This past weekend I had the privilege of representing Hi-Fi+ at a very special private demonstration of YG Acoustics’ new flagship Sonja XV (XV stands for ‘eXtreme Version’) four-tower loudspeaker system, which was held in the largest of five demonstration rooms at the facilities of GTT Audio & Video in Long Valley, New Jersey, USA. YG Acoustics and GTT Audio & Video had set aside about a week dedicated to private showings of the Sonja XV for a small handful of audio journalists from publications across the globe. I arrived at GTT around mid-afternoon on Friday, September 9, 2016 and my listening time extended from then until a bit after midnight! The midnight/wee-small-hours cut-off point wasn’t so much by plan, but rather had to do with the fact that I along with my hosts Bill Parish (the owner of GTT Audio & Video) and Dick Diamond (Director of Sales and Marketing for YG Acoustics) simply got caught up in the sonic/musical ‘tractor beam’ that is the new Sonja XV. And what a musical magic carpet ride that turned out to be.
Up to this point, YG Acoustics’ loudspeaker range, which is the brainchild of company founder and president Yoav Geva, has consisted of four basic models: the two-way/two-driver floorstanding Carmel 2 (named for Geva’s son), the three-way/three-driver and two-enclosure Hailey floorstander (named for Geva’s daughter), and the three-way/five-driver and three-enclosure Sonja floorstander (named for Geva’s wife). It’s an impressive range and one I’ve spent considerable time listening to in that I use the Carmel 2 as a reference, have heard the Hailey at some length, and have had multiple experiences in hearing the Sonja in various demonstration systems. In the case of each of these speakers I would say that YG Acoustics’ hallmark qualities of tonal neutrality, wide-range frequency response, high resolution, excellent transient speed, and dramatic dynamic agility and clout are present and accounted for, so that the differences between the models are largely a matter of degree. As the size, complexity, and prices of the models increase, so too does low frequency extension, the absolute level of resolution, and the sheer size of the dynamic envelope on offer.
Given all this, one might expect the Sonja XV to represent yet another evolutionary step along the path, and in one sense it is, but in an overarching sense it is also much more than that: namely, a step up in performance so dramatic that it simply stops listeners in their tracks and gently but insistently compels their rapt attention. The funny part is that the speaker seems to have this effect not only on first-time Sonja XV listeners, like me, but also on veteran Sonja XV listeners like Dick Diamond, Bill Parish, and Joe Kubala, co-founder of Kubala-Sosna Research (the firm whose cables were used exclusively in the demonstration system).