I recently auditioned the NAP 250DR for a good week. My planning was that it would replace my 200 driving Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos. This took a bit of an unexpected turn. While the 250 is without question a ‘better’ amp, both my wife and I preferred the more lively, quicker & lighter sounding 200.
This somewhat strange outcome triggered the question if I should re-evaluate my SF Guarneri’s. They are getting close to 14 years old. Over the years, I tried a number of other speakers at home. Mostly out of a combination of curiosity and opportunity. But none of them ever came close to consider buying. But the last time was a few years ago and triggered by the amp comparison, I wanted to hear where the Guarneri’s stand today against some of the current leading compact two-way speakers in the same 10K -ish price range.
Enter the first ‘contender’ - the Vivid Audio Kaya 25.
Their unique shape without any edge, corner, straight line or flat surface takes some getting used to. They look more like sculptures and don’t go unnoticed in a room, that’s for sure. I love the way they look. After 3 days, my wife is still observing them with a ‘I don’t know yet’ look.
How do they sound?
Well, I’m almost 40 years in this hobby and I’ve never heard a speaker like this before. The best and most honest answer would be - they don’t sound like anything. I’m still in process of getting my head around their sound, or lack of.
The first thing that strikes you is an almost holographic soundstage. Something Guarneri’s are already particularly good at but not like this. The sense of scale, palpable space and dimension is almost eerie at times. The sound is incredibly transparent and fast and seems to be completely free of grain and coloration. If anything, these Vivids sound more like panels than conventional speakers. But with the focus and impact that many panel speakers lack.
Voices and instruments have a tonal purity and richness I never heard before. The bass is the same. They go deep for a compact speaker with only 25 liters of volume and small-ish drivers. The drivers are in-house designed & build by Vivid and made from the same alloy. The Kaya 25s typical in-room response is well below 40Hz and it sounds like that in my room too. But again, the bass has such speed, detail and transparency, seemingly without any overhang or colouration, it appears almost light at first. Not after longer listening though. This may read strange but… going through the audiophile lingo, they are not warm, nor are they cold or clinical. They are not foward, nor laid-back. They are incredibly detailed and transparent, but not analytical. I can go on like this but I just don’t know how to capture their sound in words.
I guess the most telling after 3 days of listening is that I never had so much goosebumps and tears in my eyes from being impressed and moved by the music as with these Vivids. I don’t know what more I can say.
Slightly disturbing(?) is that my fairly modest Naim front end is this good too… apparently. Crazy really.
The next speakers I’m going to audition will be the Kudos Titan 505. But boy do they need to be good to beat this.
Hope this is of any interest and thanks for reading!