Aurelia vs. Vivid vs. Volent

To Doug Schneider,

Well I just did not read your Aurelia XO Cerica review once, but about five times, or at least sections of it. Thank you for your site and reviews.

A HUGE, Tangible, 3D, and Holographic presentation is paramount for me, and a large reason for my high-end-audio interest. So your comments caught my interest. I am wondering how close to the Vivid G2s did the Cericas come in resolution and transparency. Are we talking very, very close? Also, the Vivid’s narrow, sloping, diffraction-free front baffle tells me they had to be imaging champions and would be a top pick for a fantastic-imaging speaker. I am very well familiar with the Volent VL-2s, which you reviewed. Can you comment how they would compare? I know you are a busy guy, so any input is appreciated.

Ron Valliant

I noticed that you capitalized certain words on purpose, likely because they’re important things for you, so I’m keeping that in mind with my response.

If I had an unlimited amount of money to spend on my speakers, I’d buy a pair of Vivid Audio Giya G2s. When I consider all aspects of performance, they are, by quite a large margin, still the very best speakers I’ve heard in my room -- and there have been many in here over the years. But they’re obviously expensive ($50,000 per pair in the US!), so out of reach for most.

That said, Aurelia’s XO Cerica is the most impressive speaker I’ve reviewed since the G2s were around. The Cericas’ combination of soundstage size and imaging precision remains unsurpassed by any other speakers that have been in my room, at least when you are in the sweet spot, meaning the center position (important!). That includes the G2s, which are imaging champs and do cast a stage just as large as the Cericas', but not one quite as specific and holographic when you're in that center listening position. To me, the Cerica is the ultimate one-person-listening speaker. I believe the Cerica's superiority over other speakers in those specific areas, particularly image specificity, has to do mostly with the unique driver alignment on the front baffle -- it's acting as a line source and allows for a very focused soundfield directed right at the listening position. By focusing the sound like that, there's a tremendous reduction in floor and ceiling reflections, which tend to interfere with the soundstaging and imaging the most. The downside of the Cerica's driver alignment is that, since vertical dispersion is severely limited, you have to be seated in the sweet spot to hear a neutral tonal balance as well as the kind of soundstaging and imaging I’m talking about, which is why I keep stressing the listening position. In contrast, the G2s sound very similar whether you are sitting down, standing up, or way out to the sides, and provide a more credible soundstage out of the optimal listening position. You decide what works for you and your room.

Insofar as transparency and resolution go, the Cerica is indeed, very, very close to the G2, if not very, Very, VERY close, which surprised me. I don’t know exactly what accounts for the transparency and resolution, but if I had to guess I'd say it has to do with the use of the waveguide and the three tweeters nestled inside it. The three tweeters are sharing the load and the waveguide greatly improves their overall efficiency, so each tweeter is hardly working at all compared to one doing all the work, which, in turn, means greatly reduced distortion, less chance of overheating, and higher output capability.

Volent’s VL-2 is a good speaker that can produce deeper bass than the Cerica, but other than that, I prefer everything else about the Cerica. All in all, Aurelia’s XO Cerica is a clever design that delivers spectacular sound, which is why I like it so much. I also suspect that you'll like it just as much, if not more, given your desire for a “HUGE, Tangible, 3D, and Holographic presentation.” Frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. . . . Doug Schneider