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YG Acoustics Sonja XVi. Wow. Just . . . wow.

Discussion in 'audio' started by Bob Edwards, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    So I drove up to Ft. Collins to drop my LP12 off with Rick. While there, he played me his big demo system - an LP12/Ekos SE/Lyra Atlas/Radikal/Tangerine Stiletto aluminum plinth/top plate, the D'Agostino phono preamp, VTL Siegfried monoblocks, and the speakers (with the optional subs!).

    And all I can say is wow. It's unbelievably good. Peter Gabriel, Sonny Rollins, Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix - the sense of ease, information retrieval and presentation, consistency, and lack of character were FAR beyond anything I've heard. And of course it should be - with cabling, etc., the system as a whole clocks in at about $750K USD. It's the first time I've heard a system that expensive that actually sounded like it was worth it.

    I'll never own anything like it, but my god was it fun to listen to.
    alan967tiger, Fatmarley, TimF and 7 others like this.
  2. Salamander

    Salamander pfm Member

    I can imagine VTL powered Sonja's sounding damn good.
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  3. Colin L

    Colin L High-tech low-life

    Sad but true... most people on PF who claim their system sounds "superb" have no idea how good a truly great system can sound. Its really quite hard to hear proper high-end systems in the UK and we usually lack the size of room to make them sing. Good for the money is usually the standard and is a world away from real high-end, costly though it can be.
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    I would be really interested in understanding some detail of "how a truly great system can sound". Sorry if this sounds like a challenge but it isn't and I am genuinely curious.

    Over many years I have developed my own reference. At the highest level it's a system that strongly reminds me of what I would hear in a good seat in some concert hall. I do then have a few details about what I think a system contributes to achieving that; and more details about what a system can do wrong to detract from it. I also have a few details about things that vary from concert hall to concert hall so they don't (for me anyway) come into the equation when comparing systems.

    I am really interested in understanding what people think a product-independent view is of what a "truly great system" does and doesn't do to make it so.
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  5. Colin L

    Colin L High-tech low-life

    At it's most simplistic a really great hifi doesn't sound like a hifi at all. It doesn't sound like a collection of boxes and transducers that produce "as close as possible" facsimile of events that have been recorded for reproduction. This has always been my aim.

    As Bob noted, a sense of ease which is what many systems lack. This relates to the ability to do scale, dynamics (micro and macro) without strain and allows you relax into the music.
    Resolution and reproduction of low-level detail preserves all the cues and details that recreate the ambience of the studio / concert hall, and bring the event into the room.
    A property I listen for is "energy" Which I think this relates to micro/macro dynamic range. This may be treading perilously close to the PRAT thread / car crash.
    Natural timbre and neutrality are preferred (though IMO not the be-all and end-all) but very obvious discrepancies will eventually jar and distract from the illusion of music in the room.

    The better a hifi system is, the less you notice it.
    Dirkster and Bob Edwards like this.
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    My question was because the reasoning about greatness I sometimes hear is fundamentally "I know it when I hear it". Without details, IMHO that isn't really informative. Hence my interest in some more precision.

    I don't get your use of "energy" at all - perhaps that's my misunderstanding.

    I don't agree exactly about "as close as possible" to an event - my version of that is "not in contradiction" to my experience of many similar real-world events. That is, to me anyway, rather different and leaves a quite wide latitude in my definition of greatness. That will also be personal in detail, since my real-world experience will mostly not be the same as for anyone else. So IMHO greatness almost certainly is a personal matter rather than a universal one.

    Timbre/tonality. Yes, this needs to be plausible for my key content: voices and piano to start with. Piano needs frequency response down to about the bottom note on an 88-key piano: 27.5 Hz. I am not in the "20 Hz" brigade and I am not sure there's much content in my normal listening in that lowest half-octave.

    But that 27.5 Hz needs to be reproduced at rather high SPL when demanded. Too incapable a bass driver and to my ears tonality changes displeasingly with dynamics and instrumental independence suffers from blurring. As volume goes up (including on transients) I recognize the need for a "sense of ease". There are candidate technical explanations I have for these but I won't go there now. And there is more in my mind about these and other issues but perhaps that's for later.

    My experience (from shows only, though) is that very expensive, very high-end systems can still do things that displease me by contradicting my experience. And less expensive systems can please me greatly within quite a latitude by doing nothing wrong within their capabilities. By not sounding like HiFi I personally think both ends of the range can achieve greatness.
  7. Darren L

    Darren L pfm Member

    Shocker! Lol, 3/4 million USD system sounds 'unbelievably good' , well so it should, a system at a 10th or even 100th of the price if well chosen, assembled and installed should sound good.
    Don't get me wrong, I realise that it's unusual for the average punter to get a chance to listen to a system in this price range in anything other than show circumstances.
    The best system I've personally heard in domestic circumstances was the top of the range Basis TT, Tri-planar, Lyra MC, top of the range Jeff Rowland amps and SF Stradivari Homage, it was unbelievably good to my ears. I didn't know any of the music being played, all piano recitals but it really did sound like a piano was in the room, the owner was a professional pianist who played with various orchestras though out the world.
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  8. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    When I go back on Friday to collect my LP12 I'll take a record or two with me. I don't know the name of one of the artists played, but it wounded like he was quite literally in the room - you could hear him breathing, moving, his clothes moving, etc. And while I've heard that level of detail before, in this case it was . . . incidental, for lack of a better word. You could hear it as you would in a small club or similar, but it wasn't a distraction at all, which I think is a sign of both information retrieval and that sense of ease. It wasn't pushed forward at you - it was just there.

    My grandfather taught piano and had a 9.5' Bosendorfer in his dining room (yes, really). It's what I learned to play on. I agree with John that a system needs to get to the bottom note of a piano, and Rick's system described above does that, which is very difficult to do IME. He's waiting on his big Vandersteens to come back; which he said are, in conjunction with a pair of subs, flat to 20 Hz. The Hendrix track he played was a riot - they played with phase so much it sounded like they were playing all around the room at points, and then the players would zoom back to the center.

    That system gave me an idea of what's possible in hifi, even if I'll never own a system like that. Cliche time - it also made me appreciate what I have, and will give some guidelines for moving forward should I want to. I hope everyone here has the chance to hear something like it.
  9. chris geary

    chris geary pfm Member

    All I can add to this discussion is that my reference is the master tape. Occasionally my system sounds like I am sitting behind the board in a large studio control room with the big reference monitors on, and either the mulitrack or the two track master playing on a good tape machine. Since I listen to rock, folk, etc, the live experience is not my reference, the studio master recording is, i think the appropriate reference. When my system sounds like the big monitors in a recording studio control room, I am happy.

    the only higher reference would be the sound of a mastering suite. Shooting for that next. Good thing I have a few mastering suites to listen to.
    eastone likes this.
  10. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Bob, good to see you having fun with your system, as well as being able to listen to an interesting system there, that many probably have little ability to ever hear. It is interesting how often these types of systems get poohed upon, whether it is due to sheer expense, or whatever, as there are times when this type of thing really can open a window to what really great, and yes, maybe ridiculously pricey, do. It’s easy to get into the “my setup sounds just as good at a fraction of the price” mindset. And that too is okay, we all do what we do. In the end, have fun and enjoy the trip! Hope everything else is good on your end as well!
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  11. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    Update: Visited Rick again with a good friend of mine last Saturday. Rick played both the YG Acoustics in the main room and the Vandersteen Kentos with a pair of subs in his upstairs room. My friend preferred the Vandersteen system - he described it as a little richer/warmer tonality-wise, which I'd agree with. Rest of the system was a Klimax LP12 with a Lyra Atlas, Audio Research Reference phono, D'Agostino preamp, and the Vandersteen M5-HPA amps. It also sounded great.

    That said, I still think the YG Acoustic system was significantly better - it was retrieving and presenting more musical information, without the slight blurring of the upstairs Vandersteen system. The YG Acoustics system also had a Tangerine Audio LP12 - sorry I don't recall the product name, but it had the machined plinth/top plate/base/feet/subchassis - a "full tilt" Tangerine LP12.

    I'd certainly have either one - if only I had the room! (Never mind the disposable income!)
    Salamander and clap like this.
  12. Salamander

    Salamander pfm Member

    Thanks for the update Bob, I would love to hear both systems, suspect I'd be in your camp regarding the one I'd prefer (and the disposable income :D )

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