NL45 By Greg Roberts
Volti Audio Newsletter
By: Greg Roberts - 10/13/2020
Hello everyone, and a kind welcome
to our new subscribers
It's been a terrific last seven months.

Yes I know that's not the case for everyone and I know some of you may think it's strange to see that in writing, given all the negatives that we're bombarded with every day in the media. But for my wife and I and for Volti Audio it's been healthy, productive, and inspiring.

We are thankful.

We hope you and yours are doing well during these strange times we're in.
Any of you out there have experience with Jadis products?

They look interesting to me. I'd like to know about your experiences. The Jadis Orchestra Black looks like it would be a great integrated amp. I love the sound of EL34's.

Update on Razz
The Razz has been a big hit with customers who've bought them.

I, of course, have spent a good deal of time listening and comparing them to Rivals here in my demo room, and they are just a terrific sounding speaker. A lot of fun to listen to.

The Razz disappears and leaves the musical image floating in front of you, just like other Volti Audio speakers do. They really are true Volti Audio speakers, in the quality of the build, the quality of finish, and in the quality of sound, all for less than $5K. That's something that I'm very proud of.

Did you guys see the review in Stereophile magazine? Here's a link to the online version

It's really cool that a small company like Volti Audio can get exposure like this. I'm humbled by the attention. I mean, having three speakers featured in SP over the years and having at least one speaker on the SP Recommended list continuously since 2013 is really something.

Speaking of that, here's a link to the latest Stereophile Recommended list. The Rival is off the list, which is normal after a certain amount of time, and the Razz is listed as B-Full Range, which is strange since the Rival goes lower in the bass and was listed as A-Restricted Low Frequency. Hey, it's all ok with me, glad to be a part of the list wherever they put me.

I've finally figured out a way to finish my speakers in a black color that I like! This is a big deal for me, so please excuse my being overly excited about a color.

I am very proud of the quality of work that I turn out of my shop. But I am careful to only do what I can do well. Black paint over my wood speaker cabinets is not something I’ve ever been able to do well – or to my satisfaction – so I’ve simply not offered it. However . . . 

A week ago I completed a pair of Razz speakers in black with a gloss finish and I’m very pleased with the results. How did I do it? I used a dyed veneer, which is something that I only recently learned about. The veneer comes to me dyed black (although it looks gray before the finish is applied). It installs in the normal way over the plywood cabinet and I can sand it, detail it, and finish it with clear lacquer the way I do any of the veneers I use.

There are a couple things I really like about this system. The veneer has the texture of the real wood it is made from. Unlike ultra smooth finishes, where you are not sure what the cabinet is made of, my black speakers are immediately identifiable as wood speakers, which is a key feature of all of my wood finishes and something that I personally strive for. 

I appreciate the glossy, smooth wood dash in a Mercedes Benz, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders if it is actually real wood, or a facsimile. It could be printed wood grain over plastic with a clear coat finish. Nobody would know the difference.

Another thing I really like about this new finishing system is that the outer finish is a durable clear lacquer. Same finish I put on natural wood veneer, and I know how well this finish holds up over time. 

Check out the photos of the Black Razz on the Razz Photopage

This veneer/finish can be applied to any Volti Audio speaker.  

If you’ve got any questions for me regarding how I finish my speakers, please feel free to reach out anytime.

There are three more reviews coming up on the Razz speaker and I'll link to them on the Volti Audio website when they are published.

The first is coming from Mark Blackmore who writes for The Audio Beat online magazine. The Audio Beat

Another review will be from Gary Beard who writes for Positive Feedback magazine. Gary also reviewed the Rival a couple years back and he's really looking forward to his time with the Razz. Positive Feedback

Marc Phillips will be reviewing the gloss black Razz speakers pictured above and the review will be published at Part Time Audiophile. Part Time Audiophile

Other Razz News
I have a new part time worker here at the shop - Pedro, and at his own woodworking shop he makes tables and cutting boards with beautiful epoxy finishes. He also sometimes uses a technique called Fractal Wood Burning. Google it, it's pretty interesting.

He uses electricity with probes to burn a pattern into the wood and it really looks cool. Anyway, we've decided to do a pair of Fractal Burned Razz speakers. They'll be veneered in maple and then we'll burn the pattern into them. We will be safe, I promise.

These will be one-off Razz speakers and of course I'll have plenty of pictures up on the website when they are finished. They will go into inventory for sale, so let me know if you're interested.

I think we'll call them Lightning Razz!
I've always said that Volti Audio gets more praise and attention than we deserve, considering we're such a small company, selling a dozen or two pairs of speakers a year. Almost all of that attention is for the new speakers we build. But I'd like to remind all of you that the Volti Audio Klipsch Upgrades for the Belle Klipsch and the Klipschorn speakers is still a significant part of our business.

I continue to be surprised at how much Upgrades business there is out there, especially from Belle owners. There's just not that many of them still around, and I figured there was only a small percentage of those that would be interested in upgrading. But the orders keep coming in and I'm glad because it's good basic shop work that really helps to pay the bills around here.

The Khorn and Belle speakers were great speakers forty and fifty years ago. Today, the expectations that audiophiles have for the quality of sound from their systems simply exceeds the capabilities of these iconic designs.

But Khorns and Belles can be upgraded with modern components that truly put them on par with some of the best new horn speakers on the market. This is especially true when upgrading with Volti Audio parts. Those Khorn and Belle owners who recognize this and have the budget to make the changes are enjoying the very best performance they can get from their speakers. They're getting the same 'Volti Audio' sound that our new speakers are known for.
There's always going to be a few Klipsch purists out there who poo-poo the idea of changing out the old parts for new ones. Too bad for them. They're missing out. That's a negative way of looking at things in my book. I choose to take a more positive and forward thinking view. Upgrading Khorns and Belles with the engineered system of parts that Volti Audio sources and manufactures is a compliment to Mr. Klipsch and all that he brought to our industry over the decades of his work. Upgrading works because of the fundamental rightness of the design to begin with, and the durability of the original build of the cabinets. It works because these iconic speakers deserve to have better components put into them and they deserve to keep on singing for many more decades.

My advice to any of you out there who have not upgraded your old Khorn or Belle speakers - do it before you lose the ability to hear the differences. You'll be glad you did and you'll wish you had done it ten years earlier.
Volti Speaker Lineup
I really like our model lineup right now. When I think back to the start of Volti Audio and when the Vittora was introduced, we've certainly come a long way. The Vittora is a great speaker, and it IS the one Volti speaker every audiophile would love to have. But they are expensive to make and they do take up quite a bit of space. Clearly not for everyone.

How nice that we have the Rival and Razz speakers now. Providing our customers with the same great sound quality, build quality, and finish quality, but at a lower price point.

I have always been very proud of the Vittora, but I think I'm even more proud of the Razz. It's such a great 'little' speaker and for the money I just don't see anything out there that's as good. Trust me when I tell you this - it is much easier to design a great sounding large and expensive horn speaker than a small, less expensive one. The Razz may not garner the attention and praise that the Vittora has, but it is quite an accomplishment.

Currently we have the Razz starting at $5,000/pr. and $6,000 for Premium veneer and grills.
The Rival is the model that is offered in a wide range of options and prices. They all use exactly the same components/crossovers, and they sound essentially the same regardless of price. The base model starts at $8,900/pr. and tops out at $19,900/pr. for the 2020 Special Edition model.
The Vittora system is still our flagship speaker at $29,900. It truly is one of the best horn speaker systems in the world, competing very easily with products costing much, much more than that.

What's coming next? Well you'll just have to wait and see.

I'll give you a hint. I'm thinking bigger these days.
Current Inventory
I've got a couple pairs of speakers in stock that are some of the best sounding and most beautiful speakers you'll ever find. They need new homes. They are the more expensive ones in the Volti lineup, but certainly not expensive compared to typical high-end stuff out there. Some of you here can afford these speakers - c'mon and take a look.

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 a couple of examples and I'll pick on a couple of big companies that won't mind.

Listen to a song on a pair of expensive Wilson Audio speakers and then go down the hall and listen to the same song on the Vittora system. Yup, I've done it. There's just no comparison. First off, the Wilson speaker looks like a robot in your living room. But putting that aside, the sound quality from the Vittora is so much more real, dynamic, effortless - the midrange on the Vittora is so huge by comparison that you feel as though you could walk into it and shake hands with the saxophone player!

Here's another good one. A bucket list item for me, the JBL Everest. Boy was I disappointed. I did the same thing - it was at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest a few years ago - early morning visit to the room with the JBL's and then back to my room to sit in front of the Vittora system to listen to the same song. The Vittoras smoked the Everests in every way. The bass from the Vittora system is more extended, tighter, more accurate, there's much better integration between the mid horn and the bass of the Vittora, the midrange was probably the best part of the Everest, but the Vittora beat it hands down (because of the lower mids of the bass horn that integrate with the mid horn), and the highs from the Vittora simply put the tweeter of the Everest to shame, making it sound like it came out of a cheap Pro stage monitor. JBL should be ashamed of themselves. Sorry JBL fans, I also respect the history of JBL, but the Everest is what it is.

What I'm saying here is this. 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 lightly pre-owned, mint condition, Ebony veneered Vittoras that I have in stock. I'm selling them at $10K off what new ones go for. See the link above.
A Simple Question, and A Good One

I had a customer (Tom) recently ask me about his CD player and if he could use it as a transport feeding into an outboard DAC. He also wanted to know if he used an outboard DAC if the DAC inside his CD player would be bypassed. I know for some of us here that's pretty basic information, but not everyone knows about this stuff.

Look, if you're a guy who's had a CD player feeding into McIntosh electronics to a pair of Khorns for the last twenty-five years, you've been enjoying some great sound, and probably haven't had any need to think about improving your digital setup. But now you may find yourself thinking about (getting that itch) improving your system. You hear about DACs and Servers and streaming, and you have questions. I'm glad to help.

Here's what I'll tell you. Fix your Khorns, that's the weak link. We can do a lot with those great speakers when we put better stuff inside. The Mac stuff was great back then, it still is now, but after 25 years if you've not done any service, a tech needs to go through them and make sure they're working right. For your digital setup, let's take a look at an Innuos music server and a BorderPatrol DAC. And I'll certainly make some recommendations for the excellent cables made by Triode Wire Labs.

I can't tell you how much I love having my Ipad on a tripod stand next to my listening chair and being able to click on any song/album I want in my hard-drive.

Here was my answer to Tom:

Hi Tom, thanks for asking a great question. Allow me to provide a basic rundown for you.

A CD player is a transport with a DAC inside one box. The transport being the mechanical/electrical portion that spins the disc and pulls the digital bits off the disc, and the DAC being the electronic part that changes the digital signal to an analogue signal that feeds into your preamp/amp. A natural and easy upgrade to a CD player is to have an outboard DAC that provides a higher quality of sound or a ‘flavor’ of sound that you like. 

You can feed an outboard DAC the digital signal from a CD player, bypassing the DAC that is built into the CD player. Most CD players will do this, but not all. It will if there’s a separate digital output on the back of the unit. When you do this, the CD player is acting only as a transport, sending a digital signal out to the DAC.

When audiophiles started using outboard DACs, naturally the industry began offering higher end ‘CD spinners’ or transports.  The quality level of the casework, isolation, the spinning mechanism, the power supply, the internal wiring, the terminations, etc… all have an effect on the quality of the digital signal coming out of the transport. It’s the same with a computer server, which is doing basically the same thing, not by spinning a disc, but by streaming bits from the internet or from an internal hard drive. I used to think bits were bits, but it's just not so. There are many variables, and those companies who have figured out how to reduce noise/jitter and provide a simpler and more effect pathway for the bits are producing better sounding units. Not all transports or computer music servers sound the same. 

All CD transports will process the digital info from regular CDs, but if you want to use SACDs you will need a transport that processes the SACD information.  


I love helping my customers improve the sound quality of their systems, so please don't hesitate to call on me if you'd like some friendly and informative guidance.
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 always Have Fun!