Vol'ti - v. - to turn over a new leaf; to move forward


www.voltiaudio.com

2/14/2013 - NL21

Welcome to my twenty-first newsletter.  Happy Valentines Day.

Hello new subscribers, thank you for your interest and support of Volti Audio.

The past few months have been very busy at the shop.  We've been filling orders for Klipsch Khorn and Klipsch Belle upgrades, building top horn cabinets for the Jamboree speakers for a customer, doing some other custom speaker work, finally making some headway on the Infinity IRSV restoration project, building another batch of raw Vittora cabinets, and finishing up two pairs of Vittoras and preparing to ship them to our customers.  Pheew!  As if that wasn't enough, I've also found time to develop a new speaker based on the "old" Volti Audio Alura.

With everything that has been going on, I am late in publishing this newsletter.  I had hoped to have it out to you by the end of January, six weeks before the AXPONA show.  Oh well, better late than never.  Read on!











The New Alura

I know that I need to expand the line of speakers that Volti Audio makes in order to increase sales, and I can't think of a better project to work on than the old Alura.  

Click here for the old Volti Audio Alura webpage


The old Alura used a 15" woofer in a bass reflex cabinet with a Volti midrange horn and 2" compression midrange driver, and a compression tweeter built into the mouth of the mid horn.  A very nice sounding speaker that produces deep, tight bass, the typical effortless Volti midrange, sweet sounding highs, and crossovers that allow the end user to adjust the system to their liking.

The NEW Alura speaker takes the old design and steps it up a few notches, with a larger bass cabinet, built with our laminated Birch plywood curved panels, a larger midrange horn that is oriented vertically, and a new compression tweeter driver and horn for the highs.  The midrange and tweeter are housed in a cabinet with laminated Birch plywood curved panels that is separate from the bass cabinet.

Please note that the new Alura is BRAND NEW!  I literally took the pictures that you see here the night that I published this newsletter.  So these speakers are not completed yet, although for all practical purposes, the only thing missing in these photos is the grills.   I will have better photos, with and without the grills coming soon on the website.

Here's a few pictures to wet your appetite:


Bosse Cedar veneer, Satin Lacquer, "Volti Black" paint

Pretty cool huh?  This is the first time I've seen them all together like this myself.



Actually, the Alura will not be just one speaker, there will eventually be a full line of speakers of various sizes and price points, all based on the same design parameters - high-sensitivity, full-range, bass-reflex, three-way, built with very high quality construction and finished with beautiful veneers and lacquers.

I've made a new webpage, but there's not much on there right now.  I will be building this webpage over the next few weeks.  Here's a link

Click here for the NEW Volti Audio Alura webpage



I listen to what people say at the audio shows after they've heard the Vittoras, and there are a few things that I'm hearing consistently that are driving the new design of the Alura.  People often say that the Vittoras are beautiful and great sounding, but they are too big for their room or out of their budget, and every once in a while someone will mention that the soundstage of the Vittoras could be taller.

So after Rocky Mountain Audiofest last October, I set out to build a speaker that sounded as good as the Vittora, was taller, was one quarter the size, and costs under $3,000 for the pair.

I didn't make much progress with this!   LOL

But I do think the new Alura model shown here is a product that addresses those things that I'm hearing from people about the Vittoras.  This new Alura is as good as the Vittora in most ways, and perhaps better in one way, takes up about 35% less floor space, has a taller soundstage, and is priced about 20% less than the current Vittora pricing (with sub).

The model designation for the Alura pictured here is Volti Audio Alura, model A15/MT1.  The A15 refers to the bass reflex cabinet with a 15" driver, and the MT1 is the Midrange/Tweeter cabinet made for the A15.

This midrange/tweeter cabinet is an exciting new design that uses the same mid horn and tweeter as the Vittora, and a very similar crossover that is built-in under the mid horn.  It is essentially the Vittora top end, mounted on a bass-reflex cabinet instead of a bass horn.

Turning the mid horn in the vertical orientation may seem unusual, but it works great for a number of reasons.  It raises the tweeter up much higher and brings the soundstage to a higher level.  Midrange horns are very directional by nature, but in the vertical position, the sound is directed towards the sweet spot with more intensity, and the imaging becomes even more focused.  The increased directivity increases the responsiveness to speaker positioning changes, and gives the end-user more control over the soundstage of the system.

The A15 bass reflex cabinet is built with typical Volti beef.

The A15 has all Baltic Birch plywood construction, mostly one-inch thick, including the one-inch thick laminated Baltic Birch plywood sides made with eight layers of 1/8" material that we laminate up in our shop with vacuum bags.  This is a seriously stout cabinet that will last many generations.  Durability is a key element in all Volti Audio products.  The driver used in the A15 is a high-sensitivity and high-power 15" woofer.  The 7.5 cubic foot cabinet is perfectly tuned to get all the juice available from just a little bit of power input, and it's a perfect match to the MT1 sitting on top of it.    The A15 produces the type of bass that hits you in the chest.

Introductory pricing for the Alura A15/MT1 is $13,900 per pair.  Higher grade veneer and finish options are available at additional cost, please inquire.



The future lineup:

If you are wondering what I've got in mind for other Alura models, here's a couple of ideas.   I've got my sights set on an A12, which you might have guessed is the 12" version of the A15.  This bass reflex cabinet will be smaller (narrower) than the A15, to fit even smaller rooms.  I've got an idea for the MT2 Midrange/Tweeter cabinet that will have a different midrange horn and driver, with a compression tweeter and crossover to mate up with the smaller bass cabinet.   I will change the aesthetic design of the MT2 so that it is proportionally smaller than the MT1.   The real challenge for me with this system is to make it smaller enough and lower cost enough to be a real step down from the A15/MT1.  If I don't accomplish that, customers will simply choose the A15/MT1 and not even consider the A12/MT2.  It has to have its own identity and place in the market.

I'm also working on A102/MT3.  The A102 would be a dual 10" bass reflex cabinet that is even narrower than the A12.  The MT3 would be yet another Midrange/Tweeter cabinet, and will have dual high-sensitivity 5" cone midrange drivers, a compression tweeter, and a crossover.  The MT3 cabinet will also have its own unique design.  Again, the same challenge exists here, in terms of marketing, pricing, and size.  Each of these products in the Alura lineup must have their own identity, price point, and market.

I'm also thinking of a small floorstander with a very low price.  It would be a single-cabinet, three-way with a 10" woofer, a 5" cone midrange, and a compression tweeter.  This will be the lowest cost and smallest model in the Alura lineup.

I'm going to work hard to get all these models developed and in production by the end of 2013, and I really think that by offering a wider variety of speakers, at different price points, I will be increasing our customer base and sales considerably.  So keep your ears perked for these new Volti products in the coming months.



Aesthetic Design - Where Volti Is Headed

In the few pictures of this first pair of Aluras, did you notice the difference in the design from the Vittora?  Feedback from people at the Audio Shows and through emails has almost always noted one of two things about the Vittora design - the vintage aspect or the Klipsch influence.   I'm ok with that, and I've never shied away from the fact that the Vittoras were indeed inspired by the Klipsch La Scala.  The vintage ties, and vintage aesthetics of the Vittora design are charming and nostalgic, and there's nothing wrong with making that connection with the audio public.  But something you will notice about the new Alura speaker lineup, is the decidedly different aesthetic cue.  The Alura designs will be modern, simple, and beautiful.  They are completely new designs and completely 100% ALL Volti Audio.

I will be debuting the new Alura A15/MT1 speaker at the AXPONA 2013 Audio Show in Chicago coming up in March.   I will be offering a show special on the pair of Alura speakers we are using at the show.   $12,000, plus free shipping anywhere in the contiguous 48 States from the show, with payment in full made before the end of the show.  This is as much as a $2,800 savings over the regular price.











AXPONA Chicago 2013

So this will be the fifth audio show for Volti Audio, and I'm pretty excited about this one.

We had just finished up with Rocky Mountain Audiofest when Steve Davis from AXPONA sent out a notice with information about the next show they were doing in Chicago in March of 2013.  When I heard that they had chosen the Chicago market for an audio show, I signed up and bought a room that night.

There hasn't been an audio show in Chicago for over a decade, and I think it's a great market for a show.  I'm expecting a great turnout.

Volti will have two rooms at AXPONA this year.  In the first room - room 826 - we'll have the Vittora speakers, which will feature the new tweeter, new midrange driver, and new crossovers that we've been working into them over the last few months.  I was originally going to bring the Figured Cherry Vittoras that I used at Rocky Mountain last year, but one of my customers offered to let me use his new Vittoras at the show, and I couldn't turn that offer down.

These Vittoras have Mappa Burl veneer, which is stunning.  I think people are going to really like seeing something unique like this.  

Volti Audio has the BEST customers.  Imagine buying a new set of Vittoras and offering to let Volti use them at a show, which will delay the delivery to you by over a month.  A very generous offer that is much appreciated.  Thanks Mike.

In our second room, we'll have the Alura A15/MT1 set up for the first time.  I can't wait to get the feedback on these.  They are really outstanding speakers that I think will turn more than a few people on to what Volti Audio is doing.

I'm sharing both rooms with two other vendors.  Gary Dews has always been very supportive of Volti, and we've used BorderPatrol amplifiers at most of the shows we've done.  But this time we're working together out of both rooms, so in addition to the BP amplifiers, we'll be using Gary's preamplifier as well as his DAC.   Gary and I are pleased to be sharing our rooms with Jonny Wilson of Snake River Audio.  Jonny makes great speaker cables and interconnects, and he's outfitting both systems with the very best.   Jonny will be primarily running the system in room 827 - the Alura room.  But he won't be there all the time, because there's no way I'm going to miss out on demonstrating the new Alura's to potential customers!


BorderPatrol Audio Electronics

Snake River Audio




Here are the two pairs of speakers Volti will have at AXPONA Chicago, 2013





So you should make plans to come to the show and check out all the great gear.  The show is in Rosemont, IL, March 8 - 10, 2013.  For complete information, here's the link to the AXPONA website













More Praise For The Vittora

The praise for the Vittora continues on, and not always from words written in a major magazine.   In fact, most of the praise for the Vittoras comes from the mouths of people who have heard them, and in one way or another are moved to express what they have heard to me.  I thought I'd pass on a few of these here to my subscribers.

The Cherry Vittoras that I used at RMAF2012 are at Gary Dews house right now, in his wife's living room, which becomes a bit crowded when the V's and a sub are added in with the normal furnishings.  

Gary says they can stay there forever as far as he's concerned, he loves listening to them, but his wife has been asking when they will be leaving.  The poor audiophile's wife, always getting the blame for just wanting a normal living room with enough space to enjoy the room as a living room.  My wife is nodding her head right now.

I was going to bring these Cherry Vittoras to AXPONA, but when Mike offered to let me use his Mappa Burl Vittoras there, that changed our plans a bit.  The Cherry Vittoras have been sold and will be on their way to my customer in Tennessee soon.

But during the couple of months that Gary has had them at his house, a few people have been by to hear them.  One person, John H, wrote me a couple of nice emails to tell me about his experience with them, and then offered to talk to a potential Vittora customer for me, Jeremy T, so I will share what John wrote to Jeremy here with you.

From: John H
To: Jeremy T
Subject: Volti Vittora Impressions

Hi Jeremy,

Ok... Here are my impressions of the Vittora's.

Greg has taken the horn-loaded concept and applied really terrific technology, components, skills, with I'm sure a LOT of listening and playing-around and tweaking and has come up with a REAL WINNER with the Vittora!   These are great-sounding horn-speakers!  I don't know if you have seen them in person, however they are absolutely beautiful and very-solid looking with flawless heavy wood and impeccable grill-cloth work.

Very few speaker systems have caught my ear, with realism, micro/macro dynamics, and over-all enjoyment as the Vittora's for that brief 2-hour visit at Gary's (BorderPatrol) home last Thursday.  I still love my Living-Voice speakers, however had I not already had these, the Vittora's would definitely be at the top of my list.   With the Vittora's and two of the sub-woofers well-placed, this system could be a final one for me, and I'm sure for MANY other folks as well.   While there, we listened to a variety of different music from female vocalists, to country rock and classical.   In the case of female/male vocalists or small instrumental bands (think jazz-club or the like) you don't even need a sub-woofer with the Vittora's in my opinion.   Although they noticeably roll-off rather quickly below 50-HZ, the music has micro-detail and macro-dynamic power and instruments have a "body" to them that is difficult to duplicate with conventional speakers.   Female vocals sound "you are there" with all subtle nuances clearly audible.   Cymbals shimmer without edginess or harshness, as you can hear the brush-tips sliding across them!

All-in-all, the Vittora's reproduce music in a very enjoyable and pure way.   The drivers seem to blend seamlessly, and there is no shout or hyper-directionality to them from the 2-hours I listened to them.  I do feel there are conventional cone-based speakers that do image better than the Vittora's, however some of that might also be a function of the room and set-up where I heard them.  In general, horn-speakers seem to have that characteristic.  I just didn't find it that noticeable with the Vittora's.

Jeremy, as a final note, I believe the BorderPatrol electronics bring out the best in the Vittora's, allowing their accuracy, dynamics, and realism to be heard!  I think the S10 amp is the BOMB for these speakers!  Having a full-complement of the BP-stuff (preamp/amp/DAC) would be in my opinion the best set-up to listen to the Vittora's.  I personally have all BorderPatrol electronics.

Good luck in your quest for speakers.  I think you should really consider the Vittoras.

Respectfully,
John H



Jeremy T is considering the purchase of a pair of Vittoras.  But before hopping a plane and flying across the country to hear the Vittoras, he had a friend, Tim G who lives here in Maine, drop by my house to give them a listen and report back to him.  Here's the email that Tim sent to Jeremy:


From: Tim G
To: Jeremy T
Subject: Volti Audio

Hi Jeremy and Greg

Well, we had a generous two hour listen with Greg.  I found Greg to be no-nonsense and straightforward, not unlike his website.  He'd spent the better part of Sunday setting up the system.  His untreated living room was full-sized, rectangular, with the Vittoras placed on the long wall, set in from the sides a bit, and in front of his Klipschorns.  The Vittoras we listened to were not finished speakers.  Greg said he didn't have any finished ones available for us to listen to, so he cobbled together parts from his shop to "make" us a pair.   As such, the horns, crossover, drivers, etc... were fully exposed, unfinished, without grills, and as Greg explained, the horns were sitting about 3" lower than the final finished product does.   The 18" subwoofer was positioned "firing in" from the right sidewall maybe two feet ahead of the mains.

We listened to good redbook through very capable electronics, exposing warts and beauty.  Greg explained that he and his engineer were still in the process of refining the new crossover...that everything was "close" and that science was now giving over to art, the final tunings of speaker crossover decisions being done by ear.

It took a moment adjusting to a vast soundstage presentation, emanating from the corners of such a long wall.   Greg had locked in the soundstage very well indeed.    The "weight" of the sound was consistent from the opening bell.   The subwoofer mated with the sound of the mains from head to toe.  It was whole.   Following, there came a sense of ease, as though nothing really needed to overwork, it seemed, including at volume levels well beyond my liking, all accomplished with pure, tiny triode power.  The ease was not without explosive dynamics, however.  When called for, it was there,but differently than I've experienced with large amps applying muscle to dynamic drivers.  It was more of system acting in unison rather than a call and response effect.   Exciting, but natural.

We played classical, folk, jazz, large and small; cuts off Janis Ian's "Breaking Silence"; Beatle's "Love"; Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus"; Rusted Root's "Drum Trip"; Ella "It Don't Mean a Thing..." Cantus, the Stereophile editor John Atkinson engineered "Let Your Voice Be Heard." Cantus was the one that truly "got me." That wide stage of men's unaccompanied choral at full song had everything musical onboard, voices individually distinct and in chorus, like a chord on a finely tuned instrument.  One of those listening moments you cherish for a long, long time.

One trick pony...not.  Of the genres we sampled, nothing came up short, something I place very high on my audio checklist.  Congested passages were de-congested.  Greg claims the Vittoras not overly fussy about placement  Greg had debated utilizing the short or the long wall for our demo.  I did wish for a deeper soundstage, but suspect that the long wall placement was more the limitation.  His selection of an 18" subwoofer for the triad should address the needs of any reasonably sized room.   I cannot overstate the coherency of the threesome and the wisdom of marketing it as such.   Nice.

My listening partner Chris and I discussed our experience on our way back.   Chris recalled an experience with Lowthars. He felt that the Lowthars might have been a little more "true" to a natural experience of live unamplified instruments in a real space, less dynamic, his words, "Less high fi."   I don't know.   He and I shared a recent live experience, a five piece chamber group in a small local college hall.   I told Chris I kept feeling the urge to climb onstage to "turn up the volume."    I sometimes question if I'm beginning to prefer, in certain situations, great hi fi to pure live, unamplified sound.   Example: Europa Gallanta/Fabio Biondi hi fi yes!!   Recent US Marine Band Bowdoin Field House hi fi no!!

And, so it goes, Jeremy. Thanks, it was fun.

Tim



My customer in Colleyville, Texas, Van, is becoming more and more pleased with his system each week.  He has a pair of Vittora speakers with a subwoofer in a dedicated music listening room.  I got to hear this system a few weeks ago, and it's pretty spectacular.  Actually, the best I've ever heard Vittoras.  I wish my room sounded that good.

Van has been auditioning several different tube amplifiers, and has invited dealers and/or manufacturers to bring their amps to his home to listen to the system.  This has been great exposure for Volti.  Here's an email I received from Van after one of those special evenings:

Truly awesome!   Last night listened to the system with Allnic 300B SET monoblocks, their top of the line preamp and High Fidelity cables and line conditioner.   Can't adequately describe the sound.    Really wish you could have heard it.   One person said he'd heard $250,000 + systems that didn't come close - I agree.

Regards,

Van

Here's an email from an amplifier manufacturer who brought one of his amplifiers to Van's place for a listen.

Hello Greg,

I just heard your speakers in person for the first time at Van's home in Colleyville, Texas.   With our amps hooked up to them, suddenly I realized that I was listening to the absolute bar none best system I had ever heard in my entire life.  Since I own an audio manufacturing company and have been an audiophile for 30 years, this really means quite a bit  I am pretty shocked at your speakers.   This experience has changed my entire thought process about speakers in general.

It's really nice to get these emails.  According to my wife I get too many of them.  She says she's going to monitor and block some of them so my head doesn't get too big.  I'd trade every one of them for a couple of speaker sales though.




I needed a place to sneak in a couple of photos of Vittoras, so this seems like a good place!

We don't usually have this many finished speakers at the shop.  They usually head out the door pretty quickly after they are finished.  On the left - Bubinga Vittoras with matching subwoofer heading to a customer in Vancouver.  Middle - Mappa Burl Vittoras heading to AXPONA and then on to a customer in Wisconsin.  Right - the New Alura A15/MT1 in Bosse Cedar.













Jamborees

As many of you know, I built a pair of Jamboree bass bins back a couple of years ago, and just loved the way they sounded.  They have a powerful, deep bass that just reaches out and grabs you by the face!  They are horn loaded with twin 15" drivers in each cabinet, and can work in or out of corners.

But I had a hard time selling them, presumably because of the fact that they were not a system, and I think it is difficult for people to figure out what to do with these bass bins.  Well I finally did sell them, after lowering the price enough, and my customer asked me to build upper horns and crossovers for them so he would have a complete system.

I just finished them up a couple of weeks ago and I think the end result is pretty spectacular.

I'm not currently linking to the Jamboree webpage from the website, but I do have a page online that you can access here.











Serious Subwoofage

I have a serious subwoofer for sale.  Pictured below between two Vittoras.

It's a leftover from the early Vittora days.   You know, those days SOOO long ago.  LOL  I'm ready to make a great deal on it.   It's got a kickin 18" driver inside the typical Volti rock-solid cabinet, veneered in Bosse Cedar and finished with satin lacquer.  The crate is all built for it and it's ready to ship out immediately.  How much will you give me for it?

Pictured below with a pair of Volti V1's.













Verettired

Veretta - The Speaker Everyone Loves, But Nobody Listens To


Man, what a disappointment the Veretta project turned out to be.   I guess I haven't given up ALL hope that there is a market for selling single-driver speakers that have the best drivers, the best cabinetry, and the best finishes at a less than astronomical price point.  But it's not looking good.

Maybe it's the price?  These aren't made in China, so the price reflects the many hours of labor in an American shop, with Americans working for a living!  Ok, I'm sounding bitter and I'm really not.  But somewhere along the line, amongst the multitude of accolades bestowed upon the Veretta, I did expect to sell at least one pair.  And at a price that enabled me to be able to pay Kenji for the drivers and recover just a bit of the cost of my time to build them.

But it is not so, nor will it be.  The Veretta is dead, and I'm moving on.

Wanna buy a pair?  I'll sell them to you real cheap.  I've got one pair with the drivers and one pair without.  They have been inspected, tested (the pair with drivers), I've made sure the accessories are all there, and they are boxed up and ready to be shipped.


For old times sake, here's a recap of a few of the accolades:



Plucked from an online forum:

"I heard this speaker yesterday (at the RMAF audio show in Denver).   The room sounded excellent to me.   There was no sub (most other rooms sounded boomy by comparison, so lack of a sub is arguably a good way to go).

The sound was very balanced.   The treble was on the relaxed / laid-back style rather than bright / overly detailed.   For lack of a better term, it sounded "analog-ish" perhaps due in part to the Mojo Audio music server which aims to sound analog (and does).

The cabinet's front panel port has a few removable "grills" which magnetically mount -behind- the baffle, and (I was told) they modify the port size for different tunings.   I heard the "flat" option, while the others having varying degrees of "bump".

Another listener commented that "this is what it sounds like when you can't hear the cabinet" and I'm inclined to agree (short of an open baffle of course).


*****************


"Volti Feastrex speakers that I heard at Capital AF last summer were the best Feastrex speakers I ever heard, and I have heard a great many over the years, and built a half dozen myself.   They are tricky driver to work with, but Volti really has good ears and box tuning talent."


*****************


I was also very excited to hear the Feastrex NF5 and thought the Feastrex in the Feastrex cabinet and the Volti Veretta were wonderfully expressive, particularly when listening to vocals.   And then there was the FN9 . . . Wow!   I can't wait to see what some cabinet builder does with that driver.



Scot Hull on Room 590

"The mojo here came from a combination of things  -  the best kind of mix  -  including the new Feastrex-enabled Veretta from Volti Audio.   This single-driver loudspeaker was, obviously, fully coherent and seductive sounding."

"I spent some time chatting with Greg, who's just thrilled with the reception this new design is getting from both show-goers and the critics.   It's a compact package, with beautiful workmanship, and it sounds good, so I'm not surprised.   What I am surprised by, pleasantly so, is how enthusiastic the Feastrex folks are  -  so much so that more drivers will be winging their way to Greg in the coming months, including a big 9" Field Coil, with the hopes that he will be able to settle them into a new, Volti-designed, home.   Greg is thinking that this monster driver will find itself in a cabinet strikingly similar to the Veretta, just one that is proportionally and appropriately "upsampled" to suit the size and outputs of this ultra-driver.   Very exciting stuff!"


Speaking of the Veretta, we now have a full review of them from a major reveiwer!

John Gatski of Everything Audio Network spent some time with the Verettas in his system and really grew to like them a lot.






John gave our little Veretta a STELLAR SOUND Rating!

Veretta Review



At the Capital Audiofest in 2012, Room 221, which featured the Volti Audio Veretta speakers received a Silver Sound Award from AV Showrooms

Here's what Peter Breuninger had to say:

In the Mojo/Volti room the beautiful Volti loudpeakers sounded as good as they looked.   Hat's off to the Deja Vu amplifiers and Mojo cables and digital front end that made the Volti's sound breathtakingly believable.















Where Does Volti Audio Go From Here?

Last newsletter I opened up a discussion about where Volti Audio is heading as a company, and I got a few nice responses from people, with some nice suggestions.  I appreciate the input from my subscribers, it means a lot to me.  I'm not sure I'm any wiser now than I was then, but it helps to hash it out here in the newsletter, and solicit other viewpoints.

The Alura project is an unexpected boost to my morale.  Yes, I wanted to re-do the Alura, and I never doubted that I could make it into a better looking and sounding speaker, but I didn't realize how much it would energize me from a business point of view.  The more I talk to my wife, my workers, and colleagues about the potential for the Alura lineup, the more exciting it becomes.  It seems that this really IS a great idea for the future of Volti Audio.   This idea for a whole lineup of speakers seemingly came out of nowhere.

Think about what I said in the last newsletter; "At this point it's hard for me to tell exactly where this company is heading, and perhaps even more difficult to decide where I want it to go."  Now, just a few weeks later, there are some answers to those questions, and it doesn't involve me figuring out the business as much as concentrating on product.  In the midst of working eighty hour weeks, and stressing over money, and stressing over being ready for the next show, and stressing over a dozen other things; here it just happened; a potential future just unfolded.  I think this is what people mean when they tell me to just hang in there, keep working hard, keep producing great products, and things will work out.

Last newsletter I talked a lot about Volti Audio's image.  I haven't had the time to seriously think about changes to the website or our marketing in general, but I have thought about whether or not to use dealers and distributors.  I've decided that for now, I'm still not ready to make that jump.   Someone suggested to me that with the introduction of the new Alura lineup, this would be a good time to consider raising prices enough to cover dealer markup.  They are right, this is a good time to consider that, and I did, seriously.  But I'm finding the arguments for selling direct online more compelling at this time.

Another consideration regarding the growth of Volti Audio is labor.  Years ago when my wife and I were running a custom home construction company full time, we had as many as eight employees working for us.  Everything was done by the book, and we had enough money to handle the costs.  But as that business declined dramatically in 2007, we had to let all our employees go, and any work we've done since than has been through subcontractors.   Now subcontractors do burden us with a whole list of issues to deal with, but at the end of the day, it's nothing compared to having employees.  Especially in the construction business.  In the construction business, most people "fall into" the job instead of choosing it as a career.  Putting an ad in the paper looking for help was futile.  We would be inundated with people who were down on their luck, living troubled lives of one sort or another, and we'd end up hiring some of them.  I had at least one who was drinking during the work days, and several who smoked weed, attendance was always a problem, and at one point, my wife had to take money out of the checks of six of our eight employees to send to the State for Child Support payments because they had not been making their payments the way they should have been.   There are dozens of other things too that I'm not mentioning here, but I think you get the point, we really felt like a babysitting service, not employers.  Add to the frustration, the endless beaurocracy from a government that seemed bent on making it as difficult and expensive as possible on us to do business, a government that always took the side of the employee in any dispute, the insurance companies and their endless needling about safety documents and jobsite inspections, along with their unfair rate hikes; and the constant threat of OSHA showing up at a jobsite and fining us out of business; and it's no wonder we're not too interested in going there again.

So as Volti grows larger, I am really leaning towards subcontracting specific work out to specific cabinet shops nearby to me to help with the workload.  I can also subcontract legitimate help to work at my shop.  Much of the skilled labor that used to work for wages in different industries, have struck out on their own, so in order to find that skilled labor, you almost have to subcontract.  There will be timing issues, and I'll have to really watch quality control carefully.  I'll also have to make sure that we define our work relationships with our subs very carefully to meet the criteria set by an increasingly controlling government that would rather have everyone be employees.   But for the foreseeable future, this seems like the best approach for us.

I'd like to know what you think.  Please send me an email and let me know.  If there's enough interest, I'll continue this discussion in future newsletters.











Notice Of Price Increase On Vittoras

Any of you who have been following Volti Audio for the last year knows all about the dilemma I've had with pricing the Vittoras.  Should I have started out pricing them at a higher price, or was it ok that I introduced them at a lower price with price increases along the way?  I heard plenty of feedback on this and there is no consensus.  It is what it is, and I made the choice that felt right to me at the time - sell them cheap to get some out there and so we could build more at the shop and refine our process along the way.  I figured I'd make my money on them at a later date when Volti was more established.

I'm at the point now where I need to start making money.  I know the idea of making a profit is not in vogue right now in this country, but I'm not talking about profits really, I'm just talking about making enough to cover my business expenses and maybe even take a little out of the checkbook now and then to pay some personal bills.  Volti showed a $30,000 loss last year, which is not suprising or upsetting to me at this stage of the game.  I knew it was going to take some time to get this business going.  Everyone tells me at least five years to turn a profit.  Oops, there's that bad "P" word again.

So it's time to raise the price of the Vittoras.  We have managed to cut the hours of production down by about 15% to 200 man-hours per pair.  This would not have been possible if Volti didn't spur sales with lower initial pricing.  Practice makes perfect, and not only is the quality level higher now than it was two years ago, but we are running more efficiently in the shop.  Materials cost remains at about $6,000 per pair and labor (at our shop rate) is $12,000.   Add in a small profit and the Vittoras, sold direct by the manufacturer, online, with no dealer markup, need to sell at $20,000 right now.  I'm still not jumping that high up from the current $15,000 price though.  Not right now.  But as of March 11th, 2013, the price of a new pair of Vittoras will be $17,500, and the matching subwoofer will be $2,900.   This is the day after the AXPONA show, so the show special on the Vittoras is; put a deposit on them on or before the end of the show and I will honor the current price of $15,000.  As of 3/11, there's no crying about it!

What do you think about this?  I'd like to hear from you.




Next newsletter will be published a few weeks after AXPONA.

Thank you for your support, and until next time, I hope it all sounds good!

Greg Roberts
www.voltiaudio.com



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