See anything different about this year's YG Acoustics exhibit room? Yes, it's the same farchachdat gigantic echo chamber in the Sands Expo that YG played in in 2009, and, yes, those are the same $107k YG Anat Reference II Pros--this year driven (impressively well) by Krell electronics and my favorite digital, dCS. But...look at the walls.
Yup, according to none other than YG's Yoav Geva, YG took my advice to heart when, after last year's fiasco, I asked Yoav if he had a death wish to show his statement products in such a horrendous room at such ear-splitting levels. Though I can scarcely believe that I was the only listener who complained about last year's acoustics, this time around Geva actually put room treatment on those thirty-foot-high walls and--even more shocking--turned the volume down to less than Apollo 17-launch levels, and I gotta admit that the net effect of these changes was...astonishing.
This is absolutely the first (and this far, only) time I have heard YG's statement speakers shown in YG's own room sound undeniably excellent. As with most of the other displays at CES, the Anat's overall balance was a bit on the dark side (i.e., weighted toward the lower mids and bass). Nonetheless, a touch of dark and rich and luscious is infinitely preferably to the plethora of thin, aggressive, and shriekingly bright I've heard at previous YG demos. This year, timbres were beautiful, and definition, dynamics, and sheer presence downright impressive, with wonderful control, detail, and extension in the bass (and everywhere else, actually). The Anats reproduced Marc Cohn's "Ghost Train"--a cut I'm very familiar with--with superior resolution of individual lines. And to be honest, this wasn't even the best YG exhibit at CES.
That honor would belong to Ted Denney of Synergistics Research, who was showing the smaller versions of the Anats--the Anat Reference II Studio (seen above in black immediately to the left of the taller silver Anat Reference II Pros)--in a much smaller and somewhat more gemutlich room with his own remarkable new gold/silver/platinum Galileo cable/interconnect system, and Acoustic ART room treatments. Though I'm not entirely sure that Ted's system wasn't a bit overdamped, I am sure that the sound was ravishing and as finely detailed as anything I heard at this year's show. I was particularly impressed by the way the system reproduced Cut 7 of The International--a vertitable torture test of multiple tones and textures and X-tra-large- and small-scale dynamics, Ted's various tweaks and the Anats themselves brought out tiny little details of attack, timbre, and decay that simply weren't as fully audible on most (not all) other systems. It also did a better-than-acceptable job of my Captain Luke cut, "Rainy Night In Hell."
While I wouldn't say that either Anat system was "absolute sound" realistic (and, of course, how could one say that about the synthesized soundtrack of The International), they were as good as hi-fi gets--the kind of sound that I think is tailor-made for those listeners I call the "as you like it" types, who want music to sound beautiful and thrilling, first and foremost. They are also quite the ticket for listeners in the "mastertape" camp, who want to hear every detail of music, mastering, and engineering reproduced with utter clarity.
The YG Acoustics Anat may not be "The Best Loudspeaker On Earth. Period." (The phrase itself is silly, IMO.) But, this year, in two different rooms, the Anat was unquestionably "The Most Improved Loudspeaker On Earth. Period."