To Doug Schneider,
By way of background: I have had a keen interest in the B1Ds since reading your review this past spring. Recently at RMAF my wife and I spent a good deal of time with Philip O'Hanlon (On a Higher Note) listening to the Giya G3. We also spoke at length with George (one of his dealers) about the difference between the G3 and the B1D loudspeakers, and after asking about what we generally listen to he recommended the B1D with Eclipse subwoofers to fill in the lower register. (I’ve never had a subwoofer in play in my system and I am not sure if this would add the bass I’d be missing with the B1D.)
At home, our room that is used for listening to two-channel audio is relatively small at 14’ x 13.5’. I love the full, rich sound of the G3 (it was almost indescribably good), but I wonder if the bass load would be too great in that small room. As an aside, after listening to the G3 my wife commented about how the G3 completely disappeared and this is the only speaker she’s heard that has so emotionally moved her.
I’ll be honest that we have not heard the B1D, but I do think I have a good feel for what it will sound like, except for the lower register, augmented or not. And then there’s the KEF Blade Two -- would it also potentially load too much bass in my room? But I do love the KEF’s absolutely stunning design and shape . . .
As you might be able to tell, I am a bit confused about which way to go. Our plan is to acquire new speakers in the spring and in order to secure a pair of the limited-edition B1Ds before they are sold out I will need to put money down now (without having a chance to listen to them). We also listened at length to the KEF at RMAF and really loved the Blade Two’s sound (although for my money, the G3 is one of the best-sounding loudspeakers I have heard -- but it is about $15k higher in cost). I guess the reason I am so confused is that I am incredibly interested in the great resolution and upper-range clarity that you describe for the B1D (and also for the KEF Blade Two) and don’t want to get the G3 if I have to forego that. But I want to hear enough bass as well. Isn’t there something in this relative price range that comes close to providing it all?
So, that’s my dilemma -- at these prices I want to make the right choice. Near the end of the summer we bought the Ayre KX-5 Twenty preamplifier and VX-5 Twenty amplifier and we are completely satisfied with these, but they deserve to have a better speaker system than my eight-year-old Dynaudio Confidence C2s. Yes, we have considered the new Magico S5 Mk.II, but I have been told quite plainly (by two different dealers) that the Ayre just won’t provide enough power to get the most out of the Magicos. And if that’s the case, then I’d rather not have to replace the Ayre [electronics] at the same time as the speaker acquisition.
Please help: How would you balance the trade-offs between the highs and the lows with these different speaker choices? Which one of these comes the closest to “providing it all”?
We do trust your experienced opinion, so thank you in advance for your thoughts.
First off, I need to point out that although I did review KEF’s Blade Two and Vivid Audio’s Oval B1 Decade, I didn’t review the Giya G3 -- Peter Roth did, on SoundStage! Ultra. Still, I’m very familiar with that model. Furthermore, I have reviewed the Giya G2.
When you’re paying up to $40,000 for a pair of speakers, you have many options -- so many that I could go on and on about what’s out there. However, for this answer, I want to confine my comments to the four speakers you mentioned: KEF’s Blade Two, Vivid Audio’s Oval B1 Decade and Giya G3, and Magico’s S5 Mk.II. Let’s start . . .
As much as I love the KEF Blade Twos for their sound and appearance, I think they would overload your room with too much bass -- 14’ x 13.5’ isn’t all that big. In my room, the Twos delivered extremely powerful bass, but the listening space I have here is much, much larger than what you have. If you want to still look at a KEF, consider the Reference 3, which is what I have in right now for review. It doesn’t produce the bass depth or fullness that the Blade Two does, but has a similar sound overall.
I would heed the advice of the dealers about the Magico S5 Mk.II. I haven’t reviewed that model but I have reviewed the original S5 and the V2. Both of those speakers needed quite a bit of power to really sing, so I can believe that the S5 Mk.II does as well. The VX-5 Twenty is fairly powerful, but it’s not super-powerful.
That leaves you with the choice between the Oval B1 Decade and the Giya G3. The B1D sells for $28,000 per pair and the Giya G3 sells for $40,000 per pair. Despite the higher price, it doesn’t automatically mean that the G3 is better. Instead, it’s probably going to come down to which you prefer.
When I reviewed the B1D, I found it to be a great improvement over the original B1. I also thought the B1D sounded clearer and cleaner through the midrange and highs than the Giya G2 (which costs almost twice as much). Still, the B1D couldn’t compete with the G2 in the bass -- the Giya G2 goes much deeper and with greater slam. And based on what I’ve heard from the G3, I have no doubt that it can deliver a little more bass than the B1D as well. Frankly, its inability to deliver powerful bass below about 35 or 40Hz is really the B1D’s only weakness. However, that’s offset by the fact that a pair of B1Ds costs $12,000 less than a pair of G3s -- you would definitely have enough left over to add a subwoofer if you need to. Still, don’t rush into buying one just yet. If you do buy a pair of B1Ds, which is the direction I’d lean, I suggest you set them up in your room, assess the bass performance, and then decide if you need more bottom end. There’s a good chance the B1Ds will provide all the bass you need, particularly since your room isn’t very big.
Do you have other choices? Definitely, which I mentioned at the outset. But with the information you gave me, that’s how I stand on your current choices. . . . Doug Schneider