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Newport 2014: BorderPatrol blasts Volti into orbit

CT6A6877 hiresnewportlogoforwebWell that was fun. No. That's not right. That might give the wrong impression. Let me try that again. Holy crap! That was a complete blast! Yeah. That's better. Greg Roberts of Volti Audio partnered up with Peter Grzybowski of Triode Wire Labs and Gary Dews of BorderPatrol for the show. Greg brought his exquisitely finished, 104db sensitive Vittora horns ($25,000). A full loom of Triode Pete's cables, including the newest "Spirit" interconnects (starting at $299/pair), pulled all the bits together. And Gary brought a stack of his electronics. The star of that set was a kitted-out "S10 EXS", an SET amp with 80 pounds of external power supply per channel (about $26,000). A Control Unit EXT1 (just north of $12,250) handled the linestage duties. Silver discs got spun by a TentLabs CD transport. Bits were processed by a BorderPatrol dac. Gary got a little cagey when I asked the price on that one: "It depends on how you want it built. It's not cheap". A modest system for modest means, then? It was definitely time to crank the Basie.

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Just thinking about “C. B. Express” played at front row volumes — with perfect instrument separation, with an easy treble, with unrestrained dynamics, with real body and real drive — has me giggling like a twelve-year-old who just egged his teacher’s house. Heck, I was nearly giggling like that in the room. The experience pretty well short-circuited my ability to analyze what I was hearing. I was two minutes into listening — and barely noting that the sweet spot seemed to the one place in the room that the subwoofer didn’t work well — before I realized that Gary was trying to get my attention.

“THAT’S REALLY LOUD,” he shouted. The spoilsport.

I had so much fun that Kirsten and I returned with her test track, First Aid Kit’s “Ghost Town,” for a more subdued listen at a more reasonable volume (because Gary is a spoilsport). Forcing me to listen to this stereo without embracing my inner delinquent was probably a good thing. I was able to marvel a bit at how well the system captured so much of the bloom of the voices, while also noting that the guitar’s decay didn’t seem at all well served by my off-axis position.

Greg Roberts has done amazing work integrating the tweeter and the squawker (near miraculous work, really), but it’s a horn system. There will be issues. The bass is still delayed enough that the lower vocal range has a bit of separation from the upper. Get too far out of the sweet spot and the integration of the other horns deteriorates, too. The Vittora may be a big speaker, but it’s an exceptionally intimate speaker.

Not that you’ll care when you crank Basie. It’s just a complete blast.

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9 Comments on Newport 2014: BorderPatrol blasts Volti into orbit

  1. Perry Wharfedale // June 25, 2014 at 6:21 PM //

    Where did the name Border Patrol come from? Try as I might, I cannot conceive of the thought processes that led to it!

  2. Much has been said about how I decided to price my speakers at the start and everyone has an opinion and a take on it. Very few really understand what I did.

    I lost money on every pair until just this year, and the first 10 pair were serious money losers. But that’s the cost of an education, of marketing, of gaining experience in building such a complex product and bringing it to market. It is not really a loss for me, it was the cost of putting myself in business building a world class product. There were other ways I could have gone about it – more expensive ways. My way worked, and after three years, I have a completed product, that competes with the very best worldwide, I have no business debt, and at the end of every day, I answer only to myself.

    So, for those customers who jumped in early and bought Vittoras at the discounted price, I thank you for helping get this business going, and I hope you enjoy the heck out of your speakers for a very long time!

    For everyone else, please understand that the Vittora system is a $50,000 retail priced speaker system being sold for $25K because it is being built, marketed and sold by me alone, direct to the public. The money spent on Vittora speakers pays for labor, materials, and components. My customers are not paying a big markup on Vittora speakers. It’s as real a value as there is in high-end audio. Expensive? Yes, for a lot of people, including myself, $25K is a lot of money, but every bit of it is spent on the product, and that is a far cry from how it is with most other products in this industry, regardless of price.

    Greg Roberts

  3. I went to this room in Chicago stayed about 60 seconds

  4. This kind of speaker MUST reproduce full music without a sub, sorry – if it doesnt – something is seriously wrong with it. I insist.

    • I have to disagree with you. Not only is the speaker designed to work well with one free standing, direct-radiator bass bin, it’s not designed to work as well without it. That thing is utterly seamless. It’s clearly a part of the system.

      Let’s get real here: The bass horn already goes down pretty low. Unlike too many horns, Volti has a solution for the rest of the spectrum engineered as part of the product. It doesn’t cost extra. Greg also seems to be using that bass-bin time delay in a smart way. The sub is *super* easy to integrate. Heck, I don’t know another horn system in this price range that offers this kind of well sorted bass performance. If I had the cash and the space for this speaker, I’d ask Greg Roberts what it would cost to get at least one more of those things. It’s completely spiffy.

      I can only guess that you’re trying to be funny, but making it out to be some kind of design flaw is just wrongheaded.

  5. Gavin Hadley // June 23, 2014 at 3:20 PM //

    The price of this speaker has gone ballistic has it not? Up $7 or $8 thousand in a year…forgive me if I’m incorrect but if I’m not this sucks guys..

    • Part-Time Audiophile // June 23, 2014 at 3:50 PM //

      The Vittora came to market a couple of years ago and were (admittedly) underpriced. “Early bird” pricing has apparently ended and the market price is $25k/pair.

      Wish I’d have jumped in on those early prices, but sometimes desire and ability simply fail to line up.

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