Every now and then, we get a product that claims to be international in outlook, which normally means it’s designed in one part of the world, and built in another. The Viotti One from Markaudio-Sota is different and lives up to the international claim. It’s designed by two Englishman (one living in Hong Kong), using Japanese drive unit technology, with an Italian industrial designer for the visuals, and Asian build and backing. That design process has so many air miles Markaudio-Sota should fly everywhere club class!
The Viotti One is an elegant, two-driver standmount loudspeaker, designed to work on its own matching stand. It is front-ported and single-wired, with a boat-backed design design whose sides stand slightly proud of the front plate, which itself extends to the top-plate. The five-way binding posts are a pain to use if you use spade lugs. The speaker is available in four finishes.
The bluff description of the basic parameters of the loudspeaker is there for a reason. It’s not a normal loudspeaker by any description. Even the design process is atypical: Englishman #1 (Mark Fenlon) comes up with the basic concept for a loudspeaker, unbound by commerical or financial constraints, from his Hong Kong base (the ‘Markaudio’ bit). He then looks to Japanese speaker maker Sota to create the right drive units to fit the part. Englishman #1 approaches Englishman #2 (Dr Scott Lindgren) to design the crossover and tune the port, again with performance rather than bottom line in mind. The company then approaches Italian designer Andrea Ponti to come up with the looks. Finally, prototypes are shipped around the world for listening tests. The Markaudio-Sota Viotti One is the result, broadly following the Field of Dreams rule (“if you build it, they will come”). For a small company, ‘follow your dreams’ is often going to create better products than ‘follow the money’, because larger speaker multinationals already do that, and will do it better than the little guy.
The Sota connection is two high-grade, aluminium cone drive units designed specifically for the task: the Sota 5 wide-range ‘tweeter’ and the Sota 11 wide-range ‘mid-bass’. The quotes around the terms are there because although they act as tweeter and mid-bass drivers thanks to the crossover, the drivers are both wide-range designs and share the same cone profile. You could put the Sota 5 into a small box and run it as a tiny, crossoverless, full-range unit (the company’s Tozzi loudspeakers do just that). The crossover network on each drive unit is simple, high quality, low order, and gentle. Space does not permit describing the nuance between ‘wide’ and ‘full’ range drive units (like those of the late Ted Jordan), but the Markaudio-Sota people think their full-range drivers introduce more problems than they resolve.