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Speaker Asylum: REVIEW: Audio Physic Yara (floorstander) Speakers by twisty

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REVIEW: Audio Physic Yara (floorstander) Speakers

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Model: Yara (floorstander)
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $2000
Description: 2.5 way bottom-ported floorstander. Not Yara Evolution
Manufacturer URL: Audio Physic
Model Picture: View

Review by twisty ( A ) on August 23, 2005 at 15:02:25
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Note: This is a review of the Yara floorstander by Audio Physic. This is not a review of the Yara Evolution floorstander. The Evolution is a rear-ported 2-way design that is only slightly cheaper that the Yara ($1750 for the Yara Evolution, $2000 for the Yara, August 2005). I had the Yara Evolution in my home for several weeks (it was shipped to me by mistake when I ordered the Yara) and found it to be an inferior product. I cannot imagine a system, room, or taste that would prefer the Yara Evolution to the Yara. Without going in depth, the Evolution lacked the detail and the tonal accuracy of the Yara without doing anything better, except for perhaps being able to pressurize a slightly larger room due to the rear port. If your room is too large for the Yara, however, the Yara evolution is probably not the speaker for you.

The Yara is one of the ‘most different’ speakers in its pricerange. It has a construction that is out of the mainstream and I’ve never heard a speaker that sounds like this. The differences between this speaker and its competitors are much greater than the differences amongst the competitors that I’ve heard (Triangle, Spendor, Quad, Sonus Faber, Meadowlark, Dali, B&W, JMLabs). The reason for this is that the designers of the Yara seem to have made very specific decisions about what their priorities were in construction and these priorities appear to be somewhat different from most other designers.

The Yara is a bottom-ported speaker. This is accomplished by a round port in the bottom of the speaker box. The speaker box is on top of a solid pedestal with about 1/3” of space between the speaker and the pedestal created by short ‘legs’ at each corner. It is into this gap that the port fires. The pedestal has holes drilled into the bottom for use with the provided spikes. This unique construction makes these speakers incredibly flexible regarding placement. I’ve put them against the back wall and I’ve put them 3” laterally from a cabinet. In each situation, the tonal balance remained neutral and the bass remained tight and tonal. The only other design oddity is that the speaker posts are pointing at a 45-degree angle upward. If you are using banana plugs your cables will leave the speakers pointing up! That works great for me because my amp is on top of a tall cabinet. If your amp is low to the ground and your current cables are a tight fit into ‘normal’ binding posts the extra few inches of travel created by the turn upwards may be a problem, depending on the flexiblity of your cables. Images of the bottom pedestal and the upward-pointing binding posts are available here: http://www.audiophysic.com/produkte/yara/aufbau_e.html

Now for the part that matters:

No other speaker that I’ve heard sounds this good. Period. Tone, detail, nuance, and emotion all feel honest and lifelike. The Yara has a slim and deep cabinet and uses relatively small drivers. This allows for a speed and timing that vinyl-lovers will appreciate and makes these speakers adept at bringing out small details and nuances of music. It is in this microdetail that soundstage and human emotion live, and this speaker excels at bringing out both of these. Jazz, folk, and chamber music really shine, as do ‘small’ percussion instruments (including hand drums). Electric music is musical, but lacks the weight of a live performance.

If the sound of the music is the Yara’s strength, the feel of the music is its weakness. You won’t find sternum-shaking bass here, nor will you find the weight and impact of a full symphony. This is not the most transparent speaker I’ve ever heard (that goes to SLS with it’s ribbon tweeter) or the best at pinpoint holographic imaging, but it’s certainly no slouch in either department. Even live acoustic guitar has a ‘feel’ that these speakers only partially succeed in delivering.

It’s almost like listening to headphones, where you can get bass that goes low and sounds good, but doesn’t shake the room or the listener. Some may miss this effect. However, any speaker that produces bass that robust will have serious problems unless you have a very large room and ideal placement. Lacking both of these, I’d rather have bass that sounds good but feels light then bass that feels right but sounds wrong.

These speakers can still rock. The same speed that brings out the tiniest whisper of breath and vibration of string brings slam to a drum and lets an electric guitar attack and decay as it ought to. They’re just not going to fill a room with the chest-pounding bass of live rock/electronic music.

These speakers add nothing to the music. With ‘harsh’ music they’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, just like a trumpet blowing in your face ought to. With ‘gentle’ music they are capable of delivering the slightest breaths and emotions in a very honest way. Music just pours out through them, and they take on the character of the music being played. Like any good component, you do not notice them. You just hear the music.

Although the small size of this speaker and the limited breathing space don’t allow for the most robust bass, the bass response remains tight and tonal to it’s rolloff at 40hz. These speakers have no problem creating a realistic presentation of acoustic or electric bass at reasonable volume, but drums and loud electric instruments won’t have the “feel” that they have in live performance. I believe that if you want this you have three choices: get a subwoofer, get large speakers that won’t sound as honest for acoustic instruments and vocals, or spend much, much more to get it all.

Being small speakers, the Yara’s are not up to the task of filling a large room with sound. In my 14’x14’x8’ living room they have power to spare. They can play as loud as I can tolerate listening and then some, and they can keep me rocking while I do the dishes in the next room. However, if you’re space is cavernous these are not the speakers for you (unless you’re setting up for nearfield).

Music sounds so good coming from these speakers that I never want to stop listening. This is the stuff of lost nights and bleary-eyed mornings.

I’m not going to go as far as to call this the ‘across-the-board-best’. I don’t think any product deserves that title. Design involves compromises, strengths and weaknesses. Across the board, the Yara is among the highest quality speakers in its pricerange. It has a unique combination of strengths and weakness that makes it very different from its competitors. If you’re looking for $2000 speakers, the Yara deserves a listen. If your priority is building a system where acoustic instruments and vocals sound as ‘right’ as possible, the Yara absolutely deserves a listen. If you have a smallish room and/or difficult placement issues, the Yara absolutely, positively deserves a listen. If you want chest-pounding bass or have a cavernous listening room, you may want to look elsewhere. Listen to this speaker. You may like it better then the rest. You may not. You certainly won’t say it sounds the same as the rest.

Note: Audio Physic has recently changed distributors. The old distributor (Immedia) has been unloading their overstocks and demos for about $1200. At $2000 this is a very good speaker. At $1200 it is an absolute steal and if your priorities are in line with the strengths I’ve described you’ve found a real bargain.

Product Weakness: Too small to fill a large room, bass cannot create a 'heavy' feel.
Product Strengths: Tonal accuracy from the bottom to the top. Vocals and instruments simply sound like they should.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Jolida 302b, modified
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Jolida 100 cdp, Rega P3/Benz Ace, Magnum Dynalab Etude
Speakers: Audio Physic Yara
Cables/Interconnects: Various. Silver-over-solid-copper speaker cables and most IC's
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Many. Folk, accoustic/vocals, rock, jazz, blues, classical, world.
Room Size (LxWxH): 14 x 14 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: Difficult room.
Time Period/Length of Audition: Nearly 1 year and counting...
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): none
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Audio Physic Yara (floorstander) Speakers - twisty 15:02:25 08/23/05 ( 8)