In Hi-Fi+ Issue 145 (March 2017) Editor Alan Sircom and I decided to review loudspeakers that were contenders for state-of-the-art honours. Alan chose the Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic, while I opted for the YG Acoustics’ four-tower Sonja XV loudspeaker system. Alan and I came away from our listening experiences impressed and delighted by what we had heard and speaking purely for myself I can say without hesitation that YG’s Sonja XV was then and still remains the finest, most accomplished loudspeaker I have ever heard. With that said, however, two limiting factors about the Sonja XV do stand out: first, it’s a very large speaker system that demands a big space in order to give of its best and second, the XV is dauntingly expensive, with a price tag ($265,900) north of a quarter of a million dollars. For me, then, and probably for many of you, a key question is this: can the various technologies that make the XV the sonic wonder that it is be scaled downward to loudspeakers smaller in size and lower in price.
The unequivocal answer to that question is that yes, Sonja XV technologies can be scaled downward with excellent results—at least to a point. First came the Sonja XV Jr, which is mostly identical to the big XV, but with fewer woofer modules and an appropriately reworked crossover network, allowing for much shorter speaker towers and a concomitant price reduction. Next came the Sonja 2.2 (as reviewed in Hi-Fi+ 155), which is essentially an original Sonja 2 that has been ‘turbocharged’ with essentially all of the technologies that make the XV so special. Importantly, the Sonja 2.2 demonstrates that nearly all of the desirable sonic qualities of the XV can be distilled down into a two-loudspeaker system (rather than a four-tower system), and one priced below $80,000. Naturally, this leads to an inevitable follow-on question: can XV technologies successfully be scaled down even further?
The answer to that question is here in the form of the new Hailey 2.2 ($46,800), which is a three-way, 3-driver, modular loudspeaker fitted out with XV-inspired improvements. The Hailey 2.2 features an upper tweeter-midrange enclosure that sits atop a lower acoustic suspension-type woofer module. Early on, I had been under the impression that the Hailey 2.2’s upper and lower modules would arrive in separate crates that would eventually be stacked upon one another during installation and assembly, but this isn’t the case. Instead, the Hailey 2.2’s modules are locked together at the factory so that each Hailey 2.2 arrives as a completed loudspeaker ready to be moved into position for use.