FB: Not as mysterious as "Physics defying" perhaps but certainly unique even to this day. Anything else which you would say stands out about the Vivace Mini?
RG: In the end the Mini is a high-efficiency design. Despite its very small size and single driver, its sensitivity is 92dB and its load a flat 16Ω with obviously no crossover so the magnet of the driver becomes part of the amplification circuit. It is extremely compact for that type of spec and can fill a room with just a couple of high-quality watts. Each speaker also rests on a pair of fairly supple steel legs that act as absorbers with a fairly substantial impact on the final sound quality compared to rigid spikes.


FB: I know that what happened with Gemme Audio was a difficult experience and until now you have really been focused on your own new brand, Arteluthe. Can we take his first collaboration as a sign of greater things to come and a chance to see some of your other designs back to market as well?
RG: Absolutely! I am a designer. If I can focus on designing, I get the opportunity to bring to life new and exciting ideas. We have almost a dozen concepts on the books, some of which are in advanced prototype stages like the Vocé, a bigger version of the Mini and more of a descendant of the Katana than Vivace. The collaboration with Triode Lab has been very stimulating. It is sonic 'haute-couture' but we also share a passion for speakers of the 50s and 60s and we even have a project to bring back value kits based on the JBL and Altec designs of yore. This industry has changed. We need to adapt to survive. I can now pursue projects across multiple brands and not be locked into one single sonic signature which is liberating.


There is not much I can add to the introductions of the designer. The Vivace Mini is available in a range of colors as long as you like black or white. I got both for this review and the gloss black was stunning and easier to integrate into our décor but as always, it shows every fingerprint and speck of dust. My preference goes to the very forgiving shiny white but my wife was quick to point out that it does stand out too much in our darker natural wood interior. So it is a draw except that when it comes to color and interior design, my vote counts for naught so at our house, black wins. The steel spring-like footers easily screw into the bottom plate with nylon screws that should not be tightened too hard to allow the feet to act as suspension and absorb vibrations as they were designed to do. My only real complaint—and that's because as a reviewer I am fairly set in my ways—is that the Vivace Mini does not easily accept spades. Apparently it is possible to squeeze them in with just one point of each spade but it just did not work for the oversized spades I use. It will take bananas and bare wire easily but not spades… and all my reference speaker cables of course  have spades on the speaker end because that's what all my reference speakers handle better. I had to unearth a pair of cheap Cobalt Blue cables out of a moving crate to accommodate the Minis. I also tested them in our bedroom system where I was able to use a shorter pair of Genesis Absolute Fidelity speaker cables which cost more than the Vivace Minis themselves. I concluded quickly that the cheaper cables were a much better match. Viva la proletariat!


Moving to my auditions, the Vivace Minis proved very amicable to all styles of amplifiers. They do change character and emphasis but none of it was objectionable, just different flavours of a similar recipe. You should choose the amplifier based on the end result you are after, knowing that these will do fine with higher-powered solid state all the way to low-power SET and everything in-between. That in itself should not be a surprise to anybody who heard Robert’s designs before. They have always been equally at home with 300-watt behemoths and  3-watt SETs. My reference Ocellias simply can't say the same. They are very picky about who they go out to the dance with. I certainly expected a single 3-inch driver to be fussier than this one was. Any Fostex or Feastrex driver will telegraph its displeasure with less than ideal amplifier mates whereas the Finalé will just give you a different flavour without major objections. To spell it out, I tested that with a 3wpc 2A3 SET, 6wpc EL84 run as triode push-pull, 35wpc 5881 pentode push-pull Onix SP3, 25wpc solid-state FirstWatt F5 and 100wpc transistor Sphinx Project 10. The only thing missing on that list would be an all-powerful Gryphon Diablo yet I am ready to bet that it would merely produce yet another flavour without any major compatibility challenge.


What did not change regardless of amplifier were the typical qualities of a single-driver speaker, just pushed to the max. The Vivace Minis image amazingly and seem to completely disappear in the room once music plays. You cannot pin-point where the music comes from at all. The Ocellias are simply incapable of that disappearing act in good part due to their fairly impressive physical presence. The Minis on the other hand are simply not there, aided by the absence of discontinuity from 100Hz up and the absence of phase shift in that range. From the upper bass’ baritone range to the lower treble, you are hearing one transducer singing with one voice that is absolutely life-like, expressive, dynamic and captivating.


Obviously you can make this range sound richer, bolder and bigger with a triode like the 2A3 in the Triode Lab; or drier, faster and ultra dynamic with a FirstWatt F5 or Sphinx Project 10. Just so a consistent voicing remains. The image never really changes in its clarity and stability regardless of amplifier. What changes are the extremes and the scale of the image and obviously the harmonic richness the amplifier contributes. Similarly to what was described in the review of the original Vivace, staging is much wider than deep but depth can be influenced by oom and positioning as well as amplifier choice, with SET amplifiers being notoriously better at 'painting' 3D images than push-pull tube designs. As with any speaker, the further you can move them into the room and away from the front wall, the deeper they stage. Where my Ocellias fill the room and make the front wall disappear, the Vivace Mini stage stops at the front wall. In our bedroom I had limited opportunity to move them away from the wall. Here they painted a wide cut through the musical middle of the stage but not as much of a 3D image. In a similar environment the Rogers LS 3/5a image deeper but much narrower and the FJ OM omnis project in all directions but without much image specificity.