YBA 2 HC power amplifier Jonathan Scull Comments
I was on the phone with John Atkinson. He'd almost scratched a hole in his head trying to figure out how to do the Follow-Up of the YBA 2 before moving from Santa Fe to New York. I heard a flashbulb pop.
"Unless..." he said sweetly, "....you wanna do them, J-10!"
It's hard to describe the sound of the other shoe dropping, but I heard it.
I had reviewed the YBA Signature 6 Chassis preamplifier and Passion 1000 monoblocks, so I was familiar with YBA's "house sound." And like JA, K-10 and I had even been similarly chauffeured at blinding haut vitesse by Yves-Bernard André in Paris several years before, but this time in a tweaked, air-injected Audi. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to plunk these (relatively) reasonably priced components into our system and see what developed.
Don't be fooled by the YBA 2 HC's modest size—this is one heavy stereo amp. And don't even dream of auditioning it cold; it required a good 24 hours chez Scull before it began to bloom out into its very capable sound, and a full 36 before I was noddin' my head and truly enjoying the experience. It ran fairly hot, but I'm always partial to toasty amps, even in summer! (Conservatively rated at 70Wpc, the 2 HC is capable of more than 100W when push comes to shove.)
Listening to the 2 HC amp drove it home: you get what you pay for. The bass wasn't as huge as I can pull out of the Krell FPB 350Mc monoblocks, or as fearsomely dynamic as the Linn Klimax Solo 500s. But it was, as JA pointed out in his original review, articulate, clean, and finely formed, without excessive bloom or overhang. I also agreed with JA that the amp sounded tight and punchy, never turning hard or brittle at high playback levels. The midrange was nicely turned, slightly laid-back—not trying too hard, you might say. And following warmup, the highs were pleasing, but not as...sophisticated as I'm used too. It didn't sound especially crisp or forward on top, or particularly sweet, rolled-off, or shelved-back, but it was overall very natural, and never bright or chaffy. Still, the 2 HC's very top was not quite as extended as that of some of the (much) more costly gear strewn about the place.
The soundstaging was good, as was the sense of air and ambience retrieval—everything was well-proportioned. Tonal color was rendered with clarity and vividness, dynamics without bombast or bloat, and transparency without grain, glare, or edge, with good detail resolution.
The YBA 2 HC power amplifier is a suave, capable performer custom-tailored for audiophiles with a taste for refinement. Highly recommended. And, remarkably, the 2 HC still goes out the door in 2000 for the same $3750 it cost in 1994, at the time of the original review.—Jonathan Scull