I’m writing to express my gratitude for the services of Philip O’Hanlon and On a Higher Note in the recent purchase of my Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit loudspeakers.
I’ve known Philip for several years now, as he was instrumental in the purchase of my previous speakers, Vivid Audio Giya G2s. Philip’s knowledge of music and audio is wonderful and encyclopedic; his annual demo CD selections are always amazing, and he consistently has one of the best sounding rooms each year at RMAF. (I’ll never forget the year he told me to purchase a particular Nat “King” Cole LP, and offered to personally refund me the purchase price if I didn’t like the album. Perhaps needless to say, Philip didn’t have to open his wallet.)
When he informed me that I HAD to have a pair of the newly released Giya G1 Spirits, I knew that he wasn’t trying to “sell me”; he knows my musical tastes well and knows what I appreciate from a state-of-the-art speaker.
Not long after RMAF 2017, Philip showed up in my home in Colorado, for installation, and the rest was history…
First came the massive G1 Spirit crates, and a day later, so did Philip. We carried (literally, a two-person job at a minimum) the G1 Spirits into the house from their crates. It was soon time to place them in their initial positions and fire up the system to see if we got all the wiring correct. The G1 Spirits use a unique connection whereby the speaker cables now attach to the rear of dedicated external crossover boxes, and an umbilical runs from the crossover to terminals located on the bottom of each speaker. This is infinitely better than the previous method of connection Vivid Audio used, where the speaker wires ran to the bottom of the speakers directly, as there was always a concern about speaker cable size and flexibility with that arrangement. With the external crossovers, you can now use whatever size cable in whatever configuration you like, from single runs of thin cable to a bi-wired configuration of the largest “garden hose” cable you can source.
Even with the G1 Spirits simply placed where the G2s had been, the difference in sound was immediately palpable. Though they were significantly larger in size, they didn’t present an oversized soundstage in any way, just more of the wonderful qualities I had come to appreciate from the G2s, with the addition of the extreme LF registers that had been missing from the G2s.
Philip soon got the G1 Spirits positioned through a technique of playing a recording he knew well – the title track from Shelby Lynne’s “Just a Little Lovin'” – in mono, first with one speaker, then the other. The goal was to get each speaker to sound identical in mono, in order to reduce the effect of room reflections and reinforcements as much as possible. The speakers eventually ended up a bit further apart and a bit closer to the listening position than the G2s had been, but not by much – mere inches.
Once the mono configuration had been completed, it was time to listen in stereo, and the experience was truly sublime. Sound staging was much improved over the G2s, giving an even greater sense of depth (something the G2s had by no means been poor at.) However the greatest change was a deeper, fuller sound, providing more of the extreme LF I thought the G2s had been lacking and adding an ease of pressurization of the space the G2s could only dream of.
Philip and I spent some time listening to some of his recordings, followed by some of mine, including the new Mobile Fidelity One Disc LP of Donald Fagan’s “The Nightfly.” It was clearly the best I had ever heard the album sound, and Philip was quite impressed as well. We played several LP tracks and several cuts from discs Philip had brought with him that he knew well and were soon convinced that the system had indeed been pretty well dialed in. Total elapsed time from opening the crates to nirvana was only about five hours, and most of that had been spent listening to the results.
It’s an audiophile cliche to say that I started running through all my favorite albums again just to hear what they sounded like on the G1 Spirits, but that was indeed the case. Each disc or LP revealed new detail, new sound I hadn’t heard before but now seemed as obvious as day, from notes I hadn’t resolved before to the realization that I wish some orchestra members hadn’t been moving quite as often in their squeaky seats. Several of my demo tracks on a custom CD-R I use for demo purposes – Amy Grant’s version of Jimmy Webb’s “If These Walls Could Speak,” Frank Sinatra’s “Pocketful of Miracles,” Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Mr. Bojangles” and Karla Bonoff’s “The Water is Wide” – sounded better than I had ever heard them on any system, bar none. A low pipe organ note, such as on Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”) or Hans Zimmer’s “No Time For Caution” (from the soundtrack to the film “Interstellar,”) were not overwhelming or overblown; the room simply shook when the notes were played, as intended.
Just before he left, when I felt I had them sounding their best, Philip helped me to install the spikes atop which the speakers sit in my room, firmly coupling them to the floor under my room’s carpet.
If I had to sum up the sound of the G1 Spirits in one word, it would be “ease.” Ease of presenting a deep and wide sound stage. Ease of presenting each detail and nuance present in the original recording without ever being tiring. Ease of producing extreme low frequency notes. Ease in presenting dynamics (they sound just as wonderful playing the effects on a movie soundtrack as they do an audiophile LP.)
If I had to sum up my dealings with Philip and On a Higher Note, I would have to use that same word: “ease.” They made the entire purchase process completely painless, something one would hope would be the case when making an investment of this considerable size. Their professionalism and desire to make MY experience as pleasant as possible was very much appreciated, and I haven’t for a moment regretted the purchase of the G1 Spirits nor have I wished any part of my experience with On a Higher Note had been any different (except perhaps for wishing Vivid Audio could produce equivalent speakers for about half the price, but we’d all prefer new Porsche 911 Turbos priced at $40,000 as well. :-))
I wholeheartedly recommend the Vivid Audio G1 Spirit as being one of the very best speakers I’ve ever experienced and On a Higher Note as people very easy to work with and who actually care, deeply about the products they sell and about making their customers happy.
– Bill K., CO