No matter how fast your car, on the German Autobahn there's always someone faster to crawl up your tail pipe, flash high beams and chase you out of the left lane. Audi-o is no different. Leaving one's fiscal comfort zone to play with dearer stuff leads to being taken over; eventually. Granted, it's not solely about spending more. Aside from bragging rights, that alone can just go sideways. But it'll happen if you deal with a product whose designer had the requisite engineering chops, good ears and smoked the extra cashish on sonically relevant not glitz items. With our resident speaker options topping out at ~€15K, the G4's £23'000, Dickie's track record and my own exposure promised an Audi A8 Autobahn moment. Expecting that was a given. I don't pursue assignments beyond my comfort zone just to battle sticker shock. As much as show encounters can, I vet them to raise likelihood that I'll report on relevant added expenditures. Spending more for little returns beyond the best of the less is no motivator. Breaking the sound barrier between one league and the next is.


As timing would have it, ancillaries of matching calibre had collected since I'd first put in my G4 request: an Aqua Hifi Formula discrete R2R DAC; Wyred4Sound's fully balanced STP-SE preamp in top Stage II upgrade; and Pass Labs' XA30.8 class A amp. For ultra power, I also had a pair of nCore-500 based monos doing 700w/4Ω and 550w/2Ω. Though our room had grown since this assignment was booked, I wasn't concerned over bass. Whatever might want a bit of fill could easily be handled by our Zu Submission subwoofer. Rather than deal with bigger passive speakers whose bass can't be trimmed, I prefer handling the first octave with an active sealed sub of sufficient adaptability*. That's why despite a 5.5 x 15 metre space with 6m gabled ceiling, I still would have picked the smallest G. Game on. Or should that be summit with something called G4? While on that number, men's tennis over the past few years has been dominated by the 'big four' of Federer, Nadal, Djokovich and Murray. In speakerdom, there wouldn't be consensus over an equivalent quartet though most should probably feel that Wilson and Magico belong. Based on just tradeshow performance, not market distribution or review density, I'd nominate Vivid. With these paragraphs, you now understand my excitement about finally hosting the smallest of these South African Giya sculptures.

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* "On the subject of the ports: yes, they are acoustically standard so the response below their 36Hz tuning is a 4th-order slope."

Laurence Dickie: "To unpack, after unscrewing and removing the lid, remove the two cardboard boxes with the grilles and the small wooden accessories box with the spikes and feet. Then tip the crate so the speakers are upright. Drag each speaker out by gripping the wooden base plates and remove the fabric bag. I would move the speakers into their approximate final position at this stage. Lay a blanket on the floor next to the speaker and tip it over onto its side. Remove the six bolts to release the base plate and screw in the six plastic feet or stainless spikes. It's easiest to make the connection while the speaker is still on its side. I've left our standard biwire links in position. Right the speaker and remove the protective foam sheet and place the grilles. Whether you use the plinth or not is a matter of taste of course but the tweeter height is a little low in the basic speaker. Actually, our Dutch distributor pointed out that they are about the right height for many Amsterdammers who apparently have a more laid-back attitude than most!"


The delivery van dispatched one big and one small crate, each one assembled from thick 1cm Plywood, lids secured with massive bolts. The bigger one's pallet spacer bars were augmented by wheels on one side, handles on the other to become a tidy roll-up job. The smaller one contained the massive reddish wood plinths laminated together from thick staves. To have leveling provisions, I opted for the sharp spikes beneath the speakers which meet inlay brass discs in the wood; then flat footers for the plinths.


No taller than our Albedo Audio Aptica transmission-line two-ways whose place they took whilst housing 5 drivers per side—only our old Zu Definition of yore had packed more driver heat in such a compact cab—I looked closely at the exposed drivers before mounting their magnetized grills.


The proprietary Vivid tweeter and its matching upper midrange sport unusually steep "pointy" domes whose contours are perfectly traced by the protective bridges.


The lower midrange's central dome is equally bulbous whilst the big surround is ready for big excursions. That excursion potential is scaled up even more for the sidefiring woofers.


Spinning up some ambient Burak Malçok, I knew right off that our subwoofer wouldn't be needed when the petite nCore 500 monos hogged the driver's seat.