“High Fidelity”, No. 209, October 2021)

THE DESIGN OF THE LATEST VOLTA/BBS PLATFORM utilizes, in part, the design concept of our reference Finale/BBS model. However, the Volta was intended to be more versatile in practical application. First and foremost, the idea was to reduce its height without sacrificing the similarities of its main design features (three independent levels and dual BBS layout). As a result, placing the new platform on random furniture (e.g., tables, bookcases, dressers) should involve less wasted space, especially vertical space (compared to Finale, the new platform is almost twice as low). Of course, the platform can also be placed directly on the floor.
In order to achieve an end result similar to the reference platform with a significant reduction in size, the maximum load capacity of the new model had to be reduced. The permissible weight of devices that can be placed on the VOLTA platform should not exceed 60 kg (compared to the 150 kg for FINALE). In practice, there aren’t many home audio devices that weigh more than 60 kg, but you should keep this parameter in mind just in case.

Reducing the thickness of the tops of the new platform to 30 mm, as compared to the FINALE model (where the thicknesses were 70 + 50 + 50 mm), required changes in their internal structure.
VOLTA consists of three levels – the lowest level is additionally divided into two separate parts (two tops of the same width and height, but with different depths). In the new platform both tops of the lowest level and the top (working) level are made in the ‘sandwich’ technique but with different proportions of layers. Although the top of the middle level of the VOLTA platform is also made in the ‘sandwich’ technique, this time it’s not made from three layers of MDF and HDF, but from two types of plywood.
The heterogeneous physical characteristics of the tops (different density of each layer) make their specific mass not constant in space, so that they are characterised by selective absorption and filtering of mechanical waves by polarisation, twisting of the polarisation direction, and scattering.
The use of a dual BBS layout allows for phase alignment of the resonant response. The middle and upper top move horizontally in all directions, and depending on which one receives the stroke first, it will accelerate in a different phase relative to the other. The phases of vibration will not coincide, resulting in smooth resonance rise slopes. Let me add that the visual design of the VOLTA platform refers to our oldest platform SMO40, which was created exactly 15 years ago and is still on offer.

Work on VOLTA began in late 2019, shortly after the introduction of the reference platforms FINALE and GRANDE FINALE into permanent sales. Designing was not easy at that time. In early 2020, the pandemic broke out and we had to respond to unpredictable changes in a previously stabilised market. Already in the spring, serious logistical problems began, related to exports (editor’s emphases). Shipments to the United States were halted.
Subsequently, in order to avoid complaints for failure to meet delivery deadlines, logistics companies cancelled economy air freight orders and began to offer only priority options, in which the cost of transporting one pallet was often several thousand zlotys higher than in the economy version. Within the European Union, major shipping companies suspended deliveries of goods to individuals.
Already in February 2020, transports to the so-called ‘red zone’ in northern Italy were suspended. Pallets we shipped to the region in February 2020 were diverted back to Poland two days before Poland was locked down. That, more or less, was the logistical complication until late last year. Right now – summer 2021 – all of these export destinations are open for now. On the other hand, the same logistical barriers have taken their toll on the availability and prices of raw materials and supplies. The market began to lack steel, wood and almost all wood-based materials, and their prices increased (including veneer, MDF and HDF, plywood, cardboard).
In the U.S. in 2020, lumber prices increased nearly 300% and they continue to rise. This is the result of the demand for lumber associated with the construction boom in the U.S. The shortage of this material in the USA resulted in direct export (to the USA) and indirect export (to China) from Polish sawmills, which is felt by the Polish market (a similar situation prevails in other EU countries). Of course, this fuels the huge increase in the price of wood and wood-based materials on the market. Backlogged orders from large wholesalers and shortages of this material are pushing lumber prices to very high levels. Due to this situation, in most companies, the time of production processes increases and the prices of semi-finished as well as finished are on the rise.

At the same time, the pandemic has increased the number of orders in the audio industry worldwide. Manufacturers should be happy about this, but paradoxically it is a very hard time for them. Why? Demand for the commodity is growing rapidly, while at the same time production (supply) is hamstrung by the global market situation for raw materials, semi-finished materials, parts and transportation, and is hampered by labor problems, as well.
Our company, thanks to diversification of supply sources, is able to maintain continuity of production, and for now we are coping with the situation. However, this entails a lot more effort compared to pre-pandemic times. It remains to be hoped – and wished – that the announced ‘third wave’ of the pandemic will not be as heavy with negative consequences for the economy as were the previous two.