VOLYA AUDIO BOUQUET SPEAKERS REVIEW

Volya certainly have made their spot already at the Munich high-end audio show last year, where they’ve introduced their loudspeaker product line. Unconventional to the bone, hand painted objects of art stand out of multitude of deja vu boxes with little of no refreshing rates. 
Some speakers in our industry clearly started to mirror the momentum of car industry, where frequent updates are needed, but as a rule, they’re coming in slowish and safe way. This is especially evident with some German cars where it takes generations to morph into something very different. Safe and sound, seems to work for the larger portion of faithful brand customers. 
Volya Audio Bouquet speakers strikes with completely different impact. I’m sure they ignited mixed reaction at the Munich Show, but for starters, they didn’t let the crowd untouched. 

STATE OF THE ART

On contrary to slight design changes, Volya Audio from Germany took very different path where state of the art, actually involves the art part.

Like with anything in life, Volya visual direction won’t be every one cup of tea. With this particular design, they might even narrowed the potential customer to a few selected people, but with globalization fully expanded, I’m more then sure how Volya team knew exactly what kind of product they’re creating and who they’re targeting with thedesign approach and aesthetics. I’ve been told, that luxury hotel chain is already in process of serious evaluation for the Bouquets. One of a perfect matching partners indeed.

The Bouquet enclosures are hand-painted by Lyudmila Gorbulya the top class master of Petrikovskiy painting. Her family has been passing the secrets of folk craft down through generations. The traditional Ukrainian hand painting process goes way back to  1794 and its included into the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beauty is always in the eye of a beholder, but I was gobsmacked with the refined, hand painted details on the Bouquet enclosures when the Volya Audio Bouquet speakers finally arrived. I did seen them at Munich show, but with multiple things to operate with at the exhibition, the impressions can be a bit watered down. 
As a standalone object of art and in absence of expensive Accuton driver, a sole statue of such form and finesse would come with a hefty, five digit price sticker at least. Double or triple it, combine dealer/distributor margin, add parts paraphernalia and the sum quite quickly looses ultra expensive chasm. Hefty price tag is no longer so far fetched.

Its a fact, that high-end audio moved into luxury realms and with its given price Volya Audio Bouquet certainly pin points it. Anyone with at least a bit of appreciation and mileage in art will cherish first and foremost these beautiful Objet d’art appearance, that embodies something very special and different and secondly the time, efforts and knowledge infused into the audio voicing. 

TECHNICAL

Volya Audio Bouquet project was guided under the leadership of Yevhen Kozhushko, the engineer with 25 years of experience in constructing and implementing advanced technologies.

Each Bouquet speakers order is treated as fully custom-made product. Every pair comes with the personal serial number and it takes between 4 to 6 months to produce the. Once you’ve seen (and touch/feel) the hand painted covering art you’ll understand why so much time is needed for a master to concluded the painstaking process.
The loudspeaker enclosures are made in Ukraine from MDF boards with of variable thickness (35 to 50 mm) combined with internal ribbed stiffeners. 
By vertical layering of the boards, the parallel planes are absolutely absent. This greatly helps with the reduction of negative impact of standing waves at greatly affects sound quality. 
For the internal acoustical damping Volya Audio team used different layers of natural sheep wool implemented as silencers.

All the internal wirings are made with ultra-durable super pure copper cable. The crossover electronics components are coming from Mundorf® (Germany) / Goertz® (USA) and speaker binding posts terminals are from WBT® (Germany).
The crossover is separated on three sole boards. This minimizes cross-cutting hindrances. From ground up the Bouquet’s were designed as Bi-Wire type. Such approach reduces mutual hindrances of low frequency and mid-low/high frequency sections and offers more controlled amp driving.
As you’ve might already figured out all the speakers drivers are coming from the Accuton® (Germany):
Woofers: 280 mm Kevlar and ceramic sandwich membrane 
Mid-bass: 220 mm ceramic membrane 
Mid-range: 50 mm diamond membrane 
Tweeters: 25 mm diamond membrane


And the last, aesthetically most important part – the Petrikovskiy decorative painting is slowly, manually applied. 
When the hand painting work is done, final multilayered, ultra-strong lacquer coating protection is applied over the filigran art with protective transparent lacquer.   

OPERATIONAL

With Bouquet sensitivity of 86 dB (2.83 V/1m) and 4 Ohm impedance, they call for serious handling power. Although I’ve tried them with quite few different integrated and power amplifiers, they’re really lock well with monoblock power amplifiers, that have more generous power reserves in both capacitors banks and wattage.

Bouquets will show their ability to engage with music even with lower powered amps, but to get on the plane where they’re starting to breath will live energy, Volyas calls for power amplifiers with 200+ Watts and massively oversized power supplies.

Rear ported bass reflex design need a proper distance from the back wall to fully expand. It depends on the size and shape of the listening room, but in during my test, in all three different setup position, I’ve found them working best with at least 1 m distance from the back wall.

Volya Audio Bouquet crossover frequencies are cut at 150 Hz, 1000 Hz and  5000 Hz and implements (per speaker) 2 x 11” ceramic and Kevlar sandwich woofer, one 8” ceramic Mid-bass driver 1 x , single diamond Mid-range driver and one 2” diamond tweeter. I’ve didn’t notice frequency bumps or “holes”, but with the Mid-bass high positioning, the distance and speakers’ placement in the room are crucial in order to avoid time delay.

With 105kg net weight Volyas need at least four people to move the and asymmetrical design (600x600x1970) mm demands properly sized room to breath. 
I wouldn’t say they were hard to positioned, but they need the exact distance from the listening and mirrored toe in in order to engage their ability of micros coping pin point sonic portraying. Laser distance meter comes more then handy with the exact room placing. 

SOUND

As I love to crank up the volume and “ride the gain”, I’ve rather checked with Volya designer if that a wise move and I’ve surely didn’t want to destroy Accuton drivers. I was assured, that it was safe to go wild, probably due to 4th order crossover design.

I’m not the biggest fan of Accuton drivers for many of reasons and more importantly, I’ve never really enjoyed utmost musical blisses with speaker designs implementing these particular drivers. It can boil down to many depending factors of the system synergy and setup (or showroom conditions), yet there was always some unavoidable common sonic imprint across different brands of speakers I’ve listened to. Its hard to say what exactly common trait was. Among other things, perhaps the very different rendition of decays and delays comes to mind.

Its hard to talk about the proper execution of any speakers design as its underlined by the designer vision, but let brain storm anyway. Ceramic drivers from ground up radiate with certain feeling of non ability to completely escape from their inherited “material” imprint. Quite few upper echelon audio companies already tried and are trying hard to push the bar further, but still with very mixed results. Sonic wise, the final outcome is still farer from what’s expected from such premium pricing loudspeakers. As always, I’m keeping myself open minded and ready to experience the progression or proper partner ing. Back to Volya…

So what’s different with Volya Audio Bouquet speakers if anything at all? For a starter, the shape of the enclosures is something of wild difference compared to anything seen so far and I’m more then sure, it has a strong influence on the sonic outcome.  

After visual scan, first thing, that came to mind was traditional Lute stringed instrument. Without a doubt  inspiration behind the Bouquet seemed to be sparkled with the vision of the bespoke, ultimate musical “instrument”, that will suit particular ears, minds and hearths. Both of my aural and visual impacting was encapsulated with Bouquet’s distinctive aura.

By default Accuton drivers act very different from typical paper cone, being my usual, preferred (but not exclusive) choice. As mentioned before, the particular decays and delays seems to disappear too quickly from the sonic canvas with most of the speakers that use ceramic drivers. This unwanted phenomena is usually instantly recognizable, yet Volya Audio Bouquet speakers acted surprisingly different. Was it due to the unique shape, crossover design or combination of everything?

Even more positively refreshing, the diamond midrange and tweeter exhibited the airiness and liquidity more often associated with compression and ribbon based drivers.

Especially with metallic instruments, the lightness and amplitude shifts were capable of drama not expected at all to be honest. I’m sure that further and deeper elaboration calls for some hands on musical references, but I was already happy happy with the newly discovered potency of the diamond drivers…

MUSIC

Donald Fagen – Morph the Cat
Both Mr. Fagen and Steely Dan can be to quickly sunken into to the audiophile sauce, where the music aspect seems to become irrelevant. Not really! I like and love both Fagen’s and Steely Dan outputs for their complex music, wit lyrics, non typical chord progression, special mood settings and non the last for the great sound. 

Morph The Cat is one of those album that will simply let “make it or brake it” for any speaker under the evaluation. In a way this album can sound very nice even with mediocre speakers (and system) yet the real complexity start showing with when you move up the ladder. 
On regulative, well balanced system Donald’s vocal starts to find its own place with believable three dimensionality and the rest of the instruments forms a relief like structure, that slightly lurks at the binaural headphone listening experience. 
Morph The Cat off beats/stops and chord changes density might not on the same level, as the Steely Dan’s primes. Then again, there are more then enough music complexity to derive any loudspeakers’ momentum.   
Every now and then I need a healthy intake of Fagen’s sophisticated, sardonic trans/funk soul to level my safe dosage of melancholy :). Volya Audio Bouquet speakers managed to cover the full bloom of this expertly recorded album with grander portion of distributed leveling energy. Most importantly there was proper balance, that could handle this albums completeness. 
Boquets also offered higher count of spatial cues, that easily formed emotional bound.  
Jazz at the Pawnshop – Album by Arne Domnérus and Georg Riedel
I don’t even remember when I’ve lastly used legendary Jazz at the Pawnshop in on of my reviews. Yes, its an overused tracker, that probably falls in the same territory as Hugh Masakela – Stimela, Rebecca Pidgeon – The Raven etc.
Still. There is so much going on within this record, that will alway reveal the ability of any speaker and transducer to reconstruct the live, multi-session recording made by Gert Palmcrantz at Jazzpuben Stampen in Stockholm, Sweden way back in 1976. 
Spatial landmark and the atmospheric depths as well as the so called freeform floating of the instrument’s notes being presented believable are not a minor task for any speaker. You can get small portion of the reality and drama on sufficiently priced audio system, but there is so much more to discover by moving up the ladder. 
Especially with Bouquet’s diamond tweeters and mid range drivers the live scene density started to emerge with superabundant macro and micro detail structure. 
To reach certain level of density, that includes high enough amount of acoustical focus points and cues calls for something much more transparent by default. This is where Bouquets allowed a grander view into the live happening even with lower level listening most defiantly connected with the Accuton diamond mid and tweeter drivers and dedicated Bouquet’s crossover.
There is something highly valuable if music is coming from the much darkening space and Bouquets extracted the musical informations and portrayed them on much blacker canvas. Sort of exploration of Anish Kapoor’s blackest black background and on top joined with multiple sonic layers enriched by the subtle, small universe of feather like detailing. 
A surprising and encouraging act!

CONCLUSION

We’re witnessing exponential high-end audio market reality, where even 120K speakers do not represent highest embarking. With speaker systems reaching out not only at half million, but at whooping one million plus mark, the price structure surely feels distributed at least a bit more “sane”.
If Kharma Grand Enigma Reference speakers system cost around 1,5 million dollars and implements familiar Accutron drivers (although more of them), then Volya Audio Bouquet speakers at 120.000 EUR surely represent quite different value.

For many if not most, the down to earth pricing logics instantly falls into insane label. Its logical… Most audiophiles and music lovers cannot even dream around such luxuriant pricing schemes. 
Still, like in high-end watch or luxury sports car industry, there are many enthusiasts, that can appreciate the art of extreme, where things are pushed forward in exploration of the ultimate performance and art of the trade. 
I see Volya Audio Bouquet Speakers as exactly such gem. It takes courage, exuberant enthusiasm and bold nature to produce and manufacture something so unique and extraordinary as Bouquets. 
On contrary to many naysayers, I’m enthralled and encouraged with such exotic takes and explorations. Its true, that not every exotic and extreme ultra high-end audio venture and product reaches the certain-needed level, that is worthy of such labeling. These days many companies are trying to enter high-end audio with one and only goal; to exploit the market with utterly prices, without offering anything new, significant and challenging. Esoteric for the sake of esoteric and high prices tagging for the sake of uber expensive make… Volya Audio Bouquet Speakers are different players!
One of the luxuries of being a reviewer and doing this professionally are the opportunities to try out and evaluate such unique products. Many of my friends, readers, followers, distributors/dealers and manufactures constantly point out, how I’v got the best job on the planet. I can wholeheartedly agree. Such independence do come with their own set of challenges, but the freedom of continuous ultra high-end audio products exploration outweighs the shortcomings. I am a happy, but too often sleepless camper :).

Believe it or not. Its hard work infused with lot of fun and enjoyment. I order to hold on to the perpetuum mobile sheer enthusiasm comes as mandatory. This is why, when products like Volya Audio Bouquet loudspeakers comes along, the kerosine that fuels my enthusiasm engine is purred directly on my fire :). I guess at the end of the day we’re all benefiting from these experiences. 
Volya Audio Bouquet loudspeakers seemed to have land from another, almost surreal planet, where everything can be done with much slower pace and where the path of creation matters. 
Its something I’m highly cherish in the traditional Japanese hand crafts. For them, the crafting path is as sacred as the end result if not even more sometimes. Bouquets follows similar path with the way they’re are being made. They offer a visual and sonic marveling of different kind and they’re coming from people with quite different set of rules. 
Call me particularly snobbish, but I could happily envision myself enjoying the aural explorations in a either aristocratic settings or contemporary, ultra modern surrounding with Volya’s vibrant creation. 
We’re often reminded, how life’s to short for casual pleasures and I’m more then sure, that people with the proper check balance and soft spot for this particular Ukrainian work of art will fully agree.
I’ll be happy to discover what future brings fro Volya Audio. As it seems new NoLimits speakers are already revealing the path being taken. 
Let me end with a virtual sticker, that Volya Audio Bouquet loudspeakers could easily carry; “With love from Ukraine”.•
Matej Isak

PRICE

120.000 EUR without VAT

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Sensitivity: 86 dB (2.83 V/1m)
Maximum power: 240 W
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Frequency range: 25 Hz-50000 Hz
Type of low frequency design: bass reflex with back port
Crossover frequencies: 150 Hz, 1000 Hz, 5000 Hz
Woofer: 2 x 11” ceramic and Kevlar sandwich
Mid-bass driver: 1 x 8” ceramic
Mid-range driver: 1 x 2” diamond
Tweeter: 1 x 1” diamond
Weight: 210kg/pair
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 600x600x1970 mm

CONTACT

Volya GmbH
Saarpfalz-Park 1a
66450 Bexbach
Germany