NL46 By Greg Roberts
Volti Audio Newsletter
By: Greg Roberts - 4/12/2021
Hello everyone, and a kind welcome
to our new subscribers
Wow! Business has been crazy good over the last year! Being stuck inside in front of our systems so much of the time, it's only natural that we audiophiles ruminate about changes we could make. Lol

"Hmmm, I think it's time to get me a pair of them Volti Audio speakers I've been thinking about for so long. And oh! Check it out, they've got a $5K pair out now."

The Razz has certainly been a catalyst for our business over the last year, and orders for them continue to outpace the production capabilities of the shop. Don't you love how I make it sound like there's an assembly line spitting out a Razz every five minutes? Y'all know that it's not like that here at Volti Audio. We're a very small company (by choice), and when we get orders for five or ten sets of speakers, we're set for several months of work.

I do have some help here though. Pedro works here three days a week building cabinets and horns and sanding, sanding, sanding. Chad also works part time mostly doing my cloth work for grills. And of course there is the 'real boss' Laurie (she writes the paychecks), with her never-ending 'Laurie lists'.

With all this help, I have more time to devote to other business tasks such as product development. I've been working hard on redeveloping the Rival speaker - see below.

We're missing the audio trade shows. It's been over a year now since the last one. Shows are the primary marketing tool for Volti Audio, and we've had to think about other ways to market the company in the absence of shows. I've been concentrating on getting reviews of the Razz as a way to get the word out and make sure everyone knows that Volti Audio is going strong. Check out the nice things that reviewers have said about this great little horn speaker:

But the shows are coming back!

Volti Audio will be at:
The Pacific Audio Fest July 30 - August 1 in Seattle, WA
AXPONA October 29 - 31 in Chicago, IL
Capital Audiofest November 5 - 7 in Rockville, MD
Vittora * Rival * Razz 
When I developed the Volti Audio Vittora and introduced it in 2011, this flagship-level product garnered positive attention and accolades from the Audio Press and firmly established Volti Audio as a contender in the high-end audio marketplace. 
In 2016, the introduction of the less expensive and smaller Volti Audio Rival set us on a course to profitability and stability as a company. The Rival expanded our customer base and provided steadier work for the shop. 
I began development of the Volti Audio Razz in the same year the Rival was brought to market. I knew that if I could produce a speaker in the $5,000 price bracket that had the “Volti Audio” sound and build quality, it would be a winner for both our customers and our business.  I finally brought it out in 2020.

So here we are, it's been about five years since the introduction of the Rival, and I think it's time to re-introduce it. This is a scoop for my newsletter subscribers only. I have not told many people about this yet. A major announcement and media blitz (lol) will be forthcoming.

I'm not planning a major overhaul, but an implementation of small improvements that I've been thinking about over the years, both cosmetically and sonically, as well as an overhaul of the complicated options/pricing structure of the model lineup.

About two years ago I established a relationship with a CNC shop in Nashville. Unlike other CNC shops that I've tried to work with over the years, the owner of this one enjoys working on smaller projects. They have been very good to me, even storing my huge pile of Baltic Birch plywood at their shop!

One of the changes to the New Rival is that the cabinet is now CNC cut. While that doesn't change much in terms of the quality of the cabinet as compared to the original, it does dramatically change the way we build the cabinet here at the shop. The time/cost savings is significant, and just in time to avert the inevitable price increase that was looming on the horizon for the original Rival.

I'll have a lot more information on changes to the Rival in the next newsletter, and of course it will all be detailed on the website when I formally re-introduce it.

Stay Tuned In!
The Music Has Left The System
I prefer to place my speakers a bit farther apart and toe them in a bit more than you typically see, which puts my listening chair a bit closer to the system than is typical as well.

Why do I do this? I think it comes from my years of experience listening to my Klipsch Khorns, located on the longer wall of my rectangular shaped listening room. Because Khorns need to be tucked tightly into the corners of the room for optimum bass, they are toed-in at a 45 degree angle, which is quite severe as compared to the typical high-end stereo speaker arrangement - which often has the speakers facing straight out from the wall the system is on. In order to get proper imaging, my listening chair needed to be fairly close in to the system. With the larger midrange horns that I built, and the upgraded components throughout, I was enjoying a soundstage that most Khorn owners didn't know was possible.

When I arrived at my first audio show back in 2011 and walked into my show room, I had to decide if I was going to set up on the long wall or the short wall. I noticed that every other system at the show was set up on the short wall. I have to tell you, it took some courage to set the big Vittoras up on the long wall of the room and buck the trend, but I ended up with the same wonderful central image and wide soundstage that I enjoyed with my Khorns.

So this has become my preferred way to set up any pair of Volti speakers and it's what I recommend to my customers. Spread the speakers out a bit more than you normally would, choose a listening position that is closer than you normally would, and then toe-in the speakers so the axis of the mid horns cross about six inches in front of your chest.

This produces a wide soundstage and a clearly defined central image. The music truly does not sound like it is coming from either of the two speakers. It is a musical landscape floating in front of you.

If anyone tells you that horn speakers don't image well - just sit them down in front of your Volti Audio speakers and set them straight!

Go listen to a pair of frou-frou, $20K, $30K, $40K, $100K high-end, hi-fi speakers and yes, you will probably get some very good imaging and soundstage. But at the same time, will you also hear the life-like presence, realistic dynamics, and effortless power delivery of music that you get with the $5K Volti Audio Razz speakers?

Next time we're at a show, come to my room and get me and we'll walk around to a few rooms to listen and then back to the Volti room to compare. Wouldn't that be fun?! Ok, cool, let's do it.
The Guy Giving You His Opinion On The Forum May Have A Hearing Aid In Each Ear . . . . . . Just sayin'
As a speaker designer, one of the most important things I've learned to do over the years is to design and build my own crossovers. The crossover is truly the heart of the speaker, and the difference between a good sound and a great sound is almost always to do with the choices that are made during the final voicing of the speaker - through the crossover design.

The focus of the crossover design is mainly on choosing the right values and combination of values of the capacitors, inductors, and resistors. But there's another aspect of the crossover design that also affects sound quality, and that is the type or brand of the components.

I've discovered that two different brand capacitors of the same value will measure identically, but may sound different from one another. I use Litz-wound inductors in certain filters because I think they sound better than other types. I've found that different resistor brands can make a slight difference in sound quality. So I think it is important to take the differences in types and brands of components into account when I build my crossovers. But how much of a difference does this really make in the final sound of the speaker?

To date, I've primarily used Sonicap or Jantzen capacitors in my crossovers, and I think both are very good quality metallized polypropylene film caps. If you've spent any time on the internet, and the DIY audiophile sites in particular, you will read accounts of dramatic differences in the sound of different capacitors used in passive crossovers, with plenty of opinions and recommendations on the subject. One person will suggest that Sonicap is the very best and Jantzen is garbage, or vice versa. Putting the arguments over the different brands aside, what I find interesting is how much of a difference in sound these guys are implying exists.

This got me thinking one day, that it would be a good idea to do a midrange capacitor 'shootout' and decide for myself if I find the differences between them as significant as the claims are from the audio forum guys who spend hours and hours on the forums talking about this stuff.

I purchased identical value capacitors (60uFd) of eight different brands, all metallized polypropylene film type. I set up one of my Fc260 midrange horns with the big BMS4592 mid driver, and wired it back to a card table set up behind my listening chair. Laurie sat behind me and switched the capacitors in and out while I listened to various clips of music through the midrange horn.

I listened to just the midrange horn, approximately 400Hz - 6000Hz. With only one capacitor between the full range signal and the sound coming from the horn, I was clearly hearing the sound of each of the capacitors.

I never knew which capacitor was in line, as Laurie randomly chose which one to connect. As I listened I would give Laurie my thoughts on the sound of each one, which she duly noted in a notepad.

We did this exercise for four nights straight, about an hour and a half each time.

As it relates to the midrange capacitor used in a speaker's passive crossover network, here's a basic summary of what I discovered:

I found there were distinguishable differences between each cap, but the differences were very small and hard to identify consistently. In fact, at one time or another, my notes had something really nice to say about all of the caps I tried.

I was able to make a list of preferences one through eight. But I also have no doubt that if I went through this exercise again, the results would be different - at least for the bottom six.

I was a bit surprised that my top two were Sonicap and Jantzen. Is that because I really preferred them over the other six, or because I'm familiar with their sound?

I reinforced my belief that audiophile forums are full of people who have way too much time on their hands, spouting bs about things they haven't even heard, and that if my goal is to have a really good sounding stereo system, I should not be following the advice of anyone on the forums - or in the 'comments' sections of online articles.

And most importantly, the value of the capacitor as it relates to the overall speaker design, the drivers, and the other crossover components, is one hundred times more impactful than the brand of the capacitor.

Please note - if you are one of those guys who wants to send me an email to tell me about some great capacitor that you've discovered that changed your audio world, that's fine, please do. But when you do, please send me a very specific brand and model that is available in 60uFd value, a link to where I can find it and buy it, and the suggested price of that capacitor (or pair of 30's). That's a rule! Boasting is allowed, but you've got to send me all the info. LOL Greg
The late Art Dudley said that in audio, everything makes a difference.
He was right of course.
It is very different not having him with us anymore.

For more information and photos, please click
Current Inventory
I've got a pair of Vittoras that I'm working on that may have the most beautiful veneer I've ever put on a speaker cabinet - Walnut Burl.

Do you have any idea how much better a set of Vittoras is compared to other high end speakers costing a lot more? I know I'm biased, but I'm also informed. I've been to over thirty high-end audio shows now, and I've had ample opportunity to hear the world's best. I'll give you an example of a speaker that the Vittora beats hands down.

I've heard the Avantgarde Trio speakers several times now, once with the big bass horns (bucket list system) and then with the dual subs. With the dual subs I think they are something like $80K. A very nice horn speaker system. This is a modern horn speaker that does not suffer the vices that so many horn speakers have for the last 100 years, and while I could argue the Vittora does a better job of integration, or is more to my liking in overall tonal balance, there's really a much more serious issue that bothers me about the Trio/sub system.

It takes less than thirty seconds for me to become annoyed with the sound of the bass from this system. Yes, there's really good bass extension, and I can 'feel' the music, which is something that I really like in a system. But the bottom line for me is that the bass sounds like it's coming from a subwoofer, because it is! Bloated, overblown, boomy, out of proportion, etc...

The distraction of the low bass issues when listening to this very expensive high-end horn system makes it so that I'm not able to focus on the music. I'm constantly reminded that I'm listening to a stereo system and not the music.

The Vittoras don't do this.

Vittoras have a perfectly integrated and proportioned low bass. When listening to music with Vittoras, you are NOT distracted by a separate low bass sound. The low bass that you hear and feel sounds like it is just part of the music. Tight, tuneful, deep, and musical bass. It's a bass sound that integrates so well that you are able to concentrate on the music that is being presented to you in the most realistic way. You are not hearing the stereo system, you are hearing music.

I realize the Vittoras are not cheap, I get it. But at $30K they beat the snot out of some pretty stiff competition that costs twice as much or more. If you're looking for your 'end' speaker, you should really look at the set of brand new Walnut Burl Vittoras that I have in stock. I'm selling them without any upcharge for the veneer, a savings of $4,500, and with a free Marchand MB42 ELF amplifier, a $2,900 value. See the link above.
Well that's it for this issue of the Volti Audio email newsletter. Thank you for subscribing and until next time, trust your ears and as always, Have Fun!