Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


I have a recurring dream. It’s not exactly a nightmare because it’s not overtly scary. I emerge from it more perplexed than unsettled. It goes like this. I’m sitting in the corner of a dimly lit room, and right there in the middle of the room is what’s ostensibly a single Vivid Audio Kaya 45 speaker. This right here is odd, huh? A dream about a speaker?

I reviewed the Kaya 45 back in 2019 and was utterly enamored by the experience. I almost bought a pair, but the timing wasn’t right for me to lay out that kind of coin. When I packed the Kaya 45s into their boxes and sent them back to the distributor, I experienced an honest-to-God sense of loss. It’s fair to say that this speaker affected me deeply. Read the review and you’ll see what I mean.

Vivid Audio

Back to that dream. Each time I’d close my eyes, or turn my glance away, the Kaya would move slightly. I’d never catch it moving, but I knew it was alive, animated in some way, recalling, I guess, that scene from the movie Prometheus, where the proto-alien hammerpede winds up Millburn’s arm and kills him. Anyway, the upshot is that the Kaya 45 invaded my subconscious and wouldn’t let go.

So there I was, in Vivid’s room at High End 2024, and right at the end of this space was a pair of the company’s new Moya M1 speakers ($465,000 for the pair, all prices in USD unless otherwise specified). I’d seen these guys in two recent SoundStage! InSight videos with Laurence Dickie explaining the underlying technology—the first is mostly about the bass cabinets, and the next is mainly about the other drivers. I won’t go into detail about the Moya M1’s construction, as Dickie says more in those videos than I could here, and says it more clearly, so I suggest you nip over to YouTube and check them out for yourself.

Now I’ve got another monster invading my dreams. In person, the Moya M1 is even more intimidating than in videos and photos. When I went into the room, the two Moya M1s seemed to be coming toward me, twin Borg Cubes, flying bank-vault doors. Walking around them and looking at the back end, I decided that Vivid missed an opportunity, as there really needs to be red-orange flames shooting out each speaker’s ass.

Vivid Audio

When we entered the Vivid room, the two space destroyers were playing some odd musical selections. There was a baroque piece that featured a massively incisive violin that rocketed across the room, just in front of the plane of the speakers. That was followed by Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, with these monsters whacking out a juicy bottom end. Fast forward to Natalie Merchant, the Moya M1s threw a massive soundstage, giving no clue to their huge footprint, handling this soft track with appropriate delicacy. Next up was a number by Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, sounding extremely civilized.

I was getting a bit antsy with all this polite music. I wanted to hear something huge that slammed, because these speakers are huge and they obviously do slam. Suddenly—fuck me—some sort of rap music (which I actively dislike) was playing, but it had low bass that literally, truly, shook the room like nothing else I’ve ever heard. It gave me eye wobble, which I haven’t experienced since my car-audio days. Those eight woofers in each enclosure really do what they’re told. This is a very impressive speaker, and that’s no surprise, right? Whenever I’ve heard a Vivid speaker at a show, it’s always sounded superb. The Moya M1 was like that, only more so. Superb with a bullet.

A day later, we stopped back into the Vivid room, ready to strongarm a couple of requests. We pulled the trigger on “Fight” by the Tragically Hip. This song goes from zero to a hundred real quick, and it’s got just enough space around it to give this system room to breathe. Here, the Moya M1s took my breath away with attack, dimensionality, and sheer muscular force. From the whipcrack, bottomless bass, right up to the tits on top of the cymbals, it was immersive and clear, even at the elevated volume we made them play it at.

Doug calmed things down with Bruce Cockburn’s “Pacing the Cage,” an emotion-laden acoustic track with surprisingly deep bass, which the Moyas cranked out without even breathing hard. Here, the dynamics of Cockburn’s voice jumped to the front, with his acoustic guitar also showing a remarkable quickness. While I easily relaxed into the track, at the same time the Moyas shot out so much information that I found myself flipping into analytical mode and deconstructing each component of the music—the round steeliness of the guitar, the breath as it exited Cockburn’s mouth. It was all there. Wonderful!

I’d like to draw your attention to the supporting cast. As I walked around the room, I was dazzled by some of the gear, and impressed with the modesty of other parts. Although the room had four of them going, the Mola Mola Ossetra ($10,900 each) isn’t a big he-man mono amp. It’s a compact class-D unit, and the pair of them were a bit of a contrast with the massive, blacked-out Moya M1s.

Vivid Audio

The Kronos Perpetual turntable is so new it’s not even on Kronos’s website right now. It’s startling in its mass, complexity, and sheer labyrinthine beauty. It’s a Pantheon, a Sphynx. It’s the Louvre of turntables. How did the ancient Egyptians make the pyramids? How did Kronos make this turntable?

Add up all the parts—the tonearm, phono stage, ’table with power supply—and we’re talking $180,000 before even considering the cartridge. What’s nutso here is that when Ewald Verkerk, international sales director of Vivid and Mola Mola, threw out that number, I didn’t flinch. Yeah, I thought. That sounds about right.

Cables were all by Kubala-Sosna. There were some other Mola Mola components and an Audionet Planck2 CD player. But this is all about the Vivid Moya M1s.

I was prepared to be impressed, if not intimidated, by the Moya M1s, given how taken I was by the little mouse that is the Kaya 45, and given that the giant Moya M1 is a cost-no-object exercise. The room in which Vivid was playing the Moya wasn’t huge, but the sound seemed to appropriately scale down so that the speakers didn’t overwhelm the space. It’s an immensely impressive speaker, but it feels to me like a short show audition is far from adequate to really get a feel for this product that transcends its genre. Problem is, the Moya M1 is just a tiny bit too big for my room.

I’ll just have to file away my brief-but-impressive Moya M1 encounters under those experiences that will guide my reviewing life. Here’s what’s possible, but you can’t have it, Jason.

Jason Thorpe
Senior Editor, SoundStage!