YG Acoustics is based in Arvada, Colorado in the USA and in the States it is widely regarded as one of the ‘big three’ high-end loudspeaker manufacturers—the other two members of this exclusive group being Wilson Audio and Magico. But, in the UK at least, YG had a relatively low profile. However, that’s set to change, because the brand has returned to the UK under the auspices of the Cambridge-based distributor, Padood, Ltd. It’s our opinion that great pleasures await discerning UK listeners who audition the brand’s products, and we thought it might be good to start out with the firm’s most compact and least expensive model: the £22,800 Carmel 2 floorstanding loudspeaker.
Before we begin, I should supply several pieces of background information, if only to set a context for this review. First, my listening room, which measures about 14’ x 17.7’ (4.3x5.4m), is about the size of a medium-large UK lounge—it’s not a huge space, but neither is it a small 8’ x 8’ parlour. Second, I have had extensive experience with YG Acoustic’s original Carmel loudspeaker, which I favourably reviewed several years ago for our U.S.-based sister publication The Absolute Sound. In that publication, the original Carmel went on to win accolades as a loudspeaker of the year within its price class. Moreover, I would say that between then and now, I have long regarded the original Carmel as a ‘personal best’ of sorts, in that it set a high-water mark for overall audio system performance in my home—a mark that remained unchallenged until quite recently, when I heard first the superb GamuT RS3 standmount monitors reviewed in issue 127, and now the Carmel 2 floorstanders.
Recognising that the original Carmel was one of the best loved (and best selling) of all YG products, the YG team were very keen on having me hear the new Carmel 2 in comparison with the original Carmels. Accordingly, they arranged for both sets of speakers to be sent to my home for back-to-back listening sessions, so that I could better understand and—they hoped—appreciate the differences between the models. Consequently, this is not only a review of the Carmel 2, but also a comparison between it and its critically acclaimed predecessor.