Greg Roberts of Volti Audio and Gary Dews of BorderPatrol have been teaming up to educate me on the joys of low-power/high-efficiency systems. The problem, I’m finding, is adjusting to the fact that most audio systems don’t actually sound this good.
What I heard here, from the $25,000 Vittora system (including the two speakers, a matching sub and an external crossover/amp — pulling the sub drops the price to $21,500) was deep and propulsive and popped like corn kernels on a hot pan. The fit and finish on the hand-crafted cabinets is outstanding, and set up across the long wall, the images were very deep and wall-to-wall wide. At 104dB, these speakers can handle up to 200 watts — not that you need anything like that to make them sing.
Case in point: driving the speakers was a BorderPatrol S20 EXS amplifier ($27,750). This 20wpc amp was being fed current from a pair of external, choke-input filtered, tube regulated, power supplies. Each weighs something like 90lbs. Yes, each. Holy crap.
Up on the rack were a custom CD transport and USB DAC. The newest version of the DAC was actually downstairs in the Volti/Tortuga Audio room, but this precursor shares many of the features as both are NOS (Redbook only). Also on the rack, a BorderPatrol Control Unit EXT1 line stage ($12,250). Like the amp, the chassis is heavy-gauge painted copper. It’s also sports an external, tube rectified and choke-input filtered, power supply, though that PSU probably only weighs 40lbs or so. Yeah. Tiny.
All cabling came from Triode Wire Labs, including the 7awg “Seven Plus” power cords ($499) on the amp PSUs, “Ten Plus” 10awg power cords ($349 each) on the pre, “American Speaker Cables” ($599/set), “Spirit” interconnects ($349/pair) and the new “Digital American” power cord designed to work with high-sensitivity digital components ($499) feeding the digital components. All of the cables from TWL are quite robust in the hand but still manage to be almost absurdly flexible and easy to use.
All in all, this system was by no means inexpensive. No one is going to “do this” as their entry-level, starter system. It’s not going to shoehorn into a closet or dorm room. You need cash and you need space. That said, this sound loudly and obviously stomped many systems that choose to add a zero to the combined price tag. I call that a win.
Hey, Greg, lemme know when the Vittoras are up for another little vacation, willya? I have just the place for ’em!