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 cables—they produced a fine blend of speed, control, color, and solid imaging that I found very appealing.

The suave YBA Signature Alpha HC monoblocks—sporting the same shaft/footer assemblies—gave 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 transparency—especially when driven by their compatriots upstream—I ultimately preferred the Jadis JA 200s for their air, space, and refined palpability.—Jonathan Scull

Phlox Electronique
US Distributor: Audio Plus Services
156 Lawrence Paquette Industrial Drive
Champlain, NY 12919
(800) 663-9352

volvic's picture

Have owned a YBA CD1a for many years, mine does not have the blue laser but the review is correct in every aspect, it is laid back, provides lots of depth and has made me happy for many years, with only recently its internal DAC been retired for an external one and now using it as a transport only player.  It is beautiful to look at and has give me close to 20 years of fuss free performance.  Very few players can match this level of durability and sonic competence.  


MVBC's picture

Was he wearing corduroy pants or flanel ones during the demo? Honestly, nothing beats topless French players...kiss

mcondo49's picture

Not sure what the purpose is but I do find that YBA products are very tweaky. Have had a few amps, preamps and integrateds over the years. All had great sound and a variety of tweaks that are now commonplace these days. One example - hum. Use YBA power cords and you will never have a hum problem - they were/are not grounded. Anyway, looking forward to their new lines under the new ownership. We'll see if they maintain their high standards and quirky features. 

John Atkinson's picture

Not sure what the purpose is [of this reprint]

When we started this website 16 years ago, our goal was ultimately to have every review and article from Stereophile, going all the way back to the launch in 1962, available free on-line. Almost every review from 1998 onward and a large number from before than are now archived here, and I am slowly filling the gaps. This review reprint was specifically requested by a reader, otherwise I choose which reviews to reprint.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Poor Audiophile's picture

I think it's great that you would reprint something based on a reader's request!

smittyman's picture

I've noticed that a lot of Sam Tellig's reviews/articles are not available on-line, including a good number of current entries on the Recommended Component list; several of integrated amps for example.  The same is true, to a lesser degree, of Micheal Fremer's reviews as well.  About half the reviews of TT's rated A or B are not available on line.  I think it is great that you are making this archival material available but I would find it more valuable to be able to read the reviews of all of the Recommended Components. 

John Atkinson's picture

I've noticed that a lot of Sam Tellig's reviews/articles are not available on-line . . . The same is true, to a lesser degree, of Michael Fremer's reviews as well.

When we started our website at the end of 1997, we decided that the three most popular elements of the print magazine - Sam's Space, Analog Corner, Recommended Components  - would not be posted to the free on-line archives. Readers would thus have to continue purchasing the paper magazine to read them.

This policy has slowly been relaxed. When I publish a measurement follow-up on a product that Sam or Mikey has written about in their columns, their auditioning comments are published on the website, lang with my measurements. Recommended Components is also now available on-line and as a free iPad app. We are also slowly posting _all_ the Analog Corner columns to AnalogPlanet.com and have got up to September 1997 - see http://www.analogplanet.com/category/analog-corner .

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

smittyman's picture

I thought it might be something like that.  I really appreciate your changing the policy and making Recommended Components available on-line.  Maybe as you make Sam and Mike's (and other's) reviews available, you could consider starting with the ones for products that are currently in the Recommended Components list; that would make the list even more useful.

Just my thoughts, I'm sure you have no shortage of advise from readers.

volvic's picture

I concur, how about some Tandberg receiver reviews - TR 2045, 2060....hmmmm? 


Lofty's picture

How about posting Dick Olsher's review of the Music Reference RM-9 tube power amplifier? Please!

John Atkinson's picture

how about some Tandberg receiver reviews - TR 2045, 2060....hmmmm?

Stereophile never reviewed these Tandberg receivers. Sorry.

How about posting Dick Olsher's review of the Music Reference RM-9 tube power amplifier?

Dick reviewed the RM-9 in December 1989, with a follow-up in October 1994. I'll add his coverage to the queue.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Guillaume1196's picture


reading this a few years after ... and this is still so true ! Music is here.
Today in 2015, YBA revival is here and concrete ... you need to listen and review the new signature power amp and CD player, they are a success and a strong revival of what was reviewed here, but many times stronger !!!