Volti Audio Razz...
Volti in the House...Wow!!!
Words and photos by Paul Elliott
- 12” high-power and high-sensitivity woofer – bass-reflex configuration, ported
- Large midrange horn with a 2” throat and a shallow wide-dispersion design
- High quality 2” outlet midrange compression driver with a composite diaphragm
- High-quality neodymium horn tweeter
- Custom made crossovers featuring high-quality components, all hand-wired
- Bi-wire at the input terminals
- Sensitivity: 97db
- Recommended amplifier power: 8wpc (min.), 80wpc continuous (max.)
- Bandwidth: 35Hz – 20kHz
- Nominal Impedance: 6ohm (connect to 8ohm taps)
- Dimensions: 40” tall, 15” wide, and 12” deep
- Weight: 90 lbs. each
The Razz features a 1” horn tweeter that extends frequency response smoothly out to 20Khz without the annoying and harsh sounding peaks that other high-sensitivity horn tweeters exhibit. The Razz provides high-frequency detail and smoothness above and beyond other horn speaker designs.
The Razz features a 2” outlet midrange compression driver with a dome-shaped composite diaphragm, an annular phase plug, and a neodymium magnet – feeding into the 2” throat of a large midrange horn with a shallow profile. The midrange is carefully voiced and integrated through the crossover and with extra damping applied to the horn lens. The midrange of the Razz is where the music lives!
The Razz features a cutting edge woofer, with low distortion, high sensitivity, a neodymium motor with a built-in demodulation ring, cast-aluminum frame, and a host of other features that all work together to help the Razz produce tight, low bass that is unexpected at 97db sensitivity in a cabinet this compact. The bass from the Razz is the foundation of the music and it is an impressive foundation!
The Razz features hand-built crossovers with very high-quality Metalized Polypropylene Capacitors, 14ga hand-wound copper inductors, and metal-oxide resistors, all mounted on separate high and low-frequency wooden boards that are carefully located within the cabinet to reduce vibration and interference with driver magnets. These Volti Audio crossovers are the key to the great integration and overall voicing you hear from the Razz.
The Razz can reproduce nine-full-octaves of rich, smooth, ultra-low distortion sound because of these great drivers and components.
The words above are from Volti Audio’s website. Greg Roberts started Volti Audio in 2009 and has been producing award winning speakers ever since. I agree with all that Greg said about his speaker. It is not just tooting his own horn, which is fine, the speaker easily stands on its own merits. I have know Greg and his speakers since 2016 when he first presented his speakers at CAF. This is a speaker I am proud to own and show off to friends. Here are my feelings about this speaker.
I started this recent journey of reviewing audio equipment, with the arrogant opinion of myself that I have something worthwhile to say, well maybe.
I had years of DIY, Tweaking, and self grandiosity, accomplishing great sound “all by myself”. I did have good sound but…..
When you walk around the Audio Shows and find that there are always about five of six rooms that have an outstanding sound, and you say to yourself, “boy that’s what I want”. I think we have all been there.
It is what I call “The Magic” you hear in those rooms. The quality of music stays with you as you go from room to room until you find another one with this special sound. You know I’m right I hear the same comments from other listeners.
I wanted to find and build a real-world system($10K to $20k) to use as a reference that the average Audiophile could relate to and approaches this magic sound.
I found the LTA microZOTL preamp paired with the Elekit TU-8800 SET amp and the Spatial Audio M3 Sapphires
All was fine. I gave good reviews to the LTA and Spatial’s but over time I grew tired of the Spatial’s. It was not happening for me, just no magic. I thought something was wrong with me. The Spatials were getting rave reviews all over the place. How can I be the only one that is hearing what I was hearing? I started hearing some things that I just did not like. Nasties in the upper reaches in the audio range. The Spatials had the dynamic range and slam, but there was a rough edge I could not live with.
I began to listen to my rebuilt Quad 57’s. I sold the Spatial’s very quickly and decided that the Quad’s were going to have to do. The Quad’s are still respected and there are many commercial rebuilds that are highly regarded. This setback put me on my heels for a while, questioning myself in what I am doing. I was blocked.
Two things happened almost simultaneously to rock my depressed feelings about the audio world. LTA announced the upgrade to the microZOTL preamp and I heard a pair of Volti Razz at BorderPatrol. I was very impressed thinking if I had only known Volti was going to release a $5k speaker I would never had purchased the Spatials. Eventually Greg Roberts offered me this pair of unfinished Razz.
I had the preamp upgraded and picked up the Razz. I bought some premium veneer (Red Gum, finished in my custom oil and bees-wax) from Greg and finished the Razz myself. My audio world was reawakened.
These two changes have brought some magic into my sound room. I feel that I am about 80% there to where I want to be.
The Razz is a three-way system where the tweeter is not producing such a wide range as the Spatial M3 was. Spatial M3 crossover was at a very low 525Hz relying on a 1.3-inch dome to produce three fourths of the audio range. For me a very questionable design choice. The Razz has a big mid-range horn that crosses over to the tweeter at 3500Hz. Most of the music information is in the range of this great horn.
Anyone that has experienced Volti speakers knows that the mid-range is just plain glorious.
So I have a Volti in the house. Finally! This is a major milestone on my journey. For all the years I experienced the Volti sound (The Volti/BorderPatrol rooms was one of the rooms that consistently got “best sound” at the shows.) They always presented something very magical to me. The Volti, BorderPatrol, Triode Wire rooms are always musical and fun .
I made major steps in my journey with the LTA micrZOTL preamp and the BorderPatrol DAC (along with the Innous Zenith). But when I replaced the Spatial M3’s with the Volti Razz speaker, this was the step that got me to just smile and laugh at myself, and finally, say “I got there”. Well, maybe 80% there at least. It was the biggest “sigh” ever. I am just so happy about how things are sounding now. I feel this is a true reference system that can legitimately be used to judge other audio equipment against. I can hear into the music far enough to leave my physical space and float among the notes.
Of course, I have not heard every $5K speaker out there, but I would bet a goodly amount the Razz is probably the biggest bargain out there in this price range. I have compared it to a $14k speaker and the differences in the magic were subtle. Different character yes. I could live with either speaker, but a $5k Razz system was the clear winner for me. Out of the box the speaker is voiced by Greg Roberts with his “Fun” attitude with a bit of punchy middle to upper bass. Just a DB or two but it is there. I choose the smooth this out a bit by raising the mid and tweeter slopes up a DB (this can be done with guidance from Greg. It is easy but you do have to remove the mid driver and break your arm in three places to get to the padding resistors. (on Greg’s other speakers the padding resistors are either on the external cross over or on the back of the speaker. I feel this speaker presents a mid-range that is just full and round and real. The highs are what they should be. The spice. Not really calling attention to itself like on the Spatial’s. And the bass, well, Zoom-Zoom! Fast, tight, and solid as Gibraltar.
Solid is one of the words I would use to describe how Greg builds a speaker. Moving this speaker around you would think it is solid wood, not a hollow box. The construction is of the highest quality (full 1” thick) birch ply. It’s 100% birch not just on the outside plies like you get a HomeDepot. It is fully braced and Greg uses professional adhesives. Nothing, absolutely nothing moves except the diaphragms. Rap your knuckles anywhere on the box it sounds like a solid piece of wood, not a hint of being a box.
This is from the Stereophile Review:
When I investigated the enclosure’s behavior with a plastic-tape accelerometer, the only vibrational mode I found was at 305Hz, which was present on all the walls but was very low in level (fig.2). A very small amount of flexing at 100Hz can also be seen in this graph, but the large cabinet appears to be well-braced. When I investigated the enclosure’s behavior with a plastic-tape accelerometer, the only vibrational mode I found was at When
John Atkinson: “I investigated the enclosure’s behavior with a plastic-tape accelerometer, the only vibrational mode I found was at 305Hz, which was present on all the walls but was very low in level (fig.2). A very small amount of flexing at 100Hz can also be seen in this graph, but the large cabinet appears to be well-braced.”
Solid as can be. I had never seen such a clean graph published for a speaker in Stereophile.
This is a quick sweep curve (photoshop enhanced) showing in room response of the Razz in my sound room after I changed out the pad resistors. It is notably flatter than from the factory, I may go a little further but for now I like the balance I am hearing.
Volti’s are know for the speed and slam, great for Rock (Greg was once a Roadie for a Rock Band),and one of the most interesting things I discovered was how glorious choral music sounds. The spaciousness of the voices is simply breathtaking. That big midrange horn presents all the subtleties in the human voice. Choral can be tough to reproduce in a nonfatiguing way and the Razz has no problem here.
The “Tristis est anima mea” from Wolfgang Rihm’s, Astralis just floats in the air before you lifting into the music. The voices are clearly separate. Huge depth, the room decays, just amazing.
The Razz fills all needs from an intimate Jazz combo to full orchestration with never a complaint. It can rock out with just a few watts (I am still loving the VK Music TU8800 SET with about 9 watts a channel). The Razz just says you want more well here it is and bam you got it.
A great hard-hitting album I found on Qobuz is Keb Mo (Kevin Moore) Oklahoma’s “Put a woman in charge” is just full of all that makes music fun.
But if like that search for The Door from the same artist. “it Hurts me too” pounds your mind into warm peanut butter. Just keep turning it up 85-90-95 even 100 db on the old RatShack meter and there is no complaining just pure glorious heart-pounding fun. Man, this speaker rocks!
Small Jazz combo is where I like to live in most of my listening. One of my favorites is Charlie Rouse’s Unsung Hero. It what Jazz is to me. Intimate, emotional, “Just for me” stuff. The Razz lets you climb into the head of the artist.
For the full grandeur of an orchestra, I chose an old favorite, Mahler’s first symphony, “The Titan”
The Zubin Meta, with Israeli Phillihamrnic, is the version I like the best. A Very slow and deliberate rendition. Carefully bring out the full craft of Mahler. From an oboe solo, the storm the Razz transports you to great heights.
My journey has been long and probably typical for someone like me, a typical 76-year old music lover.
As I have mentioned before in other reviews I started in the 1960s building Heath and Eico kits and speakers in the High School workshop. Back then bigger the better and more was better.
It took years of experimenting and tweaking, making my cables, changing out caps, and I started to develop an ear, first listening for differences in wires or caps. I developed a hearing that was sensitive to differences. This turned into the ability to hear the magic in reproduced music.
I am very emotional about this. To me music is emotion, and if it’s not there it is a big letdown.
Simply put the Votli Razz does it for me, it is capable of the full range of emotion. Impactful but subtle. One can not only be with the music but in the music, for the music is in me when I listen.
I feel very special owning this pair, partially from my acquaintance with Greg Roberts from all the Audio Shows I went to, to hear what’s up and new. Voli has never failed to deliver emotional impact. I award five ears in Musicality, build quality, and value.