The second Volti room featured a brand new loudspeaker from Greg Roberts, the Veretta.
This is a pretty one.
A bit of a departure for Volti, the Veretta is a “wide-bander” instead of a multi-way speaker like the tremendous Vittora, which just happened to be sitting in the other room. The trademark Volti wood-workery (is that a word?) is fully on display here — a gorgeously finished front-ported bass-reflex cabinet with a sleek boat-tail design, and — interestingly — a cabinet whose side walls are actually wider than the front baffle. The Feastrex NF5 driver is providing all the sound, and that sound was really enjoyable.
If you’re familiar with this kind of driver, and this kind of design, you won’t be surprised to hear that there isn’t much in the way of deep bass. That’s just not a Feastrex thing — many folks choose to either cross this driver over to a more traditional woofer, or, like here, just run it wide open and tweak the cabinet to get the most out of it that you can. That “most”, according to Greg, is about 70Hz when things start dropping off.
So, before you get all freaky-deaky, be aware that Greg started with the F60 cabinet design, which Feastrex endorses as the optimal cabinet design for this driver, and he found very good bass response with a remarkably linear extension from 250Hz to 60Hz. According to Greg’s ear, however, that linearity was simply out of balance with the mid range — it was too polite and recessed. Greg toyed with a variety of approaches for the cabinet, and on a whim, tried out a half-sized cabinet, and it was that change that brought the low-end back to life — and more in line with the already glorious mid-range. The result was a touch less extension overall, but it “sounds better”. So, yes, roll off starts at 70Hz with a F10 @ 60Hz — but this 10dB down point brings it to the same output level as Greg was measuring from the “officially endorsed” F60 cabinets. Said another way, Greg was willing to trade a bit of bass extension to bring the mid-bass back in-line and in-balance with the “everything else”. Worked for me — I thought this was a fine sounding system, and staying away from freakishly deep, resonant tracks like “No Sanctuary Here” off the Chris Jones album Roadhouses and Automobiles, made this “lack” unobjectionable. In fact, moving to the track “Roadhouses & Automobiles”, the sound was elegant, grainless and presented good detail, imaging and separation. Crickets aplenty.
The Veretta is $10,700. Feastrex claims that the frequency response of the NF5 is 35Hz to 25Hz, but they’re smoking crack. Plan on 70Hz-15kHz. Sensitivity is a moderately-high 94dB.
Electronics came courtesy of Déjà Vu Audio, and featured all manner of vintage unobtanium bits and bobs. Pricing for their amplifiers, which can feature vintage 421A, 300B, 275A or 252A tubes, starts at $10k and floats up to $45k. The Déjà Vu line stage is $10k, adding a phono preamp section adds 30-70%.
Ben Zwickel of Mojo Audio was on hand demoing his line of interconnect and power cords — and sweet music servers. The server is based off the Mac Mini, from which he rips the guts and stomps them. Sort of. Well, the power bits for sure. He swaps in his own external linear PSU called “Joule”. Pricing starts at $1,699.
There are three levels of mods/upgrades over the basic Mini that Ben offers, labeled rather opaquely as Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Actually, there are three places that Mojo can add filtering — after the AC input, after the DC input and “somewhere in between the other bits”. This is all “secret sauce” stuff, so it’s hard to fault him for being coy with sharing what is tantamount to intellectual property, but the idea is that each level adds further degrees of refinement. I have to shrug at this point because we didn’t have an unmodded Mac Mini to demo — which might be something to do for RMAF — but I did manage to talk Ben into sending me a server to play with for a week or two, to compare with my Mac Book Pro. More on that soon.
A prototype NOS R/2R tube DAC “based around the famous AD1865 DAC chip” was tucked under the rack. Pricing is TBD, but should start around $2k.