The Arvada, Colorado-based firm YG Acoustics is widely considered to be one of the three leading producers of true top-tier loudspeakers in the United States (the other two being, of course, Magico and Wilson Audio). All three firms are known for their uncompromising and single-minded pursuit of sonic excellence, yet each takes its own distinctive approach in the ascent to the sonic mountaintop.
Since its inception in 2002, YG Acoustics has been a science and engineering-led company, but one whose work has always been informed by extensive critical listening and a keen and discerning musical sensibility. The firm has by tradition offered a comparatively simple product range where the aim was to produce a handful of equally superb but differently sized floorstanding loudspeakers that could scale up or down to fit the requirements of various sizes of listening rooms. Thus the first generation YG models were, in ascending order of size, the Carmel, the Kipod, and the Anat, while the second generation comprises the small Carmel 2, the mid-size Hailey, and the large Sonja—all of them, save for the single-chassis Carmels, configured as modular loudspeakers with milled aluminium enclosure systems.
For a long time, YG’s founder and president Yoav Geva felt that his three-model loudspeaker family could meet the needs and desires of the majority of demanding, performance-minded audiophiles, and with good reason. The speakers sounded great, measured very well, and offered exquisite build quality. All the models in the range shared the firm’s specialised design and construction technologies, and all were built to meet the same high standards for build quality and sonic performance. In practice, then, this meant that differences between the models were not so much qualitative ones (although some qualitative differences could be observed), but rather were more a matter of scale.
Over time, however, a number of YG’s distributors approached Geva to ask if he could create a larger and higher performance version of the flagship Sonja—a seemingly simple request, but one that posed two daunting questions. First, given how much of Geva’s personal expertise and know-how had already been poured into the flagship Sonja, was it realistically possible to exceed its performance in meaningful ways? Second, if hypothetical performance gains were possible, how could they be achieved in practical design and manufacturing terms? Geva has spent over two years seeking answers to these questions and the result is now the spectacular four-way, four-tower Sonja XV (‘XV stands for ‘Extreme Version’) loudspeaker system ($265,900) that is the subject of this review.
The Sonja XV system is a four-way, four-tower loudspeaker that incorporates a total of 20 drive units (two tweeters, four midrange drivers, six midbass drivers, and eight woofers) and an enclosure system that uses twelve dedicated modules made of CNC-machined, black-anodised aircraft-grade aluminium. Each Sonja XV speaker consists of two towers: a main and a companion woofer tower that are both 1.79 metres tall. The twin towers are similarly but not identically proportioned and share a common design motif, with each tower featuring three stacked modules, starting with broad-shouldered woofer modules at the floor level, and with middle and upper modules featuring subtly curved sidewalls that gradually taper inwards as the towers rise upward. Although YG Acoustics tends not to emphasise this point, Porsche Design played an essential consulting role in helping to develop the system’s elegant industrial design aesthetic.