I repeated this weird exercise several times with friends. After having listened to the Vivid for another ten minutes, we all completely forgot about this salient gap in tonal accuracy. I would say this highlights at the same time the power of big emissive surfaces and the power of our brain. It’s an undeniable fact that huge panels provide far more detailed tone. It’s also obvious that our brain adapts very quickly to significant variations of sound. The question becomes, would I be ready to abandon the stunning qualities of my oval K1 for significantly better tone? Sincerely, I don’t think so. They also do not deliver the most impressive bass. Looking at their four modestly sized woofers, it would be difficult to imagine that they’d easily explore the 15-20Hz region. Their bass response nevertheless is very nuanced and expressive. It simply lacks ultimate depth and slam. That’s the price to pay for preserving their stunning agility, seamless character and natural elegance. Once again, would I be ready to sacrifice one tenth of my K1’s skills for better bass? Absolutely not, despite enjoying church organ recordings better over the Magnepan 20.7. Against this background, I was ready to explore the uppermost level in the Vivid Audio lineup. This led me to arrange a pre-committed enthusiast’s review of the Giya G1 flagship with Philip Guttentag, Vivid’s co-owner & CEO.

Philip & Joël chez Chevassus.

Description. This time I invite you to start directly at the factory. Twice already I have covered the Durban facility. By now you might think  that the French have a Concorde flight between Paris and Durban to facilitate my 6moons assignments. But there is to my knowledge no direct flight between Paris and Durban. One must take a connecting flight at Tambo International Airport of Johannesburg. To keep it short, I this time only asked Philip Guttentag to take a few shots of my loaners’ manufacturing process. 

The G1 has the purest shape of the entire Giya line. That’s rather logical considering its original mother status. Whilst the Giya daughters of G2, G3 and G4 do easily compete with any contender on elegance, they look nevertheless like downscaled compromises against the mighty G1. The G1’s shape was defined according to  proven acoustic principles. In fact its shape and materials are not so much a matter of style as they conform purely to function. The Giya are made of a balsa-cored composite sandwiched between layers of quadraxial glass fibre. A specific vacuum infusion process injects resin into the whole structure which arrives reinforced with ten fibreglass grids placed laterally every six inches.

This enclosure design represents a high stiffness-to mass-ratio for a drastic reduction of internal resonances and standing waves. Like a sports car, the G1 is able to play hard, with enormous air pressures moving inside the cabinet. Yet it remains very stable and neutral. Considering this ultra-rigid light structure (each G1 shell weights no more than 12kg), the Vivid G1 might have absorbed more British design DNA from Lotus than Aston Martin. If you consider a Lotus Exige or Porsche 911 GT3 as the best options to approach state-of-the-art driving, you could be naturally attracted by the same spirit of direct contact with the road/music when listening to the Giya lineup. The painting process is similar to automotive practices and standard colour choices are rather large, with more on demand. I personally think that the standard white pearl makes for great combinations of shades according to variations of ambient light.

As you’ll appreciate, I wasn’t in unknown territory with my second pair of Vivid Audio speakers. In In fact Laurence Dickie employs the same midrange and tweeter across his entire range.  Let’s start then from the high frequencies down to the woofers which are exclusive to the Giya range.

The D26 is a metal dome tweeter with trademark tapered tube loading. It features an anodized aluminium diaphragm formed into a profile optimized by computer finite element modeling to push the first break-up frequency beyond 44kHz with a ring of high-modulus carbon fibre around thee edge of the aluminium dome. By working specifically on the profile of the dome to transform the usual hemispherical dome into a form of rotated catenary (familiar as the natural form taken by a chain suspended at both ends), Dickie succeeded in designing seamless-sounding drive units whose first break-up modes occur almost an octave higher than previously achievable with simple spherical aluminium shells. as a Vivid owner, I can easily attest to how that’s audible.

A radially polarized magnet system comprising eight segments of high-energy Neodymium-iron -boron is used to optimize the magnetic flux through the voice coil whilst having a very low stray field. The edge-wound aluminium voice coil ensures a perfect match between the aluminium dome diaphragm and gap flux. In fact, leading the way in tapered-tube loaded dome drivers, it relies on the largest possible hole in the central pole piece to allow the sound to radiate freely into the absorber by avoiding the use of a round disc magnet mounted within the voice coil.

Vivid Audio claim that the flux of the D26 is high enough to rip the magnetic particles out of conventional ferro fluids. As a result of a partnership with Ferrotec Corporation, they formulated a fluid capable of withstanding the extreme conditions imposed by the D26. The naturally low-leakage magnetic field focus creates a significantly higher maximum gap flux than a standard flat ring. According Vivid Audio, the D26 tweeter reaches a peak flux of 2.5T, roughly twice of what’s found in most 25mm tweeters. A 96dB/W efficiency level is further proof. I had opportunity two years ago to see an unmounted D26 and must say that the magnetic ring around the voice coil was rather impressive. It really looked like advanced engineering and the magnetic force was simply amazing. Replacing the magnet with an external ring and opening the central pole bore to the greatest possible diameter allows the rear radiation to travel unhindered into the absorptive tube.

D50 and D26, radial magnet system in insert

But Laurence Dickie’s efforts not only focused on ensuring that resonant effects would be kept out of the high frequencies. He also addressed the fundamental self resonance. Pressure from the rear of the diaphragm must be allowed to escape if this behaviour is to remain sufficiently low. A tapered hole in the centre of the pole piece thus smoothly couples the diaphragm to a fibre-damped exponentially tapered tube. This tube acts as an ideal enclosure that's completely free of resonances or reflections. The exponentially tapered tube behaves pretty much like a straight tube but occupies about a third of the volume. When adding the damping material which naturally compresses in the tube’s narrow end, it results in performance which exceeds that of a parallel-wall tube. To prevent possible interaction effects and structural resonant modes between magnet structure and horn absorber, the tube and magnet assembly are isolated via O-rings. In a similar way, the complete driver/horn assembly is isolated from the enclosure.

Putting down these words on the D26 tweeter, I realize how unusual it must seem to write so much about a single driver. Which company today can focus such creativity on a single drive unit? Perhaps MBL. Beyond that I see no any other possible contender. Even TAD with their sophisticated new coaxial drivers are more focused on materials and marketing rah rah. Vivid Audio and Laurence Dickie are about anything but marketing chat. That’s important to highlight since many audiophiles stop short with Vivid’s audacious form factors. Truly each step in the design of their speakers was guided by function not appearance.