Razz Versus Rival

By: Greg Roberts

The choice of whether to purchase Razz or Rival is mostly a budgetary decision, since the Rival costs twice what the Razz costs.  The Razz is a great speaker, and a seriously great value.  But if you can comfortably afford to step up to the Rival, I think they are worth the extra money.

The size difference is a bit of a consideration.    The Razz is about 40% smaller than the Rival.  But how significant that is depends on how you look at it.  In terms of the physical dimensions, they both take up a “square” on the floor of your listening room, with the Rival adding a few inches to the width and depth of the Razz footprint.  From the listening chair looking at them, there’s really not a big difference  between the two.  In terms of the bass reflex cabinets working well in a room, you might think that the bigger Rivals need a bigger room to work properly.   But I’ve heard Rivals in a very small room, and they work just as well as the smaller Razz do.

The larger cabinets and woofers in the Rivals give them a higher sensitivity.  Ten watts in the Razz (97db/1W/1M) is very exciting.  You can get the same output in the Rivals (100db/1W/1M) with five watts.  The Razz tend to like a bit more power behind them, while the Rivals work well with 8wpc SET amps, if that’s more your thing.

They both sound great.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a high-sensitivity horn speaker by any other manufacturer that is as well balanced, as wide in bandwidth, as effortlessly powerful, and as musically engaging as a Volti Audio speaker.  They are both very easy to live with long term – free of the old-horn-speaker vices that plague lesser quality designs.

It takes me about 10 minutes to switch out a pair of Razz for a pair of Rivals here at my place.  It’s a very interesting thing to experience.  I’ve had many customers here for a demo and the Razz get a lot of love while they are playing, and then there’s an immediate positive reaction from most listeners when the Rivals come on for the first time.

The Rival has much more expensive drivers than the Razz, and those components make a real difference in the overall presentation of the music (soundstage and imaging), and also in the refinement of the sound.  As good as the Razz are at disappearing and bringing forth dynamic, effortlessly powerful music into your living room, switching to the Rival really steps things up a few notches.

The first thing I notice when I switch out Razz for Rivals is in the size of the musical presentation – the width, depth and height of the soundstage.  The larger woofer cone (don’t forget that a lot of midrange comes from the woofer in a three-way speaker system), the larger midrange horn and the larger tweeter lens are all working together to provide a larger and more stable image of music in front of you.  It’s immediately noticeable and significant.

The next thing I notice switching from Razz to Rival is the refinement of the sound.  The Rivals are more laid back sounding, with better definition and clarity of instruments and vocals.  Rival bass is much more linear and accurate sounding.  

I know it seems that with the larger cabinet and woofer the Rival should have a lot more bass than the Razz, and if you look at the testing, they certainly do.  But they don’t necessarily sound that way.  The Razz have tight, punchy bass, while the Rivals have stronger, but more subtle, room-filling bass.  Both the Razz and the Rival give us that deep, tight, well-proportioned bass that all Volti speakers are known for.

The bottom line is, whichever you choose, Razz or Rival, you will HAVE FUN!

I promise.