A Fantasy Come True
Ohhh My God… Explosively Dynamic. Lightning Fast. Incredibly Articulate. Highly Extended. Insanely Detailed. Organically Coherent. Tonally Natural. Chameleon-like with all music. Take your pick.
I guess you can probably tell I liked the Vivid Giya G1. A lot.
Ok, let me take a pause from hyperventilating and give you some background.
A few months ago Constantine Soo gave me a call and asked: “If you had the choice of reviewing any speaker you desire, what would you choose?” What the heck do you mean by that Constantine!?! He said if I gave him a list of three speakers he’d see if he could line up a review of one of them. My brain immediately said “Whoa!”
Fast forward a few weeks later. I had reluctantly whittled down a seemingly impossible-to-reduce list to seven, called Constantine to tell him that I was seriously conflicted about which of the seven could be eliminated to take it to three finalists.
My list included several speakers I was very impressed with, including the MBL 101, Avalon Acoustics Isis, B&W Nautilus (the Nautilus), and Wilson Audio Maxx, and I thought he would help me cull the list. Instead he wanted to know why the Vivid G1 wasn’t on the list. “You’re a B&W fan, and the G1’s are designed by Lawrence Dicke, who designed the Nautilus.” I told him that the G1 was one of the high end speakers I’d never heard, and with an opportunity like this I didn’t want to gamble on selecting something I knew nothing about. He said he’d talk to Phil O’Hanlon of On A Higher Note – Vivid’s U.S. importer – and arrange for me to go hear it at a local dealer. Phil called me to discuss my interest and said his local dealer was a man named George Vatchnadze, owner of Kyomi Audio in Chicago.
George turned out to be one of the most discerning audiophiles I’ve met, possibly the most discerning. George is a concert pianist and heads the piano department at DePaul University’s School of Music. His ear for natural-sounding musical reproduction is impressive. Time and again he was able to put his finger on the precise virtue that made the difference between good and superb sound. The presentation of his main home system was immediately captivating and was clearly among the best musical reproductions I’ve heard in any setting – better than most of the systems I previously heard that featured the speakers on my original wish list. There was no doubt that the excellent sound was due in no small part to the Vivid Giya G1. After two hours of listening it was easy to add the G1 to my list and rate it above several of the other speakers still left on my list. In the end, the G1 leapfrogged to the top of the list, and I found myself again talking to George, this time about delivering his G1s to my home.
Form Follows Function
Many audiophiles don’t care much about appearances, so long as the component isn’t totally ugly. However, the Vivid Giya G1’s appearance is so distinct that it positively begs for your opinion. I personally love the appearance, and that seems to be the sentiment of the vast majority of people who have come through my listening room, but there are certainly going to be people who can’t stand it. All I can say is – get over it.
The Vivid G1’s appearance has a lot to do with the fundamental design principle behind it. If you have ever seen the Lawrence Dickie-designed B&W Nautilus, you will see several long “spikes” that extend from the back of the speaker, as well as a curvilinear shape in the bass section that looks a lot like the shape of certain marine mollusks of the cephalopod family known as Nautilae. It’s this curvilinear shape that is the origin of the name “Nautilus.” The “spikes” and nautilus-like curves are the result of the use of an acoustic enclosure design known as transmission line topology, which involves the use of a long tapering tube that, from a simplistic layman’s point of view, dampens the recoil of the force of the acoustic wave coming out of the wide, open end of the tube. The problem is that the lower the frequency being handled, the longer the tapering tube needs to be. This means that though the back of the tweeter tapers for just a few inches, the bass may need many feet. Folding or curving the bass “tube” prevents having a giant “spike” protruding from the back of the speaker’s bass enclosure.
Lawrence Dickie, who was recruited to participate in the startup of Vivid Audio, applied transmission line topology to the G1, and this resulted in the large curved section at the top of the G1. Of course, he could have decided on a different physical appearance, but the particular appearance of the final design of the G1 is inseparable from its technical design.
The cabinet is a vacuum infused fiber composite, reinforced with unidirectional glass fiber. As I understand it, it is comparable to materials used in high end race cars and race boats. It comes in two standard metallic automotive paint finishes: black and white. But custom colors are available for an extra charge. Every color I’ve seen the speaker painted in looks cool to me.
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