There is something effortlessly, almost nonchalantly, right about the YAR system. While its distinctive style is a function of its innate Sprezzatura, style only scratches the surface of what YAR does so well.
There is a sense of it being the best of all possible worlds, with the ability for a system to disappear in the way really good panel loudspeakers can but coupled to a sense of dynamism and energy that is typically the domain of good box-loudspeaker systems. There is also the scale and drama that typically only occurs with giant floorstanding loudspeaker systems, and the pace and speed of a good stand-mount design. All coupled to an amplifier system that is designed to bring out the absolute best in that loudspeaker and do it with only the merest hint of euphony. In other words, it’s a system that forgives without fogging; it means you don’t need to limit yourself to music from the audiophile playbook and can play anything you throw at it. To wit, staying with the Turin connection Matt Monro singing ‘On Days Like These’ from the soundtrack to the 1969 movie The Italian Job[Paramount]. Actually, most of the George Martin recording is great, with excellent vocal projection, but the bass line and percussion is thin and lacking in deep bass, but the YAR makes it sound like it doesn’t matter and you just enjoy the music.
Naturally, a system of the gravitas and scope of the YAR components should be capable of playing any kind of music properly, but these products do that with such aplomb that it’s hard not to be impressed. Whether that music is baroque harpsichord, Donizetti aria, Mahler at full tilt, or Joni Mitchell at her peak, the music is teased out with a sense of Sprezzatura that few systems do so completely. Imaging in particular is first class, with a true depth and dimensionality to any recording (even ping-pong 1960s pop stereo).
Perhaps what points out the quality of the YAR system beyond all other things is the replay of an audiophile standard piece of music. I find it difficult to listen to the live version ‘Stimela (The Coal train)’ from Hugh Masekela’s Hope LP [Triloka], not because it’s a bad piece of music or because of the musicianship or any other reasons – in fact it ticks the boxes for great music and outstanding musicianship, although I prefer the original from the 1970s. No, the reason for finding ‘Stimela’ so hard to listen is that it has been played and played to death at shows, demonstrations, press launches, and so on for the last 25 years. So, it holds little or no mystery to me. Except there is a little something that is normally held back. Masekela and his backing group sing the middle eight and choruses in Zulu and those distinctive click consonants of Nguni languages are incredibly challenging for many loudspeakers. They can do the job but tend to either blur the transient (not so much a cork popping out of a champagne bottle, more a ‘plopping’ sound) or rob it of its dynamics (perhaps understandable given there’s a lot going on). Through this system, however, the alveolar click is clear and easy to hear, and – unless you speak fluent Zulu like I don’t – comes as a shock. I have heard that particular version many hundreds of times (and the original a lot, too), so I expect the audiophile Usual Suspects, but the handling of such transients surprised me and really showed up what the system is capable of.
Unless you have a fear of alien abduction, there’s not much to dislike about YAR’s products. Currently, it’s difficult to hear one without the others, as the company looks to the products as components in a system and is not too keen on breaking up the team. So, the system should be taken as a complete entity. Nevertheless, I would like to hear the products in isolation. Stylistically though, that would detract from the complete package, which is another minor concern about YAR… placing it with products that don’t look prosaic next to the amp and loudspeakers. This is no small consideration – an otherwise elegant component can look a bit of a bluff lump next to the YAR system. And the combination of that and the Y-der loudspeaker does make for a system crying out for a very high-end setting. Far more so that most high-end boxes.