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


12/1/2014 - NL29

Hi everyone, hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday!  I've spent some time every day during the last week writing this newsletter, and I'm just finishing up today, Sunday the 30th.  I'm enjoying a bowl of turkey soup that I just made as I type this.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but not just because of the food.  This holiday reminds us to be thankful for all that we have and enjoy in life.

I am thankful for many things this year, including the fact that Volti Audio keeps chugging along nicely.  I'm thankful for my wife of 32 years and how she supports me with all my crazy ideas.   I'm thankful for the friendships I've made over this past year, both in and out of the audio business.   I'm also thankful for my good health and abilities.

I'm also thankful to be doing the kind of work that I enjoy, and to have a steady stream of work to do.   Even though it's been kind of a tough year in this Audio Business, business has picked up as of late, and overall, we seem to have reached a point where Volti Audio is now finally, and solely providing us our means of support.

Before you ask, no we still haven't moved to TN.  We're still waiting to sell property here in Maine so we can use the money to build the new shop in TN.  I can't move down there until I have a place to work, so the process continues, and we just have to be patient.  It can't happen soon enough!

It is an expensive proposition for Volti Audio to do an audio show, and with sales being what they were this year, I knew we'd have to do everything possible to keep costs in line if I wanted to squeeze this show into our marketing budget.   So I decided to take only what would fit in the old Tahoe (no trailer in tow) and drive down, which cut out the normal shipping and drayage costs completely.   I also lined up two other partners to share the show room, and two of us shared a sleeping room, which really helped to lower costs.  Overall, the cost of this show for Volti Audio was a reasonable $3K (not including any of my lost shop work hours).  Not too bad, considering the great sound we made and the great feedback and press coverage we got.

The decision to do the New York Audio Show this year came just six weeks before the show, and it left me scrambling to find a turntable company to join us in the room.  Pete Grzybowski of Triode Wire Labs was on board right away, and Dave Thomson of Raven Audio joined in quickly as well.  But we just could not find a turntable company to share the room.  Plenty of offers to supply a turntable to the room, but not as a paying partner in the room.   So we went all digital that weekend, using Dave's computer server and a Mytek DAC, and my EMM Labs CD/SACD player/DAC as the sources.

It was really great to meet Dave Thomson and to become familiar with the gear he builds.  Raven Audio has been around for just a couple of years, and already they have developed a nice product line with a great aesthetic design and terrific sound quality.  They have products in all price ranges as well.  Also great to see Pete Grzybowski of Triode Wire Labs again.  Thank you Dave and Pete for helping to make this show such a success for all of us.  You guys are a couple of class acts!

Thank you to Scot Hull of The Audio Traveler for providing many of the photos here.   If you haven't checked out Part Time Audiophile, or the new sister sites, The Audio Traveler, and Audio-Head recently, you really should.  You'll find prolific, creative writing, along with great photography.

"The sound in this room was dynamic and warm, with good tonal colors and density.  
Set up along the long wall, as Greg almost invariably does, the big Vittoras bracketed
the listeners into a wide sweet spot, which is probably why it was jumping all weekend!"
Scot Hull, The Audio Traveler

". . . the Volti Audio Vittora is a modern heirloom.  
This is a pair of loudspeakers that your kids don't know they want."

Scot Hull, The Audio Traveler

Other Show Coverage

Art Dudley, Stereophile Magazine

"Volti Vittora loudspeaker . . .  still endures as perhaps the best bargain in US-made hi-fi.

"The Vittoras sounded as engaging as ever"

Analog Planet

Enjoy The Music

AV Showrooms Video

Triode Pete's AudioCircle Forum Page

A few other quotes:

"The speakers that totally blew me away were the Volti Audio Horns"

"The Volti was being driven by a Raven Preamp and Raven 26 watt 300b push-pull.   They were using Sophia Royal Princess tubes.   I will not soon forget the sound, power and immediacy of that system.   I have not heard orchestra music sound like that from an audio system before."

"So fast and dynamic, effortless.   I started to visualize owning this system and the room I would build for listening."

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014


Another great Rocky Mountain Audiofest for Volti Audio and BorderPatrol Audio.  In the same room as last year (1102), we had almost the same setup, and pretty much the same results.  The same beautiful Rosewood speakers that we brought to the New York Audio Show were wowing everyone.  Gary brought the S20 EXD with dual EXS power supplies, along with a BP control unit and his custom DAC, and once again demonstrated just how good the BorderPatrol gear really is.  This year we added Triode Wire Labs cabling and an UberBUSS power conditioner to the mix, and I believe the sound of our room was an improvement over last years because of it.

As I often do at the shows, I put a dry-erase board out for people to write their comments on.   Here's the picture of the board from room 1102:

The Audio is Strong With This One!
Yello Rocks!
Best Sound at the Show!
Most Musical!
You Made Me Cry!
Best Classical Sound of Show!
!! WOW !!
Hear Like It's Live, Fun Stuff
Best N Show, Nice!!
The Best Horns Ever!!!
I'll Be Back Here . . .
Viva Volti!
Best Sounding Room In The Last 4 Hours
Sounds Live!!!
Audioshark.org Loves Volti!!!
Very Impressive!

1102 Audio

Best Of Show!

Volti Audio and BorderPatrol Audio in Room 1102

Read about it HERE

Roy Gregory, The Audio Beat

"So what elevated the system to the top step of the podium this time round?   I know that finish shouldn't come into it, but the new Rosewood veneer on the Volti Vittora speakers definitely raised the aesthetic game as far as this $25,000, five-cabinet horn system is concerned (that's two twin cabinet three-way speakers and an additional subwoofer).   These speakers were always a massive bargain, partly because of the company's direct-to-customer sales model.   Now they're a bigger bargain still".

" .  .  .  don't get fooled by the efficiency of the speakers, low output power might be acceptable, but wimpy power supplies are definitely going to be exposed.   Which makes the choice of the BorderPatrol S20 EXD amplifier with a pair of the massive EXS power supplies an excellent choice".

"Which brings us to the cables and the one big difference from last year.   The entire loom, from wall socket to speaker terminals was supplied by Triode Wire Labs . . . I'm not surprised to hear Greg Roberts of Volti crediting them with the lift in performance".

"When it comes to audio, there's no substitute for experience coupled to care and attention to detail.   BorderPatrol and Volti have been working together for a few years now, and it shows.   This is one system you can throw anything at and still enjoy the results . . . it makes listening fun. If you don't enjoy music on this setup then you need to get medical help.   You could well be dead from the neck up".

"What I heard here, from the $25,000 Vittora system was deep and propulsive and popped like corn kernels on a hot pan.   The fit and finish on the hand-crafted cabinets is outstanding, and set up across the long wall, the images were very deep and wall-to-wall wide."

"All in all, this system was by no means inexpensive.   No one is going to 'do this' as their entry-level, starter system.   It's not going to shoehorn into a closet or dorm room.   You need cash and you need space.   That said, this sound loudly and obviously stomped many systems that choose to add a zero to the combined price tag.   I call that a win."
Scot Hull, The Audio Traveler

Room 1022

Volti Audio also teamed up with Triode Wire Labs and Tortuga Audio in room 1022.  I brought the Walnut Alura speakers, which we set up on the long wall of the room.  Tortuga makes LDR passive preamplifiers with exceptional design features and sound quality.  BorderPatrol gave us a S10 EXD and one of their new USB DAC's to use for the weekend.  Everything was all tied together with the TWL cabling.

Very nice to meet Morten Sissener (Tortuga Audio) and his helpful daughter Kristen.

This room came together nicely, and the sound we made in this room was just spectacular.  I noted that the Alura speakers sounded a bit leaner and lighter than usual, which I attributed to the passive preamp, but I don't mean that in a bad way.  The transparency and detail provided by the Tortuga preamp was a big part of the overall sound we made.  Nothing was lacking in this system - dynamics, tight bass, smoothness, detail, imaging, soundstage - all there with authority.  I walked in one time and Pete had 'Take A Walk On The Wild Side" playing and it just put a smile on my face as I listened to the whole song.  What a great sound!

"With the new DAC and Tortuga pre, the sound was about as transparent as I've ever heard.   Great tone, with horn dynamics and some stunning impact, this was a very interesting system."

Scot Hull, The Audio Traveler

Tortuga Audiocircle Forum

Enjoy The Music Room Review

I met Ron Brenay at this year's RMAF when he came into the Vittora room and told us that he'd been to almost every room at the show and he thought our room was the best he'd heard!  Now I don't mean to brag, but we hear this many times at these shows, so it wasn't surprising to hear it from Ron.  But because Ron is a young, bright, up and coming Audio Review Website owner, that made the compliment especially nice to hear.   A big part of doing these shows is to get good press coverage from those reviewers who really connect with the sound we are trying to create, and I guess the BorderPatrol, Triode Wire Labs, Volti sound did indeed connect with Ron.

If you haven't been to the New Record Day website , please go there and check it out.  I feel the same way about visiting Ron's site as I did when I first started reading Scot Hull's writings a few years ago.   Ron has a style all his own, and it's a lot of fun to watch his video reviews of music, equipment, and now Audio Shows.

Ron does great work with the design, layout, and content of his website.  He's got a real good handle on how to relate to a younger audiophile crowd, and that's something that appeals to me from a marketing point of view.  I'm excited for the opportunity that Ron is making for himself, and I think New Record Day is going to be doing some great things in the years to come.

Here are links to the two Volti room videos from RMAF14 that Ron posted to his website:

Ron Brenay, New Record Day - Room 1102

Ron Brenay, New Record Day - Room 1022


As most of you know, the Vittora speaker system uses an Extended Low Frequency (ELF) cabinet that was specifically designed to take over where the Vittora bass horn leaves off, and provide that last octave of low frequency extension in the system.  The Vittora bass horn gets us down to about 50Hz, in room response, and the ELF cabinet covers from 50Hz to 25Hz with a down-firing 18" driver.

The ELF cabinet is not self-powered, and requires an outboard power amplifier and also a crossover to send the sub-50Hz frequencies to the cabinet.  We've been recommending the $1,900 Marchand MB42 single-channel subwoofer amplifier/active crossover for the job.  Performance is excellent, and we have had not one single problem with any of them over the last three years (yes I'm knocking on wood).

But I'm always on the lookout for other options for my customers, and recently I noticed that Parts Express had a 1000 watt subwoofer amplifier, Model SA1000 with built-in low-pass crossover and a few other interesting features for $299.

Yeah, you're thinking the same thing I was; don't even waste your time, it's going to be a piece of crap, too good to be true, etc...   I should have listened to that little voice.  I bought one, unpacked it, hooked it up to the system and it made sound just fine, but the crossover did not work.  It was running full-range, and nothing I did would make the crossover work.  Broken right out of the box.   Now I know why they have so many refurbished ones for sale.  Maybe it would be better to buy a refurbished one!   So that little experiment didn't work out so well.

Next up was the Episode EA-AMP-SUB-1D-500 .  I heard about this one from a customer who bought one and thought I should give it a try with the Vittora ELF cabinet.

This is a unit that is sold to professional installers, and after finally finding some contact information for the company, I was directed to a local dealer/installer who could order one for me.  Bonus was that they offered a trial period on the unit, so if I didn't like it, I could simply return it and get my money back.  The amplifier was rated at 500 watts, it had a built-in crossover, and one really nice feature, a remote volume control.  Retail is $1,000, my price $450.  I got one, hooked it up, and at least this one worked!  But my enthusiasm was soon quashed, as I tried and tried to tune the controls on this amp to get it to sound right.  The sound quality was just awful.  I had no idea an amplifier could make a subwoofer sound boomy, but it can!  Immediately switching back to the Marchand showed just how good the amplifier section of the MB42 really is, and the controls enable the end-user to easily tune the system for optimum sound quality.

I will continue to look for other options to power the Vittora ELF cabinet, but until I find something better, I will recommend the Marchand with confidence.  Thank you Phil Marchand for making such a great product right here in the USA.  

Klipsch Upgrades

Klipsch upgrades are still a significant part of Volti Audio's business.  We continue to sell complete upgrade packages to Klipsch Khorn and Belle Klipsch owners around the world.  There are a few other companies that also provide upgrades for Klipsch owners, but no other upgrade company provides the build-quality of components, complete packages, customer support and overall sound quality that Volti Audio provides.  I was looking at my manufacturing journal the other day, and noted that the first V-Trac midrange horns were built in February of 2009, and just a few months ago we completed horn #380, far more than any other Klipsch upgrade company.

In 2013, Volti Audio was the number one seller of BMS4592 midrange drivers in the United States, and we keep at least twenty units in stock on our shelves at all times.  We think this speaks volumes about our business model, and about our customers, who are coming to us for the very best performance products available for upgrading their Klipsch Khorns.

We always have at least one Klipsch upgrade production project going on in the shop.  Horns are built fifty at a time, V-120 adapters twenty at a time, and there's always a half-dozen or more crossovers on the bench in various stages of finish.  Lately we've been working on a new batch of crossover boards for the VT crossover networks.  The last batch of 60 that we built less than two years ago are nearly gone already.

Walnut, Ash, Oak, Cherry, and Mahogany VT crossover boards waiting to be sanded

I get emails all the time from happy customers who are really enjoying their 'new' Volti-upgraded Klipsch speakers.  This one came through just the other day:

Hey Greg, just wanted to give you some feedback on the upgrades.

"Oh, wow, listen to the detail" - That was my wife (the musician), about ten seconds into the first song.

I've just finished upgrading my Klipschorns with your V-Trac mid horns, the BMS drivers, and the Beyma CP-25 tweeters.   Now technically, 'my' Klipsch K-Horns are not really mine, but my wife's  -  Her father purchased them new in 1973, and they have been her favorite speakers for years.   A couple of years ago I started diddling with them, and she has been a bit reticent about the whole process.   But the upgrade to the ALK crossovers two years ago was a big improvement so she let me go forward with the Volti upgrades now.   She was alarmed to see her speakers entirely disassembled and strewn around the room, but after about 4 hours of work, they were back together and it was time for cocktails and some music.

After a couple hours of listening, a few things are 'clear'.   Listening to the upgraded speakers provides MUCH more detail and clarity, and I don't mean must a little, but a LOT!   Noticeable within the first minute, but wait 20 minutes and you realize that it's not just more detail, but that that each instrument is so freely delineated from all others, and just THERE.

The second biggest impression is that the presentation is more relaxed, with less noise and is now a lot more fun to turn up loud.

Third impression is less 'horn' effect. Most people complain that stock Khorns have that 'shouty' horn problem; that never has bothered me that much.   While I know it's there, my brain seems to remove it from the music and make it less of a nuisance.   What bothered me more than the shouting, was the slurring in the mid-range from the stock mid horns.   Female vocals, notable around hard 'S's was bothersome, and that's almost totally gone.   But where the midrange improvement really stands out for me is with percussive sounds like piano notes and guitar strings.   They have more impact, are explosive into the room on the initial note, and resonate beautifully.

Last bit that strikes me is the tone.   Instruments sound a lot more like they should.   To use a color analogy it's like going from an old yellowed headlight to a new, crisp white one.   Instruments just sound closer to what they should sound like.

And I should add that the comments on the user reviews you've posted on your website are accurate when it comes to build quality.   I've never seen plywood made to look this nice, not even in a Bernard Maybeck home.    And every piece you could need is there in the box.   More importantly the instructions were very good, included ample pictures, when I could not quite grasp the text at first.

The Volti upgrades are a huge WIN, and at a very affordable price.  I have the old sound burned in my mind, so now, each time I turn them on it's a 'Wow!' moment.  The resulting improvement in the quality of sound is very, very much worth the cost and effort to upgrade.  More importantly - my wife is as happy with the upgrades as I am.

Adrian Lane

If you, or anyone you know has Klipsch Khorns or Belle Klipsch speakers and they haven't explored upgrade options, you/they really should.  There's so much more performance available from these iconic designs, and Volti Audio has developed a complete system of components that work perfectly to transform their sound.  Life is short, and the years you have to enjoy great audio with your ears, even shorter!

For Sale

The First Volti Audio Alura Speakers

Sold originally back in 2010, these are now back on the market, and my customer asked me to sell them for him.  He absolutely loves these speakers, but he's downsizing and needs to go to a smaller set.

Mahogany with a light-weave cloth, these have a beautiful look to them.  Typical Volti build quality in the cabinetry, veneer, and finish.

They have been very well taken care of by their owner, and are in near mint condition.  I have them here at my shop, and I've inspected them thoroughly, and I can only find a couple of very small cosmetic issues - and I stress, very small.  They are basically in the same condition now as they were in when they left my shop four years ago.

The components in each speaker include a 15" high-sensitivity bass driver in a bass-reflex cabinet, a Fc280 wooden midrange horn with a 2" throat and a Tractrix flare, a 2" outlet B&C DCM-50 midrange compression driver, a compression tweeter that is built into the mouth flare of the midrange horn, and a completely adjustable passive crossover.   The crossover adjustments allow for the replacement of L-pad resistors to attenuate the tweeters, an auto-transformer based midrange attenuation system, and the option of choosing between three different upper bass settings for the woofer.  The crossovers utilize 5-way binding posts for the input, and can be bi-amped.  Very high quality parts are used in the construction of the crossovers, which are a significant part of the near-perfect integration of the components in this speaker.

These speakers work perfectly and sound great.

Here's a chance to own a pair of great looking, great sounding, almost mint condition Volti speakers for a fraction of what they cost new.

Contact me for information on upgrading - not that there's much to be done to them, but there are a couple of options.

Go see all the pictures HERE

Price is $7,500 or best offer.  The price includes crating for shipping, but does not include the shipping cost.  Volti Audio ships worldwide, and prices for shipping are not as high as you might think.  Contact me for a shipping quote.   Pick them up at the shop and I'll take $500 off for not having to build crates.

The Walnut equipment stand and amplifier plinths we used at AXPONA are still for sale.  These high quality pieces are beautifully veneered in walnut and have several coats of satin lacquer applied.   They are heavy and substantial looking pieces that will last for decades.   Regular price is $2,200, but I will take $1,800 and I'll also throw in FREE Shipping (48 US)!

So that's it for now.  The next newsletter will be published sometime in the first quarter of 2015.

Thank you for your support, and until next time, trust your ears and have fun!

Greg Roberts

Volti Audio - Klipsch Upgrades - New Horn Speakers