MarkAudio-SOTA Tozzi One loudspeaker review: Audiophile sound in a small footprint

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. 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 x
11.8 x 11 inches each.

MarkAudio-Sota offers a 30-day money back
guarantee
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 is a single, full-range driver design. The enclosure's wave guide gives it a 'bulls ey
MarkSota Audio

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

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 of course want to
use the best-quality 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 come in three different colors.
MarkAudio-Sota

The Tozzi One come in your choice of three colors.

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.

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

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

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 been receiving a little extra benefit from the PS Audio
Sprout’s amplifier, which Stereophile Magazine’s John Atkinson
notes in his measurements.
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, P!nk, 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”.

The PS Audio Sprout integrated amplifier was smaller than a compact reference book. Theo Nicolakis

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

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

The Tozzi One has five way binding posts on the rear. MarkAudio-Sota

The Tozzi One has five way binding posts on the rear.

An long-term musical investment

Compact, stylish, audiophile-grade speakers that won’t break
the bank are a rare find. At $445 a pair, the MarkSota-Audio
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 for a
discounted price of $1,095. This system is obviously an
investment; but it’s a purchase you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Correction: This article was updated shortly
after publication to correctly report the turntable model used
in the review. We also updated MarkAudio’s-SOTA’s return policy
(we were initially provided with inaccurate information). 

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