I’ve always looked forward to the involving sound in the Border Patrol room, so I made a note stop by early on Saturday morning for a good listen, well before the crowds took over. This year, head Border Patrol agent Gary Dews had the usual suspects lined up and working hard. These included the usual P21EXD stereo amplifier ($11,900 USD as shown) and his affordable but hard-hitting DAC ($995-$1,850 USD depending on configuration). I’m used to Gary showing with the English Living Voice speakers, which I have found to sound superb with his gear. This year, however, the Border Patrol goodies were showcased around the large Volti Audio Rival horn speakers, which have a base price of only $7,900 USD (but run $11,900 USD as shown with premium veneers). These Volti speakers in particular strike me as an excellent bargain in today’s hi-fi marketplace, especially if you are willing to go with the stripped-down base model. The materials and craftsmanship involved in building these looked first-rate all around.
In terms of sound, there wasn’t much to complain about, and a lot to praise. The sound was definitely a lot different from what I’m used to in Gary’s room, but not at all in a disappointing way. Driven by the BP amp and all hooked up with Triode Wire Labs cables (review here), the big Voltis sounded large and natural, casting a huge soundstage. Dynamics, especially with orchestral playback, were quite convincing, and I didn’t detect any major colourations or distortions from the horn drivers. Even so, the delicacy of the softer orchestral passages was conveyed in a wholly convincing manner, this punctuated by the massive dynamic climaxes expected from large, well-designed horn-loaded speakers playing big music.
As a final note, I’m a big fan of Border Patrol’s little SE DAC (review here), which is both non-upsampling and non-oversampling. Even at 16 bit/44.1 kHz resolution, all music files, including hi-res ones, sound fantastic in an easygoing and organic sort of way. I should know, as I’ve owned one of these babies for awhile now, an I’m not at all tempted to upgrade, well, at least for now.