YBA CD 1 Blue Laser CD player Review System
Sidebar 1: Review System
We wired up the system with Synergistic Research's new Designer's Reference interconnect. Rather dear at $1800/yard, this stiff, serpentine, oddly colored green cable secured line-level connections. I tried a lot of interconnects before settling on them, including YBA's own fine-sounding cables (in which you find the same wire as used throughout their components; no small consideration).
I'll try this latest Synergistic supercable with many more components before issuing any sweeping generalizations, but so far, it may be the best interconnect I've ever heard. It's like listening to music with no interconnect whatsoever.
Power-cord selection proved highly entertaining. YBA's own cords sounded very good indeed, if a bit discreet or restrained at times. XLO's vividly purple Model 10 cords worked very well, adding a frisson of openness and excitement to the highs and improving the bass a touch. The sense of pace seemed better with them in line, and the imaging was improved. (Give the Model 10s the full 24 hours needed to smooth out and lose their initial overbite.) Synergistic Research AC Master Couplers also proved...synergistic, especially when used in conjunction with Synergistic's cablesthey produced a fine blend of speed, control, color, and solid imaging that I found very appealing.
The suave YBA Signature Alpha HC monoblockssporting the same shaft/footer assembliesgave their best sound on a trio of large AudioPoints, a Shakti Stone centered on the top plates. Other amps in play included Forsell's The Statement (an incredible match with the Radian HCs), and a lushly musical pair of newly arrived Cary SLM-200 monoblocks, sockets stuffed with the new Czechoslovak Tesla KT88s (a honey of a tube).
Cool weather having arrived, alternative thermionics were provided by our Jadis JA 200s, newly mounted with 10 matched pairs of Svetlana 6550Cs per side. Midas Tube Dampers were wrapped around the desirable Gold Aero German RFT 12AU7 inputs and the Gold Aero 12AX7 drivers. The amps rested, as usual, on AudioPoints with a Shakti Stone on the power transformers.
Be advised: The Svetlana 6550C, first encountered in the VTL Wotans, is without doubt the finest 6550 I have ever heard. These superb Russian tubes transformed the 200s, which became my favorite amps for pushing the envelope of Best Sound with the YBA player. (In no small part facilitated by my shorting one channel of the Forsell Statement, having unwittingly crossed speaker terminals with some particularly huge and unwieldy cables, drat the luck.)
The Signature monoblocks remained true to their YBA birthright, and while capable of driving the Radians to stimulating levels, in general didn't grip the speakers so well as the macho Forsell had. Amps designed to peg the rev counter only when needed don't deliver quite the ease of presentation as do high-power class-A designs, in my experience.
The YBA amps delivered a somewhat drier, rather more distant and cerebral sound that I found a tad less involving than the warm, 3-D soundstage thrown up by the Svetlana'd Jadis amps when strapped for 4 ohms. So while I much admired the YBAs' sound, and marveled at their transparencyespecially when driven by their compatriots upstreamI ultimately preferred the Jadis JA 200s for their air, space, and refined palpability.Jonathan Scull