Thursday, March 26, 2020

Vivid Kaya S12 Speakers


News of a new bookshelf model from Vivid Audio surfaced sometime last year, and a pre-production model made it's appearance in a number of Hi-Fi shows. The Kaya S12 is Vivid's smallest speaker yet - a two way bookshelf speaker in a compact and cute form factor. 

X-Audio recently received the S12, which is currently making it's rounds to selected dealers worldwide. I took the opportunity to see how the S12 would stack-up against it's larger siblings.  


It's small size means that certain signature Vivid designs cannot be employed - no twin-opposed firing woofers, nor tapered tube for the midrange / woofer driver. However, they  managed to fit in a tapered tube for the tweeter, as well as the flowing curved cabinets seen in their Giya and Kaya range. To manage the back-force from the single midrange / woofer, a curved shell directly behind the driver absorbs and helps dissipate the energy. X-Audio informed me that this helps to reduce cabinet resonance in both the vertical and horizontal planes.

The S12's cabinet is finished in British racing green, although it looks almost black under normal lighting
A port is situated on the rear of the S12, with a single pair of binding posts placed below the port. As the binding posts are all the way at the bottom of the cabinet, stiff speaker cables and / or spade terminals could prove to be tricky as well as dangerous. 

Pricing has not yet been finalised, and there is also some talk about matching speaker stands. Given how small the S12 is, a dedicated stand with the ability to securely bolt down the speaker would be mandatory to avoid accidents. X-Audio hopes that the speaker with matching stands will be able to reach our shores with a price tag below S$ 10,000 (keep your fingers crossed).

Admittedly, the S12 will in all likelihood be priced dangerously close to the Kaya 25, but still significantly more affordable than the rest of Vivid's line-up. I did have some reservations - could it handle dynamic swings as well ? The small cabinet volume also meant limited low frequency response. The two-way design required the midrange / woofer to cover a wider frequency range and work much harder compared to Vivid's more sophisticated and complex multi-way designs.


My apprehensions turned out to be unnecessary Audiophile fussing - hearing the S12 proved to be satisfying and appealing to both my analytical and emotional demands. 

The S12 delivered a solid kick in the bass and sounds much larger than it's diminutive size. It makes full use of it's midrange / bass driver to sound full and deliver impact and weight when required. This is helped by unflappable composure at very high playback volumes, which is testament to the outstanding engineering of both the drive units and enclosure. 

Vivid speakers have many strengths, including excellent integration between drive units, super imaging and soundstaging, lightning fast transients, extremely high resolution and dynamic range. Most of these qualities are thankfully possessed by the S12. However, I felt that the S12 compromised on the scale and size of the soundstage - sounding smaller and less grand than Vivid's larger models. As brilliant as Laurence Dickie is, he is not able to re-write the laws of physics, and the S12 has limited low frequency output. This compromise is most noticeable on large-scale orchestral works and rock. 

On the positive side, the S12 really shines in near-field listening and would be my first choice as a near-field monitor. Given how prevalent small apartments are in Singapore, the S12 is a more suitable choice compared to Vivid's larger models. 


As a long time Giya G4 owner, it was very easy and comfortable to listen to the S12 over the duration of my listening session. I ended the session walking away very impressed that the S12 was able to deliver a performance as satisfying as the rest of Vivid's range, with some sensible and acceptable compromises. I eagerly await the S12 to make it into full production.

Price : TBD

X-Audio Pte Ltd

Bukit Timah Plaza
1 Jalan Anak Bukit #01-01S
Singapore 588996
Tel : 6466 4624