Say of it what you will, one cannot help but concede that British audio maestro Vibe Audio (or just Vibe) is a bona fide master of its chosen art. That said though its path to success has been somewhat of a motley one. Starting from humble beginnings in 1993 manufacturing subwoofers, Vibe quickly gained momentum, expanding its stable to encompass everything from component speakers through to amplifiers.
Yet despite winning many a competition and accumulating accolades aplenty during its tenure, it’s fair to say that in this country Vibe has battled to gain mainstream recognition as a serious sound quality contender. Even today I still hear Vibe being saddled with the moniker of king of the affordable brands, thus revealing a degree of ignorance given the calibre of equipment this tenacious designer is capable of producing.
History will show this little conundrum didn’t escape the attention of company founder Carl Venables either. Along with most others who’ve purchased Vibe, Carl was acutely aware the company was not only capable of creating superb component speakers, but in actuality had done so numerous times already. Determined to blow the aforementioned presupposition out of the water, once and for all, Carl authorised the Vibe engineering team to design a set of component speakers which would not only silence the critics permanently but also metaphorical nail Vibe’s colours to the sound quality mast.
Logically christened CVEN; the new range comprises of two configurations starting with the 2-way CVEN62C-V4 component set. However because we’ve reviewed this genre in abundance hitherto we thought we’d ratchet it up a notch and instead put the 3-way CVEN63C-V4 through their paces. The CVEN63C-V4 is a full passive component set, and opening the sturdy packing container reveals two tweeters, two midranges, two mid-bass drivers and two crossovers to distribute the signal, all neatly cradled in moulded foam.
Let’s start with the CVEN1 tweeter. The result of literally years of meticulous materials research and development, it begins with a precision coated textile diaphragm shaped specifically to project its sound well forward, in a wide azimuth and with minimal distortion and breakup. Married to the dome is a carefully profiled surround which affords the tweeter a sensitivity of 89.5dB, aided by the lightweight motor living beneath which features a 4-ohms copper clad aluminium voice coil wrapped on a 22mm vented former. This is encased in a neodymium magnet and the whole affair resides within a labyrinth chamber designed to equalise pressure and trap troublesome back waves, keeping them away from the underside of the dome. Cooling is handled via an elaborate venting system and allows for a continuous power handling ability of 30 watts or maximum of 60 watts. It’s refreshing to see realistic power ratings as opposed to the outlandish ones we’re used to seeing plastered everywhere. This power is transported via gold plated terminals and flexible lead wires, durability being the key here.
The CVEN3 midrange is specially designed to handle the region between the other two drivers, a region which often lends itself to critical information such as vocals. Therefore Vibe designed the driver primarily to deliver a smooth response which remains linear even under the most austere of conditions. The diaphragm is constructed from a paper composite material and is able to resist considerable external pressures while offering superior damping characteristics thanks, by and large, to the intrinsic properties of the suspension. Forming the aforesaid suspension top and bottom is a butyl rubber surround and flat rolled Conex spider respectively. Together these return a sensitivity of 86.5dB and work in harmony with a 135g ferrite magnet in order to concentrate the densest portion of the magnetic flux onto the 4-ohms copper clad aluminium voice coil living on a 22mm fiberglass voice coil former. Boasting a similar cooling system to its larger brother, the CVEN3 is considerably over engineered given its power rating of 40 watts continuous or 80 watts maximum. Four large perimeter vents located between each of the fingers allow titanic amounts of air to enter the motor as it reciprocates, with the zephyr evacuating via a 10mm pole vent once it’s snaked its way over the voice coil gaps. The 39mm deep basket is a stamped steel item that’s been coated in black for that industrial look, and features plated terminals upon the side.
The down low
Last but not least is the CVEN6 midbass driver. Quite a beefy little number, these feature a similar parabolic profiled paper composite cone to the midrange drivers, albeit somewhat thicker in order to offer far superior resistance to physical deformation. However, despite this additional girth, the diaphragm still retains the ability to provide exceptional acceleration and deceleration ability without decay or distortion, its inherent damping providing a very neutral and colour free performance not to mention delivering incredible linearity over its entire frequency range.
Central to this graceful motion and indeed giving the driver its sensitivity of 91.5dB is the suspension which features a butyl rubber surround up top and Conex spider below, all housed within an aerodynamically transparent cast alloy basket which has been powder coated black, the alloy thus selected for its intrinsic magnetic properties or lack thereof. Bolted to this is the 400g ferrite magnet and this all but conceals the motor as it exerts extreme force over the 32mm vented fibreglass former which holds the 4-ohms copper-clad aluminium voice coil.
One glance will confirm Vibe has also over engineered the cooling for this driver with direct air injection coming courtesy of six large perimeter vents located between the web fingers. The warm air is thenceforth guided over the back of the voice coil, through the former venting and into the inner sanctum before being shunted gently out the 10mm pole vent. This is conducive to a power handling ability of 60 watts continuous and over double that for peak bursts.
With the drivers handling the brawn of the output, the brains of the outfit of course are the crossovers. In order to achieve the optimum result Vibe engineers spent an eternity on their design, devising the best combinations of summation logarithms and roll-off slopes before then incorporating the best quality components from such esteemed names as Mundorf, just to namedrop the most famous one. Crossing is undertaken utilising both first and second order slopes and in addition to the usual suspects there’s also a jumper which allows you to high-pass the midbass at 90Hz, else you let it play full range and roll off naturally.
Dimensions-wise they measure 125mm x 120mm x 42mm and are finished with a sensational-looking mix of blackened Perspex top and bottom with gold riser bars sandwiched between. This not only allows you to see the internals, but also allows for highly effective thermal dissipation. The hand-selected components include six main capacitors and two inductors; one air core wrapped with 0.5mm wire and one iron-core wrapped in 0.8mm wire. The topology of the circuit board is carefully thought through, with those components more thermally challenged residing closest to the passing air. The terminals are lined along the front and are gold plated to resist corrosion.
While the installation of these components shouldn’t be too challenging, the mounting depth might prove problematic if you’re attempting installation into the factory locations of something akin to a late model Japanese car. Power requirement is a point worth revisiting too as most 3-way component sets demand decent amplifier power. However, because the CVEN63C-V4 components boast comparatively undemanding motors they can be powered by all but the most modest of amplifiers, including your OEM one if need be.
During auditioning I wanted to ensure I got the absolute best from these speakers ergo I mated them up to a high quality amplifier which offered plenty of clean power. Post running them in to loosen the suspension a little I moved head long into auditioning. My immediate impression was that I was onto a real winner here, indeed an impression that stuck with me throughout the entire experience which is rare. As a reviewer you often ‘get used’ to speakers fairly quickly, whereas the CVEN63C-V4 just kept impressing me. They’re a superbly linear component set and although a portion of this phenomenon is of course attributed to the environment; you cannot escape just how smooth they’re overall output is.
The highs are very detailed and the midrange offers an extremely measured and natural sound. The midbass drivers not only play low end notes with wonderful accuracy and control, they also retain the ability to kick when pushed to play those heavier notes. Notes intrinsic to harder genres such as metal and dance which are, coincidentally, of an octave high enough to prevent the subwoofer concealing any design shortcomings your midbass drivers may possess.
The CVEN63C-V4 component set delivers with aplomb, thus befitting the evolution and maturing of Vibe as a designer. To all those who’ve previously been critical, I’ll hazard the supposition that an audition of this component set may just render you intensely silent.
Vibe Audio CVEN63C-V4
3-way component speakers
+ Clever engineering & high build quality, Superb performance, highlighted by a stunning midrange
- May take a bit of tinkering to fit in some vehicles
Type: 6.5-, 3- & 1-inch component speakers
Power Handling: 30/40/60 watts continuous, 60/80/120 watts maximum
Frequency Response: 45Hz – 20000Hz
Impedance: 4 ohms