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The Volti Rival Loudspeakers - Horns for the Common Room

10-31-2018 | By Gary L Beard | Issue 100

Volti Rival Loudspeakers
For some time, I've desired to experience a true horn-loaded speaker. But it wasn't until Volti Audio a.k.a, Greg Roberts, introduced the Rival that I considered requesting a review. I had heard Mr. Roberts' beautiful horn speakers several times, and they had always impressed me. But it was this smaller footprint Rival hybrid horn speaker that I thought would be great in my listening room.  


Mr. Roberts' Volti Audio story is an interesting one, so I asked him to recount his journey into full-time speaker building. His response is below:

"Prior to 2009, my wife and I enjoyed 20 years of success designing and building custom homes in Maine, only to find ourselves without a contract for the first time, as we slid into The Recession that changed everything for us (and a lot of folks). The biggest change was the start of Volti Audio—born from my decades as a 'Klipschophile', years of work restoring old Klipsch speakers (as a hobby), and a year of work upgrading my own Klipsch Klipschorns (as a way to keep busy with no homes to build). Khorns are fun speakers, and when I was in my teens and 20's, I was easily impressed with the effortless power they conveyed. But as I got older, I became a better listener, and the shortcomings of my Khorns—edginess and sharpness in the midrange and high frequencies, limited bandwidth, horn colorations, and disintegration between components—became bothersome to the point where I decided I either needed to do something about it, or find another speaker. I opted for the former, and the time I spent learning how to make my Khorns better, led me into a very rewarding and successful business of providing upgrades to other Khorn owners. It also led me into developing my own new speaker, the Vittora.

Right away, the Vittora got a lot of attention from the Audio Press as well as the audiophile community. It's a strikingly good looking speaker that is worlds apart from the typical audiophile box speaker in design, and not surprisingly in sound quality as well. The Vittora engages the listener in the same way that listening to live music does. They capture the accuracy of the tone and timbre of instruments and voices, the timing and tempo of the music, and the dynamic swings from soft to loud; and they convey this to the listener without the typical vices that have plagued horn speakers forever. The Rival is an off-shoot of the Vittora, using many of the same components and ‘voiced' side by side during the development. The Rival maintains the Volti Audio sound, but does so in a more compact and less expensive way." 

Volti Audio's Greg Roberts delivering the Rival in their optional reusable shipping crates

Volti Rivals are Gorgeous

Each pair of Volti Rivals is a custom build, and there are many options available. The review pair had a front baffle veneered in an elegant and striking dark red Bosse Cedar. A textured black finish covers the top, rear, sides and feet. In addition, the review pair included Volti's premium external crossovers wired with Triode Wire Labs cabling and finished beautifully to match the speakers. The total price of this pair, including reusable shipping crates, and a second pair of feet (shown in the picture below), is $12,300 USD. (See the end of this article for a pricing breakdown.)

The speakers are flawless: Exposed Birch plywood edges are richly finished to a matte shine. Horn flares perfectly flushed with the front baffle, the woofer beautifully recessed. The finish of the Cedar veneer looks, and even feels a bit like fine tanned leather, and the textured black finish is expertly applied. This pair of premium Rivals is the work of a craftsman with a thirst for building an heirloom product.

Volti Rival Loudspeakers

General Information

Volti Rival is a highly efficient, hybrid horn/bass reflex three-way speaker design using compression drivers for treble and midrange, and a 15" ported bass reflex cone woofer. The bass reflex woofer is one reason for the Rival's smaller size. It does not require the larger cabinet needed for an internal folded bass horn. The large front port has a magnetically attached shelf inside the cabinet that can be flipped up to provide a less extended, yet punchier bass.

The Rival features two sets of speaker terminals for bi-amping or bi-wiring. While I did not try bi-amping, nor true bi-wiring, I did use Triode Wire Labs (TWL) bi-wire speaker jumpers in lieu of Volti's stock jumpers for the duration of the review. TWL speaker cabling is also used for the Volti furnished jumper between the speakers and the external crossovers, as seen in the picture below:

Volti Rival External Crossover $2.5K

The Rival uses an L-pad adjustable crossover to allow the user to attenuate the tweeter and midrange drivers to his/her taste. In the stock Rival, these crossovers are mounted in the rear of the speaker cabinet. The optional external crossovers feature the same L-pad adjustments, mounted in the top of the crossover enclosure. To make changes, the user simply replaces a resistor with another value as described in the well-written manual. It is a straightforward, and exceptionally effective procedure.

By switching resistors, the output of the treble and midrange can be dialed up or down in 1dB increments. In addition to output adjustments, midrange roll-off refinements can be made by moving spade connectors wired to inductors inside the crossover. There is also one capacitor that can be changed to flavor the sound (Sonicap is the stock cap) if the owner so desires.

Note: Pre-terminated resistors are provided by Volti. Capacitor revisions are the owner's responsibility, and are not supplied.

Tech Description from Volti

Again, from Greg Roberts, "...There are several key design elements employed in Volti Audio horn speakers that set them apart from all the others, the most notable of which is the Volti midrange horn. The first thing I tackled when upgrading my own Khorns many years ago, is still the key element in producing a smooth sounding, uncolored, effortless midrange sound in our current speaker lineup. The Volti midrange horn is made of wood, and the exponential flare of the horn is specifically called a Tractrix curve or expansion. Our horns are braced and damped to eliminate resonances, and coated with lacquer paints to provide long-term protection to the wood. Our horns have a 2" diameter throat coupled to a very high quality 2" outlet compression driver that utilizes a phenolic diaphragm. I've listened to many other drivers with metal diaphragms, and in spite of their superior measurements, they simply do not sound as natural and "human" as the old-school phenolic diaphragm does. The large diameter throat, the wooden horns, the phenolic diaphragm, the high-sensitivity of the driver, and thoughtful tuning with the crossover filters—all come together to produce an effortlessly natural and dynamically engaging midrange sound that is not bettered by any other speaker on the market today."


  • 15" high-power and high-sensitivity woofer – bass reflex configuration, ported
  • Wooden midrange horn with a known Tractrix flare, 2" throat, designed and built by Volti Audio
  • High quality 2" outlet midrange compression driver with a 3-1/2" phenolic diaphragm
  • Elliptical tweeter horn with a known Tractrix flare
  • High quality 1" compression tweeter driver
  • Custom made crossovers, high quality components, hand-wired , adjustable, final voicing done while comparing directly to a Vittora speaker
  • Bi-wire or Bi-amp at the input terminals
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB
  • Recommended amplifier power: 3wpc (min.), 100wpc continuous (max.)
  • Bandwidth: 32Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 6 ohm
  • Dimensions: 41-1/2" tall, 19" wide and 16" deep
  • Weight: 125 lbs/each