Vivid Audio Kaya 90 loudspeaker

hfnoutstanding.pngIf you've admired Vivid Audio's design philosophy but baulked at its styling, the new Kaya range is for you

Audiophiles can be a conservative bunch. Me, I sometimes feel that if I ever see another wood veneered box loudspeaker I'll attack it with a chainsaw but others of you, I know, prefer the old aesthetic, or at least a modern take on it, to curved, organic cabinet forms – especially if painted in primary colours. For a company like Vivid Audio, which appreciates and exploits the benefits of curved cabinets in respect of structural stiffness and clean diffraction behaviour, this is a problem.

So when the flamboyant looking, range-topping, banana-coloured Giya G1 Spirit featured on our January cover this year you could almost hear the collective intake of breath from audiophiles who would never countenance such an aesthetic abomination in their home. For every person who loves the novel, like me – especially when it makes eminent acoustic sense – there are others, perhaps many others, who shy away.

A Matter Of Style
Nobody is going to describe Vivid's new Kaya range (kaya means 'home' in the Zulu language) as conventional or conservative in appearance, but the styling is a little toned down, a little less in your face than with the Giya models. More homely, indeed, if your home is not a minimalist style statement. Which will mollify potential buyers who felt with the Giyas that they were having a bad trip in a Barbara Hepworth retrospective.

Top of the Kaya hierarchy is this, the £21,000-a-pair floorstanding 90. It's a six-driver/three-way design with four side-mounted woofers toward the bottom of the cabinet [see Newton's Credo sidebar] and, near the top, a forward-firing cone/dome midrange and, just above it, a dome tweeter. All six drivers have aluminium alloy diaphragms. Others in the five-model range are the four-driver/three-way 45 and two-driver/ two-way 25 (both floorstanders, £15,000 and £8500 respectively), the two-driver/two-way S15 standmount and three-driver/ two-way C15 centre speaker. All have curvy – but restrained-curvy – moulded composite cabinets comprising glassfibre/vinyl ester resin skins either side of a polymer foam core. In the 90 the cabinet is moulded as three parts – left, right and baffle – which allows CNC-machined composite internal partitions and bracing to be inserted before the entire enclosure is bonded together.

Design Legacy
In the tradition begun by designer Laurence Dickie's B&W Nautilus and continued and refined in Vivid's products, all three frequency ranges in the 90 – bass, midrange and treble – benefit from the use of exponentially tapered tube absorbers that dissipate rear radiation from the drive units to suppress internal cabinet reflection and resonance. In the 26mm D26 tweeter the absorber extends straight out behind the magnet assembly, and in the new 100mm C100SE midrange driver (which has a 50mm voice coil and radial magnet) the absorber is curved to fit within the shallower enclosure. In the bass section, with its four 125mm drivers (50mm voice coils), the absorber is designed to be effective from sufficiently above the port tuning frequency that it doesn't interfere with the reflex loading of the drivers but still provides effective absorption of internal resonance.

To avoid a step-change in off-axis response the tweeter is recessed within a shallow waveguide which matches its directivity to that of the midrange unit at crossover. The grilles covering the four bass drivers and midrange are held in place by magnets and are easily removed if desired. Standard colours are the pictured Oyster Matte, Pearl White or Piano Black. Custom automotive finishes can be specified for a £2100 premium.

sqnote.jpgSmooth Customer
In common with bigger 'Vivids' the Kaya 90 has a seamless sound that is tonally 'well lit' but also deliciously smooth and refined. It has a large soundstage that goes far wide and far back, without pushing the sound down your throat. It has deep extended bass, and sparkling highs – and best of all, fun to hear.

Like every great, high-end loudspeaker, the Kaya 90 has its own essential nature – clean, nuanced and detailed, it proved lovely to my ears but I can imagine listeners seeking a super-showy 'character loudspeaker' might be less enamoured. Instead, the Kaya 90 unpacks recordings in an even-handed and joyous manner.

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