Vivid Audio Kaya 90 loudspeaker Page 2

Kicking off with some classic post-bop jazz in the shape of Art Pepper's 'You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To' [Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section; Original Jazz Classics 0025218633826], and the lead saxophone was beautifully carried. Dripping with harmonic detail, it sounded breathy yet finely textured and with a natural rawness. Even with the instrument at full tilt, Vivid's midrange driver never cried out, allowing me to enjoy the sax at its most expressive. Also, thanks to the rather 'period' stereo mixing, I could take in all of the drum kit on the other channel, with a lovely metallic sheen to the ride cymbal work, and a natural thwack to the snare drums. Things sounded truly tangible and atmospheric, yet never irked or grated.

When it comes to bass, Vivid's designer, Laurence Dickie, has obviously gone for evenness and extension over bluster. So the result is a very controlled and well damped bottom end that doesn't present itself in a particularly muscular or imposing way. Goldie's 'Inner City Life' [Timeless; Metalheadz 828 614-2] confirmed this as bass wasn't as engulfing as you might expect from a such a 'big banger'.

Yet, with dizzyingly fast looped hi-hats, powerful rim-shots and speeded-up snare rolls, it was impossible to stop my feet tapping with 'Timeless'. The Kaya 90 seemed to revel in it all, skilfully conveying the interaction of machine-gun percussion and the deep bassline, overlaid by a thick swathe of gliding analogue synthesisers.

Light And Lithe
This is a fast-sounding speaker, one that's deft, fleet of foot and able to pick up its skirts and run – so to speak – when called upon so to do. But it doesn't spray hard-edged detail at you, for it doesn't deliver this excitement by being tonally edgy or harsh. Those light drive units offer excellent transient response and a lithe sound that's able to really capture the rhythmic intent of a song. I've rarely heard this mid-90s drum and bass track sound so enjoyable. Although the Goldie album is a modest production, the Kaya 90 still managed to unearth a capacious soundstage. Indeed the way it recreates stereo images is typically something to behold.


On the end of a serious power amplifier – a Constellation Taurus in this instance – this loudspeaker owned the room. Objects appeared in the stereo mix clearly focused and correctly located. This is not atypical of Vivid loudspeakers, and it shines out when you feed the Kaya 90s a recording the quality of the opening of Mahler's Symphony No 4 [Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer; Channel Classics CCS SA 26109].

Here they amazed with a truly '3D' rendering of the orchestra, with excellent stage depth and a real sensation of being immersed in the musical event. Individual solo instruments such as flutes or oboes were etched in space with obvious precision, allowing me to effortlessly pinpoint them in the auditorium.

Memorable Moments
This marvellous recording also showcased the Kaya 90's hear-through midband in all its glory and where everything that's good in this loudspeaker comes together to make for memorable moments. The wiriness of the violins, the rasp of the trombones and the reedy shimmer of the flutes were all a joy to behold. Hearing right back to the rear walls of the hall, there was a marvellous sense of space – thanks in no small part to the excellence of this speaker's extended and open treble performance.

Throwing a recording of dramatically different quality into the mix, and The Jam's 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' [All Mod Cons; Polydor SNAP1] showed the same strengths. It was a gripping listen, this elegant floorstander delivering an extremely insightful sound that scythed through all the mush on this grungy late '70s new wave classic. Most loudspeakers seems to have a knack of giving lead vocalist Paul Weller a cold, but there was no nasality here. At the same time, it carried the backing vocals – usually buried well behind the multi tracked guitars – with unexpected yet effortless clarity.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Striking looking – if not to everyone's tastes – beautifully engineered and possessed of a wonderfully open and engaging sound, it's hard not to like the new Kaya 90. It is recognisably a Vivid loudspeaker, yet moves things on with aesthetics that blend into a wider variety of rooms. Its light, breezy character is also a breath of fresh, musical air in a high-end scene where strong tastes can dominate.

Coherent Acoustic Systems
Pinetown, South Africa
Supplied by: Vivid Audio Ltd, West Sussex, UK
01403 713125