Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Why the Giya G4

Vivid Audio's owners, Phillip Guttentag and Laurence Dickie, are the first to admit that the success of their Giya G3 loudspeaker took them by complete surprise. They knew that some customers wanted a smaller Giya than the middle-range G2 or flagship G1; they just didn't know there were going to be that many. Guttentag, who oversees the operations of the company's factory in South Africa, was in Tokyo for the annual Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS), and he told me, "I can't tell you for certain right now if more G3s have been sold than G1s in both their lifetimes, but right now we sell more G3s than anything -- by far."

Laurence and PhillipLaurence Dickie and Phillip Guttentag

The G3's success is why Guttentag and Dickie have decided to follow up by again going downmarket with an even smaller Giya, the G4, which they debuted at TIAS 2013. When I caught wind that Vivid was releasing a new speaker at TIAS, I made plans to take a trip there. I wanted to see and cover this event for a while since I've heard good things about it, but I also knew the importance of a new Giya release -- Vivid Audio is one of only a few topflight speaker companies operating today doing truly groundbreaking design work. As a result, a Giya-series loudspeaker is something the world needs to see and learn about, which is why I'm kicking off this "Product Debut" section of SoundStage! Global with it, direct from Tokyo. This series of articles will offer an in-depth look at everything this new speaker offers.

The idea of creating another smaller Giya before creating a new flagship might surprise some audiophiles, since the top-of-the-line G1, which retails in the United States for $68,000 per pair, is a fraction of the price that some competitors charge for their flagship speakers. Obviously, there's room for Vivid to move up. But what drives Vivid isn't price, but engineering. That said, Dickie, who is the chief designer at the company, didn't see the need for a bigger Giya yet, given how well the G1 performs in all respects. In other words, he's perfectly happy with it. But he saw the need for a G4, partly because of the success of the G3, which indicated people desired smaller ones, but mainly because of the engineering challenge involved in once again "scaling down" in the way he likes to do it -- essentially, similar Giya sound in a tinier form.

Giya G4 and G1G1 and G4

Dickie believes he's succeeded with the G4, although he admits it took some tweaking to do it. "When the first version was done, I didn't like it," he said. "It didn't sound right." But that's normal with the first crack at anything, so with subtle changes here and there he said he quickly arrived at something "that sounded just like a Giya." That's what was showing at TIAS 2013 -- the very first pair made.

The G4's price hasn't been finalized yet, since it's brand new and won't be shipping until the spring of 2014, but it will obviously be priced at less than the G3, which is $40,000 per pair in the US. My own suspicions are $30,000 to $35,000. But what the main sell feature for this speaker appears to be isn't price, but size -- small size. In Japan, where space is at a premium, smaller is often preferred over larger, which is the main reason this speaker made its debut here.

Doug Schneider
Publisher, The SoundStage! Nework