CAS 2013: Music Lovers presents Vivid and VTL

CAS4This 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.


  1. Love VTL! However, Vivid are way too ugly for me to ever consider no matter how good they sound.

  2. Thankyou for your reply. Windows Parental Controls (WPC) does not work like that. Once a site is unblocked, all of what it contains is unblocked. WPC does not allow for only portions of a site to be blocked or unblocked. Thank you though. I’ll just stick to reading and viewing the audio review sites that are already set up for us as we need so that there is no longer a need for any further net-nanny adventures with regard to this site. Take care.

  3. I don’t understand why audio mags are raving about Magico right and left when Vivid is better and way less expensive!! Don’t get me wrong,Magico is good but Vivid Audio is on top of the food chain as far as speakers goes!! my 2 cents and a quarter…

    Guy La Rue

  4. I own a pair of Vivid Audio K1’s with a hybrid Valve/Transistor Amp and a Halcro CD source and am quite simply the envy of the whole neighbourhood! What started out as a speaker upgrade showed just how limited the rest of my system was, and no matter what I pair the Vivid’s with, they simply get better and better … 1+1=3 … Many thanks to Vivid Audio … you changed my “musical” life …

  5. Hi there,
    Is there a way that you could change the source location of your photos please ? (perhaps a server of your own or of this site)
    The reason that I ask this of you is that is one of the many sites that are blocked on our family’s computer via WIndows Parental Controls; so none of us can see any of the photos you post in any of your articles. We also have Facebook and Twitter and Google blocked.

      • I knew that is a possible way for me to view your photos, but that would allow access to Photobucket which has all sorts of inappropriate photos on it that we want to not have access to. What can you do to make your photos available please ? Can’t you change the source location that they are stored in to your own computer or server instead of Photobucket ? (or Facebook or Twitter or Google as they are also blocked) ?

      • I can re-architect my site, sure, but it’s not in the works right now.

        While I certainly appreciate your desire to filter your kids’ access to inappropriate materials, there are many ways to make this user-specific. Further, there should be ways to be very granular with what’s allowed and disallowed, even within a particular domain. But explaining all of this will be beyond the scope of what I’m going to do here.

        I wish you the best of luck with your net-nanny adventures.

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