I believe this is the third time I’ve reported on the combination of BorderPatrol, Volti Audio and Triode Wire Labs in the last few months, so you’d think I’d have a handle on the sound by now. When I entered Room 688 at AXPONA 2019, I thought okay, these guys again, I’m gonna be impressed as usual but will I have anything new to say about this otherwise unique system? Then a funny thing happened on the way to writing a perfunctory albeit positive show report.
Despite the fact that the BorderPatrol, Volti Audio and Triode Wire Labs looked a lot like the rooms I visited at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last October or Capital Audiofest just a few weeks later, there were subtle differences. First of all, the amazing Volti Audio Rival is available in a brand new “Type II” cabinet style, and for the same amount of money as the Type I cabinets. The new style allows for a recessed grill, something that always appeals to my BBC-nurtured speaker design sensibilities. Both versions start at just $9400/pair, amazing when you consider the gigantic sound these loudspeakers produce with ease, and the show pair also included a special walnut veneer, external crossovers, Triode Wire Labs internal wiring and even “reusable crates” and cloth covers. That adds up to a total of $16,200 for this particular pair.
BorderPatrol supplied stupendous 300B sound to the system with the P20 EXS power amplifier, which offers 20 wpc. (That’s a bunch when you consider the 100 dB sensitivity of the Rivals.) This was the top-of-the-line dual mono version with optional volume control and Living Voice 300B tubes, for a total of $31,400. BorderPatrol also included their Control Unit EXD preamp ($9750) and their uniquely captivating DAC ($1350). Triode Wire Labs continues to impress with their line of cables, which sound transparent and open and yet are priced very reasonably–power cords start at $499 each, speaker cables are $1099 per set and the interconnects start at just $399.
So what was different this time with BorderPatrol, Volti Audio and Triode Wire Labs? It might be my ears. The first time I listened to these guys, I was instantly surprised by what I felt was a novel presentation–big, wide, dynamic, immersive and in Technicolor. Over time I’ve started to feel that this isn’t quirky at all, but a new way of thinking about music and sound. I now sit down and listen to this gear and I think about how inviting it all is, how open and welcoming and friendly. You are pulled into the musical event, deep inside of it, and you hear things from a new perspective that is more focused and more passionate.
In other words, the spell has been cast. I can’t wait until the next time.