A visit to Philip O'Hanlon and the Vivid G1 loudspeaker

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,310
194
63
Far Hills, NJ
#1
Last week found me in beautiful San Diego for a medical meeting. No question that it was a pure delight to step off the airplane and actually see the ground without the snow that has prevented similar sightings back East for a few months now. (I’m back home and its snowing as I write this. ARGHHH. Enough already. Where are you Spring?)

Fortunately, I managed to escape one evening to visit Steve and through his efforts, managed to visit Philip O’Hanlon who many of you know is a distributor for a number of goodies such as Luxman and Mola Mola electronics, and Vivid speakers. I made my way to Philip’s specifically to hear the Vivid Giya 1 speakers. There are only a handful of Vivid dealers in the US and to the best of my knowledge, none of them have the G1 on display. I have heard the G2 and G3 speakers at shows, therefore the opportunity to hear the G1’s that Philip uses as his personal speakers, was a welcome opportunity I had long sought.

To begin, Philip’s listening room is not just large, it’s huge. It is the “Great Room” of a beautiful contemporary home and if my guess is close, its about 40’x 30’x 40’ high (open second story). Needless to say, its takes some serious SPL to fill the room and fortunately, there is no shortage of adequate sound level in Philip’s system. Driven by the gorgeous Luxman monoblocs and associated electronics, its clear that the G1’s can put out gobs of volume. Apparently their designer, Laurence Dickie, who designed the B&W Nautilus, spent part of his career doing sound reinforcement. Thus part of the design goal for the Giya speaker line was to assure they would be able to play loud without significant distortion. To say that Dickie was successful is an understatement. In all my years of listening, I have never heard a speaker play as loud and as clean as the G1. We played some rock and assorted other torture tracks until my ears were bleeding yet the integrity of the sound remained simply astonishing top to bottom. And remember, he’s pumping these babies into a space that’s more like the Meramec caverns than a modest-sized listening room. However, low distortion at volume is only the beginning of the speaker’s many charms. At 92dB@1W efficiency it's comforting to know that a modestly powered amp would likely be sufficient for most users in their present listening rooms.

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the material Philip chose to play is extraordinary in its own right. As everyone knows, Philip has produced about 17 highly praised CD demo discs over the years. I don’t know how the hell he does it, but he has developed a proprietary way of upsampling his usual sources and then laying them down on CD in a way that results in one sonic spectacular after another. (Of course, he starts with extraordinary material to begin with, but by the time he’s done, they are spit-shined to another level).

The unique capabilities of the speaker’s individual drivers are apparently due in part to the tapered tube loading of each driver, which was the main technical accomplishment Dickie employed in the Nautilus. Here, he seems to have taken it to a different level as I ain’t never heard any Nautilus sound remotely as good as this loudspeaker. Philip went on at length to describe the pearls of Dickie’s driver design, choice of cabinet design and a variety of other technical features that I found interesting but to be honest, irrelevant to the pleasure of the listening experience. Philip, I love technobabble as much as the next audiophile, but just play another track, please. I’d like to get back to my hotel room before dawn. I did, but not after Philip played me a master-tape of Hugh Masekela’s extraordinary recording of “Coal Train”, and if I remember correctly, they had to scrape me off the floor when it was over. I know that track well, as it on the Burmester 3 demo CD. But never have I heard it as I did at Philip’s. When Masekela makes that unforgettable whistle sound with his voice, there has never been a tweeter on the planet capable of reproducing that sound with the dynamics, lack of distortion or compression that one would hear in real life. Until now.

The G1 has a cohesiveness and integrity that’s simply outstanding. Trying to detect crossover points is a waste of time, and the combination of filter design and phase coherence due to 4th order Linkwitz Wiley filters result in one impeccable sounding seamless speaker. It’s almost impossible not to comment specifically on the tautness and power of the bass, a feature for which the Giya line is noted regardless of model. The use of “reaction-cancelling compliance mounting” of the woofers, which face outwards on both sides of the cabinets is apparently the key to this performance.

Recording after recording resulted in a listening session I just didn’t want to end. No room or time for audiophilia nervosa listening. Rather, it was “sit down, shut up and let the music wash over you”. Speaker? What speaker? It should be this way all the time, right?

Regarding the shape of the cabinet, I suspect that you’re either going to love it or hate it. All I will say is that if WAF is an issue, I would consider keeping the speaker and changing wives. Consider yourself forewarned. Once you get that speak in your room, be prepared because no amount of evil looks from your spouse is going to be motivation enough to displace them.

There were a few main take-away’s from the session that seemed pretty obvious. The first, is that the speaker is a technical tour-de-force that is equally impressive in design as it is in the sound it produces regardless of source or type of music. It is a flat-out sonic masterpiece. But I am left with one puzzling observation, which is, why is this a speaker that basically nobody has ever heard? I am told the only G1 speaker on a showroom floor in North America is located in Montreal. Philip says that frankly, they are too big to bring to a show. That’s too bad. I suspect that I would not be the only audiophile to fall in love with these beasts if they had a bit more exposure. More compelling is that the price of the G1 is less than half of what the big boys from Wilson, Magico and Rockport cost. I have not heard them side by side with any of those superb speakers, but even if I did I suspect that the value proposition for the G1’s would remain outstanding. I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I would strongly consider owning the G1 and taking the difference to buy that Ferrari you’ve always wanted. Or even better, buy a nice piece of jewelry for your wife to raise your standing at home, and then perhaps a BMW instead of a Ferrari. You get the idea.

Finally, I wish to offer a personal note of gratitude to Philip for his kindness and hospitality. I only wish I didn’t have to drive when I left, or I would have taken more liberty with the outstanding wine he offered so generously!
 
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DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#2
Marty, on the two occasions that I have heard the G1's, they impressed me mightily too. I would add ( and that you alluded to) that one of their biggest strengths is their incredible way with the lowest octave and their ability to define that octave. Listening to the G1's in an appropriate size room ( here's the rub...I STRONGLY suspect that no medium to small listening room need apply) will result in the approximation of bass instruments like almost no other speaker on the market, regardless of price! When I heard the G1's last, I was so taken with their superb bass definition that their very fine imaging and high freq response was almost overlooked. However, I can say, that they are one of a very few speakers that employ a metal high freq transducer that I do NOT hear ring. Nothing amiss at all!! IF one has the space in their listening room ( a VERY BIG IF) then I think they cannot be beat for the price...and possibly period!
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,873
106
63
#3
Fantastic thread...always great to learn something new. Thanks for taking the time, gents!
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#4
I've heard the G1's in Philip's Great Room on 3 separate occasions and I never cease to smile whenever I hear them. The experience is extraordinary. To say that these speakers pressurize the room is an understatement. In fact the first two times was powered by the little Mola Mola amps

I made Philip promise that if I brought Marty over he would power up the large Luxman monblocks. Indeed he did. These were absolutely wonderful and for my ear worth the admission price as I am familiar with the speaker. This plus the fact that at any given audio show I always make it a point to visit Philip's room first because I know he will have a Vivid speaker playing.

This was no exception and as Philip aptly pointed out, the G1 tweeter would hold its own against any tweeter and by getting the spl in the 140's with no distortion or break up was remarkable.

I knew you'd enjoy it Marty
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,584
483
83
Marina del Rey, CA
#5
Vivid makes great, coherent speakers- I need to hear the G1s sometime. But let's be honest, they are real tough on most eyes.

Doc- I preferred Luxman on the Vivids compared to MMs. What are your thoughts?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#6
Vivid makes great, coherent speakers- I need to hear the G1s sometime. But let's be honest, they are real tough on most eyes.

Doc- I preferred Luxman on the Vivids compared to MMs. What are your thoughts?
IMO Keith it was no comparison as the big Luxman was superb
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,265
240
63
Manila, Philippines
#7
I was able to get serious listening time with G1s twice. Both times with Constellation amplification, CH Digital and TechDAS analog with Argento cabling. These speakers have the ability to convey a purity of tone that I found quite beguiling. Very detailed but sweet at the same time. A rare combination indeed.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#8
What defies all description however is the absolute enormity of Philip's room and how well the speakers energized this huge room which BTW has no true sound amendments. The speakers are quite efficient at 91 Db IIRC and these drivers (which aren't huge BTW) move air
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
8,228
784
113
E. England
#9
Marty, it looks like they sound impressive. Is it really poss to get past the "bowling pin" look? The design does nothing for me, but I'm sure the sound would!
 
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dallasjustice

Member Sponsor
Apr 12, 2011
2,067
0
0
Dallas, Texas
#10
What defies all description however is the absolute enormity of Philip's room and how well the speakers energized this huge room which BTW has no true sound amendments. The speakers are quite efficient at 91 Db IIRC and these drivers (which aren't huge BTW) move air
If his room is that big, no need for bass traps. :)

Iv heard the g2 at a show. They are special. I think they are gorgeous. Oh and btw, they measure about as well as a speaker can measure off axis.

My only hesitation about them is driver rigidity. I've seen the b1 at a show with a damaged woofer and Stereophile mentioned one of their test pairs also had a damaged woofer of unknown origin. I wonder how hard it is to replace a damaged driver?
 
#11
If his room is that big, no need for bass traps. :)

Iv heard the g2 at a show. They are special. I think they are gorgeous. Oh and btw, they measure about as well as a speaker can measure off axis.

My only hesitation about them is driver rigidity. I've seen the b1 at a show with a damaged woofer and Stereophile mentioned one of their test pairs also had a damaged woofer of unknown origin. I wonder how hard it is to replace a damaged driver?
[ATTA Vivid G1 black in Capistrano Feb 2015_small.jpg Vivid G1 RHS black in Capistrano Feb 2015_small.jpg

Vivid Audio Drivers & Replacement

The good news is that Vivid Audio is quietly celebrating their eleventh year; so a lot of the kinks have been ironed out. The drivers used to be prone to shipping damage, but over the past few years, all speakers are shipped with foam protectors over all the drivers, stopping people from damaging them while they are removing them from the crate. The crates have been beefed up to allow for shipping abuse; the top plate is now capable of allowing a 300lb trucker to walk all over it without causing any damage. The speakers themselves have seen many running changes over the years; 2008 G1 is not the same as a

Replacing drivers is quite straight forward; Vivid supply videos & PDF documents that lay this out clearly, though most customers will have this performed by the dealer. When the dealer is no longer able to support the speakers for whatever reason, OAHN picks up the slack. Unfortunately there are a small number of gray market Giyas floating around that OAHN does not support. If you are in the market for used Vivids, contact us before you purchase & we will reassure you that they are indeed N.American imports.
 

CGabriel

Industry Expert
Nov 1, 2013
617
64
28
WA, USA
www.shunyata.com
#12
We have shown with Philip on many occasions and I have always been impressed by the Vivid sound quality. I also have a hard time with the look of the bigger speakers but you have to admit that in a very large room like Philip's beautiful place they are very much in keeping with the decor.

Over the years the look has grown me a bit. Then when I saw the G3's as the CES show this year I was convinced that they could would for me. Just FYI, I have been talking with Philip about getting a pair for our reference room. The reference room is fairly small and the larger models would just over-power it so the G3's should be perfect.

BTW, the G3's use the same tweeter, mid and mid-bass driver as the larger speakers so it should be quite a good performer in a room less than the size of an auditorium. :)
 

dallasjustice

Member Sponsor
Apr 12, 2011
2,067
0
0
Dallas, Texas
#13
[ATTA View attachment 19174 View attachment 19173

Vivid Audio Drivers & Replacement

The good news is that Vivid Audio is quietly celebrating their eleventh year; so a lot of the kinks have been ironed out. The drivers used to be prone to shipping damage, but over the past few years, all speakers are shipped with foam protectors over all the drivers, stopping people from damaging them while they are removing them from the crate. The crates have been beefed up to allow for shipping abuse; the top plate is now capable of allowing a 300lb trucker to walk all over it without causing any damage. The speakers themselves have seen many running changes over the years; 2008 G1 is not the same as a

Replacing drivers is quite straight forward; Vivid supply videos & PDF documents that lay this out clearly, though most customers will have this performed by the dealer. When the dealer is no longer able to support the speakers for whatever reason, OAHN picks up the slack. Unfortunately there are a small number of gray market Giyas floating around that OAHN does not support. If you are in the market for used Vivids, contact us before you purchase & we will reassure you that they are indeed N.American imports.
That's a gorgeous setup! Thanks also for answering my question about drivers. If I bought a pair, it would be from Scotty, so I am not worried about dealer help. Money has to go elsewhere this year (into the house), maybe next year.
Thanks,
Michael.
 
Mar 20, 2011
59
2
8
North Texas
#14
After reading this thread I visited the Vivid web site to learn more about the GIYA speakers. What I found there makes it appear Vivid is calling it quits and has dismissed most of its staff. On the GIYA Intro web page it says "The GIYA G3 will be available in May 2012 - Watch this space for details!" The page has a 2011 copyright date. An outdated web page is a sure sign the company is about to close its doors.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#15
After reading this thread I visited the Vivid web site to learn more about the GIYA speakers. What I found there makes it appear Vivid is calling it quits and has dismissed most of its staff. On the GIYA Intro web page it says "The GIYA G3 will be available in May 2012 - Watch this space for details!" The page has a 2011 copyright date. An outdated web page is a sure sign the company is about to close its doors.
Like you I saw that as well but I find it difficult to believe what you are proclaiming although like you I always worry about an outdated webpage
 
#16
Post Update - Oops My Mistake !

After reading this thread I visited the Vivid web site to learn more about the GIYA speakers. What I found there makes it appear Vivid is calling it quits and has dismissed most of its staff. On the GIYA Intro web page it says "The GIYA G3 will be available in May 2012 - Watch this space for details!" The page has a 2011 copyright date. An outdated web page is a sure sign the company is about to close its doors.
Evening Tam,

Mea Culpa - I found the outdated reference at http://vividaudio.com/speakers/giya-...roduction.html - my mistake. I will forward this oversight to Vivid Audio. Thanks for the heads up.

Vivid Audio is very much an engineering led company, as opposed to a marketing company. Vivid have a fantastic road map of new products that will be rolled out in the coming 24 months. Laurence Dickie does not release a new product until its ready, so we had nothing new to show at CES 2015. Sound Stage will be at the Munich Show in May to cover the launch of the first of a wave of new products.

At On A Higher Note we are huge fans of Vivid Audio & have invested our money where our mouth is. I'm not asking you to buy a pair, but at least keep an open mind, when you are in the market to replace your speakers, give them a serious audition. We are firming up our plans for the upcoming 2015 shows - Montreal, Chicago, Newport & Denver. If you make it to one of the shows above, drop in & introduce yourself.

Ciao
Philip
 
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rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
3,414
3
38
Reno, NV
#17
Love those photos!
 
#18

zztop7

Member Sponsor
Dec 12, 2012
750
0
0
Edmonds, WA
#19
Mr. Philip O Hanlon,
As your wood beam house dried-in over a few years, did the engineers involved have someone tighten [occasionally loosen] the turnbuckles?
Great Room & I am sure Great House.
zz.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,265
240
63
Manila, Philippines
#20
Philip please indulge me and post a photo of the bottles on your bar :D
 

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