RMAF 2015: Volti, Tortuga, Border Patrol and Triode Wire Labs bring the music, Jah…IRE

Bring out your bass bins
Bring out your bass bins

rmaf-2015-200x200Bob Marley is good right? And King Tubby… God I love that early Dancehall/Dub/Reggae vibe, those sound system battles in Kingston back in the day that spread to the States in the late ’70s and helped inspire rap and hip hop like we know it today. Those music pioneers loved their bass bins and wall-of-sound presentation, and really, what’s not to love about it? That was the vibe I got when I walked into the Tortuga Audio, Volti Audio, Triode Wire Labs and Border Patrol room at RMAF.

There was a lot ‘o gear in this room mon, so here’s the spec sheet for the teetotalers:

  • Tortuga LDR3.V2 passive preamplifier $1,195 USD
  • Border Patrol S10 EXD amplifier $16,750 USD
  • Border Patrol  DAC DAC $995 USD, Tubed PSU $595 USD
  • Volti Audio Alura loudspeakers $15, 900 USD
  • Triode Wire Labs AC Mains (High Power Digital Americans), interconnects (Spirit) and speaker cables (American Speaker Cables), about $3,000 USD all in.
860x300 PTA NOBLE RMAF-01
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The guts, wired up with Wywire
The guts, wired up with Triode Wire Labs
Border Patrol S10 EXD 300B, 9 wpc SET amplifier with twin external power supply units (PSUs)
USB DAC and external, tubed PSU and Tortuga passive (Black box, right) featuring LDR for volume attenuation.
USB DAC with Philips TDA1543 chip (alá Audio Note of recent memory) no oversampling, no digital filtering and no output buffer
Border Patrol S10 EXD external PSUs

The sound was really rich and full and didn’t smack my ears of traditional digital, and in no small way reminded me of the sound from the Audio Note CD 2.1x II I have in my system at home for review, the difference being the 300B bottom-end goodness that the Volti Aluras were pumping out from the obviously deep-power reserves of the Border Patrol S10 EXD power amplifier. Big dose of effortless. These three-way hybrid-horn/bass reflex speakers weren’t as cohesive as I’d wished to have heard them sound, nor did they go as deep as I’d hoped, but they did a hell of job of directly plugging me into the music and emotionally engaging me. And with digital, IME, that’s no small feat.

Pump up the volume. Not as deep in the bass as I'd like, but a beautifully-built speaker
Pump up the volume. Not as deep in the bass as I’d like, but a beautifully-built speaker that was able to communicate the heart of recordings

[Editor’s interjection: about the Tortuga passive — that thing uses “light dependent resistors”, aka LDR, to do the volume attenuation (and the input switching, interestingly). Why LDR? According to The Lore, they’re more transparent than traditional “pots” and stepped-resistor arrays. The newest tech uses microprocessors to control/monitor the LDRs, they auto-calibrate to compensate for drift, they’re update-able (via USB), and best of all, they’re fully modular (i.e., replaceable). Available balanced or single ended. An additional $600 will upgrade the chassis to the LDRx version, which carries quite a bit more bling-for-the-box.]

Volti Audio, Border Patrol, Tortuga Audio and Triode Wire Labs put together a beautiful-looking system that is capable of transporting the listener to a higher plane of sonic enlightenment, and that’s exactly what a soundsystem should do … Mon.

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream