While some markets like shiny white or yellow loudspeakers, the majority of the hi‑fi market appears to prefer rectilinear boxes with a wood veneer. It has ever been thus and only slowly will it change, but we are finally seeing greater acceptance of paint finishes, especially the less challenging (although determinedly 1980s) gloss black. And I for one could happily make space for white curvy speakers such as those in Vivid Audio’s Giya range. But I am in a minority on the taste front chezKennedy and neither can I afford them, so it’s rather academic. But Vivid’s distributor has been dropping hints for a while that a less aesthetically dramatic product might be welcome in the market. So, a few years back when the company’s engineering wizard Laurence ‘Dic’ Dickie met industrial designers Matt Longbottom and Christoph Hermann, he came up with a plan to bring in their talents for what would be the Kaya range.
Up until now, the appearance of Vivid loudspeakers has been essentially a case of form following function that Dic developed alongside the acoustic aspect of the products. This is fundamentally dictated by the tapered absorber tube he developed for the B&W Nautilus when he worked for that company in the 1980s and 1990s (he also came up with Matrix bracing), although for Giya he added an all-important reflex port to the arrangement. That is what the ring in the top of a Giya speaker is, the end of a tapered tube coming off the back of the bass system. The idea with this inverted horn is that when stuffed with appropriate damping material they absorb rather than reflect the energy coming off the back of the driver. There is as much sound produced by the back of a cone or dome as there is by the front and somehow this has to be diffused or absorbed if it isn’t to bounce back at the cone and distort its output.
For Kaya, Vivid wanted a more conventional look, so Dic gave Longbottom and Hermann the disposition of the drivers, internal volume and wave guide shape for the tweeter and they went away and came up with the squarer (but hardly conventional) shape you see in these images. In fact, if you look at the Kaya from above it has a triangular section and a spine of sorts down the back. The curves are around the edges and toward the base of the speaker where the bass drivers sit. It’s a very attractive and easy to live with shape that from the front is essentially rectangular; it’s only the side view that reveals any curves.
The Kaya 45 (the number indicates internal volume) is the middle model of the three in production so far, its rangemates are the Kaya 25 (which is essentially a standmount with built-in stand) and the Kaya 90 (effectively a larger version of the 45 with four bass drivers). A standmount S15 is in the works as is the C25 centre channel. Clearly Vivid has grasped that there is more to the speaker market than two-channels. The cabinets are constructed in the same way as the Giya range using a vacuum-infused sandwich of composite skins, but unlike that range they have a Soric foam between the skins rather than myriad pieces of end grain balsa. Vivid wants Kaya to be more affordable than Giya and this is one of the key ways they have achieved this, the other is less obvious but relates to finishing. By making Kaya as fluid in shape as it is they have reduced the amount of time it takes to produce the high quality finish that Vivid speakers are renowned for.