Listening #129 List of the Month

Sidebar: List of the Month

13 Harrowing Selections
There are listeners with a taste for melancholy music—and then there are those for whom the merely mournful isn't quite enough. For them I offer a selection of the depressing, the upsetting, the seriously disturbing, and the downright harrowing. Wait for the next stormy day, play all 13 in a row, then go have a nice pill and a glass of absinthe.

Lhasa de Sela: "I'm Going In"
Bob Dylan: "Ballad of Hollis Brown"
John Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls
The Replacements: "Unsatisfied"
Leonard Cohen: "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"
Syd Barrett: "Opel"
Eno: "Spirits Drifting"
David Bowie: "The Bewlay Brothers"
Procol Harum: "The Dead Man's Dream"
Alban Berg: Violin Concerto (Dem Andenken eines Engels)
Arnold Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht
Martin Newell: "The Green-Gold Girl of the Summer"
Big Star: "Holocaust"

MVBC's picture

The Volti Vittora is built in a shop—as opposed to a garage, a driveway, or somebody's mother's basement—solely dedicated to the production of loudspeakers and loudspeaker components, and which Roberts has equipped with state-of-the-art power tools and an air-filtration system.

Obviously Greg Roberts has invested in a professional limited production facility in order to improve quality and make a living. Yet, if one reads his own website:

I do the design and construction of the crossovers myself, using very high quality parts, and I have spent countless hours tuning the crossovers by ear, and confirmed with testing.

Nothing wrong of course with this statement but truly, this is the perfect example of DIY audio applied to speakers. That the article is trying so hard to distance itself from that is puzzling:

Thus, if, from the technological sanctuary of his parents' house, an audiophile has outwitted every professional manufacturer by transforming a spool of RadioShack wire and an empty Quaker Oats carton into the cheapest and best-sounding loudspeaker of his own experience, I offer both my congratulations and my assurance that that is an opinion to which he is entitled. But I'll endure in reserving the right to remain uninterested in hearing the thing, if only to avoid stealing from that modern-day Tesla the pleasure of sniveling that he is underappreciated, only because the press is too corrupt to declare his genius. (I'm very considerate that way.)

Yet, in the value rant there is exactly the answer to the question I asked about the Lamm:

Which finally brings us back to the subject of value. I suppose I'm qualified, if not obliged, to make two sorts of comments: general observations regarding the ratio between a product's asking price and the apparent cost of its design and manufacture, and personal observations on the ratio between that price and the quality of its sound. In fields—woodworking among them—in which I have useful experience, I can say whether a thing is priced fairly or not, relative to the cost of its making; but when it comes to sound quality, my value judgments are restricted to personal opinion—as are yours.

In order to bring this value, Roberts does not skip on quality drivers. His midrange 2" compression retails around $700 for DIYers. Sure he could get a discount but this is not some little basket powered by a fridge magnet. His other model, the Alura is even less expensive and yet features serious professional drivers. As the article points out, woodworking is outstanding.

This is the perfect example of small series DIY artisanal production that provides value and deserves respect. Other DIYers have not chosen to make a living of their interest, yet it does not mean their achievement is less respectable, and certainly they do not deserve scorn. If anything, they're the one laughing all the way to their

MVBC's picture

Here is what Greg Roberts says in another occasion about his speaker:

It takes 240 man-hours of labor to complete a pair of Vittora speakers, and more than $6,000 in materials cost.  My shop labor rate is $60 per hour.  That means we should be figuring $14,400 for labor cost and $6,000 in materials cost just to break even on building each pair of Vittora speakers.  Total of $20,400. With a small profit, the selling price should be around $22k-ish.

That's candid and better than the silence of the Lamm...

ChrisS's picture

Lamm Industries.

andy_c's picture

The best information about Lamm that I've read so far is this interview of Vladimir Lamm.

MVBC's picture

Funny stuff cheeky

dalethorn's picture

I'd love to hear this speaker, but unless someone along the Interstate has one on display I probably won't. I did hear the Klipschorns in Cleveland in the late 1970's, not intending to buy but curious anyway, having had Advents, LS3/5a's, Dahlquist DQ10's - all those wonderful products recommended by Stereophile. The Klipschorns sounded neutral and clean, and clean was easy I suppose given the efficiency. Gordon Holt was not a fan of horns at that time if memory serves correctly, so I was expecting a 'horn' sound from the Klipschorns, and was surprised at how much they sounded like a good neutral loudspeaker. At today's prices for anything, and looking at the modest little camera I purchased for $19k recently, the Vittora sounds like a bargain at less than $18k.

Bill B's picture

glad you like the camera, but for $19k it better not be a "modest little" one.

dalethorn's picture

I am sometimes surprised in a good way at some of the results I get, but most of the hype you read exaggerates the capabilities. Now if you up that to $30k or so you can get the camera that did this(to prevent a large image displaying I linked the page, and clicking "a larger version" shows the entire stadium and surrounds from the Packers game).


Not meaning to go off topic, but I really don't see much difference in audio - people scream about the prices, but the sheer variety of choices is amazing, so you really can get what you want.

LogicAudio's picture

Greg wood working and craftsmanship is just fantaboulus. I wish I could attend in one of the shows to hear them.

I live in Iran and I'm among the few people who had the chance to owe Klipsch Heritage speaker, so not much wonder I love to hear Vittora speaker. I also wrote an article in my own website, in my language for the visitors to get familiar with these nice speaker: link

spacer's picture

Hi Art,

this is Pierre. You might remember we talked at the Audio Show in Montreal about our DS-1, which you seemed to like. I don't know how to contact you other than via this column, so sorry if it is a little out of the subject. I wanted to ask you if you would like to write a full review of our speaker. We are ready to bring them to your place.


Pierre Murray
Deep Space Audio