YBA 2 preamplifier Jonathan Scull Comments
The YBA 2 preamplifier is a slim, elegant device with an external power supply running on the by-now-familiar YBA Family Values ticket. First, it's tweaky—and last, it's tweaky! If you've purchased the Ligne version that I auditioned, the Bypass selector switch offers the most direct signal path for either the moving-magnet phono input or the CD input. The second-best inputs, as suggested in the manual, are the Tape In connectors, with the rest of the inputs functionally the same.
Peering inside, one finds high-quality parts, liberal use of damping felt, and a rubber-like damping compound to combat microphonics. The chassis is fairly lightweight; changing the footing system changes the sound, although most users should be content with the tripod feet already in place. As JA found, Using the optional moving-coil step-up transformer is tricky, as it plugs directly into the phono RCA sockets on the back of the unit, the step-up's artificial-diamond-filled weight supported by a single adjustable footer screw. There's no additional wiring to the transformer like this, but flexible, lightweight interconnects from the turntable are a must, mon ami.
I liked the YBA 2's sound without ever really loving it. It was tonally neutral, with good top-to-bottom control, but I found its overall signature a touch too lean and slightly tipped-up for my tastes. Still, it did balance well with the YBA 2 HC power amp. JA noted excellent pace, extension, and pitch definition, plus "clarity [and] weight" in its reproduction of the bass. I'd have to agree. The midrange was very French, very suave, but again, a touch lean overall. I didn't find it as liquid as JA did, but then, I'm spoiled rotten. I found myself hankering for a touch more bloom in the upper-bass/lower-midrange region. I also missed a certain texture in the mids and sweetness in the highs. And, as JA noted in his review, the soundstage was a tad foreshortened.
But these are all minor quibbles that should be judged relative to the considerably higher costs of the gear to which I compared the YBA. The YBA 2 preamp manages a lot of performance and quality for a still-reasonable $2750. (The MC step-up module, not on hand for this Follow-Up, costs extra.) In the right system, well-balanced and happy, the YBA 2 will provide as much long-term listening satisfaction as any audiophile could wish for.—Jonathan Scull