YBA Passion 1000 monoblock power amplifier Associated Passions
They declaim against the passions without bothering to think that it is from their flame philosophy lights its torch.—Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade
The main evaluation system consisted of the JMlab Utopia speakers in company with the YBA Signature 6 Chassis preamplifier. I also enjoyed occasional blasts on the Nagra PL-P—a sound that made everyone sit up and notice. The main digital front-end was Theta's DaViD DVD/CD transport and DS Pro Gen.V 24/96 processor, along with the (finally updated to 24/192 spec) dCS Elgar and dCS 972 Sample Rate Converter. Analog front-ends included the Spotheim La Luce turntable and SpJ tonearm on a Bright Star Big Rock 1/Air Mass 2 combo, and the Forsell Air Force One. Cartridges in play were the Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, the van den Hul Grasshopper IV GLA, the Clearaudio Insider, and the Win SMC-10.
Freeing the Theta gear and the 6 Chassis preamp from the Sturm und Drang of New York City's power grid was capably handled by a passel of MIT conditioning products. It came down to MIT Z-Cord IIs on the DaViD and the Gen.V Pro, both into an MIT Z-Center. The YBA 6 Chassis' four power cords were whipped into an MIT Iso-Duo, left and right channels separated (as is the entire preamp). All MIT boxes were wired to the wall with MIT-Z Cord. Further MIT-derived refinement was achieved with a Z-Stabilizer plugged into the quad 30A hospital-grade sockets serving the amps.
Speaker cables were for the most part the new and very fine Cardas Golden Reference, with some time spent on XLO's Limited Edition The Speaker Cable and Synergistic Research's Designer's Reference. (More on the new top-of-the-line Cardas wires coming up soon.) Interconnect was mostly Golden Reference, with Synergistic DR and TARA The One swapped in to taste. Digital datalinks were both BNC and RCA XLO The Limited S/PDIF, with TARA The One, Synergistic, and a Theta-supplied cable for AES/EBU also making appearances.
The Passions sat on their own integrated footers—I wasn't going to pop cones under them and endure my downstairs neighbor's ire when they punched through his ceiling! Front-end positioning was more complex. The two control chassis of the 6 Chassis preamp sat on a trio of PolyCrystal cones atop Black Diamond Racing's The Shelf. That was suspended on a trio of BDR #4 Cones screwed into matching Those Things (2¾" carbon-fiber squares), which separated The Shelf from the top shelf of our new and quite terrific PolyCrystal equipment racks.
The 6 Chassis MC phono modules were plugged into the back of the preamp, their screw-adjustable footers sitting in the dimple of another of Those Things so as to keep the pressure off the input RCAs. (Change the material the module's single footer sits on, change the sound.) The DaViD was perched atop another trio of Black Diamond Those Things and Cones on top of a Signal Guard II platform (extremely effective at keeping the transport decoupled from the environment). The Gen.V processor sat on a trio of PolyCrystal cones on a PolyCrystal shelf. I also had good results swapping in G-Flex footers and DH Cones.
When doing analog, I pulled the digital connections from the preamp and vice versa. It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature: don't mix the grounds. Also, as usual, digital was hot-rodded into the Tape In inputs of the dual-mono-everything YBA 6 Chassis preamp. Room treatments consisted of Argent RoomLens resonators and ASC Studio Traps. And that about wraps it up.—Jonathan Scull