If there is an immutable law in modern-day audio, it’s that special editions don’t come cheap. If there is a second immutable law, it’s that cheap only happens in far-away places. So if Vienna Acoustics’ evergreen Haydn compact ported two-way stand-mount loudspeaker was built as a 500-model limited-run ‘Jubilee’ version to celebrate the company’s 30th year, you wouldn’t expect it to be more affordable than the main run product, and you definitely wouldn’t expect a product as well made and well-specified at this sort of price to be made in Europe. But that’s Vienna Acoustics for you!
It’s hard for me to think of the Vienna Acoustics Haydn Grand (or the latest Grand Symphony Edition) without recalling the original Haydn. Back in the 1990s, while working for another audiophile magazine, that first Haydn was one of the most memorably ‘right’ sounding ported two-way stand-mounts of its generation. Things moved on and newer, bigger versions of the Haydn were launched, but the archetypal Haydn was never far from memory. And, for the 500 owners of the limited-run Haydn Jubilee, it’s not even a memory, because the Haydn Jubilee is a modern recreation of that original, memorable, Haydn. It’s also £500 cheaper than the standard £1,600 Haydn Grand Symphony Edition, that has long been and will continue to be a fixture in the current Vienna Acoustics line-up.
The Haydn Jubilee uses the same 25mm soft dome tweeter as the original (the current Haydn Grand SE uses a truncated tweeter surround – the horn of the tweeter remains extant, but the far left and right of the surround are removed as this is the excursion point for the bass port), and the loudspeaker has a more traditional – and extraordinarily well-built – rear-firing port. The 140mm bass driver is more in line with the original model, retaining the transparent ‘X3P’ cone material. Even the logo on the front replicates Vienna’s original V-shaped identifier, although this one is in a gold finish, as is the rear panel. The loudspeakers feature push-on grilles (magnets are just so 21st Century), but these are best left in the box. The finish is a rich piano gloss… combining Vienna, black and gold, and elegant Italic fonts, you can’t help thinking of pianos, which is handy because the loudspeakers really sing when playing piano music.
Listening to the Haydn Jubilee is a little like stepping into the audio Wayback machine too but in a good way. They work best resting on blobs of Blu-tack on 24” stands, sand-filled and spiked to the floor, with a mild toe-in and at least a couple of feet from the rear and side walls. The Haydn Jubilee sound best when partnered with well-designed and moderately powerful amplification and used with stranded copper cables. In other words, precisely the kind of system one might have put together with a loudspeaker like this at the end of the last century. Run in is handy, and the bass of the loudspeakers fills in over time, but the fundamental performance of the loudspeaker is more or less cemented in place straight out of the box. There’s just more of it to play with as those drive units loosen up.