YG Acoustics Anat Reference II Professional loudspeaker

You've seen the ads from YG Acoustics: "The best loudspeaker on Earth. Period." It sounds arrogant. But come on—high-end audio has never been a field of shrinking violets. When Ivor Tiefenbrun of Linn announced that the turntable, not the cartridge or loudspeakers, dictated the sound quality of an audio system, that was a man convinced that he was right and taking on the world. And was Krell's Dan D'Agostino any less arrogant when, in 1980, he introduced the KSA-100 power amplifier? In a world where small size and high wattage were the norms, didn't it take a pair of big brass 'uns to bring out a honkin' huge slab of metal that put out only 100Wpc?

I could go on: William Z. Johnson of Audio Research Corp., and Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson of Conrad-Johnson, bucking the solid-state hegemony of the 1980s with tubes. The insistence of Naim's Julian Vereker on the primacy of the power supply. Meridian Audio's Bob Stuart touting just about any of his unconventional designs (was there any other kind?). Progress is not made by reasonable men—and it's arrogance only if, in the end, you're proven wrong.

In the end, the question of whether YG Acoustics' Yoav Geva, in his ads, is arrogant or merely stating the obvious would be answered not by reading his ad copy, but by diving in and listening to his speakers—which is what I decided to do when Geva invited me to his factory in Arvada, Colorado, for a factory tour and an extended listening session.

In person, Geva was more modest. "It may not actually be the best loudspeaker in the world," he said. "I maintain that it belongs in the category of the best loudspeakers in the world." But he was unable to leave it there. "And it is the best-measuring loudspeaker in the world."

Oh. Really?

You're Camembert
The Anat Reference II Professional ($107,000/pair) is a modular loudspeaker consisting of three discrete modules: the Anat Reference Main Module (108 lbs), the Studio passive subwoofer (160 lbs), and the Professional powered subwoofer (400W, 172 lbs). Yes, that's 440 lbs per channel. When you buy the AR II Pros, one thing you should expect is that your dealer install and position them in your listening room.

For all of the details on this loudspeaker, go to YGA's website; here, I'll list a few of the highlights. Each YGA module is machined from aircraft-grade 6061 T651 aluminum; the front baffles of the Anat-series speakers are made of a "ballistic-grade" alloy of aluminum and titanium. Geva claims that this compound is stiffer and stronger than other aluminum alloys, and offers "faster propagation of sound and resonance evacuation." The Anat Reference 's crossover uses a proprietary topology set at 1.75kHz, and offers a nominal load of 4 ohms (2.75 minimal). The Professional subwoofer modules that were supplied had the 800W class-A/B amplifier module (a 400W version is available).

Geva insists that by using the stiffest material he can machine, he can make his speakers "virtually" resonance-free; he claims that they're the "deadest, stiffest, strongest, least diffractive, and acoustically most desirable" speakers made. Using a sophisticated computer program of his own design, Geva says he has achieved "ruler-flat frequency response," making the YGA speakers "the only loudspeakers optimized in both frequency and time domains."

One last thing: Geva claims that his loudspeakers are not voiced, or otherwise created with any "human bias." Seeing my shocked expression, he hastened to add that he verifies by human experience, but establishes the speaker's performance solely through measurements. Does that mean that if he produced a speaker that measured right but sounded wrong, he wouldn't change it? "I would question the measurement in that case and refine my methodology."

You're a Coolidge dollar
Setting up the Anat Reference II Pros is not for wimps. They're shipped in six custom aluminum flight cases, leaving you with a curbside weight of nigh unto a ton. YGA has no dealer in New York City, so they shipped the AR II Pros to my house. Sales manager Dick Diamond arrived to help me schlep them inside and assemble them. Did I get preferential treatment? Hell no—I can't imagine any customer who can buy +$100k loudspeakers winding up on the heavy end of a 172-lb subwoofer or having to clean and jerk a 108-lb Anat Reference to its mounting height of 4' atop the Studio woofer module which in turn sits atop the Professional woofer module. On the other hand, I did get a good look inside the Professional subwoofer—it needs to be partially disassembled onsite so that it can be rigidly bolted to the Studio. (No such disassembly is required to bolt the Anat to the Studio; their rail systems provide solid connections, and are then bolted solidly together.) The end result is a single rigid unit for each channel. Final adjustments in focus are accommodated by use of floor spikes of different size, a process best left to last: once you spike 'em, the YGAs aren't going anywhere.

At this point, we ran into a snag. Dick Diamond asked me for two identical pairs of speaker cables—one for the Anat, one for the Studio subwoofer (the Professional sub was hooked up with balanced interconnect). Well, geez, even audio reviewers (this one, at any rate) don't have two identical pairs of expensive speaker cable just lying around. We compromised on a pair of Kimber Monocle jumpers to connect the Anat Studio's binding posts to the amplifier output posts on the Professional module.

At first, I'd assumed that Diamond's insistence on an ultra-high-quality 6' length of speaker cable was pickiness, but as I continued to listen to the AR II Pros, I discovered that they could reveal extremely small differences—sometimes surprising ones. Any setup tweaks you might normally perform will pay huge dividends. Ayre Myrtle wood blocks under the Ayre KX-R preamplifier? Huge. Cable dressing? Ditto.

YG Acoustics Computerized Loudspeaker Labs LLC
4941 Allison St., Unit 10
Arvada, CO 80002
(720) 840-6441