by Eric Franklin Shook
This story goes back almost a year or more when Greg Roberts, founder of Volti Audio exchanged a few emails and phone calls about a new loudspeaker he had been working on that takes advantage of advanced CNC production technology to produce a new entry-level model into the Volti Audio stable of products.
What’s most shocking about this project was the completely affordable price, not just in high-end terms, but even when discussing mid-fi terms–this would still be a massive bargain. Do I have your attention yet?
The culmination of these conversations and picture sharing, lead to our unbridled excitement and urgency in acquiring a review pair. The speaker–the Volti Audio Razz–as reviewed by Marc Phillips (linked here) and a follow-up by Graig Neville (linked here).
The reason behind all this excitement for me is that I’ve been privy to all the sophisticated bespoke fun had with the likes of the Volti Rival SE (a $20K speaker) and on up to the Volti flagship Vittora (a $30K speaker). The new Razz arrived on the scene starting at just under $6K with a bevy of high-quality real wood veneer finishes available as standard or as optioned.
For once, someone with deep pockets, but really short arms–like myself–can partake in the Volti fun.
The new Razz is a hefty three-way floor-standing loudspeaker that features a 1-inch compression tweeter, a 2-inch outlet midrange horn driver, and 12″ woofer. Frequencies are covered from 35 Hz – 20 kHz, with a rated sensitivity of 97 dB, and a suggested minimum power handling of 8 watts up to 80 watts, presented against a 6-Ohm impedance load.
As it is written, so shall it be. “Have Fun!” on the Volti Audio banners that grace the stage of play. In years covering the Volti Audio exhibits with known associates in BorderPatrol and Triode Wire Labs, the fun was duly sophisticated and high-end audio appeal–a playground that for many might be out of reach. With the new Razz in play, the same fun nature of the larger and more costly Rival speakers was within reach.
Though, I know from several experiences the more you spend with Volti, the more you get–see the Rival and Rival SE–but it must be said that lessons learned inform the future, and the new Razz is that future. It plays hella deep and prodigious, while handling mids and highs like the Volti of yore.
At the price, it’s one of those loudspeakers that I’d suggest everyone audition with an under $10K budget, and furthermore, consider the Razz as your B-Squad speaker of choice when your system and budget is already lingering in the tens of thousands of dollars range. The new Razz offers concert hall looks and style, while also being able to get down like it was in the nightclub.
Wood-bender, sonic purist, and snake-whisperer Greg Roberts of Volti Audio showed three different speakers over the course of the show. First up was the Razz; then the Rival SE — the Rival with the “boat tail” cabinet — took a bow; finally, the new Rival Type II was introduced (shown here in a Red Gum veneer). The Type II — “the New Rival” — features the precision-cut CNC cabinet, with significantly improved internal bracing and an improved port. With the revision, the bass has been tuned and driver integration has been tweaked and improved. Triode Wire Labs provides the internal wiring, what was an upgrade and is now a standard feature in the New Rival — which is still $14,000/pair.
Vaccum tube alchemist and light-show enthusiast, Gary Dews of BorderPatrol, showed the push-pull version of his award-winning amps, featuring the single “standard” sized EXD tube-rectified/choke-input power supply. There are upgrade options that can add dual, “extra-massive”, external power supplies, and Ye Old Publisher swears that the difference is marked. Here, the amp featured the usual internal copper casework and extensive cryo treatments, yet there was a novel difference with the demo amp shown; this P21 was clad in a custom veneered plinth from Volti Audio. This apparently is a special order — if you buy a pair of loudspeakers from Volti, you can get a BorderPatrol amp dandied up to match. Pricing for that varies by option — inquiring minds are invited to inquire directly — but the aesthetic is lovely. Shown here with a quartet of 300b vacuum tubes from Living Voice UK (orderable through BorderPatrol).
Metallurgist and part-time swordsmith Pete Gryzbowski of Triode Wire Labs brought the full loom (reviewed here) to the show. The Obsession is the result of a … well, obsessive level of concern over power delivery. Check out the chonky Furutech FI-50 NCF connectors on that bad boy. The Digital American power cords have some filtering capacities to help moderate the impact of blowback coming off of most digital sources (and those sources using less than immodest power supply designs. The American speaker cables and Spirit interconnects all use some proprietary metallurgical blends that we don’t discuss in public. And if you want to see where purist approaches to digital signaling will take you, the dual-ended USB cables separate out digital data and power legs, while still providing an on-spec impedance.
Also in evidence, a Pi Audio UberBUSS for power distribution and taming. It’s a little black box that ought not to have quite the outsized impact that it does, and yet. The Three Amigos swear by this device.
Last but hardly least, Portuguese digital wizardry from Innuos appears in the form of the ZENith computer audio server, now featuring a vastly improved user interface. The server was paired with a Phoenix USB reclocker, featuring the overbuilt clocking coming down from their >$20k Statement (and statement-level) audio server. The two here make a very compelling case for improving the digital front-end of any system.
- Volti Audio Razz Speakers, starting at $5,900/pair
- Volti Audio Rival Type II, $14,000/pair
- BorderPatrol P21EXD Amplifier, starting at $13,150
- BorderPatrol DAC SEi, starting at $1,450
- Innuos ZENith server and Phoenix USB reclocker as the digital source
- Triode Wire Labs “The Obsession”, Premium Audiophile power cords starting $1,399 each
- Triode Wire Labs “Digital American” starting at $499 each
- Triode Wire Labs “American Speaker Cables”, starting at $699 per set
- Triode Wire Labs “Spirit II” RCA interconnects, starting at $399/pr
- Triode Wire Labs “Split Power & Data” USB cable, starting at $399 each