Markau­dio-sota Tozzi One loud­speaker re­view

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY THEO NICOLAKIS

Markau­dio-sota’s Tozzi One speak­ers de­liver mod­ern styling and audiophile sound with a small foot­print. They’re a per­fect com­ple­ment for apart­ment dwellers or any­one with a smaller lis­ten­ing room.

I first came across the Markau­dio-sota Tozzi One speak­ers at the 2017 New York Au­dio Show ( go.mac­world.com/17as). While vis­it­ing var­i­ous man­u­fac­turer demos, I saw the Tozzi One flank­ing a VPI turntable and a PS Au­dio Sprout in­te­grated am­pli­fier on a long dresser. The setup looked stylish and com­pact. Fast for­ward a few months and the Markau­dio-sota team sent me a sim­i­lar setup for this re­view.

Once I un­boxed the sys­tem, I ap­pre­ci­ated its com­pact di­men­sions even more. The PS Au­dio Sprout is about the size of a large ex­ter­nal hard drive, and the

Tozzi One mea­sure just 15.75 by 11.8 by11 inches each.

Markau­dio-sota of­fers a 30-day money back guar­an­tee ( go.mac­world.com/30dy) so you can try out the speak­ers in your home. The com­pany tells us it will even pay the re­turn ship­ping cost if you de­cide they’re not a good fit (when this ar­ti­cle was pub­lished, the page linked above in­di­cated the buyer was ob­li­gated to pay the re­turn ship­ping cost).

BULLSEYE

The Markau­dio-sota Tozzi One speak­ers fea­ture a sin­gle, full-range driver. Most peo­ple are ac­cus­tomed to see­ing two-way speak­ers, with a sep­a­rate tweeter han­dling the high fre­quen­cies and a sep­a­rate woofer han­dling the midrange and bass fre­quen­cies. Some au­dio­philes swear by sin­gle, full-range driver de­signs be­cause there are no cross­over net­works and phase is­sues to ad­dress.

In the case of the Tozzi One, that sin­gle driver is re­cessed in the cen­ter of the speaker’s wave guide, mak­ing the speaker look a bit like a tar­get. There are no fab­ric grilles ac­com­pa­ny­ing the speaker, so make sure lit­tle kids don’t put their fin­gers in the bullseye, po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing the driver.

The Tozzi One’s en­clo­sure feels solid. There’s noth­ing cheap or flimsy here. The speak­ers weigh in at 3.13 pounds each and come in your choice of char­coal, ruby, or pearl fin­ishes. The rear of the speak­ers have five-way bind­ing posts. You can use your choice of ba­nana plugs, spades, or bare speaker wire. The re­view setup came with ba­nana plugs.

The Tozzi One speak­ers have a nom­i­nal im­ped­ance of 6 Ohms, so you won’t have a prob­lem driv­ing these speak­ers with any in­te­grated am­pli­fier or A/V re­ceiver. You’ll want to use the bestqual­ity elec­tron­ics you can, of course, and the Sprout made for a good part­ner here. It’s an in­te­grated am­pli­fier, which means a two-chan­nel stereo unit with both a preamp (to han­dle your mu­sic sources and vol­ume) and an am­pli­fier (pro­vid­ing power to the speak­ers) in a sin­gle en­clo­sure.

The Tozzi One’s rated ane­choic fre­quency re­sponse range isn’t ter­ri­bly deep (80Hz to 22khz at ±6db). Us­ing test tone fre­quency sweeps from my Revel

LFO test CD, the Tozzi One speak­ers gave me bass out­put that ex­ceeded the pub­lished specs. If you use the ex­act same re­view setup out­lined here, you might see us­able bass into the 60Hz range, thanks to the PS Sprout’s de­sign, as I note fur­ther on in this re­view.

SIM­PLE SETUP

I set up the Tozzi One speak­ers with a slight toe-in on a 35-inch-tall book­case. The Tozzi One’s cab­i­nets tilt up slightly, which will serve them well in in­stances where they are set up be­low ear level.

The PS Au­dio Sprout in­te­grated am­pli­fier and U-turn Or­bit Plus Turntable (with acrylic plat­ter and Or­fotron OM 5E car­tridge) found a com­fort­able home be­tween the Tozzi One speak­ers.

A CAP­TI­VAT­ING VINYL EX­PE­RI­ENCE

I don’t think I’ve had any re­view gear that’s cap­ti­vated my house­hold’s at­ten­tion as much as the Tozzi One setup. My kids and guests were fix­ated by the de­sign and sound of the sys­tem. One of my kids asked, “Is it just me, or do the vinyl records ac­tu­ally

sound bet­ter?” Kids can no­tice a dif­fer­ence be­tween vinyl and dig­i­tal? You bet.

In fact, the Tozzi One cre­ated a tec­tonic shift in my house­hold’s lis­ten­ing habits. I found my kids pulling out record af­ter record from our house­hold col­lec­tion so we could play it. Per­haps the thing that shocked me most was see­ing a Supreme’s LP sit­ting on the turntable! My kids don’t even know who the Supremes are. Can the Tozzi One bring vinyl back into your home? Check.

As with most high-qual­ity mon­i­tor and mi­cro speak­ers, the Tozzi One ex­celled at cre­at­ing a fo­cused, de­tailed sound­stage. The Tozzi One played mu­sic cleanly and re­pro­duced mi­cro­dy­nam­ics well. It was easy to pick out in­stru­ments and vo­cals firmly placed in space and time. The Tozzi One rel­ished in re­pro­duc­ing well-mixed al­bums, such as Michael Jack­son’s Thriller and Bad. Com­plex mu­si­cal lay­ers on “Bad” were eas­ily dis­cernible, with clear ar­tic­u­la­tion and no sig­nif­i­cant loss of tex­ture.

As I men­tioned, the Tozzi One’s bass re­sponse ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions. For ex­am­ple, play­ing the 24-bit/192-khz high-res­o­lu­tion FLAC ver­sion of the Dark Knight Rises sound­track through the Sprout’s USB DAC showed both the Tozzi One speak­ers’ strengths and lim­i­ta­tions. The Tozzi One speak­ers did a de­cent job on the bass-rum­bling track, “Imag­ine the Fire,” but had no out­put what­so­ever on the same track’s deep­est notes.

Bass notes were punchy and dy­namic. Come to find out, the bass may have been re­ceiv­ing a lit­tle ex­tra ben­e­fit from the PS Au­dio Sprout’s am­pli­fier, which Stereophile Mag­a­zine’s John Atkin­son notes in his mea­sure­ments ( go.mac­world.com/jams). If you’re look­ing for elec­tron­ics to pair with the Tozzi One, the Sprout is a good op­tion.

Elec­tron­ics aside, it’s all about the mu­sic. I lost track of how many al­bums and artists I spun on the Tozzi One sys­tem. Adele, Pink, El­ton John, Yo-yo Ma, John

Williams, Mozart, Pearl Jam, and Sade to name just a few. I es­pe­cially en­joyed Sting’s Noth­ing Like the Sun on vinyl. The Tozzi One did a fine job re­pro­duc­ing silky smooth so­prano sax­o­phone notes present on many of the al­bum’s songs, in­clud­ing “Sis­ter Moon”.

I felt as though the Tozzi One needed to play at mod­er­ate to high vol­umes to open up. At lower vol­umes, the over­all sound is a bit thin, es­pe­cially in the midrange. No­rah Jones’ Come Away With Me was a good ex­am­ple. Jones’ breathy vo­cals seemed too re­cessed, as though there wasn’t enough midrange en­ergy. And no mat­ter what vol­ume I played the Tozzi One, the speak­ers couldn’t quite re­pro­duce the full body of pi­ano notes through­out the al­bum.

Whether you fall in love with the Tozzi One sys­tem’s over­all tonal bal­ance will be a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence. There are some trade-offs in the bass and midrange, but that comes with the ter­ri­tory at this size and price point. In other words, the Tozzi One isn’t a per­fect speaker, but it sure is a fun one.

And my kids don’t want that fun to stop. When they learned

The Tozzi One played mu­sic cleanly and re­pro­duced mi­cro­dy­nam­ics well. It was easy to pick out in­stru­ments and vo­cals firmly placed in space and time.

that the Tozzi One re­view set would be go­ing back soon, let’s just say it caused a bit of a stir.

A LONG-TERM MU­SI­CAL IN­VEST­MENT

Com­pact, stylish, audiophile-grade speak­ers that won’t break the bank are a rare find. At $445 a pair, the Mark­so­taAu­dio Tozzi One speak­ers are just that: Audiophile fun on a bud­get. Paired with a sim­ple in­te­grated am­pli­fier, you can set up the Tozzi One with your com­puter for a high-qual­ity desk­top sound sys­tem. For less than $1,300 you can put to­gether this com­plete re­view setup—ca­bles and all— for a full-blown vinyl, high-res, and Blue­tooth wire­less play­back sys­tem. If you want to save $200, Mark­sota-au­dio will soon be of­fer­ing the bun­dle at a dis­counted price of $1,095. This sys­tem is ob­vi­ously an in­vest­ment; but it’s a pur­chase you’ll en­joy for years to come. ■

The Tozzi One is a sin­gle, full-range driver de­sign. The en­clo­sure’s wave guide makes it look like a bullseye.

Vinyl, vinyl, ev­ery­where. The Tozzi One setup was a huge hit in my house.

The PS Au­dio Sprout in­te­grated am­pli­fier is smaller than a com­pact ref­er­ence book.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.