Room 403: Innuos, Volti Audio, Triode Wire Labs, BorderPatrol Audio

In the room shared by Gary Dews's BorderPatrol Audio, Greg Roberts's Volti Audio, and Peter Grzybowski's Triode Wire Labs, music flowed, immense of stage, fast of delivery, with heart-arresting texture, visceral verisimilitude, and dynamic fireworks.

I've reviewed Dews's BorderPatrol amps and two models of Greg Roberts's speakers, but this was a fresh, unexpected, mind- and ear-freeing experience.

The assembled system's front end encompassed an Innuos ZENith Mk3 Music Server ($6299–9099 depending on storage options), Innuos Phoenix USB re-clocker ($4349), and a BorderPatrol DAC SE-i DAC, which ranges in price from $1650 to $2125 depending on the input options chosen.

BorderPatrol's S20EXD power amplifier (from $22,500 excluding 300B tubes; optional volume control $500; Western Electric 300B tubes $1495/pr., price as shown: $25,990) drove the all new Volti Audio Lucera loudspeakers, a three-way hybrid horn/bass-reflex design with a 15" high sensitivity woofer, 2"-outlet midrange compression driver mated to a midrange horn with a 2" throat, and a 1" tweeter compression driver mated to 1"-throated tweeter horn (34Hz–18kHz; 99dB/W/m sensitivity; nominal impedance 8 ohms; weighs 110lb each; 40" tall), its cabinet built from 1" Baltic Birch ply. The Lucera's crossover is hand-built on wooden boards with 12ga air-coil and Litz-wound inductors, Jantzen caps, Lynk resistors. The crossover can be tuned (as can Roberts's Razz and Rival models). The Lucera sells for $11,750/pair.

Triode Wire Labs's cabling included the Spirit II RCA interconnects (starting at $399/pair); "Passion" USB cable ($329/each); "Freedom" Ethernet cable (starting at $249). Speaker cables were Triode Labs' American, terminated with premium Cardas CAB bananas (starting at $699/pair). Power cords were the American II–series digital (starting at $549) and the Obsession, from the Statement series ($1499), both of which use Furutech F1-50 NCF connectors.

This was one of the finest systems I heard at FLAX. It played with utter, see-through transparency to the source natural and entirely musical and artifact free. I listened spellbound and brain-stunned, whether Pete G (manning the iPad) played Corrine Bailey Rae, Arlo Parks, Shelley Manne, Buddy Holly, or Tool's "Chocolate Chip Trip" (heard for the second time this day).

The latter track starts with synth tones, soon overcome by drummer Danny Carey's stereo-panning convulsions. I felt every thwack in this madly dynamic piece, whether in the couch I was sitting on, or the wall I was leaning on. A gong slam resonated, enveloping the room. The speakers vanished, the drums' weight and speed creating manic intensity and flow. Music filled the whole space with insanely extended treble, clear mids, and a deep, round, ultraclean, tight low-end.

Near the end of the track, a well-known tube-amp manufacturer, who had spent hours listening to this system earlier in the day, pulled Greg Roberts out of the room—perhaps a deal to be struck. Everyone in room 403 was in total agreement about the quality of the musical experience. See and hear Mark Henninger's video below. A reminder: If you listen with good headphones, you can get just a taste of the system's real character (despite some quiet talk).

doyle3433's picture

This was my favorite room hands down. The synergy here is off the charts. I confess my own anticipation of the new Volti model as I am a big fan of Greg's product. The Lucera is completely faithful to what I call the Volti sound. Sweet, detailed, musical, impactful and dynamic. Just like my Razz models at home. What I didn't expect was the bigger soundstage and even more impressive and honest midrange. When I can afford them I will own a pair of Lucera, oh yes I will...