YG Acoustics, Boulder, Aurender, Weiss, Innuos, Technics, Ortofon, Siltech, Hifistay

On the final day of High End Munich, a couple of hours before closing time, I sent the visiting Stereophile crew a message about the new speakers in the YG Acoustics room: “Should you have time and you haven’t visited yet, go listen. Both the passive and active systems there sound phenomenal.”

It’s true: the YG space was electrifying, even in an environment where the world’s high-end audio brands strut their finest stuff (and where it’s easy to get jaded). I’d traveled to the Munich expo on my own dime, intending to wander where my ears and my curiosity took me … no writing, no deadlines. But I felt a tinge of evangelical fervor when I heard the active YG XX 3 Live towers and the externally amplified XV 3 Signatures that flanked them. So I should tell you about this room. To my ears, it took Best of Show.

At prices like these, YG products should impress. The four-way XX 3s, fed by built-in Bel Canto DACs and amplifiers that provide 700W to each of the eight drivers per channel, cost a whopping $258,600/pair. For almost twice that amount of whop—$498,000—you can instead choose YG’s nearly-six-foot-tall XV 3 Signatures, in which case you’ll get four towers, two being essentially vertical subs.

Not included in that half-million dollar price tag are amplifiers and other electronics. If you bristle at audio systems whose prices can make oil sheiks and oligarchs hesitate, you’ll feel extra vinegary after the next sentence. The Colorado-based company had paired the XV 3 Signatures with Boulder 3050 monoblocks ($306,000/pair), a Boulder 3010 preamplifier ($164,000), a Boulder 2108 phono preamp ($62,000), an Aurender N30SA music server ($25,000), a Technics SL-1000-RE-S turntable ($19,999) with an Ortofon Xpression cartridge ($6199), a Weiss Engineering Helios DAC ($21,995), an Innuos PhoenixNET network switch ($4349), almost $57,000 worth of Hifistay rackage, and a full loom of Siltech cables—bringing the total system price to about $1.2 million.

Told you.

It would be hard to dub a pair of quarter-million-dollar speakers an exceptional value, and I won’t. But I’ll say this: During about 25 minutes of listening, in a room that wasn’t acoustically perfect and where people were talking, the XX 3s sounded very nearly as gobsmackingly good to me as the seven-figure XV 3 Signature system.

YG’s Duncan Taylor cued up “Marimba Funk" by Šimun Matišić, “Part of Me” by Arny Margret & Ásgeir, and “Little Blue” by Jacob Collier. On these tracks and several more, bass depth and authority, midrange purity, and detail retrieval were so close between the two rigs that at times I was unsure which one I was hearing. It seemed clear that they were developed and voiced by the same team. Dynamics were certainly among the best I’ve heard. As in, ever.

The YG/Boulder system wasn't alone in its excellence. Elsewhere at High End Munich, there was more to rave about. Vying for top honors were the incredibly lifelike Kii Seven active monitors ($8000/pair); the Linkwitz LX521.4 open-baffle speakers ($26,700/pair) whose lucidity had wowed me at AXPONA last year; and the brand new, crossoverless, horn-loaded Voxativ Andagios, which cost $69,900/pair when outfitted with the company’s hyper-musical hybrid field coil drivers.

At admittedly eye-watering prices, and without breaking a sweat, the YGs elevated themselves above all. Should you get a chance to hear them, you may find the experience unforgettable…as did I.

georgehifi's picture

---- me!! who can afford this sort of stuff, are they audiophiles? or just the filthy rich that just want to be able to say they have the best there is. Probably the same with their 1/2 million dollar cars, they have no idea where the bonnet/hood release catch is or what pressure their tires have to be at.

Cheers George

David Harper's picture

Agreed except for one thing. It's not beautiful looking. It's grotesque. I'd be embarassed to have it in my house. On the other hand a new corvette Z06 in the garage would be infinitely more beautiful. And far more fun to have. I would actually get what I paid for.

prerich45's picture

Ah...the old car analogy, we meet again. Where can you go in the USA and drive 195mph? A corvette doing 60mph is the same as a Buick Enclave Avenir doing 60mph, except the Buick's ride is far more comfortable. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, as the Corvette's body reminds me of the fidget toys that start as a cube and then elongates into several different triangular shapes going in a multitude of directions. It's all about preferences and priorities. Oh and it uses premium gas...as a must. It begs the question, do we ever really get what we pay for?

David Harper's picture

The new corvette is not the best looking corvette. Looks way over styled. I prefer the ones from 10 years ago. As far as going 195mph there are in fact places where you can do it. You just have to know where to look. But in terms of price/value it's no contest. A stereo is nothing in comparison.

ChrisS's picture


mauidj's picture

Honestly…I just cannot be impressed or bothered with these silly systems. As the previous poster said… this is an exercise in oneupmanship. Rich people are screwing the planet.
The joke for me is that there is no way the reviewer would ever say that they weren’t the best he’s ever heard for fear of making himself seem silly. In the meantime….how can you listen to any system with other speakers in the room and not hear interference from the unattached drivers and those huge cabinets.?

John Atkinson's picture
mauidj wrote:
how can you listen to any system with other speakers in the room and not hear interference from the unattached drivers and those huge cabinets?

The acoustic effects of the huge cabinets aside, it is usual practice to short the input terminals of undriven speakers. When the drive-units start to vibrate in response to the sound, the back-EMF generated by the motion prevents them from doing so.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

That only works as you know JA if the drive units are "direct coupled" to the speaker terminals with no series capacitors in the xover to any driver. Would be a useless exercise shorting out the speaker terminals if you had a pair of Infinity Speakers in the room, as they were nearly all capacitor coupled in the bass, as I guess so are some of todays speakers.

Cheers George

Musicfan's picture

Yes they are trying to make a chest thumping point, which is rather unfortunate. But I've spent much time listening to their more reasonably priced speakers and can't see why anyone would prefer Wilson over the YG dollar for dollar.

remlab's picture

Yes, it's tilted, but that means you can only listen at an exact specified distance for optimized frequency response.