This was an absolutely superb room presented by Music Lovers, a local dealer with not one but TWO Bay Area locations (one in Berkeley, one in San Francisco proper).
The Vivid Giya G-3 speakers ($40,000) featured here also feature in a running joke between my husband and myself. The joke is entirely on me: when I first saw the Giya G-1’s in Stereophile or some similar magazine a couple of years ago, I laughed out loud and scoffed about “ridiculous looking speakers for space age bachelor pads” or somesuch. This lasted until I actually heard them last year (I believe it was at T.H.E. Show in Newport), at which point I swore under my breath a lot and then vowed never to judge speakers by looks alone, especially when it turns out that the looks are also hugely functional, as in the case of the Giya series.
But I digress! This room also featured the debut of the VTL S-200 stereo amp ($10,000), the latest in their Signature series. This fully balanced amplifier also features VTL’s SmartTube automatic biasing technology as well as adjustable damping. VTL also provided their TL-7.5 Series III Reference Linestage ($20,000) and TP-6.5 Signature Phono Stage ($8,500). Digital was provided by the dCs Vivaldi Transport ($39,999) and dCs Vivaldi DAC ($34,999). Brinkmann Bardo took care of vinyl with their turntable ($9,490) and Pi cartridge ($2,700). Reel-to-reel tape finished out the analog set-up; unfortunately, I don’t have the make/model in my notes, but tapes were provided by Tape Project. Cables and power products were all provided by Transparent Audio Reference ($12-58,000).
So, how did it sound?
In a word: superb. I visited this room several times over the weekend. On Friday I was treated to an a capella track, and marveled at how distinct the voices were and how detailed. This was followed by a track from British rockers Alt-J (provided, I believe, by an attendee), demonstrating that the Giyas can be plenty punchy when rocking out. Later on in the weekend came a sublime sampling of Nat King Cole, courtesy of Tape Project. One of the amazing things to me was how un-localizable these speakers are; with my eyes closed, I would be hard-pressed to pinpoint where they were placed in the room. On Friday there was a bit of boominess and smearing in the bass, but as the weekend progressed, room treatments were tweaked and gear warmed up and this issue disappeared completely.
VTL is an excellent pairing with this speakers; the new stereo amplifier gives the impression of having plenty of power on tap, and provides clarity and tone without shading into unwelcome warmth or romanticism.
I very much hope that Beatrice Lam of VTL, Vivid Audio distributor Philip O’Hanlon, and dCS distributor John Quick of Tempo Audio Sales are proud of their room’s performance, because it was truly one of the highlights of the show.