All the drive units used for the Spirit are newly developed specifically for this application. Using a pair of 12" C225-100 bass units, which operate up to 220Hz, are much more massive than the original C225, and mounted in a completely new die-cast structure. Its voice-coil diameter has been increased from roughly 3" to nearly 4"; its length has been increased by 50%; and the magnetic gap has also been lengthened. Vivid claims 30% greater excursion and double the thermal power dissipation, from 300 to 600 watts, over the original C225s.
The new C125-75s lower midrange operates between 220Hz and 880Hz, and has also undergone a major redesign. While carbon-fiber peripheral stiffening rings, used to raise the frequency of the first break-up mode in all Vivid Audio dome drivers, were first developed over twenty years ago by Dickie, they have now been further refined, optimized, and patented. Vivid claims a dramatic improvement here, stating that this allows for raising the frequency of first breakup in the C125-75s from 4.3kHz to 10.5kHz. Further, its voice-coil diameter was also increased from about 2" to nearly 3". The basket and motor structure were also enlarged to accommodate the rest of the design upgrade, and it employs another Vivid Audio signature technology, Tapered Tube Loading.
First pioneered for the Nautilus, this loading technique employs an exponentially tapered tube extending behind and away from the rear of the driver’s diaphragm. This greatly diminishes resonant air pockets, the eigentones of the main cavity, and structural modes in the enclosure walls, reducing resonance and reflection from the rear wave of the diaphragm very significantly, and allowing the driver to operate more transparently and with greatly reduced colorations.
Next up, the D50 upper midrange, operating from 880Hz to 3.5kHz, features a computer-designed, deep-profile, catenary, anodized-aluminum-alloy diaphragm, the carbon-fiber stiffening rings, a radially polarized rare-earth magnet system, and an underhung, edge-wound aluminum voice coil with its thermal stability enhanced by filling the gap with magnetic fluid. The catenary profile, rather than a spherical one, is said to help the D50 maintain pistonic behavior for more than two octaves beyond its operating band, with its first breakup frequency not occurring until an amazing 20kHz, nearly two-and-a-half octaves above the range it is called upon to reproduce. It, too, utilizes Tapered Tube Loading.
Finally, we come to the D26 tweeter, covering 3.5kHz and up, which uses much of the same technology as the D50, including the catenary dome profile (optimized by computer finite element techniques to give an exceptional first break-up frequency above 44kHz!), and radially polarized magnet system. The motor uses eight segments of high-energy neodymium iron boron, an edge-wound aluminum voice coil, specially designed magnetic fluids, again to stabilize the voice-coil temperature, and Tapered Tube Loading. However, because the flux of the D26 is high enough to rip the magnetic particles out of suspension in conventional magnetic fluids, Vivid Audio worked with the U.S.’s Ferrotec Corporation to formulate a ferrofluid capable of withstanding the extreme conditions that exist in the D26.
Both the D50 and D26 have replaced the curved, crossed perpendicular bars used to protect the drivers from physical contact and damage with a new perforated grille system that, at first appearance, would surely seem to play havoc with dispersion and radiation patterns. (As troubling as they were to me visually, I really wasn’t sure what to think of them. They really looked as though they must have some form of sonic impact.)
As mentioned previously, the driver array—the C125-75s, D50, and D26—sits approximately 4" lower in the front of the Spirit than the drivers in the original G1. The woofers are ported to the room via two curved slots, approximately 10" tall, just to the rear of each woofer, and are reminiscent of both an automotive fender “grille,” and a violin, cello, or doublebass body’s F hole.
The Spirits include an exceptional passive crossover, housed in a stylish, external, rounded box, which attaches via an NL8 connection to a matching receiver on the bottom of the speaker through a small channel beginning at the rear of the base. This passive crossover is biwire-ready, and includes short jumper cables for single-wire options. But for the first time now in the Vivid Audio lineup, that input can be used to attach a user’s choice of an active crossover, allowing for some serious upgrade potential moving forward.
The Spirit may stand on the floor on its flat base, and that is how it was positioned in my room for the first 10 days or so, until I had located its optimum room placement. The base is fitted with six threaded receivers for the included very shallow profile (less than an inch tall) spikes. I questioned the sanity of using six spikes, and Dickie responded that, given the speaker’s already unique appearance, he opposed using an outrigger system to provide added stability. He felt that such an addition would only compound the already extreme aesthetic, and that this was the best alternative. The speakers are relatively stable when resting on their six spikes, but, they are easily tilted side to side, so you must be careful not to lean into one.
I’m sure I sound like the proverbial broken record, but I am adamantly opposed to the use of any more than three footers on any device, and not just speakers. As three points (spikes, for our discussion) are the maximum number of points necessary to describe a plane, the use of any more than this will ensure that only three will be touching the surface beneath them securely at any time. All the others will be floating to some degree, resonating, and thereby detracting from the overall effectiveness of the coupling/decoupling of the system.