Frederic Beudot
Financial interests: click here
Digital Source: Auraliti PK90 USB file player / SOtM sDP-1000EX / SOtM sMS200 [on loan]
Analog Source: VPI Scout 1.1, Lounge Audio LCR MkIII & Copla, Zu-DL103 MkII, Dynavector 10x5 mk5, Ortofon Quintet Black, Nagra VPS [in for review], Genesis Phono Gold [in for review]
Preamplifier: SOtM sDP-1000EX, Burson Conductor
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5, Triode Labs EL84TT integrated, Triode Labs 2A3i [on loan]
Speakers: Ocellia Calliope .21 Twin Signature, Rogers LS 3/5a, Zu Essence
Cables: Zu Varial, Ocellia RCA cables, Absolute Fidelity speaker cables, Zu Event MkII
Power Cords: Zu Mother, Ocellia power cables, Absolute Fidelity power cables
Powerline conditioning: Isotek Nova
Sundry accessories: Isolpads under electronics
Room size: 16'x21'x12'
Review component retail: $3'000/pr

Early showing still without the driver trim rings and suspension outriggers.

"To keep things short, I debuted my little single driver speaker and would like a review done. It is a very good speaker. I know everyone says that about theirs but I think I have better ears. In the single-driver realm, I doubt anything smaller than 3" can beat ours. I also think it sounds better and more exceptional than most new monitors or compact loudspeakers like the KEF LS50. It's a baby between me and Robert Gaboury of Arteluthe (formerly Gemme Audio). His speakers are amongst the best I've heard over the years and ours is the successor of his earlier Gemme Vivace Mini. A review would be even better if amps could be sent along because at 16 ohms, these are made for high-quality tube amps. A good 4 watts such as those from 2A3 amps is all it takes to have them sing. EL84 in 6wpc triode mode or 8 watts from 6BM8 will be even easier for those less experienced with triode/low-power tube amps. These smaller tube power ratings will sound better and control the speakers better than any 200wpc big Mac, Krell or such. They bring life to the music and deliver its sincere emotions. On another note, Canadian manufacturing is facing big uphill battles. The cost of parts has been raised numerous times and our dollar is now worth 30% less than the US dollar. It's the same issue they have in Australia and New Zealand." That was Frank Ng, customer care manager of Triode Lab, Finale Audio and Tube de Force from Scarborough/Ontario. Based on proximity, experience and the fact that he already owned a Triode Labs EL84TT integrated, for this review solicitation Frederic Beudot became the designated driver on our staff. - Ed

Later showing with the driver trim rings, suspension outriggers not yet finalized

Until recently Finalé, like sister company Triode Labs, focused exclusively on production of tube electronics manufactured wholly in Canada. Triode Labs are a boutique atelier where each piece is unique and customized to meet the needs of customers based on voicing preferences or partnering speakers. Finalé from the start was oriented toward small and more standardized production runs to keep building expenses lower and create gear of somewhat broader appeal whilst maintaining most of a house sound that's characterized by great transparency, dynamics and tight, controlled bass. Over the past year however, Finalé have been working on the release of their first speaker created in partnership with Robert Gaboury, veteran Canadian designer of Gemme Audio fame. Frank Ng and Robert Gaboury met at a Canadian audio show where both exhibited. Robert quickly learnt that Frank was a long-time fan of his speaker designs who had owned pretty much all of them over the years. Meanwhile Frank was able to convince Robert, a long time high-power solid-state aficionado, that well-designed and -built triode amps have a lot to offer which solid state can't quite replicate. From those discussions a friendship then partnership rose with the intent to jointly bring to market a cost-effective speaker that would show off the qualities of Finalé's amplifiers and resurrect some of the magic of Gemme Audio that was never completely replaced. Hence the Vivace project not only revives an older design but updates and upgrades it by leveraging what Robert learnt over the past decade whilst giving it a somewhat more compact form factor than its forebears. Robert Gaboury was kind enough to answer some of my questions regarding the new Vivace Mini and I translated some salient parts of our exchanges.

FB: The name of this new speaker clearly indicates how it is anchored in some of your past designs but it externally really is nothing like your past or current speakers. How does this Mini compare to the original Vivace?
RG: When Peter (Wolter), Frank (Ng) and I discussed the production of a speaker adapted to Frank's amplifiers, we thought of the Vivace as the starting point and evolved it from there. I designed the first Vivace in 2006 for Gemme Audio of which I was one of the co-founders. This first model was well received around the world and even was the object of a positive review in 6moons at the time. These new Minis are an evolution from the originals that builds upon what I have learnt over the past decade. One of the primary evolutions was a move away from the 4" Sigma Fostex driver of the original and pursue a brand-new transducer from Italian company FaitalPro. Not only is it an inch smaller, its efficiency is higher, it is more linear, more dynamic and has lower distortion. It simply is an all-around better driver which further benefited from some modifications to the core magnet I requested to yield a slightly warmer and wetter sound than the stock units. The enclosure itself was also improved. It is now significantly lighter yet more rigid thanks to the use of dual higher-density panels. The internal geometry was also revisited to adopt a similar design to what was used in all the later Gemme designs but with the added benefit of the truncated pyramidal shape contributing to the internal change as well.

FB: Okay, tell me more about that internal design change. What was the great secret of Gemme Audio and its "Physics defying" bass extension?
RG: First, it is important to note that it does not behave according to designs following the typical Thiele/Small parameters that predict the behaviour of speakers in simple enclosures, be they closed or ported. Had I tried to use this driver in such a design, the optimal volume would have been less than a liter (a quart for our US friends) with a port tuned between 100 and 150Hz and no dynamic ability to speak of due to the minimal excursion the transducer is capable of. Instead I use the 3-inch driver as an activator for the load. All frequencies above 100Hz are produced by the driver itself. Anything below is created by sympathetic vibrations of the speaker load. The transducer couples directly to the enclosure air which comprises two Helmholtz chambers connected via a truncated folded horn, the second chamber being also open to the outside via a tuned port. The mass of air put to motion then equals the mass of the membrane plus the mass of the air in the two cavities to result in an equivalent much larger membrane. The key to the design is that when air pressure is maximum at the port, it is minimum behind the membrane. This enables higher bass playback volumes with minimal excursion from the driver.