兩極之間精妙、精彩變化 – YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2

今年初,YG Acoustics 宣佈將最新的旗艦技術,BilletDomeTM 高音單元,以及ViseCoilTM 分音器低通濾波用電感器技術,轉移到 Hailey 系之上,升級改良成新一代,即 Hailey 2。仍然是由 YG Acoustics 創始人兼總工程師 Mr. Yoav Geva 親自設計及開發,保存原 Hailey 成熟的基礎架構、優點之同時,令 Hailey 系由高音到低音 都推展至一新境界。

較友善

首代 Hailey 於 2014 推出,以旗艦 Sonja 為藍本,承襲了 Sonja 的設計、技術、架構模式、用料、聲音特質及造型美學,也就是旗艦的替身,按比例的輕量版、濃縮版。而至現實又簡單直接的講法, 正是旗艦的經濟版、友善版,不單只是消費,也對聆聽空間大小的 要求較友善。

緊次於旗艦系的 Hailey 2 系,其現有成員除兩款二路喇叭仔 Hailey 2R (連掛牆架,專供多聲道後置或側置用) 及 Hailey 2.1 外,就是本欄今回的主角,三路中型座地喇叭 Hailey 2.2。

外觀分別

外觀上,今篇主角 Hailey 2.2 跟上一代 (即Hailey 1.2),驟眼睇似無明顯分別,仍是三路三路元,聲箱形態、尺寸亦相若,由充當上二路的 Hailey 2.1 跟匹配的低音模組,上、下兩模組結合而成, 並互相鎖緊如一體。再細心比較的話,較明顯的分別在背板上,那二路分頻接線柱 (訊號輸入端),由過去 Hailey 1.2 設於低音模組背後近腳位置,改成現在 Hailey 2.2 的於低音模組背後近頂位置,也就差不多是整座Hailey 2.2 的半腰高度。一經上移,即由接線柱至上二路 (Hailey 2.1) 之內部接線行程,較上一代縮短一大截,這意味著損耗失真更少。

如再仔細觀察 Hailey 2.2 的高音單元,定會發現其軟半球振膜背後,多了一個上一代 Hailey 所沒有的放射型支架,這就是由 Hailey 進化 Hailey 2 的兩大重要改良之一。

長久的爭論

三路三單元的 Hailey 2.2,文首已提到,它所採用的高音單元,就是由旗艦系 Sonja 轉移過來的 BilletDomeTM 高音單元。 長久以來,人們都在爭論,究竟軟半球振膜更流暢自然? 抑或硬半球振膜延伸力更強更通透? YG Acoustics 表示,他們自行研發,並正在申請專利的新設計,結合了軟及硬半球振膜兩者優點的 BilletDome 高音單元,該有能力為這場長久的爭論,畫上句號!

放射形框架

YG Acoustics 稱,BilletDome 高音單元是他們最複雜的機械發明之一,其放射形框架以由鋁坯加工而成,該放射形支架僅重 30 毫克,但支撐的關鍵部分 比典型的硬半球振膜厚 14 倍,令這高音振膜的結構強度超越了市場上其他由特硬材質製成的硬半球高音振膜。於高音單元那軟半球振膜背後,僅重 30 毫克的 放射形支架,被稱為 AirFrame,就似一貫的 YG Acoustics 中音或低音音盆般, 利用 CNC 電腦數位車床,由原塊鋁材刨挖而成。 由於這框架的製作標準非常嚴格,篩選時有著非常高的精準度要求,故 YG Acoustics 表示,即使已交由德國製的高精度 CNC 電腦數位車床製造,現階段亦 只有大約六成可以通過終極的品檢。通過終極品檢的框架,會被發送到他們的合作夥伴Scan-Speak,Scan-Speak 利用其獨特的粘合劑,將 AirFrame 框架跟 絲半球振膜合二為一,然後再交回 YG Acoustics,跟磁驅系統及主框架進行最終組裝。

高音單元的磁驅系統及支架,從設計到製作均由 YG Acoustics 一手包辦,利用廠內超精確之電腦數位車床裁製各零部件,得以在磁驅系統及框架上,實現 ForgeCoreTM 磁驅設計那精微的三維幾何結構,得以大幅調低失真,令聲音更柔順自然。

1000G 重力

人們認為,戰鬥機師在飛行中爆發式加速時,須承受高達 9G 的重力,已是非常嚴峻的情況,但相比之下,實也未到高音單元振膜的百分之一。高音單元振膜於其正常的活塞運動間,實要處理每秒交替數千次的極端加速度動作,理論上可產生1000G 左右的重力。面對這極端嚴格的工作需要,YG Acoustics 明白到有需要研 發一個,不像軟半球振膜那樣在 20kHz 以上自然滾降,也不要似硬半球振膜般,在高於其頻率上限時,明顯出現鈴振的高音單元。經過一番努力,他們想出於軟半球振膜材質背後,以堅硬而輕質的放射形框架支撐,這就是無共振的 BilletDome 高音單元。

提高了 60%

至於關乎低音方面重要改良,就在分音器低通濾波的電感器之上,YG Acoustics 自行研製的 ViseCoilTM 低音電感器。

ViseCoil 低音電感器之製作,他們於自家工廠內自行纏繞,並採用由 CNC 製造的老虎鉗式結構之重型實心框架封裝、 固定,大大減少因振動而帶來的失真誤差。 YG Acoustics 的測量顯示,額外能量損耗減少了近 25%,線性度更提高了大約 60%,足以帶來更佳的低音控制力,更強 的低音衝擊力,並減輕後級的負擔。

據知,他們內部曾進行過一個非常規的酷刑級測試,將  ViseCoil 電感器直接接上市電 (美國),即 120V 交流電源插座,相當於持續接入 540 瓦的 60Hz 訊號之下,竟無出現明顯鈴振聲或物理振動,玆証明 ViseCoil 的確超穩陣。

Hailey 2.2 的整套分音網絡,當然使用 YG 自行開發之專利軟件進行設計,專利的 DualCoherentTM 分音器技術,三路分音下,其分頻點為 65Hz 和 1.75kHz,能提供最佳頻率響應及相對相位。再配合自行研發、繞製,專利之 ToroAirTM 氣芯電感,得以進一步消除分音器層面之串音失真,並確保高音之細緻、無渣,不過於光輝亦 不帶嘶聲。

市場上唯一

Hailey 2.2 的中音及低音單元,當然沿用 YG Acoustics 至聞名的專利音盆技術 BilletCoreTM。看似普通之金屬音盆,背後 / 內裏確實殊不簡單。 並非以金屬片或金屬箔壓鑄成形之一般料子,其真身為一件厚厚呈圓柱狀之實心航空級鋁合金錠,將之投入 CNC 電腦數位車床中,精確地切割刨挖成盆狀,就連音盆中央之相位錐,以至音盆背面之結構支撐,亦就此一體刨挖出而成。從音盆的深度、直徑,即可估量出那鋁合金錠有多厚重,最終刨挖出僅三、幾十公克重,厚度只 0.2mm 左右之音盆,足見其不惜工本,追求完美的態度! 專利之 BilletCore 音盆技術,該是市場上唯一,在製作過程中原金屬結構未被扭曲、擠壓變形,音盆與支撐結構關係至緊密,至為一體化之金屬音盆,其剛性及精確度居 同類產品之領先地位。更是既無陶瓷音盆易碎之憂,亦不 似碳纖編織音盆般,日子有功,編織結構可能出現鬆散, 甚至潰散,規格失效。據稱,BilletCore 音盆技術可帶來壓倒性優勢之動態、細膩的音樂及低失真。

機械接觸、接地

Hailey 2.2 看似一體,出廠、運送時都一體,實質由 Hailey 2.1 跟匹配的低音模組組合而成,兩箱體間之頂板跟底板互相鎖緊如一體,使到兩個本是獨立之模組式聲箱,

緊貼緊密地連成一體,重點在於控震,令兩層模組式獨立聲箱從頂到底,由上至下之機械接觸、接地都更實在,叫多餘之震動能量,得以瞬間由上而下傳遞,落地導走。 要達到上述震動能量瞬間導走之效,關鍵既在於結構,亦在於物料。物料硬度愈高,密度愈大,結構愈穩, 能量滯留、儲存時間就愈短,即震動能量流過之速度就愈快。故理論上,金屬聲箱之音染該遠低於木聲箱,但要製作一個高質素之金屬聲箱,技術要求相當高。

YG Acoustics 選用極高規格之航空用高硬度鋁合金來打造聲箱各部份,再配合結構牢固又導震效率高強之箱體結構。為求達到極端嚴格的低誤差製作水平,他們更自置多台德國或日本製,身價高昂之 CNC 電腦數位車床,務求高度精準地裁出每一零 / 部件,精確地切割、刨挖出零部件之各個部位。要知道,每個零部件之間的接合位,只要其中一瓣差之毫釐,亦足以拖垮整體之牢固度、穩定度,以 至震動能量傳遞效率,箱音染、失真即隨之而來。

重兼低重心

全金屬箱下,每座 Hailey 2.2 重達 167磅 (26kg),再配合上窄下濶又深之設計,即重兼低重心之下,馬步就更穩,愈能夠牢牢地站著。半分不移、不搖之下,就愈有效發揮其機械式接地,導走多餘震動能量之能力。 以航空用高硬度鋁合金來打造聲箱各部份,利用硬加重來導震、控震之餘,將負責不同頻段單元之箱體獨立、 模組化起來,並採取密閉式箱體結構,透過 YG Acoustics 專利之 FocusedEliminationTM 反共振技術,得以抵銷共振, 更進一步將自身震動之構成條件消除,即使在極端高音壓 輸出下,震動情況依然維持非常低水平。

非常新鮮的感覺

在本社的四百五十方呎大房中擺開 Hailey 2.2,擺成兩喇叭高音單元中軸相距約 112 吋,前障板至後牆約 64 吋,離側牆約 44 吋,再拗入 Toe-in 至不見外側板,只見少許內側板,聽距約 118 吋。

關於配器,即使有 Accustic Arts Tube DAC II Mk2 膽解碼,亦有金嗓子 C-3850前級及 P-7300 後級,仍掩蓋不了 Hailey 2.2 的特色,就是一份非常新鮮的感覺。所指的不是鮮有接觸、經驗得到的那種新鮮,而係明亮、光鮮、有生氣、生命力強的那種新鮮。但有前設,就是音量設定上不 要太斯文或保守,音量扭得愈大,愈能夠表現其新鮮又失 真奇低的本色。在本社四百五十方呎的大試音室中,即使我肆意扭大音量,只三路三單元,(連懸掛邊計)中音口 徑 6 吋 / 低音口徑 9 吋的 Hailey 2.2,亦無因盆分裂 (觸及諧振頻率) 而出現吵耳的失真聲。尤其高音,響亮、明亮、 穿透力強、多細節而毫不刺耳,更是音量扭得愈大,愈能 夠帶出其生猛又新鮮的潛能。

帶情緒的金屬顫音

如聽慣傳統木聲箱、低音反射式負載喇叭,更是首次接觸這全金屬箱、幾近金屬箱單元的 Hailey 2.2 或 YG Acoustics 喇叭者,如感到其中低音打下較輕、較斯文的 話,或許是未習慣,又或是音量不足,未扭到有效音壓。

播出《Audio Compass 2016》中的〈Drums Improvisation〉,每一件敲擊樂器即實實在在地擺開,更 是我聽過其中一次最立體的重播,各敲擊樂器結像、定位、 層次,大小、高低、前後明確,一個半弧而層次分明的敲擊樂場面在我面前擺開。若然你亦擁有此 CD,但播出來的效果未如上述,又或僅音色分明,這反映你那系統該仍有進步空間。 除那立體空間叫我欣賞外,其高音響亮、明亮、穿透 力強、多細節亦叫人有驚喜!反應快而連貫流暢,延伸力超強、強得令人相信它大把在手,以人耳可聽頻而言,一 如高不見頂,無令人感刺耳、不耐煩的鈴振 / 失真現象。 這樣子下,豐足極的訊息量下,播出 René Marie《Live At The Jazz Standard》中〈Where or When〉,當中 High Hat 散發出的銅敲擊細碎細音,簡直令我「O嘴」!絕非甚麼餘韻那家事,而係細緻、有層次對比、有實質的漸強或漸弱變化。故聽到的不是甚麼高音空氣,而係持續的湧浪式 High Hat 敲擊聲響,帶情緒的金屬顫音變化

七呎、九呎

當扭至有效音量時,《Audio Compass 2016》 〈Magnificat / 聖母讚主曲〉裡的管風琴極低頻下潛實力, 亦實實在在打破了全金屬箱、金屬低音下潛力不足或不夠實在的謠言。再播出我試音的 其中一必然錄音,相當考機的 Hélène Grimaud 彈奏《拉赫曼 尼洛夫第二鋼琴奏鳴曲》。從 Hailey 2.2 出來的力度、速度變化、觸鍵感,尤如手起刀落, 無一丁點猶豫,是信心十足、 控制力十足的表現。

中音鍵有力、中低音鍵有勁、低音鍵緊湊,當遇上一 串不同音高的高音鍵,那份透亮、細膩、無嘶聲、無鈴振,就是流暢地飄上去或猛力地衝上去,聽似高不見頂的高音,簡直叫我聽得出神!至於一整座 Concert Grand Piano「演奏用三角琴」的效果嘛!以我聽過其同門旗艦 Sonja 能夠營造出的堂皇氣度、氣派加力量感如九呎  Concert Grand Piano 作比較,Hailey 2.2 也就是七呎左右 Semi-Concert Grand Piano,感覺實在又立體。其實都已 經很厲害!試想,將一台七呎 Semi-Concert Grand Piano 放在你家,確係充實到不能。 如要用一句話去概括 Hailey 2.2 的好處,我會說其乾淨、極低音染、低失真之特性,實足以令你安心地扭大聲 去享受,由高頻到低頻兩極之間音樂訊息的精妙、精彩變化!

總代理:駿韻音響有限公司

Sonja XV 15 Year Anniversary eXtreme Version

YG Acoustics 15 週年創新里程 – Sonja XV 四箱體旗艦座地式揚聲器

2002 成立的 YG Acoustics 在 2017 年屆滿 15 週年,因此廠方決定推出新旗艦揚聲器以紀念此一新里程。YG Acosutics 曾推出過一款具有三節結構的 Sonja 1.3 作為原旗艦型號,而新一代旗艦產品特意有 Sonja 之名後加上羅馬數字 「XV」,以表徵這是 15 週年紀念作。

自家工藝一追求極致

YG Acoustics 的揚聲器設計均源生於他們引以為傲的六大技術,無論是箱體、單元振膜、磁鐵,都是自家研製。廠方稱其振膜製作技術為 BilletCore, 磁鐵製作技術則為 ForgeCore。不只如此,就連接駁端子、腳釘、螺絲、甚至連螺母墊片等也是他們自家車製,可見對產品的每個細節都是何等執著。

全新設計的 BilletCore / BilletDome 單元

新旗艦 Sonja XV 採用了廠方全新研發的單元,不考慮成本只求表現最好,使單元的特性更臻完美,聲音更貝臨場感,低音、中低音與中音都在YG Acoustics 的工廠所研發生產,並使用廠力專利的 BilletCore 技術,單元框架材質為航鈦鋁金屬,並透過精準的機械製作來完成:這些單元擁有高動態與低失真的特性,一對 Sonja XV 就使用了 18 個 BilletCore 單元。

此外,Sonja XV 同時也用上全新的 BilletDome 的高音單元,該單元是 YG Acosutics 到目前為止最複雜的一個單元設計,無共振的軟球形高音其使用的鋁框(AirFrame) 非常輕 (僅重30mg),但主要的部分卻有傳統單元的 14 倍厚,使這個高音的結構強度更甚於使用其他堅硬材質的高音,這個高音使用了廠力專利的「Ingenious ForgeCore」驅動系統,亦是在 YG Acoustics 工廠使用 3D 幾何繪圖,再配合 CNC 切割製成,達到更低的失真與更寬廣的一簡頻響應。

四路四箱桂體設計

Sonja SV 採取四柱箱體式設計,除了主要聲道兩座落地揚聲器之外, 遺設有兩座低音柱。讓 Sonja XV 的低頻延伸可下潛至 20Hz 的驚人水平。 另外,主要聲道揚聲器的單元配置也與 Sonja 1.3 有所不同,雖然同樣分為三截,但在中段增加了兩個中低音單元。Sonja XV 最上面的 MTM 點音源發聲設計沒變,下半截則加上 3 個 7 吋中低音單元,最下方一層加上 10 吋低音,而低音柱則是各用上 3 個 10 吋低音單元。

採用四路分音設計的 Sonja XV 以 MTM 點音源高音與中音,負責 337Hz 以上的頻段,3 個 7 吋低音負責 65Hz~337Hz, 而每聲道各 4 個 10 吋低音單元,負責 65Hz 以下的低頻,其頻率響應從 20Hz 延伸到至40 kHz 以上。

音色清晰易於驅動

YG Acoustics 透過自行開發的軟體計算,力求頻率響應與時間相位一致,也就是獨家的 DualCoherent 技術。在低音分音器裡,使用了 ViseCoil 技術下製作的電容器,能減少 24% 的能量損耗。並增加 60% 的線性表現,Sonja XV 的低音單元更容易被擴音機所控制,在中、高音分音器裡,則用了 ToroAir 空心電感,配以 CNC 製作而成,有效消除串音並有助細節的表現。加上專利的 FocusElimination抗共振技術,能讓揚聲器因共振造成的能量損失降到最低,重現最清晰透明的音色!

大草編 – 令我給予 Standing Ovation 極品揚聲器 YG Acoustics Sonja 2.3

當「駿韻音響」的同事們把 YG Acoustics 的 Sonja 2.3 送來本刊試音室安裝的時候,其陣容之鼎盛簡直把我和一眾兄弟嚇了一大跳!

6 大個木箱分別裝載兩個各重 46kg 的高/中音單元鋁合金聲箱,兩個各重 84kg 的中截低音單元鋁合金聲箱,與及兩個各重 75kg 的下截低音單元鋁合金聲箱,要把它們裝嵌成兩隻各重 205kg 的 Sonja 2.3,實在需要大量體力勞動和要極度細心行事才成,不過廠方相當貼心,為用家提供四隻直徑長達 8吋,設有大型手挽並且用唧筒抽氣和放氣的真空吸盤作為搬運輔助工具,四位壯男合力把聲箱逐一抬出來,再按位置疊起,在吸盤的協助下再加上聲箱接合位置的特製六個凹凸榫位導航,安裝如此重甸甸的一對聲箱也並非太過困難,廠方更在聲箱接合的凹凸榫位從前到後準確地鑽了貫通的孔洞,再以兩支實芯不誘鋼棒貫穿這些榫位並且鎖緊,所以如此碩大而且分成三截的全鋁合金喇叭在裝嵌妥當之後,便會搖身一變成為超級堅固紮實的一件過高身座地揚聲器。廠方也為每隻喇叭的三隻釘腳提供三塊墊片,用家單人匹馬便可以把重 205kg 的聲箱在地氈或地板上移動擺位,果然夠貼心。

經過 Lee388 兄悉心為 Sonja 2.3 擺好一個觀位之後,甫開聲,偌大一對個子高過我的鋁合金喇叭就在眼前消失,它們的甩箱能力實在超卓。全金屬聲箱加上全金屬音盆中音和低音單元,連高音單元也有金屬支架,但 Sonja 2.3 重播出來的聲音卻全無半點冷、硬、薄和不耐聽等等想當然的所謂金屬味,相反,聲音是從容、自然和反應極快,音色的特性和場面的寬緊完全視乎你重播軟件的內容,換句話說,它有著有碗話碗,有碟話碟的正直性格,傳真度高得驚人。重播日本爵士女伶Mie Joke演繹經典名曲 (Cheek To Cheek),這是來自Mie Joke 夥拍山本剛爵士三重奏,去年八月在東京代代木的波麗佳音 (Pony Canyon) 錄音室灌錄的新專輯「Etrenne」,Mie 那把充滿騷靈味道的唱腔,把這首由美國當代偉大的作曲、作詞家 Irving Berlin 寫於 1935年的經典作品,演繹得入木三分,她的嗓子通透嘹亮,咬字清晰自然,歌曲的起承轉合拿捏得恰到好處。日本爵士大師山本剛的鋼琴演奏輕盈躍動,充滿逍遙的感覺,配合香川裕史充滿彈跳力的牛筋撥奏!與及大隅壽南的輕敲慢掃爵士鼓,加上充沛豐滿的空間感,聽起來簡直是把我們帶到錄音室的現場,Mie就在眼前七情上面地演唱!像真程度無以倫比!

重播 Analogue Productions 再版經典發燒名曲—萊納指揮芝加哥交響樂團演奏「天方夜譚」,當銅管樂以強奏象徵專橫的蘇丹王出現揭開序幕,到象徵為蘇丹王說故事的「舍赫拉查德」(Scheherazade) 現身的小提琴奏出旋律,調暗了燈光的本刊試音室立時變身一個偌大的音樂廳,音場完全撐穿前牆和兩邊側牆,小提琴、中提琴、大提琴和低音提琴各個聲部都清楚可辨,琴音絲絲入扣,營造出一片順滑流暢的絃海,獨奏的小提琴琴音非常清晰細緻,就像說故事般婉轉可人,娓娓動聽。木管樂的演示也是非常突出,和銅管樂的絢麗燦爛可謂互相輝映!聲音的密度非常足夠。當大風暴沉船的高潮一幕來臨,所有樂器都以最強音奏出風高浪急的場景,再加上金鼓齊嗚的澎湃敲擊樂段,極強的聲壓填滿整個試音室的每一吋空間,但聲音仍然是有條不紊,清晰有序,你會感到氣氛非常緊張,令你透不過氣,但卻不會糊成一團,音場亂七八糟,是我在本刊試音室最佳的聆聽體驗之一,值得起立鼓掌!

超乎想像的 YG Hailey 1.2

在自己家中測試音響器材,其中一個目的是為日後的升級尋找目標(例如中咗六合彩頭獎… )。早前認識一位資深的音響從業員,他的執著態度著實令我佩服;他見多識廣,我問他覺得什麼樣的喇叭會適合我(聽古典音樂),他不加思索就說 YG – Hailey! 我腦海即時出現念頭…… 唏!YG是駿韻代理的,東哥那裡不就有對Hailey嗎!哈哈…….

我當然在東哥的主場聽過這對Hailey, 當時分別用合併機Luxman L-509X 和Soulution 330 去推,都已經覺得好靚聲,不過,我當然希望能在自己的主場盡情地試啦!

YG 基本上可分為 Sonja, Hailey 和 Carmel, 不過 Sonja 推出四柱的 XV後,Hailey算是排第三了。Hailey又可分為1.1和1.2,1.1即是上面那兩單元的音箱再配上專用腳架而成的書架款式,而1.2就是加上「低音柱」而成的座地式。不過,就算只是用1.1,其低頻已可下潛至65Hz, 所以低音柱只是負責65Hz至20Hz的超低頻段。給我選擇的話,一定會揀1.2!

Hailey 是全金屬音箱,靈敏度有87dB,我用每邊4支KT88的單聲道膽後級(功率160W)去推,完全無問題!一開聲已把我的擔憂一掃而空,然而,隨之而來的是連連的驚喜與慨嘆⋯⋯ 點解自己咁鬼窮!

金屬箱喇叭以往給我的印象是比較冷和清的,但經過全套膽機推動,竟然是另一碼子事,鋼琴鏗鏘悅耳,聲音乾淨,但又不乏適當的泛音和殘響,小提琴的音色細膩,松香味和空氣感十足,或者可以講,聲音的表達非常準確!當然,最殺食是重播大型的古典樂曲,音場除了很寬闊外,最重要的是很有層次感;我現在擺喇叭基本上是跟鄺大俠的理念,很高興能夠獲得理想的效果,Hailey的能量感很強,兩隻喇叭拉開相距差不多八呎,才能令音場左中右的能量達至平順;我尤其喜歡低頻的表現,除了速度夠快,有線條外,而且可以落到地,一浸浸地散開,在低音提琴和大鼓的呈現上,我從來沒有在家中試過這種境界!

在這段試聽的期間,我只想每天有多些時間去享受這對 Hailey 所帶來的喜悅,認真地揀選自己最喜愛的樂曲去播放,以及…… 每期都不忘去買番兩注六合彩!

測試器材:

揚聲器: YG Acoustics – Hailey 1.2
前級: Kondo KSL-M7
後級: Triangle ART Reference Tube Mono
唱放: Triange ART Reference Phono
黑膠: Dr. Feickert Firebird, IKEDA IT-407 & 9TT MC唱頭
CD機: Electrocompaniet EMC 1 UP
隔離牛: Wilmer Workshop Ultimate Isolator

線材: Acoustic Zen Double Barrel 喇叭線, Wilmer Workshop 龍皇及真龍電源線, Loyalty Nickel Power 電源線及訊號線

轉載自 Hiend Tower

HiFi+ – EQUIPMENT REVIEW YG ACOUSTICS SONJA 2.2

by Chris Martens

In mid-2017 Hi-Fi+ took the opportunity to audition and review YG Acoustics’ flagship Sonja XV (for eXtremeVersion) four-tower loudspeaker system and found it to be a world-class and state-of-the-art product in every way. At the same time, though, the speaker’s sheer size and daunting $265,900 price tag meant that only a select few with rooms big enough and wallets deep enough would ever be likely to enjoy the Sonja XV in action. But what of those passionate audiophiles who live in (somewhat) smaller spaces and who would prefer to keep their loudspeaker investments in the five-figure range? People, meet the Sonja 2.2!

The three-way, four-driver Sonja 2.2 is, like almost all YG Acoustics models, a modular loudspeaker. At its top, the Sonja 2.2 features a midrange-tweeter-midrange module nearly identical to the one used in the Sonja XV, while down below is a sealed, acoustic suspension woofer module. Both the upper and lower modules use cabinet enclosures milled from solid aircraft aluminium and whose panels are fastened together using what YG describes as aircraft-type “vibrationfree pressurised assembly” techniques. Internally, the cabinets use YG’s proprietary Focused Elimination™ anti-resonance technology, which is said to keep “mechanical losses lower than any competing speaker, by combining the minimised turbulence of a sealed design with the low friction otherwise
associated with enclosure-free concepts.”

The mid-bass drivers and woofer employed in the 2.2 feature proprietary YG BilletCoreTM diaphragms, which are machined out of thick cylinders of aircraft-grade aluminium and are treated to jet-black anodised finishes. For those curious about such things, let me mention that YG chooses to go with machined diaphragms—as opposed to stamped metal, ceramic, or exotic composite diaphragms—because machined diaphragms allow more precise dimensional tolerances, allow complicated 3D shapes that enhance rigidity and freedom from unwanted resonance, impose less stress on the aluminium materials used, and, most importantly, exhibit greater long ­term structural integrity after hours and years of use.

The single woofer used in the 2.2 is the same type as the four woofers used in the Sonja XV, while the mid-bass drivers are essentially identical to those used in the XV, but with the notable difference that the 2.2’s mid-bass drivers are run down a 65Hz crossover point, whereas the same drivers in the XV operate down to a 337Hz crossover point and then transition to a trio of dedicated lower mid-bass drivers.

Importantly, the Sonja 2.2 is treated to the exact same BilletDomeTm/ForgeCore TM tweeter used in the Sonja XV, which is quite frankly the finest piston-type tweeter I have yet heard in any loudspeaker. The tweeter is a hybrid design that combines a fabric dome (chosen for its desirable damping properties and smooth roll-off characteristics) with a precision-machined and ultra-low-mass (30 milligram) aluminium support frame (which adds tremendous rigidity and strength, while giving the tweeter better high-frequency extension than either a fabric or metal dome tweeter would enjoy). The term ForgeCoreTM in turn refers to the fact various elements of the tweeter’s motor structure have been CNC-cut to receive special 3D geometries that are said to minimise distortion while imparting “a sense of ease to the sound”. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this special tweeter to the Sonja 2.2’s overall sound; the tweeter effortlessly reproduces extremely low-level high-frequency transient and textural details, in the process enabling the speaker to create soundstages of exceptional breadth, depth, purity, and precision.

The Sonja 2.2 crossover network is fashioned from exceptionally high quality parts and circuit boards whose extra-thick traces are milled—not photo-etched—in place. Among the special parts used are YG’s custom-made ToroAirTM air-core inductors and, for the low-frequency portion of the crossover, the massive and highly vibration-resistant ViseCoilTM bass inductors first created for the Sonja XV. Relative to even the finest off-the-shelf bass inductors, the ViseCoilTM inductors are said to reduce residual loss by 24% and to improve linearity by a stonking 60%, in the process enabling “better control over the woofers” and fostering greater overall bass definition and impact. If you are sceptical that specialised inductors can make a significant difference in a speaker’s overall sound, just try listening to a pair of Sonja 1.2’s built before the advent of the ViseCoilTM inductors vs. a pair of Sonja 2.2’s; the qualitative improvements wrought in the 2.2’s low-end are readily apparent.

“From the outset, there was a strong familial connection between the sound of the Sonja 2.2 and its much bigger sibling, the Sonja XV.”

Finally, the exact crossover network topology used in the Sonja 2.2 is, as are all YG Acoustics’ crossover networks, shaped by the firm’s proprietary DualCoherentTM design software, which is the brainchild of company founder and Senior VP – Chief Engineering Officer, Yoav Geva. While there are many good loudspeaker-oriented CAD/CAM software packages available today, Geva’s DualCoherentTM design software enjoys the singular ability simultaneously to co-optimise both frequency response and relative phase response (typically competing software systems can optimise one or the other, but not both at once). Though I’m not an engineer, I can’t help but think that Geva’s DualCoherentTM software is a big part of the ‘special sauce’ that helps give YG’s loudspeakers their characteristically quick, clear, tightly-focused, and neutrally balanced sound.

In a nutshell, the Sonja 2.2 represents a careful re-make of the firm’s predecessor 1.2 model, but one that adds the two distinguishing technical features that set the mighty Sonja XV apart; namely, the aforementioned BilletDomeTM tweeter and a crossover network equipped with ViseCoilTM low-frequency inductors. Since both the inductors and—especially—the tweeters are time and labour-intensive to make, there is a cost increase between the Sonja 1.2 and the 2.2, from $72,800/ pair to $76,800/pair. Once listeners have heard the sonic improvements ushered in by the 2.2’s design, though, I think most would agree the price increase is money well spent.

Importantly, YG Acoustics has deliberately not left Sonja 1.2 owners behind, so that for a fee they may have their speakers upgraded to 2.2-status (it’s great to see a company like YG stand behind its customers and its earlier designs in this way). Similarly, it is possible for Sonja 2.2 owners to upgrade their speakers to have them become two-woofer, three-module Sonja 2.3 models should the need arise. However, as readers will learn in this review, the Sonja 2.2 has a distinctive sonic appeal all its own (more on this in a moment).

For my listening tests I was invited to audition the Sonja 2.2’s in the studio/mid-size listening room of GTT Audio/ Video in Long Valley, New Jersey, USA (GTT’s listening rooms enjoy a reputation for superb sound quality so that many manufacturers prefer to hold product roll-out events at the GTT facility rather than at their own factories). The test system comprised a suite of Audionet amplification and analogue and digital source components, a Kronos turntable and tone arm fitted with an Airtight phono cartridge, and a complete loom of Kubala-Sosna Elation-series cables.

From the outset, there was a strong familial connection between the sound of the Sonja 2.2 and its much bigger sibling, the Sonja XV. Let’s take a moment to explore in some depth just what that comment means.

First, much like the XV, the 2.2 conveys both an immediate and lasting impression of offering superabundant sonic transparency. The speaker makes joyful child’s play of rendering small, elusive, low-level sonic details with effortless clarity and definition. Unlike many other speakers that claim to be good at detail retrieval, however, the Sonja 2.2 manages to be highly informative while also remaining uncannily smooth sounding and unflustered, whether playing loudly, softly, or anywhere in between (where competing speakers often achieve perceived detail at the expense of a subtly bright, brittle, and edgy sound). The upshot of this is that the 2.2 is a wonderfully natural sounding loudspeaker; there is absolutely nothing strained or forced about it presentation.

To hear this quality of transparency-plus-smoothness in action, listen to the opening ‘Into: Part 1 – Afternoon’ movement of Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat [Ansermet/ L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, London FFRR/ORG LP], and note how clearly and precisely the Sonja 2.2 renders the textures, tonal colours, and stage positions of each orchestra section, while also neatly defining the acoustics (and reverberant characteristics) of the recording space. The result is a satisfying quality of unforced realism.

Second, the 2.2 is a decidedly full-range and full-throated loudspeaker that is capable of terrific extension at both high and low frequency extremes, while also delivering premier league dynamics—subject only to the constraint that the 2.2 works best in medium-to-medium large listening spaces (whereas the larger Sonja 2.3, Sonja XV Jr., and Sonja XV models offer progressively greater dynamic clout and lower distortion when used in large-to-very-large listening rooms). But heard in its proper context, which includes rooms that would be regarded as relatively large lounge spaces in typical European or British homes, the Sonja 2.2 lacks for nothing.

“Such is the instantaneous power the Sonja 2.2 can bring to bear when the need arises.”

Bass depth and definition? Check. Explosive dynamics on demand? Check. Subtlety and nuance to die for? Check.

As a check on bass depth and definition, put on the third ‘Landscape. Lento’ movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 7 “Sinfonia Antartica” (Bakels/Bournemouth, Naxos, 16/44.1) and listen to the masterful way that the Sonja 2.2 handles the deep, shuddering, descending pipe organ pedal notes used to suggest the otherworldly quality of the arctic landscape. It’s a true low-frequency tour de force.

Similarly, to verify the speaker’s macrodynamic power and vigour, listen to the third ‘Volcano – Adagio – Allegro – Adagio’ movement of Alan Hovanhess’ Symphony No. 50 “Mount St. Helens”. The movement begins quietly enough, but then suddenly explodes into a series of brute force orchestral dynamic passages meant to depict the violent eruption (and explosive self-destruction) of Mount St. Helens and when it did so the 2.2 rendered those passages with such fierce and fast-rising bursts of dynamic energy that a listening companion seated next to me literally bolted from his seat (perhaps suspecting something had just gone drastically wrong with the system’s volume control, which wasn’t the case at all). Such is the instantaneous power the Sonja 2.2 can bring to bear when the need arises.

But the true strong suit of the Sonja 2.2 involves its almost breath-taking ability to render both songs and soundstages with equal parts precision, three-dimensionality, subtlety, and nuance that just won’t quit. A brilliant example of this came in the form of the speakers’ superb rendition of an old favourite: namely, the sumptuous track ‘Nublado’ from Sera Una Noche’s eponymous album (MA Recordings 45 RPM LP). `Nublado’ is a slowly unfolding, profoundly engrossing, and almost hypnotically rhythmic variation on a Tango known as a Candombe. The song is carried by an ensemble consisting of Marcelo Moguilevesky on clarinets and flutes, Gabriel Kirschenbaum on guitars, Gabriel Rivano on bandoneon, Martin lannaccone on cello, and leader Santiago Vazquez on percussion. The recording was captured by MA Recordings producer Todd Garfinkle from the interior of a small church located, says MA, “about 150 miles from Buenos Aires”.

What floored me about the sound of the Sonja 2.2’s on ‘Nublado’ was their ability to reproduce the seductive richness of tonal colours and the delicate textures of the instruments in play, the almost tractor-beam-like pull of the Candombe rhythm, while at the same time convincingly conveying the sound and ‘feel’ of a small church interior. In my experience, to hear this track on the 2.2’s is to be utterly drawn in, and that is due in no small part to a quality they deliver better than almost any speaker I have yet heard: namely, intimacy. While the Sonja 2.2 cannot deliver the giant ‘wall-of-sound’ presentation that the Sonja XV provides in very large rooms, one thing the 2.2 may do even better than the flagship model is to convey an up close and personal quality of musical intimacy—that is, a sense that one has been brought face-to-face with the very essence of the music.

The Sonja 2.2 is a remarkable loudspeaker that delivers much of the sonic excellence of YG Acoustic’s flagship Sonja XV, but that is more accessible in both a financial and physical sense. The speaker is so revealing that it requires top-class ancillary components to give of its best, but it will reward its fortunate owners with extraordinary musical experiences for many years to come.

From HiFi+ Vol.155 UK

YG Acoustics Sonja 2.2 Loudspeaker – Serving the Music

Rarely does a high-end manufacturer make a new product available for review well in advance of its official release. Usually a new product is announced at an audio show like Munich High End, and its market delivery is targeted for several months after the announcement. Yoav Geva, principal designer at YG Acoustics, was way ahead of schedule in the case of the Sonja 2.2. He and his manufacturing team were able to make an advanced production pair available exclusively to TAS several months before the speaker’s official release, scheduled—as of this writing—for sometime in December, 2017, most likely at special showings hosted by YG and Bill Parish at GTT Audio.

I reviewed the original Sonja 1.2 in Issue 256. As good as that speaker still is, the new 2.2 is better in some significant ways. I will cover the engineering changes that are responsible for the increased performance later—such as a brand-new kind of dome tweeter—but let me summarize the primary sonic improvements as follows: higher resolution of fine detail coupled with an increase in overall “ease,” a bit more bass heft, better definition of complex musical lines during demanding musical passages, and an expanded and more continuously rendered soundstage such that the speakers blend into the soundscape even more seamlessly than before. I didn’t believe such improvements were possible to the extent YG has wrought, given the 1.2’s already outstanding performance, but the company has indeed done just that. The Sonja 2.2 is worthy of serious consideration for anyone in the market at its $76,800 price level—and even higher, for that matter.

This price segment of the market has been filling up with more products for some time now, and the upper end pricing is rising even further. $500k+ speakers and $150k+ turntables are now well within price frontiers, just like $5 million Manhattan condos and $100k automobiles are not considered unusual anymore. I don’t condone it, nor do I play at that those price levels, personally. I am merely characterizing what seems to be trend in the broader “luxury” market. Having said that, I do not believe the 2.2’s $76,800 price is unduly elevated simply because others are doing it. YG designs and manufactures high-quality speakers in the U.S. where labor and other costs are higher than, say, Asia, and it makes the vast majority of its products’ constituent parts at its factory just outside of Denver, Colorado. Driver membranes, cabinets, toroidal inductors, internal braces, joiners, and even custom binding posts are all manufactured in-house. YG uses high-grade raw materials for the parts it manufactures and top-quality parts from vendors such as Mundorf (capacitors and inductors) for the components it must source from others, all of which increase costs.

What are some of the other costs? YG machines the vast majority of its speakers from aircraft grade (6061-T651) aluminum billet—to a 20-micron (0.0008″) tolerance in some applications. Many of the billets are large and heavy, so raw material stock and shipping costs are high. The various milling and turning machines needed to meet YG’s capacity and exacting demands are expensive, over $2 million combined thus far. The costs of the skilled labor to program and maintain the CNC (computer numeric control) machines and the consumables (tool heads, bits, etc.) are considerable. YG machines driver cones from solid aluminum blocks, which it calls “BilletCore.” Each BilletCore radially- and concentrically-ribbed driver cone takes about four hours to mill on a five-axis CNC milling and turning machine imported from Germany, a Gildemeister CTX Beta 1250 TC.

Background Technology 
YG’s principal defining technological difference lies in its crossovers and how they are implemented in a very tightly controlled interplay among the drivers and other parts of the finished loudspeaker. Yoav Geva founded YG Acoustics based on this unique—as far as I know—crossover technology, which YG claims comes closer to a sort of ideal in multi-driver loudspeaker design than most others, simultaneously achieving near-zero relative phase and near-flat frequency response. Apparently, either frequency response or phase angle performance is usually sacrificed for the other in most other designs. Geva’s “DualCoherent” crossover—based on an algorithm he developed from signal processing in a completely different application—serves as the basis from which the rest of YG’s engineering follows. In order for the crossover to work as intended, though, a very high level of precision in all aspects of the design is required; hence, YG’s emphasis on high-quality parts and attention to every detail in its engineering and manufacturing. It is also why YG uses so much machined aluminum. It has good strength-to-weight ratio, relatively high resistance to corrosion and high temperature, the ability to be made into a wide variety of custom shapes to precise tolerances, and ideal resonance-damping properties when properly constructed. (For more information about the company, please see the YG Acoustics section in The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio, Volume One: Loudspeakers or read past YG reviews in TAS.)

Product Description
The only obvious visual difference between the Sonja 1 and 2 versions is in the rear panel binding post arrangement. Otherwise, the dimensions are the same, as are the number and sizes of the drivers and the configuration of the cabinet modules. For readers who are not familiar with the Sonja, the next two paragraphs are an edited description taken from my Sonja 1.2 review, updated to show the current Sonja 2.2 particulars and some additional details. (Readers who are already familiar with the speaker may want to skip the next two paragraphs.)

The Sonja 2.2 is a two-module design (main unit and bass unit) and is now available only as a fully passive system; the former powered bass module option is no longer offered. Consumers may opt for the Sonja 2.3, which adds a different bass module, bringing the price from $76,800 to $112,800. The three-module configuration increases the height from 51″ to 70″ and the weight from 271 to 481 pounds. The main, upper module houses two 6″ aluminum BilletCore mid-woofers (unchanged), and a brand-new 1″ waveguide-mounted “BilletDome” silk and airframe dome tweeter in a D’Appolito (MTM) arrangement. (I will cover more on this groundbreaking, patent-pending tweeter below.) The crossover point remains at 65Hz between the bass module and main module and at 1.75kHz between the mid/bass drivers and the tweeter. The two-way, 124-pound main, upper module (known as Sonja 2.1) can be purchased separately as a stand-mounted monitor (for $40,800) to which the bass module can be added later to form the three-way Sonja 2.2 system reviewed here. The 2.2 bass module has one BilletCore 10.25″ driver, which is positioned fairly low in its gently curved, tapered cabinet. YG found that this location maximized consistent bass performance through the driver’s proximity to the floor, in addition to minimizing cabinet resonances.

Each module has an inner cabinet, which is mounted inside an outer cabinet. They are not merely double-layered as such. Each box has its own joints and can function as a stand-alone cabinet. This extra manufacturing complexity must surely add significantly to the overall cost, but YG says it makes each complete cabinet much more rigid and better damped than either an equivalently thick single-layered or a shared-joint, double-layered enclosure. Sonja 2, Sonja XV Jr., and XV (YG’s $265,900 four-tower flagship) are the only models in the line with this cabinet-in-cabinet construction. The new BilletDome tweeter is also currently only available in Sonja models. YG does not use any batting or other soft materials inside its cabinets to dampen the drivers’ backwaves. YG says such materials cause mechanical loss and degrade performance. All internal damping is handled by precise placement of braces and by an unspecified material in a proprietary method of pinpoint resonance control that YG calls FocusedElimination. Incidentally, the other speaker with which I am familiar that also does not contain soft internal damping material (or only a bare minimum of it), like those from Arabesque and Gamut, share a dynamic vibrancy with YG speakers.

New Version 
The new Sonja 2.2 has three main changes (and one minor one) over the previous 1.2. First, and most significantly, all Sonja 2 models have a new kind of tweeter. Geva has merged a soft-dome membrane with a supporting lightweight, rigid, acoustically transparent frame made from—you guessed it—precision-machined aluminum billet. YG’s new BilletDome soft-dome/frame tweeter actually represents a technical breakthrough in tweeter design for which the company is applying for a patent. Soft domes can sound very good, but they are simply not stiff enough to withstand the acceleration forces exerted on them while playing at higher frequencies and at higher amplitudes without deforming, resulting in distortion. Many metal-dome tweeters (regular or inverted) can also sound quite good and are generally stronger and more uniformly pistonic in their motion, but they are also known for “ringing” at high frequencies, thus creating unwanted resonances and a different sort of distortion. Even if the ringing can be shown to be above the limits of human hearing, many listeners can still discern a harshness in some speakers with metal tweeters, especially during demanding music passages. These are basic generalities, of course. I am leaving out other tweeter types, such as ribbons, electrostats, and magnetostats because I am simply not qualified to discuss them. (Ceramic and diamond-coated domes also have their pros and cons, but, again, I am not qualified to speak to them.) After nearly two years of R&D, Geva successfully bonded a high-quality silk dome membrane over a strong and very lightweight (30 milligrams) “airframe.” This apparently makes the resulting tweeter stronger than the strongest all-metal tweeter but without a metallic ringing quality. YG has done acceleration tests (based on pressure measurements) of titanium and beryllium tweeters and can demonstrate that its BilletDome tweeter withstands about twice as many G-forces as a titanium tweeter and about 38% more than a beryllium one. The airframe is shaped to be acoustically transparent, very strong, and light enough so the that combined moving mass of the soft dome and its airframe are roughly equivalent to that of a metal dome. I will say, I have heard some great-sounding speakers with treated metal dome tweeters such as the upper-level Focal models—and I tend to be agnostic about specific materials in general—but the YG BilletDome tweeter sounds fabulous in the Sonja 2.2 and Sonja XV.

Second, the crossover was changed to accommodate the new tweeter’s electrical and acoustic properties, and also to allow the speaker to perform more efficiently in the lower frequencies. YG says that rather than having the speaker favor mainly higher-powered, high-current amplifiers, a greater variety of amps can now extract more of the Sonja’s available bass extension.

Third, the bass module cabinet is now 25 pounds lighter and also stiffer. According to YG, “the new construction is 8% lighter and over 10% stronger, which leads to an overall 20% improvement in the enclosure’s strength-to-weight ratio.”

The fourth change is more a matter of rear-panel cosmetics and user convenience than a performance-enhancing update. The older 1.2 has three pairs of binding posts. The new 2.2 has two pairs and is the only readily apparent visual difference between Sonja 1.2 and 2.2 (unless you look closely at the tweeter). The back of the Sonja 2.2 is cleaner looking because the two modules’ binding posts are now in matching insets that meet each other at the modules’ junctures.

Listening 
In my review of the original 1.2, I wrote the following to frame my overall impression, “the Sonja 1.2 is simply stunning—dynamic range, frequency extension, tonal purity, transparency, soundstaging, and imaging…all stunning and sometimes goosebump-inducing and involuntary grin-forming as it calmly goes about its musical business. The Sonja 1.2 does not have an easily identifiable dominant sonic character such as ‘liveliness’ or ‘silkiness,’ nor does it have an apparent bottom-up or top-down tonal balance. Rather, the 1.2 seems to simply convey the content of the recordings it is tasked to play back—and the characteristics of the gear with which it is partnered, of course—without much apparent imposition of its own.”

That summary still applies to the new 2.2 but is augmented by even greater resolution, ease, and general facility. The sonic sum of the Sonja 2 changes seem to amount to more than their updated constituent parts would initially indicate, although the new BilletDome tweeter certainly is an obvious technological advancement. The level of resolution of fine detail is improved. Initial transients and timbre are better fleshed out. Decays and spatial cues are clearer and easier to follow. Loud peaks are more explosive while also sounding more composed or “cleaner.” In short, music simply sounds more present and impactful—as the recordings themselves allow. A real bonus with the new version’s increase in fine resolution is that it is not accompanied by a tonal emphasis shift, which can make a speaker sound as if it is forcing details on the listener, a flaw too often associated with speakers with “high-resolution” ambitions. In fact, the Sonja 2.2’s greatest strength, in my opinion, is its uncanny level of resolution and its lack of apparent artifice or strain. One can more easily relax and enjoy the music as it unfolds because there is so little hardness in the upper frequencies. “Detail and ease” seems to be a theme that a select group of excellent speakers embody to a much greater extent than merely good speakers do. Count the Sonja 2.2 among that select group.

The outer extent of the soundscape is also expanded, especially horizontally. This expansion is not overwhelmingly better than with the previous version, in which soundstaging was already a strong point, but it does impart an impression of greater openness. Recording and upstream system quality permitting, the stage extends well outside the cabinets in a room-boundary-defying display that helps mitigate the limitations of my smallish 12.5′ x 17′ room. Compared to most other speakers, the soundstage sounds as if the YGs were placed about two feet farther apart and in a slightly larger room than they actually are. Individual images within the larger soundscape are focused, not in an exaggerated, hyped-up way, but in a manner that simply makes subtle musical elements more discernible. On the Stravinsky Song of the Nightingale LP [Oue/Minnesota, RR], I could easily visualize the orchestral sections arrayed before me, and there was enough information to convincingly portray individual instruments within those sections. Overall soundstage depth and height were also strong points, as were individual image depth and image density. Perhaps the most salient soundstaging characteristic lay in the continuousness of its entire sound envelope such that the speakers are sometimes not discernible as the source of the sound. On some recordings, like the Classic Records LP reissue of the Prokofiev Lieutenant Kije[Reiner/CSO, RCA], it is as if the 2.2s just happen to occupy the same part of the room where the soundscape exists, so complete is the apparent detachment of the sound from the speakers.

Complex passages sound cogent and discernible. The timpani part in the RR Nightingale uses flams and short rolls in the opening section of the “Chinese March” movement as if to say, “brrrum…brrrum…brrrum” instead of “boom….boom…boom.” Details like these emerge readily through the 2.2 but can become swallowed up in a less differentiated mass of sound through less revealing speakers. Subtle fingers-on-strings or singers’ lip sounds in small, intimate music come through very clearly, thereby allowing a higher level of the human expressiveness in the music to be readily conveyed to the listener. Again, nothing sounds forced to achieve this lovely resolution. Music unfolds in a balanced way—tonally, dynamically, harmonically, and visually proportionally realistic within its overall soundscape.

Basically, the Sonja 2.2 carries through whatever the characteristics of the upstream system give it and does so with a kind of assuring competency. Of course, if you play a bad recording or a system mismatch exists upstream, the 2.2 will let you know. Neither of the two Sonja models I have lived with fall into the “twitchy racehorse” category of speakers, requiring only a relatively narrow selection of partnering electronics and cabling to make them rewarding to listen to over the long haul. On the contrary, I find the 1.2 and now the 2.2 to be a great all-rounders with both tonal neutrality and affording flexibility in system-matching. The only caveat on this point is that—even though the crossover has been updated to accommodate less powerful amplifiers—I would still recommend using an amplifier with at least 100 watts (YG recommends at least 60), and I would still favor high-current solid-state amplifiers or higher-powered tube amps over other types.

As already mentioned, the new version has a bit more low-end weight. The characteristic YG bass speed and articulation are still there, but the low end is now just filled in a little better. Dynamic punch is also a touch better. Some of this dynamic precision may come from the easier load presented to the powering amplifier via the 2.2 crossover adjustment, but it may also stem from the new tweeter. It is simply able to handle the acceleration forces better. Even though much of our sense of dynamic force comes from power and speed in the bass region, the upper frequency range has to keep up and maintain its composure as well, or the whole illusion of a grand dynamic sweep won’t be convincing. The Sonja 2.2 is just a little more exciting to listen to than the 1.2—not that the 1.2 was a slouch by any means. Rock and pop music both have a hair more drive, and orchestral crescendos have a bit more impact.

Like many sealed-cabinet (air suspension) designs, the Sonja 2.2’s bass performance favors agility, tunefulness, and pitch-definition over raw bass power and the “room loading” quality more typically associated with ported (bass-reflex) designs. The 2.2’s lower frequency extension is indeed very low—full-range for all intents and purposes in my setup—but it does not overtly “pressurize” the room with gut-moving bass like some similarly sized ported speakers do. Very low notes on electronica by artists like Björk and Aphex Twin are projected into the room with exhilarating impact, but they are not overblown or out of control. YG lists the frequency range as, “usable output extends from below 20Hz to above 40kHz.” I presume this means the listed bass response takes into account how the speaker interacts with typical domestic room boundaries and may be more meaningful than traditional -/+3dB anechoic chamber specifications. All I can say here is that bass extension and power are excellent in my setup—as are bass tunefulness and articulation. I have also heard the older Sonja 1.2 in a few other rooms—usually larger than mine—and the bass performance never sounded deficient in those systems.

Just like the Sonja 1.2, the 2.2 does not have an obvious sonic personality. Some recordings sound a bit calmer and more “organized,” less strained and jumbled, than they do through many other speakers. So, this clean and organized quality is about as close to a sonic personality as I can determine. Other than that, the sound I heard through the 2.2 seemed to be more determined by the upstream gear than by the speaker’s own intrinsic sonic signature. The word calm might imply polite or even boring to some readers. The Sonja 2.2 is not at all sedate. On the contrary, the Sonja 2.2 allows music’s innate artistic qualities to be expressed in large measure. Subtle, contemplative music like some of the Third Stream material on the ECM label sounds evocative and moving, not merely moody and slightly quirky. Hard-driving rock selections from bands such as Tool take on near-frightening acceleration through their sheer intensity. Classical music sounds rewarding in its timbral complexity and structural richness. The Sonja 2.2 does not favor—nor is it limited to—a particular kind or scale of music, at least not in the confines of my room and even in some larger ones. If you really like the big stuff, played on a grand scale, and you have the spacious room and the rest of the system to support it, you’ll need a bigger speaker. (This is where the YG dealer will steer you towards the Sonja 2.3 or Sonja XV models.) For most listeners, though, I believe the 2.2 will be all that is needed. The technology YG likes to cite in its marketing material, like ToroAir (toroidal inductors), ForgeCore (driver motor system), and ViceCoil (vise-like housing for large inductors) draw attention to its differentiating engineering elements, but at the end of the day, the product needs to serve music reproduction, and, in my experience, the Sonja 2.2 does so admirably.

Considerations 
The nearly 275-pound weight of each speaker may deter some music lovers. Unloading, assembling, and placing the Sonja 2.2 is definitely at least a two-person job. (Your dealer will arrange to send one or two people out to your site to install them.) While the 2.2 does not dominate a room like many large speakers do, it is still a medium/large, all-metal floorstander, so it may not please some folks’ aesthetic sensibilities. As mentioned, the speaker favors high-current solid-state amplifiers or higher-powered tube amps over their lower-powered cousins. To really take advantage of the resolving and dynamic abilities of the Sonja 2.2, it helps to use the best partnering gear and cabling one can assemble, which also adds to the cost of ownership. Some audiophiles may prefer the bass quality of a similarly sized ported speaker. I find the 2.2’s bass extension, impact, and definition to be flawless in my setup.

Conclusion 
What I had said about the original Sonja 1.2 in my concluding remarks in Issue 256 also applies to the new 2.2: “The Sonja 1.2 is revealing without sounding exaggerated. It is dynamically alive without sounding forced. It is tonally neutral without sounding clinical.” How can I top that sort of praise? I am now in the slightly awkward position of having to say, essentially, “Yes, what I said then, and now more…more detail, more dynamic ease, more expressiveness, more bass weight, more soundstage continuousness.” The Sonja 2.2 is a speaker that serves the music, no matter what kind, with great facility and aplomb. And again, the new version gets my highest recommendation.

Specs & Pricing

Driver complement: One 1″ YG BilletDome tweeter, two 6″ YG BilletCore mid-woofers (main module), one 10.25″ YG BilletCore woofer (bass module)
Frequency response: Usable output below 20Hz to above 40kHz
Sensitivity: 88dB/2.83V/1m anechoic
Impedance: 4 ohms nominal, 3 ohms minimum
Recommended amplifier power: Minimum, 60 high-current watts
Crossover points: 65Hz and 1.75kHz
Cabinet: Aircraft-grade milled aluminum
Dimensions: 13″ x 51″ x 25″
Weight: 271 lbs. each
Price: $76,800 per pair, available in black finish (silver by special request)

YG ACOUSTICS LLC
4941 Allison, St., Unit 10
Arvada, CO 80002
(801) 726-3887
yg-acoustics.com