BorderPatrol Audio Electronics, Triode Wire Labs, and Volti Audio are perhaps better known as the Three Amigos. Or as I like to call them, the Three Musketeers. And that makes their usual fourth, Innuos, perhaps better known as Charles de Batz de Castelmore!
You know, D’Artagnan?
Read a book, people. Sheesh.
Words and Photos by Scot Hull
Here at AXPONA 2023, The Three Amigos brought their usual arsenal. The BorderPatrol S20EXD (from $19,500) stereo amplifier featuring a quartet of the brand-new Western Electric 300b tubes, configured as a parallel single-ended circuit for a surprisingly beefy 18 watts per channel. Surprising, that is, unless you’ve never heard it. For anyone listening to this very text-based elocution, you may know that the BorderPatrol is my favorite amplifier ever made. In a shameless bit of enthusiasm, this writer is compelled by FORCE to note that this BorderPatrol amplifier is accompanied by the legendary BorderPatrol DAC SE-i legend (starting at $1525) which we may have reviewed once or thrice. In case you were wondering, yes, this particular ye olde reviewer still thinks this digital converter is the berries. And yes, as everyone knows, berries are delicious.
Triode Wire Labs once again wove the web that held this particular sonic quilt together. Here we find the massive Obsession power cords (from $1499 each) with their fancy Furutech FI-50 NCF connectors; the Digital American power cords (from $499 each) have a special noise-reducing feature that I am not smart enough to understand; and the American Speaker Cables (from $699 per set) were fitted out with Cardas CAB bananas and the Spirit II (from $399) features OCC 7n copper. The Digital Interconnect (from $399) is a “split power & data” USB cable — and is a personal reference.
And that brings me to the plucky fourth — Innuos. Here, the Amigos were using the ZENith music server paired with the Phoenix USB Reclocker.
But let me back up to Porthos, I mean, Volti Audio. In fine sartorial style, Volti Audio showed off the new Razz LE — Limited Edition — here sporting a swanky and altogether unexpected green. What struck me immediately was not that this was an automotive paint job, but rather a beautifully dyed veneer. So, still wood, but now in rainbow hues, and yes, you can get the Razz LE in Crimson Red, Deep Blue, Sage Green (shown), and Drift Gray, in addition to the “standard” Woody McWooderstein veneers.
The Razz LE ($6,500/pair) are and remain one of the best values in today’s high-end, and no, not because $6,500 isn’t a lot of cash, but rather how much high-end that $6,500 gets you. Which is a lot. It’s hard to find an easy-to-drive loudspeaker, much less one with a 97dB sensitivity. It plays loud AF and plays well doing it. Yes, the Rival gets you more, but it also costs twice as much. And yes, the Vittora gets you even more still, but that speaker costs several times more. The point — this is a relatively affordable on-ramp to a dynamic sonic wonderland, and well worth the listen.
As for me, this room with BorderPatrol, Triode Wire Labs, Volti Audio and Innuos treated me to a familiar round of audiophile goodness and the recognition that, once again, the Musketeers know their way around the standard challenges of hotel room demos. On offer this weekend was their usual romp — high-flying dynamics, bass thunderously on-demand, and a sweet-spot intimacy that “rivaled” demo rooms all across the Renaissance Schaumburg. Regular readers will know that I am a fan of this sound — and that I personally own much of this gear. There is a reason for that, and its experiences like this that sealed the deal for me many years ago. Unbiased? Ha. Hardly. I love this stuff! So much fun here! And that’s why the Three Musketeers remain my first and last and mid-show-break stops. You might say that this is my “reference sound”, and that this room provided a reality-break respite from the over-drawn and hyper-real demos down the hall, approaches that seem sadly popular these days. Instead, this was fun and something I’d do for fun. Good music, turned up, with foot tapping and even some head-banging. If only I had hair.
Anyway, fun to see the rainbow over in this room. Looking — and sounding — sharp. Again.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.
“The BorderPatrol S20EXD (from $19,500) stereo amplifier featuring a quartet of the brand-new Western Electric 300b tubes, configured as a parallel single-ended circuit for a surprisingly beefy 18 watts per channel.” qtd Scot Hull.
Given the price of a matched pair of WE300B today ” USD1499, the price of this pair of BorderPatrol amps tagged for USD19,500 is pretty reasonable.
I said that as I auditioned in depth some 10 years back probably the most expensive 300B SET power amps nowadays: USD125,000 (sales price): Kondo Audio Note Japan model: Kegon 17W+17W class A SET stereo power amp.using 2x300B in parallel per channel. Silver wound output transformers, silver capacitors, silver interwiring etc etc etc. RC coupling instead of transformer interfacing with the 300B stage like the BorderPatrol.
Silver sounds very elegant musically indeed !
That’s the reason all the audio interconnects & power cords used in my audio rig are my own design/built using 99.99+% pure silver conductors.
Listening to silver is believing
You may know something about stereo equipment, but nothing about aesthetics. That green is ugly as puke.
Were you at the show? Did you see them in person? Everyone I talked to loved the color.
To each his own. I think the Sage Green Razz-LE are gorgeous.
I’ve had Razz-LE in Deep Blue for almost a week. They are easily the most beautiful speakers I’ve ever owned. I love how you can still see and feel the wood grain through the stain. They don’t sound half bad either. 🙂
Seriously, the work Greg Roberts is putting out is crazy. I’ve had Dynaudio Heritage Specials, Klipsch Forte IV and Cornwall IV and Fern & Roby Raven III … all very special sounding in their own right, but the Razz are on a different level with build quality to match. I have definitely found MY speakers.