Vivid Kaya 45 loudspeaker Page 2

One can generalize from that to other female voices—and to male voices, too. The latter were endowed with appropriate body but without unnatural resonance. I was particularly struck by the massed male voices in a recent recording, with Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, of Sibelius's choral work Kullervo (SACD, Ondine ODE 1338-5). From the pictures in the recording's accompanying booklet, I estimate there are about 90 men in the combined Estonian National Male Choir and Polytech Choir—and no, I cannot distinguish them all individually by ear. However, the Kaya 45s did resolve them so that I was always aware that the work was being performed by a multiplicity of individual voices, yet with combined weight and power. The baritone soloist, Ville Rusanen, is recorded closer, as is appropriate, and sounded remarkably present, almost in the room, when I played the recording loud, the way I like this one. Even at those levels, the Kayas had no problems with the volume and dynamic range of the combined chorus and orchestra at these levels.

The Kaya passed another test with flying colors: The First Tears, from Eriks Ešenvalds's The Doors of Heaven, performed by Ethan Sperry and the Portland State University Chamber Choir (CD, Naxos 8.579008). This mixed choir recording has become my standard for soundstaging and ensemble imaging, and while the Kayas presented the collective voices clearly and in a warm acoustic space, they also allowed me to attend to the tone and locations of individual voices.

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In general, the bass performance of the Kaya 45s was remarkable for their size. From a closely recorded Spanish guitar to pipe organ and large, dynamic ensembles, these relatively small floorstanders delivered respectable—and musical—bass. That's not to say a pair of 5" woofers per cabinet can push as much air as bigger or more drivers. What was wonderful about the Kaya 45s is that the quality and balance of the bass and upper bass in my altogether normal listening room was such that I lacked for nothing, except in direct comparison to bigger speakers (and Vivid makes those, too). With a classic recording of Mendelssohn's Organ Sonata in F, performed by Thomas Murray on the E. & G.G. Hook organ at Jamaica Plain (CD, Raven 3901), the detail and fullness were immensely satisfying. As the tones descend in the fourth movement, there was a slight attenuation of the lowest tones, but that did not affect the progression or impact of the music.

Especially noteworthy is my experience with a recent and wonderful recording, by Viktoria Mullova, Paavo Järvi, and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, of Arvo Pärt's Fratres (CD, Onyx ONYX4201). After violinist Mullova's brilliantly played solo introduction—reproduced by the Kayas with equal brilliance—the orchestra steps in with a thud, followed by a slow progression in the lower strings. With the Kayas, I could hear the hall during the solo, but I feel it when the orchestra enters. Getting that and the weight of the strings was unexpected from a couple of 5" drivers per channel.

The Kaya 45s feasted on Hugh Masakela's "Stimela (The Coal Train)," from Hope (SACD, Sheridan Square Records/Analogue Productions APJ 82020). With the right speakers, this is a powerful and exciting experience, but it requires the capacity to recreate a large and lively space that can barely contain all the performers and audience participants. Other versions of this recording, even in multichannel, never seem to achieve this effect, but with this stereo release, the Kaya 45s proved up to the task in a way that some bigger or more expensive speakers have not. I turned it up, and the Kayas delivered the crescendos, the contrasts, the buzz of the space (and electricity of the crowd), and the immediacy of Masakela's voice and trumpet.

The Kaya 45s played bigger than they appear. And not just because of bass. They recreated a deep and detailed soundstage—and a wide one. Lately, I've been enjoying the delightful and offbeat album Pure Imagination, by oboist Keve Wilson (CD, Composers Concordance COMCON002). It contains refreshing arrangements of Broadway and pop tunes, framing Wilson's skillful playing and honeyed tone with a small ensemble—piano, bass, etc.—that varies from track to track. The Kayas vividly recreated the recording's evidently modest space, making it seem like an extension of my room, stretching about 15' behind the fronts of the speakers.

I did most of my listening with the aforementioned Benchmark AHB2s, but I also spent time listening with other amps: the Hegel C53, the Parasound A31, and the Classé Sigma Mono. All had sufficient power, and each had subtle and ultimately unobtrusive distinctions. The Classé sounded much like the Benchmark, offering a lively and open upper midrange but with slightly less detail. The Parasound, too, presented slightly less detail. Those presentations may appeal to some listeners who do not share my fondness for the ruthless revelation the Kayas proved capable of.

With the Hegel, the Kayas sounded much as they did with Benchmarks. The Hegel or a single AHB2 in stereo would drive these speakers well in smaller rooms, or in systems that use a subwoofer.

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In the larger context of speakers I've recently reviewed, the Kaya 45s stood out. Compared to the bigger but less expensive GoldenEar Triton One.R, the Kayas were more transparent and resolving but didn't play as loud or go as deep in the bass. The Revel Performa F228Be had superior bass extension, while the Kayas disappeared more completely. The active Dutch & Dutch 8cs must be placed close to the front wall, and their soundstage presentation differs from that of a passive system placed well away from room boundaries. Each satisfied in its own way.

Summing up
Vivid's Kaya 45 speakers exceeded the expectations raised by their heritage and impressive show previews. Sure, some speakers can play louder and go deeper, but one must pay one price or another for that privilege: larger size, higher cost, or less beauty. The Kayas sounded good from the moment they hit the carpet, and better after I toed them in toward the listening position. They never failed to please, with any musical source at any reasonable listening level. (Perhaps they really are Shmoos!) The Kaya 45s are among a handful of speakers that I will miss after they are gone. You should not miss auditioning them.


Footnote 1: Originally released on a Sheffield LP (S-13).
COMPANY INFO
Vivid Audio
US distributor: Vivid Audio LLC
1815 SE 40th Street
Portland, OR 97214
(650) 996-2295
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... the similarly priced Revel Ultima2 Studios?
Do the Kayas capture the "flag" that the Revel Performa F228Bes "planted in the ground at the $10,000/pair meridian?"
Are the Kayas more of a "pure delight" than the Dutch & Dutch 8cs?
If the GoldenEar Triton One.R "does it all, and at a fair price", then what, if anything, does it lack?
To paraphrase the amp review, if one of these speakers is right, then the others must be wrong.

If the "the Kayas sounded good from the moment they hit the carpet" and "never failed to please, with any musical source at any reasonable listening level", then why is KR not buying them (instead of returning them and missing them)?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Upon re-reading this comment, I feel the need to say that I do not change my equipment willy-nilly even when greatly impressed with a new product. One must admit that there are a lot of great speakers in the same general price range, some already mentioned in this discussion, and one can make a good case for any one of them.

I rely a great deal on my intimate familiarity with a product, especially a loudspeaker, as it works in my system and my room and that takes a lot of time and effort. To change, one must begin again and that's after surmounting the necessary physical and financial costs. OTOH, it is always on my mind....................

Ortofan's picture

On this site, and elsewhere, it's not uncommon to read reviews that conclude with words to the effect that the reviewer especially enjoyed the sound quality of a product, hated to see it go and will really miss it.

The reader is often left wondering if the product was truly that good then why didn't the reviewer buy it?

Perhaps such reviews should conclude with some rationale for the reviewer's decision not to buy that particular product.

As you suggested, below, the outcome might conceivably have been different with the Kaya 90.

Kal Rubinson's picture

The reader is often left wondering if the product was truly that good then why didn't the reviewer buy it?


There are so many factors in such a decision, many of which are quite personal and not relevant to others. For example, color and style. Readers can judge these for themselves and, unless I can say something quite positive about the product in this regard, why introduce it? (Quality of finish and construction is a different issue.)
Another is spouse acceptance.

So what I try to do is compare and contrast the performance of the DUT with similar ones that I know and let the reader consider that in the context of his/her own personal preferences.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be KR could also review the new Polk Audio Legend L800 floor-standing speakers with SDA-PRO technology, $6,000/pair ........ L800 were favorably mentioned by RS in a recent dealer demo ...... L800 were also favorably reviewed by S&V magazine :-) ........

Kal Rubinson's picture

I prefer the overall performance of the Studio2s and, in particular, their bass weight and extension. It has bigger woofers. Perhaps the bigger Kayas would suit me more.

Anton's picture

Thanks for the added consideration!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The top of the Kaya line Kaya 90 are priced at $26,000/pair ........ May be worth reviewing by Stereophile :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The Revel Performa F328Be ($15,000/pair) may equal the bass extension and performance of Kaya 90, for less cost ...... F328Be are even less expensive than Kaya 45 :-) .........

Kal Rubinson's picture

I am well aware of that. :-)

AJ's picture

I find non normalized off axis data far easier to read/interpret, thanks.
Hopefully this is the new "norm" ;-)

Oilman's picture

A non-normalized off-axis view gets us closer to “spin-o-rama” information, which is well established to predict speaker audio quality. JA’s normalization of off-axis measurements are oft-criticized by Dr Floyd Toole. JA, please ditch the normalized curves once and for all and give us non-normalized!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You may already know this ....... KR wrote an article about 'blind listening tests' at Harman facilities and about 'Spinorama' graphs :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If you see Figures 4-6 in measurements section of Kaya 45, you can see a little bit of 'Fletcher-Munson' type of 'bowl' in the upper midrange and treble region (although, it is not that much pronounced) :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wanna see some 'ripples' this same region? ........ Take a look at any Wilson speaker measurements (reviewed by Stereophile) in similar section of measurements :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Lot of B&W speakers also show 'bowls and ripples' in their measurements in this area :-) .......

John Atkinson's picture
Oilman wrote:
JA, please ditch the normalized curves once and for all and give us non-normalized!

Space in the print magazine is limited, so I decided many years ago that the primary dispersion measurements I would publish would be normalized to the tweeter (or other recommended axis) response. It was the changes in the response off-axis that I felt more revealing. Only occasionally, as the case of the Vivid Kaya 45, have I also published the actual responses.

Perhaps for the website reprints of the magazine's loudspeaker reviews I could publish both normalized and actual dispersion graphs.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

AJ's picture
Quote:

It was the changes in the response off-axis that I felt more revealing.

This is generally true, since spectrally *dissimilar* reflections are perceptually harder to ignore, which normalized will emphasize.
But in the case of the subsequent Magico review, the normalized makes the >10k response look very wide, which in fact it is not, since it is actually correspondingly down in level with the on axis. I can see it this way being used to viewing normalized, but the casual reader eye might mistake it for otherwise.
I'm with Dr Toole on this one. The "raw" response impinging the surroundings is more informative, IMHO.

AJ
Soundfield Audio

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If, you look at the Audio Physic Virgo III Stereophile measurements, the JA1's listening room FR measurements (Fig.7) look very much similar to Magico M2 :-) .........

AJ's picture
Quote:

The active Dutch & Dutch 8cs must be placed close to the front wall

Hmmm, a cardioid/controlled directivity type speaker *can* be placed closer to the front wall, less detrimentally than a non-cardioid, due to the rear output nulling and controlled off axis.
However, that shouldn't be mandatory, especially with an adjustable (such as an active) speaker.
With proper adjustment, should function just fine away from wall. Subsequent spatial rendering should be commensurate.

cheers,

AJ
Soundfield Audio

Kal Rubinson's picture

True but then their appearance would offend my wife even more. I told Martijn Mensink that when he last visited me.

AJ's picture

Aha, acoustics puzzle solved. Occams razor.

Anton's picture

They look like the Shmoo from L'il Abner.

http://deniskitchen.com/main/green.shmoo.jpg

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yeah. I did say that, didn't I?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Kaya 25 kinda looks like Jar Jar Binks :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Kaya 25 pair could work well with a couple of powered subwoofers :-) ........

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