Complex passages sound cogent and discernible. The timpani part in the RR Nightingale uses flams and short rolls in the opening section of the “Chinese March” movement as if to say, “brrrum...brrrum...brrrum” instead of “boom....boom...boom.” Details like these emerge readily through the 2.2 but can become swallowed up in a less differentiated mass of sound through less revealing speakers. Subtle fingers-on-strings or singers’ lip sounds in small, intimate music come through very clearly, thereby allowing a higher level of the human expressiveness in the music to be readily conveyed to the listener. Again, nothing sounds forced to achieve this lovely resolution. Music unfolds in a balanced way—tonally, dynamically, harmonically, and visually proportionally realistic within its overall soundscape.
Basically, the Sonja 2.2 carries through whatever the characteristics of the upstream system give it and does so with a kind of assuring competency. Of course, if you play a bad recording or a system mismatch exists upstream, the 2.2 will let you know. Neither of the two Sonja models I have lived with fall into the “twitchy racehorse” category of speakers, requiring only a relatively narrow selection of partnering electronics and cabling to make them rewarding to listen to over the long haul. On the contrary, I find the 1.2 and now the 2.2 to be a great all-rounders with both tonal neutrality and affording flexibility in system-matching. The only caveat on this point is that—even though the crossover has been updated to accommodate less powerful amplifiers—I would still recommend using an amplifier with at least 100 watts (YG recommends at least 60), and I would still favor high-current solid-state amplifiers or higher-powered tube amps over other types.
As already mentioned, the new version has a bit more low-end weight. The characteristic YG bass speed and articulation are still there, but the low end is now just filled in a little better. Dynamic punch is also a touch better. Some of this dynamic precision may come from the easier load presented to the powering amplifier via the 2.2 crossover adjustment, but it may also stem from the new tweeter. It is simply able to handle the acceleration forces better. Even though much of our sense of dynamic force comes from power and speed in the bass region, the upper frequency range has to keep up and maintain its composure as well, or the whole illusion of a grand dynamic sweep won’t be convincing. The Sonja 2.2 is just a little more exciting to listen to than the 1.2—not that the 1.2 was a slouch by any means. Rock and pop music both have a hair more drive, and orchestral crescendos have a bit more impact.
Like many sealed-cabinet (air suspension) designs, the Sonja 2.2’s bass performance favors agility, tunefulness, and pitch-definition over raw bass power and the “room loading” quality more typically associated with ported (bass-reflex) designs. The 2.2’s lower frequency extension is indeed very low—full-range for all intents and purposes in my setup—but it does not overtly “pressurize” the room with gut-moving bass like some similarly sized ported speakers do. Very low notes on electronica by artists like Björk and Aphex Twin are projected into the room with exhilarating impact, but they are not overblown or out of control. YG lists the frequency range as, “usable output extends from below 20Hz to above 40kHz.” I presume this means the listed bass response takes into account how the speaker interacts with typical domestic room boundaries and may be more meaningful than traditional -/+3dB anechoic chamber specifications. All I can say here is that bass extension and power are excellent in my setup—as are bass tunefulness and articulation. I have also heard the older Sonja 1.2 in a few other rooms—usually larger than mine—and the bass performance never sounded deficient in those systems.
Just like the Sonja 1.2, the 2.2 does not have an obvious sonic personality. Some recordings sound a bit calmer and more “organized,” less strained and jumbled, than they do through many other speakers. So, this clean and organized quality is about as close to a sonic personality as I can determine. Other than that, the sound I heard through the 2.2 seemed to be more determined by the upstream gear than by the speaker’s own intrinsic sonic signature. The word calm might imply polite or even boring to some readers. The Sonja 2.2 is not at all sedate. On the contrary, the Sonja 2.2 allows music’s innate artistic qualities to be expressed in large measure. Subtle, contemplative music like some of the Third Stream material on the ECM label sounds evocative and moving, not merely moody and slightly quirky. Hard-driving rock selections from bands such as Tool take on near-frightening acceleration through their sheer intensity. Classical music sounds rewarding in its timbral complexity and structural richness. The Sonja 2.2 does not favor—nor is it limited to—a particular kind or scale of music, at least not in the confines of my room and even in some larger ones. If you really like the big stuff, played on a grand scale, and you have the spacious room and the rest of the system to support it, you’ll need a bigger speaker. (This is where the YG dealer will steer you towards the Sonja 2.3 or Sonja XV models.) For most listeners, though, I believe the 2.2 will be all that is needed. The technology YG likes to cite in its marketing material, like ToroAir (toroidal inductors), ForgeCore (driver motor system), and ViceCoil (vise-like housing for large inductors) draw attention to its differentiating engineering elements, but at the end of the day, the product needs to serve music reproduction, and, in my experience, the Sonja 2.2 does so admirably.
The nearly 275-pound weight of each speaker may deter some music lovers. Unloading, assembling, and placing the Sonja 2.2 is definitely at least a two-person job. (Your dealer will arrange to send one or two people out to your site to install them.) While the 2.2 does not dominate a room like many large speakers do, it is still a medium/large, all-metal floorstander, so it may not please some folks’ aesthetic sensibilities. As mentioned, the speaker favors high-current solid-state amplifiers or higher-powered tube amps over their lower-powered cousins. To really take advantage of the resolving and dynamic abilities of the Sonja 2.2, it helps to use the best partnering gear and cabling one can assemble, which also adds to the cost of ownership. Some audiophiles may prefer the bass quality of a similarly sized ported speaker. I find the 2.2’s bass extension, impact, and definition to be flawless in my setup.
What I had said about the original Sonja 1.2 in my concluding remarks in Issue 256 also applies to the new 2.2: “The Sonja 1.2 is revealing without sounding exaggerated. It is dynamically alive without sounding forced. It is tonally neutral without sounding clinical.” How can I top that sort of praise? I am now in the slightly awkward position of having to say, essentially, “Yes, what I said then, and now more...more detail, more dynamic ease, more expressiveness, more bass weight, more soundstage continuousness.” The Sonja 2.2 is a speaker that serves the music, no matter what kind, with great facility and aplomb. And again, the new version gets my highest recommendation.
Specs & Pricing
Driver complement: One 1" YG BilletDome tweeter, two 6" YG BilletCore mid-woofers (main module), one 10.25" YG BilletCore woofer (bass module)
Frequency response: Usable output below 20Hz to above 40kHz
Sensitivity: 88dB/2.83V/1m anechoic
Impedance: 4 ohms nominal, 3 ohms minimum
Recommended amplifier power: Minimum, 60 high-current watts
Crossover points: 65Hz and 1.75kHz
Cabinet: Aircraft-grade milled aluminum
Dimensions: 13" x 51" x 25"
Weight: 271 lbs. each
Price: $76,800 per pair, available in black finish (silver by special request)
YG ACOUSTICS LLC
4941 Allison, St., Unit 10
Arvada, CO 80002
Analog source: Basis Debut V turntable and Vector 4 tonearm, Benz-Micro LP-S MR cartridge
Digital sources: Ayre C-5xeMP universal disc player, Hegel Mohican CDP, HP Envy 15t running JRiver MC-20, Hegel HD30 DAC
Phonostage: Moon by Simaudio 610LP
Linestages: Ayre K-1xe, Hegel P30
Integrated amplifier: Hegel H360
Power amplifiers: Gamut M250i, Hegel H30
Speakers: Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature, YG Acoustics Sonja 1.2
Cables: Shunyata ZiTron Anaconda signal cables, Nordost Heimdall 2 USB, AudioQuest Coffee USB and Hawk Eye SPDIF, Shunyata Anaconda SPDIF, Shunyata Sigma power cords
A/C power: Two 20-amp dedicated lines, Shunyata SR-Z1 receptacles, Shunyata Triton v3, and Typhon power conditioners
Room treatments: PrimeAcoustic Z-foam panels and DIY panels