Here we have a hi-fi company that does things differently. The products that Markaudio SOTA make do not follow convention as you can see from the photographs. Dynamic Headroom visited the Markaudio SOTA room at the Sound & Vision Show to learn more about this unique company.
Markaudio SOTA – a brief history
Mark Fenlon established Markaudio in the UK but later moved out to Hong Kong. Mark is a “driver guy” whose focus is on driver design first and foremost. The products are energy efficient, light, effective and environmentally friendly. The Markaudio driver uses aerospace-grade mixed alloys which are just 150 microns thick, therefore less material is used, lowering costs and helping the environment.
Markaudio SOTA, the sister company to Markaudio, also use these drivers in their finished speaker products. What you see on this page are some examples of the products produced by Markaudio SOTA. DIY speaker building enthusiasts can buy the Markaudio drivers separately.
An Italian designer by the name of Andrea Ponti designs the cabinets for Markaudio SOTA while construction takes place in China. This fits the ethos of the company: “Combines Italian design flare with British and Asian engineering.”
Markaudio SOTA Tozzi Two
This unusual looking speaker you see above is the Markaudio SOTA Tozzi Two. This is a high-end desktop loudspeaker with a single driver. Having just one driver means that no crossover is required, thereby reducing distortion and providing a clearer & purer sound. The base of the speaker has a threaded hole so that it can be attached to a camera tripod! Very unusual but clever too. Photography is the inspiration behind the cabinet design too – the concentric circles focusing on the “lens” in the centre.
The Tozzi Two is for near field listening because it is neither large nor powerful enough to fill a room with sound. These are best used on a desk, hooked up to a compact amplifier, to provide audiophile quality sound while you work. The driver itself is a 5cm SOTA 5A variant single suspension all-range driver.
Don’t expect deep bass frequencies from the Tozzi Two, you won’t get them. If you value music which is midrange heavy such as classical, jazz or folk then these will work for you. What you will get is an incredibly realistic sound that is captivating. The Tozzi Two can be yours for just over $1000.
Also available is the Tozzi One which uses a simpler driver design and less expensive cabinet and sells for $445.
Markaudio SOTA Cesti MB
Pictured below is the Markaudio Cesti MB, a bookshelf speaker which is available for $995. Does that driver look familiar? It should! What you see there is the SOTA 11 all-range driver which provides a theoretical (anechoic) frequency range of 40Hz – 25kHz. Real world performance will not be as good as that.
Again you have a single driver here, sans crossover, providing a pure sound that remains as faithful as it can to the original music. The shallow waveguide helps to disperse sound out into the room. The larger driver means that these are more room friendly than the Tozzi so are more “hi-fi” and less “desktop”. The Cesti MB comes in three colours: black, white and red.
The Cesti MB is designed to be flexible in positioning in your room. To that end, it produces a “brighter” sound when heard straight-on but the this reduces when listening at an angle. The waveguide throws a wide sound out into the room which means they should be used firing forwards.
Also available from the Cesti range is the larger stand mount, Cesti B ($1895) and the floor standing Cesti T ($3495). The larger models have more than one driver so therefore require a crossover. Electrical interference and loss is reduced because the crossover has a minimal number of components. The crossover is a second order design with a gentle curve so that the two Markaudio drivers blend together nicely.
Markaudio SOTA Viotti One
Here we have a handsome looking stand mount speaker called the Viotti One. This is designed by Andrea Ponti and is supposed to “combine the fluid curves of 1950s modernism with cutting-edge wraps for an elegant, minimalist look”. Well it certainly does look a lot more “fancy” than the other designs.
The photographs here don’t really do the Viotti One justice. The black facia on the cabinet is covered with velvet – yes velvet – which I have never seen on a speaker before. The curved shape of the cabinet reduces unwanted panel resonances. There are two drive units: a SOTA 5 cone tweeter and a SOTA 11 cone mid-bass, both of which are acoustically isolated to prevent cross-interference.
The Viotti One comes with a dedicated stand and retails for $2995. All Markaudio SOTA products are sold directly via their website.
Also on show in the room was a DIY made speaker that was showcasing the Markaudio drivers. It looked unfinished in that it has no veneer but demonstrated how easy it is to build your own speakers if you have a bit of carpentry knowledge. More expensive cabinet designs are available with very similar drivers.
A variety of electronics were used in the room from Innuos, Graham Slee and Musical Fidelity. Nothing overly expensive here, the idea being to demonstrate how good the Markaudio drivers are. A point well made.