-Elegant design & fine finishes
-Wonderful clarity and transparency in mid and high frequencies
-Not too heavy / not too light
-30-Day Money Back Guarantee
-Subwoofer suggested for full-range music & movie performance
-Pricing a little high for non-towers
-Check packaging to ensure all your hardware is included
NOTE: All images in this review courtesy of MarkAudo-SOTA.
MarkAudio-SOTA is a joint venture between SOTA Acoustics and Markaudio Loudspeakers LTD, forging together Mark Fenlon's driver designs, Dr. Scott Lindgren's "minimal control networks", and Andrea Ponti's cabinetry. Dubbed as "Italian styling with British engineering," the Viotti One is MarkAudio-SOTA's flagship two-way stand-mount loudspeaker. That is to say, these sleek and elegant speakers can be purchased and mounted on matching stands, a stand of your choosing, or atop shelving.
Either way, if you're looking for an aesthetically evocative speaker that not only reproduces mid and high-end frequencies with excellent clarity, but one that will also jazz up your listening space, then you might want to give a pair of Viotti One speakers a listen (especially when you consider MarkAudio-SOTA boasts a 30-Day MONEY BACK guarantee so you can try these out in your own home).
-1 50mm (2") low mass mixed alloy symmetrical sound field cone unit
-1 110mm (4.4") low mass, long throw mix allow symmetrical sound field cone
-88.5dB 1w @ 1m
-Dimensions: 9 11/16 x 13 11/32 x 39 11/16 inches (246 x 339 x 1008 mm) with stand
-Weight: 36lbs 2 oz (16.4 KG) with stand
-30-Day Money Back Guarantee
From a design standpoint, Viotti One stand-mount loudspeakers are gorgeous. Rounded edges give way to see-through speaker grills that show off the goods without ever being too flashy. In terms of color options, the speakers are available in light oak, dark oak, black piano-lacquer, or white piano-lacquer, while the stands come only in black or white piano-lacquer.
Our review pair arrived in white piano-lacquer, but my first set of stands was missing a few bits of hardware, so I ended up with the Oreo Cookie pairing of white speakers atop black stands. I can't say I'd recommend that to anyone who didn't have a monochrome motif going on in their listening space, but getting to see both colors was proved useful for a review. This finishes themselves, while attractive to fingerprints (and curious little ones), are of high quality and hide the non-hard-wood construction materials pretty well.
The setup process is actually quite simple and the speakers come with white gloves so you can avoid fingerprints and scratches during assembly. If you forgo the stands, simply place the Viotti Ones in a location, toe in towards your room's sweet spot, connect to your favorite amp (the more power, the better), and begin listening. To utilize the stands, you insert pegs into the base, connect the stand to the base, and the speaker to the stand using the supplied hardware and hex (Allen) wrench. You have the option of including the speaker's built-in base, which gives the speaker-plus-stand a taller, stacked look OR remove the built-in base which makes the speaker-plus-stand shorter and skinnier. I left loaner unit bases installed -- the look is unusually, plus the added height puts the Ones at ear-level for listening.
If you've assembled anything from IKEA, this is vastly easier, but do take care to assemble while the speakers are horizontal -- they are not heavy, but are easy to knock over durring assembly and until the stand is not firmly attached.
MarkAudio-SOTA recommends a lengthy break-in period for the Viotti One speakers, as much as 200 hours if I'm not mistaken, but I have to say I disagree with the engineers. These speakers sound excellent right out of the box and only improve with time, save for bass performance.
If you're a fan of classical or jazz music, you might not notice, of course. String and wind instruments along with vocal arrangements, like choirs, usher the Viotti One to splendid, heavenly heights. With my collection of movie scores -- with excellent tracks from Danny Elfman's Edwards Scissorhands or James Horner's Apollo 13 -- the Viotti Ones unlocked mids and highs with sublime rendering of every frequency and nuance. There's far too much audiophile snake oil in the world, but listening to your favorite music on high-end speakers is akin to breathing fresh air after being stuck behind a diesel truck on a highway.
That said, as we might expect for stand-mount loud-speakers, low-end performance is a bit lacking. Throw in some Guns N' Roses, Eminem, Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), or even a movie soundtrack like John William's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Viotti Ones are a touch outmatched.
For those who need a wider range of frequency reproduction, a subwoofer is recommended. This isn't a surprise, given the size of the One loudspeakers. But for this $2,500 price point, you can audition some really nice floorstanders as well (like a pair of the KEF R500s).
I have a habit of testing products in sub-optimal conditions, mixing and matching components of varying prices in hopes of tripping things up or finding a flaw. As such, I took a pair $3,000 Viotti One loudspeakers and dropped them into my (entry-level and aging) KEF iQ surround system as the front right and left channels. I was concerned they wouldn't be powerful enough for that position, or that driver variances would disrupt the sonic illusions created by excellent movie and television soundtracks...
Nope, it worked great.
The Viotti Ones absolutely killed it, especially when paired with one or two subwoofers. In terms of demo material, the Ones excel at highly detailed and technical sound mixes. Recent favorites like Crimson Peak, Live. Die. Repeat., The Iron Gian, Arrival, and Bram Stoker's Dracula each revealed wonderfully delicate aural elements hiding within their mixes, waiting for the right speakers to bring them out.
Now, I wouldn't recommend this particular setup for optimum performance or aesthetics, but I came away even more impressed with the Ones' performance capabilities. In fact, if MarkAudio-SOTA ever saw fit to make a dedicated Viotti center channel speaker, you could add four to six One front, side, and surround-back speakers and have RIPPING-good surround setup (but don't forget Dolby Atmos).
I very much enjoyed my time with the MarkAudio-SOTA Viotti One stand-mount loudspeakers. Sure, they're on the pricey side and need a subwoofer to pitch in for bass-heavy content, but for those who don't want bulky towers, Viotti Ones reproduce sound with vivid clarity and transparency. Plus, they're unusually attractive, will make a nice addition to an audiophile's modern listening environment, include a 30-day money back guarantee, and you can even drop them into a surround system. Recommended!