January 2009 Brett Gideon, Tone (NZ)
It's been said many times before, but despite the dominance (and
eventual decay) of digital formats, the humble turntable has managed to
survive - in much the same way as lizards, crocodiles and our own
tuatara after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Now, of course, there is
the download phenomenon, and recent sampling of network music servers
has me convinced that even the CD may be heading to oblivion. So why is
there such fascination with crackly, fragile and unwieldy 12-inch
records? Because, adherents including myself argue, vinyl still
represents the pinnacle of humanity's attempts to capture audio and
preserve the musical moment. There is a certain sonic 'rightness' about
vinyl when played on a quality turntable that has eluded the best of
digital, even the much lauded and now virtually extinct SACD and 24/96
DVD-A. When done correctly, a record just sounds better.
I was lucky enough to experience high-end vinyl replay at a recent
demonstration at Auckland's Shore Hi-Fi, courtesy of British turntable
manufacturer Avid and its spectacular Volvere. High-end turntables are
usually dramatic exercises in style and build quality, and my
expectations were realised in full-the Volvere is quite stunning piece
of objet d'art. A suspended design, the black sub-chassis, arm
board and heavyweight platter (with composite cork mat) sit atop three
beautifully turned metal suspension pillars. The turntable is supplied
sans tonearm and cartridge, so for this demo a Naim ARO unipivot arm was
used along with a very rare Fidelity Research FR1 mk3 low output moving
I was expecting the sound to be detailed and pacy, and my listening
tests confirmed those attributes, as well as offering a few nice
surprises. First onto the massive platter was Santana's 1970s
jazz-fusion epic Caravanserai, and I was impressed by the
ability of the Volvere to extract detail from this old recording.
Carlos's guitar came alive, bass lines and subtle percussion were easy
to pick out of the recording and, more importantly, the music had a real
swing to it. That was a good start, but things took off from there as
the first notes of 'I Can See Clearly Now' by the Holly Cole
Trio percolated into the room. This was stunning sound quality, and
imaging from the system was breathtaking... detail from the double bass
was just so real; I could almost reach out and touch the instrument
while Holly's vocals pierced through the recording like a vocal epee. Oh
boy this was great!
And it didn't stop there, either. American singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier's Mercy Now
album was carefully placed on the Volvere, the arm delicately lowered
and the fragile stylus began its musical journey in the lead-in groove.
This recording is extremely gritty with lots of reverb, completely
different from the lush treatment on the Holly Cole disc. Gauthier's
atmospheric vocals ached along with the plaintive harmonica, while the
kick drum took on an almost timpani-like character. This stripped-down
recording allowed all the emotion of the music to flow through the
system and into this reviewer - effortlessly.
Other discs from the likes of Pearl Jam, Morcheeba and Hans Theessink
were sampled during this most enjoyable afternoon, and all with quite
superb results. What struck me most about the Avid Volvere was its
ability to communicate the expression of the music, so while it is an
expensive component, it would represent a fine investment in musical
enjoyment for those who can afford it. It needs partnering equipment of
equal calibre and a well thought-out room, of course, but the stunning
Avid Volvere is quite simply a superb example of audio equipment done
July 2008 Steve Harris, HiFi News (UK)
Customer System Review including Volvere Mk3
'Most of my collection is classical, but since that turntable's turned
up I can't stop listening to rock and pop. Led Zeppelin and things that
really get to me - I've turned into a Neil Young fan, Alison Krauss ...'
'I was looking for something that was going to be very musical and also
good at rejecting surface noise. Anyway, they put that together for me,
and I just couldn’t believe the sound when it came here. I'm still very
impressed with it.'
October 2007 Jason Kennedy, HiFi Choice - (Editors Choice) (UK)
Avid has grown to become one of the UK's foremost turntable makers
thanks to the popularity of its heavyweight, sprung-subchassis designs.
The Volvere is its base model and its appearance in these pages marks
the first major revision that the design has had since its introduction.
The Volvere has changed in a numbers of small but significant ways; the
main bearing was originally made from aluminium but is now fashioned
from stainless steel, while the record clamp and adjustable feet are now
scalloped rather being knurled. This is both easier on the fingers and,
in our opinion, also more attractive. More importantly, the thread on
the clamp has been coarsened so it’s much quicker to put on and off, a
significant factor given that you have to do this every time you change a
record. The suspension has also been changed to allow adjustment from
above with a supplied Allen driver, whereas previously you adjusted it
at the side. Another change that Avid has made to the suspension is the
way that the damping 'O' rings now hook onto screws on the underside of
Once in action, the Volvere delivers a substantial sound. Its forte is
bass, which it delivers with a weight and power that's rare among
turntables at this price. If digital has any advantages over analogue,
then bass is its trump card; silver discs can't match the natural sound
of vinyl, but they do generally offer more powerful bass. No more,
though. Here, vinyl has a weapon with which it can compete against
digital on its own terms. You want slam, grunt, girth even? You got it.
Further up the band, things are pretty decent too...it keeps meticulous
time and delivers a detailed and stable soundstage that you can walk
into. The treble is well extended and has more sparkle than our
reference SME 20A, the lap steel guitar on Joni Mitchell's Hejira album
sounding uncannily real in its capable hands. The quality of the treble
is also responsible for the precision of the bass.
Perhaps surprisingly, you don't get crunchy bass without clear-cut
treble. The Volvere is more on the ball when it comes to rhythm and
timing, surprisingly making the SME sound relatively cumbersome in
With the Naim Aro unipivot, Avid's custom-made sled base, the Volvere
turns into a pacier, more nimble sound that encourages extended
listening sessions, despite delivering less of the deck's bass power.
Unipivots tend to be more fluent and less mechanical sounding than rigid
bearing arms, and the Aro did precisely this while delivering good
solidity of image and an attractively open and spacious sound, albeit
one which seems to major on image width rather than height. There's
still plenty of bass with the Aro, just not quite as much - the action
being centred on the midband, the heart of the music. You also get a
sense of better bass articulation because it's not quite as extended;
bass lines tend to be more nimble and give the overall sound the classic
The new Volvere is a welcome replacement for what was already a very
good turntable. It has a good deal of power associated with the bigger
Avid's and delivers a solid and precise sound that makes a lot of
competitors sound decidedly weak. If it's not as refined as some, that's
because its strengths lie elsewhere. However, given the price, it
represents a definite benchmark.
August 2007 Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio (USA)
I love the aesthetic beauty of a suspended turntable and appreciate the
sonic benefits of said design, however as you well know, some of these
designs can take a while to set up correctly. Not the AVID Volvere; a
quick read of the manual, a double check of the settings and a few
minutes later I was setting up the supplied SME 309 tonearm. Half an
hour later, I was spinning records!
Actually, I had an evil plan; I had recently acquired an SME 10
turntable and whichever of the two I liked the best would get a
permanent spot as my reference turntable.
AVID's Acutus tips the scales at $19,000 and is a fantastic turntable,
easily competing with the best of the best. However the Volvere is much
more affordable at $5000. You can step up a notch to the Volvere Sequel
which is another $3000 and this possesses a beefier motor and an
outboard speed control. The good news is that the Volvere tested here
can be upgraded to a Sequel later date by purchasing an upgrade kit. I
really think that AVID is to be commended, allowing you a path to keep a
component that you are very fond of as your system grows.
In case you aren't familiar with AVID, they have been over in the UK
making turntables for 20 years now; this is not a "new" company by any
means.AVID also provides design and machining expertise to other high
technology industries as well, so these folks are truly masters of their
Thanks to a wide range of mounting plates, you can put just about any
tonearm on the Volvere. If you are an SME fan like me, you are in luck,
because the Volvere comes pre-drilled for an SME arm, so no additional
mounting hardware is needed. Again, I would like to stress how easy this
table is to get up and running. It was very well packed and only took a
few minutes to get ready for assembly. Once assembled and level with
tonearm in place it was time to play music!
For those stepping up from a decent 1000-2000 table, the first thing you
will notice is just how much more music is lurking in those grooves of
yours!! My old faithful P25 with all the mods that has served me really
well over the years. Kapow! Everything got a lot bigger, with a lot more
space and air between the notes right away. Whiles we often agonise
over swapping cables, or other upgrades, a move like this provides
I checked speed accuracy with a strobe and my SME disc; the Volvere was
spot on and I could not detect any other speed or rumble related
problems. Their bearing is very quite, providing very deep backgrounds
to whatever music I was listening to. Because I have a very thick
concrete floor in my studio, the suspension of this table was not as
important in terms of walking around interference might be in some
homes. But, when I set it up in my living room, with bounce subfloor it
was a completely different story; the suspension was very effective
One sure way to clear out a room full of audiophiles is to put Chicago's Free Form Guitar
on the turntable; it works every time. But seriously, I've taken a new
interest in this because it's another one of my favorite wacky records
for listening to spatial anomalies and to MoFi version is quite good
indeed. And I'll make you listen to it at very high volume if you come
over to my house and start whining about interconnects! If you can blast
this song with no feedback, your table is dialed in! Of course the
Volvere passed this with flying colors as well.
But let's get serious about listening for a minute and get back to some real music. Spinnig a copy of Prokoviev's Excerpts From Romeo and Juliet
(Sheffield Lab) really helps reveal the character of this table. It has
a very open and airy presentation, with a very low noise floor. Real
instruments float in the soundspace rather nicely and there is a good
dose of front to back depth as well as left to right width. The Volvere
will reproduce a good deal of weight, especially for a turntable in this
price category. When the Dances of the Knights kicks in, it
really grabs your attention! I suspect that taking it to the next level
and upgrading to a Sequel will only enhance this aspect of the Volvere's
This table did a great job, no matter what I threw on its eleven pound
platter. It is nice and dynamic and made listening to a lot of my
favorite jazz and popular music records very enjoyable. Listening to
some of my favorite albums going through everything from Bob Dylan to
Led Zeppelin again revealed the Volvere's ability to not only reveal the
low bass grunt, but also reproduce the rest of the musical spectrum in a
very tuneful and enjoyable way. The Volvere does a great job with music
possessing inner detail and can rock when required. Some accuse
suspended tables as being soft, mushy and less defined than non
suspended tables. While I had more of this experience with other
suspended tables, this was not the case with the Volvere.
So, did the Volvere stay or did it go? Rather than agonise over this
decision, the Volvere stayed to become an integral part of my growing
turntable collection. At $5000, this table mated with a good arm and
cartridge will get you more than waist high into the waters of great
analog performance, with the promise of the Sequel motor and power
supply upgrade taking you even further. Until that new motor and power
supply get here, I managed to upgrade the arm on the Volvere to the SME
This combination offers a very easily heard improvement in the
resolution and refinement of the sound, so if you can make the stretch, I
would suggest it, but I am very good at spending other peoples money!
I can easily recommend this turntable with good conscience.
March/April 2002 Jimmy Hughes, HiFi+ (UK)
"Enter the Volvere....It certainly offers more than a taste of the
Acutus. And while the cheaper turntable does inevitably fall short in
certain key areas, its overall performance is exceptionally fine. Indeed
without a direct A/B comparison, there could be times when you'd be
hard pressed to tell the difference."
"The Volvere might not be the ultimate turntable on the planet, but it needs no excuses making for it. None at all."
"...your cash buys plenty of good solid engineering-the Volvere looks and feels the class act it is."
"The massive ribbed sub-chassis is exceptionally rigid, with cut-outs
ready to take a variety of tonearms, including SME, Rega and Linn. Which
means the Volvere can be used with most arms on the market with no need
for separate arm boards or drilling-useful if your're thinking of
changing arms at some future date. For Rega arm users there's a special
plate that screws into the base of the arm, allowing cartridge vta to be
The sprung sub-chassis is centred by three rubber O rings keeping the
whole platter/arm assembly stable in relation to the drive motor while
allowing up and down movement. This ensures excellent isolation, while
taking awat the tendency for the whole assembly to move in a lateral
direction when excited. The system itself is very simple but effective.
33 and 45rpm speeds are avalable at the touch of a button, and the
platter is fitted with a rubber ring to damp resonance."
"...overall it seems pretty easy to set up. Once installed, it shouldn't
need much (if any) adjustment. It's designed to be non-tweaky. But what
of the sound? First impressions aren't always reliable, but the thing
that immediately stood out with the Volvere was its exceptional
rock-like stability; the music sounded solid and focussed. It sounded
like the stylus was in total contact with the groove walls at all times,
and thus able to follow each undulation with precision and ease."
"The sound was extremely clean and refined, lending a smooth effortless
quality to the reproduction. At the same time, dynamics were wide and
the music sounded powerful and solidly focussed."
"So the Volvere immediately created a positive impression by virture of its sheer unflappability."
"Clearly the Volvere was providing a firm stable support, allowing both
arm and cartridge to give their best. Surface noise was extremely low,
as was extraneous hiss and rumble.Speed stability was rock solid."
"Overall, the music had a CD-like focus and precision, but minus CD's
tendency to be clinical and overly analytical. Tonally, the sound was
fullbodied and smooth, but not overlywarm or rich. Bass was firm and
tight, while the upper treble wasextended yet quite sweet and
oftensuprisingly smooth and mellow."
"Although I'd describe the Volvere's musical presentation as detailed
and crisp, rather than warm and beguiling, never was the sound cold or
"The Avid record clamp is brilliant at flattening warped LP's.
Sonically, the clamp firms up the lower frequecies, resulting in tighter
"I want an inky-black background, no peak level distortion, no pitch
waver, and no click and pops. Unreasonable? You bet. But the Volvere
gets close to that impossible ideal - closer than you've any right to
expect given the crudeness of a stylus tracing a wobbly groove in a bit
August 2001 Ketan Bharadia, WHAT HIFI? (UK)
"This Volvere is a simple deck to set-up, with easy adjustments to allow
you to level the base and suspension, the latter being a clever design
that maintains the correct spring rate throughout its range of
adjustment. The result is a suspension that should bounce evenly, no
matter what type of arm is fitted."
"There can be no questioning the fine build and finish of this turntable..."
"There's no excess richness in the bass to make records sound 'nicer',
nor does this deck round off any dynamics excesses to make the sound
"Dynamics are strong, and the Volvere's delivery brings the musician's technique to the fore."
"The lowest frequencies are held in an iron grip that's a world away
from the soft and blurred bass that most of its rivals dish out. This
makes it particulary easy to appreciate the decay of the lowest piano
notes in this recording and so make the whole piece that much more
"The Volvere's combination of composure, resolution and control works well on all types of music."