RMAF12: BorderPatrol, take me away to The Living Voice

Sometimes, you need to get away from it all. I mean, that is why we set up those man-caves, isn’t it? I always thought that the very idea was absurd — why would Daddy want to get away from his loving, adorable family? Needless to say, having kids of my own made me realize that The Fortress of Solitude may well be the key to many a happy marriage and stable family. “Not saying that this is me, of course”, he said from his dimly lit man-cave, “but I certainly understand the sentiment.”

I think the first time this got expressed to me, that perhaps I might be causing some kind of undue stress or discomfort on my parents, was this ad:


Anyway, again — I get it now. And if I was building out my man-cave, my first and last stop could easily be Living Voice and BorderPatrol. In point of fact, it almost was! If I’d have heard the system I heard at CAF back in 2010 a scant two months earlier, I’d have gotten it … and, honestly … I might have been done. Hell, this entire site might not exist. No, seriously. Instead, I sent a pile of money to Joule Electra and Merlin Music. Oh well. Coulda woulda shoulda.

Anyway, I consider myself lucky and at least a little blessed to have been able to revisit that timing error this past summer when BorderPatrol owner/designer and Living Voice dealer Gary Dews brought his starter system over for a few weeks while his family returned home to England for a few weeks. Oh myyyy. Some of the best sound I’ve ever had in my home to date. Simply outstanding, and my mouth is still watering just thinking about it.

And that was the starter stuff. The top shelf gear was here at RMAF:

  • BorderPatrol S20 EXD: 18W/Ch 300B parallel single-ended. Dual-mono with twin external tube rectified, choke input filter PSU’s. Hardwired, zero negative feedback circuit with inter-stage transformer coupling. $16,500.
  • BorderPatrol Control Unit EXT1: 13EM7/6DE7 line stage. Copper chassis, external heavy duty dual transformer tube rectified choke input filter PSU. Choice of signal tubes and power supply rectifiers. $12,250.
  • BorderPatrol DAC1 prototype: available to order. Non oversampling, no digital filtering DAC with 6SN7 tube output stage with external heavy-duty dual transformer tube rectified choke input filter PSU. $9,950.
  • Living Voice Avatar OBX-RW: Top model in the Living Voice Avatar range. SEAS Revelator tweeter, external crossovers. From $11,750.

The Living Voice loudspeakers, perhaps due to that MTM array, really create magic with mids, and the totally improbably power of the S20 brought all the frequencies to bear. 300b amps are just not supposed to sound like this! Where’s the attenuation? Where’s the roll-off? Actually, a little “classic” 300b bass roll-off might have been welcomed here at RMAF, as the long-wall setup here was a bit of a challenge with bass-heavy tracks, but room aside, all the tone and color that mesmerized me at home and again during my trip to Border Patrol earlier this month, came through with a liquid transparency that does … things … to my head. All I can say is “whoa …”. I so dearly wish I had the cash because if I did, this system would be somewhere in my house right now. Man-cave? Oh yeah. But if not my man-cave, then maybe my bedroom. Hubba hubba. Sexy time!

This was the third room that I found BorderPatrol amplifiers in. Other rooms included:

  • Volti Audio, with their Vittora: S10 EXD, SET with dual mono PSU
  • Mojo Audio, with the Volti Veretta: P20 EXD, push-pull with dual mono PSU

Gary’s getting around!

Just an FYI, but Gary will also be returning to Chez Moi at some point in the near future to bring by some amps to try out with the Volti Vittoras, which are due to arrive tomorrow, so stay tuned for more on the 300b front.

Gary Dews, sneaking away from sticking a CD into his Tent Labs transport
Living Voice OBX-RW loudspeakers with BorderPatrol electronics
BorderPatrol S20 parallel single-ended 300b stereo amplifier and a rack full of choke input filtered, tube rectified, external power supplies
BorderPatrol Control Unit EXT1, Tent Labs transport and BorderPatrol DAC1 prototype
BorderPatrol S20 EXD — love those bronzed transformer covers.
Guts of a BorderPatrol amplifier — some clean, tidy work!
BorderPatrol P21 push-pull 300b amplifier
BorderPatrol PSU — naked!

Ask me about sponsorship!


  1. What is it about Living Voice that makes them so good? Can you think of another ~$10K speaker that can compete with them? What about Jeff’s Perspective?

    • That’s hard for some reason. I think the Perspective is a more flexible loudspeaker — everything it touches sounds awesome. It has deeper and more linear bass and airier and more detailed highs. Both are a far cry from fatiguing. But there’s more of a classic sound with the Living Sound, and where the Perspective is more New World SOTA. I’d happily live with either.

  2. You are a fortunate man PTA…..Having Border Patrol and Volti Audio as friends….sigh.

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