wire Labs, and possibly a turntable company for this show.   I'm excited about this and I think we'll be making a very good sound with this combination.

Room 349

I managed to score a room with a buffer room on each side of it, something that I think is very important, and yet most of the rooms at this year's NYAS do not have that buffer room.  I just don't understand that - it's a disaster waiting to happen.  I feel fortunate that we will be avoiding the noisy neighbor problems.  Hey, who am I kidding?  We ARE the noisy neighbors!

Since this was so 'last minute', we're not sure if we'll find a turntable company to join us or not.   The search is on, and so far it's been difficult lining someone up.   I've been wanting to do a room with an analog source for a while.  It's by request.  Many people at the shows ask why we don't have a turntable in our room - it just seems a natural fit with horn speakers and single ended tubes - and the answer is that it's Gary's fault!  I'm just kidding, sort of.   Gary is right when he says that a turntable draws attention away from the other equipment in the room, and he's also right in that it is tricky to move, assemble, and properly set up a turntable, and he's right that it's also more difficult to demo with a turntable versus the simplicity of throwing a CD into the player.  Those are all good reasons not to use a turntable in our show room.  But for the NYAS, there are a few good reasons to go that route - the sound quality being one, the fact that a lot of audiophiles will be more accepting of the whole system with an analog front end for another, and also we'll get another split of the room, which will help keep our costs down!  Hey, that's just a reality right now.

So we'll keep working on it and hopefully find a turntable company to join us.

I'll be bringing the Vittora system with me to show off the best of what we do here at Volti Audio.   Hope to see you at the show!

After the NYAS, we'll be heading to Denver Colorado for The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, where Volti Audio will have speakers featured in TWO rooms!


Come see and hear the beautiful Vittora speakers at The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Colorado.   Volti Audio will once again be teaming up with Gary Dews of BorderPatrol Audio Electronics in a repeat performance of the "Best Of Show" system that we brought to The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in 2013.

These very special Rosewood Vittoras will be mated to some fantastic BorderPatrol gear.   We'll be using a BorderPatrol S10, with two separate Power Supply Units, delivering, 9wpc in single-ended configuration.  This amplifier provides all the midrange warmth and detail you expect from 300B's, but produces incredibly deep, tight, solid bass that you would not normally associate with 300B's.  BorderPatrol is also bringing along one of their very special Control Units, and DAC to round out the electronics.

Volti is also teaming up with Triode Wire Labs at this show, providing all of our cabling.  Triode Wire Labs cables are all meticulously hand-made here in the U.S.A., and they represent extremely good value in a durable, high quality product.  We will have the "Seven Plus", "Ten Plus", and "Twelve Plus" power cables on hand, as well as the "American Speaker Cables", and the newest addition to the TWL lineup, the "Spirit" Interconnects.

You can also see Volti Audio's newest product, our amplifier plinths and stands.  Not yet featured on our website, this new product is a great compliment to the speakers that we build.  Made with 2" thick Baltic Birch plywood and veneered and finished to match the quality level of our speaker cabinets, these stands and amplifier plinths are a great way to showcase your electronics in the most beautiful way.

ALSO!  Come Hear and See The Volti Audio Alura Speakers In Room 1022

That's right, we're teaming up with Tortuga Audio in room 1022 where we will showcase the Alura speakers with Tortuga Audio's wonderful new Passive Preamp

We'll have these beautiful Alura speakers, veneered in American Walnut, available for sale at the show at a special price, and as usual, with free shipping from the show.

We hope to see you at the show!

Craft Speakers

At the end of the long days of an audio show, it's nice to get together with friends for dinner and/or to have a beer or two and just enjoy the camaraderie that develops from show to show amongst your peers.

The Newport show was great for this.   The cabanas around the pool, the Tiki styled bar, the comfortable chairs, the colorful lighting, the good food, and of course the good company, made you want to kick back and just enjoy life.

During one of those evenings, Gary Dews came up with a theory that I thought was really interesting and it's something I've thought about many times since.   He suggested that audio component design is following along the same path as the brewing of craft beer.

Yeah I know . . . bee/ar with me.  The analogy goes like this.   If you're a craft beer brewer, competing in a crowded market of other craft beers, you feel the need to differentiate yourself from the competition by making your beer more (insert adjective here).   A beer that is more (yup) than the others will certainly stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

If you're a small-scale manufacturer of speakers, competing in a crowded market of other small-scale manufacturers, you feel the need to differentiate yourself from the competition by making your speakers more (insert adjective here).   A speaker that is more (yup) than the others will certainly  .  .  .  .   yeah, you get the gist.

The premise is that like a lot of craft beers that are overly jazzed up with every conceivable flavor or gimmicky brewing method, so too are audio components, jazzed up with every conceivable feature - tuned to propagate every audio cliche'.

Are any of those craft beers 'real' beers?   Maybe we need to get some engineers involved to figure it out.   Are those speakers reproducing 'real' music?

I think there is some truth to Gary's analogy.   During the Newport show, I got a chance to sit in the sweet spot and listen to the Focal Grande Utopia's, a deliciously inviting speaker that drew me in from the hallway as I strolled by the room.  
I've always wanted to hear these things.   They're big, and they promise to deliver a big sound with their segmented slices pointed menacingly downward towards the listener's position.   As I sat in the 'focal' point, it was obvious that I was listening to a really good system that someone had taken a great deal of time to put together, and I thoroughly enjoyed my ten minutes in front of them.   But, I also learned what the phrase 'over-emphasized' meant, in regards to audio speakers.   Everything about the sound from these speakers was over the top, tweaked to the max, and the music really ceased to be music, and became simply a collection of sounds all designed to impress the listener.

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to hear the Portland String Quartet play for a couple of hours at a local venue.   I sat in the front row center of course, and listened very carefully to the music and the sound coming from this group.   These were real people, playing real instruments, and making real music - and I was thinking about what kind of craft beer they would be!   Compared to the Focal Utopia's, the sound was very bland and not nearly as loud.   You didn't feel the low end, there was no 'big air' around the high frequencies, the sound didn't reach out and grab your face, and generally the sound of this real music was something I could have fallen asleep to.

The dichotomy between these two experiences is something that troubles me a little bit, because I think I'm also guilty of producing a speaker that jazzes up the sound beyond what 'real' music actually sounds like.  I think all speaker designers are.    And yet, if I designed and built a speaker that perfectly reproduced what I heard from the Portland String Quartet that evening, how would that be accepted by the Press, coming to my room at The Newport Show next year?   Would people like what they were hearing, or have we all gotten so used to jazzed up sound that we can no longer appreciate what the real thing sounds like?   Would I be able to sell such a speaker?

What about other genres of music?   Can a speaker designed to produce the reality of a string quartet also do AC/DC any justice?

This certainly highlights the separation between engineered sound and artistic sound.   When I work with engineers, I get the sense that they think there is only one correct sound - like there should only be one perfect speaker and everything else is a compromise somehow.   Maybe there should be just one beer too?

Do we want to hear what a string quartet actually sounds like, or do we want to be impressed?   Perhaps we want a little of both?   What proportion should we strive for in the design - a little more real, or a little more emphasized?   I'm sure these are similar to the questions that beer makers ask of themselves as they plan their next brew.

If you put an engineer in charge of a brewery, what would they produce for a beer?

If you put an artist in charge of a brewery, what would they produce for a beer?

Is this why there are a thousand different speakers for sale, all of which have their own supporters?

I don't think I have the answers to any of these questions.

I'll have to continue to listen to more music and drink more beer
as I strive to come up with the next great 'Craft Speaker'.

And I'm alright with that.

New Tennessee Shop

The plan for the new Tennessee Volti Audio shop is coming along nicely.  The Frank Lloyd Wright 'Robi' and 'Millard' houses were inspiration for the new shop, although it's a far cry from anything 'Wrightian'.   It's expensive to copy FLW!  But there are certain design elements that did make it in.  Here's some shots from the Sketchup model.

I'll be flying down to TN for a week just before the New York Audio Show, to get permits, set the building location and elevation, and meet and hire subcontractors to begin work.  We've still got a long way to go, but it's exciting to get started.

Speaking of Tennessee - I guess it's a good place to relocate to if you're a speaker manufacturer, because Volti Audio is not the only company relocating to that area.   Thiel Audio has announced that they'll be relocating to the Nashville Tennessee area from their longtime headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky.   I thought that was an interesting little tidbit of information.

For Sale

The Walnut equipment stand and amplifier plinths we used at AXPONA - $2,200$1,800

Quicksilver Mid-Mono amplifiers (used, no warranty, includes almost complete set of extra tubes ($175 cost) - $1,895   $1,500

Peachtree Audio NovaPre in rosewood (with warranty) - $899 $700

So that's it for now.  Next newsletter will be published sometime after the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Thank you for your support, and until next time, I hope it all sounds good!

Greg Roberts

Volti Audio - Klipsch Upgrades - New Horn Speakers