When DVL Audio distribution from Toronto asked if I was interested in hearing the Swiss-designed, and made CH Precision electronics driving American reference loudspeakers from YG Acoustics, I answered absolutely. They arranged for a sweet demo session to take place in Vancouver at a local dealership, so I grabbed my camera, and headed out.
The setting was a familiar one for readers of my Vancouver listening sessions, with Element Acoustics playing host, but this time Lawrence Lock, and David Chan of DVL were running the show, which included a gorgeous stack of CH Precision reference gear driving the massive, and elegant YG Acoustics Anat III passive tweeter-mid/active-bass loudspeakers.
I’ve heard YG speakers previously at a number of hi-fi shows, where they always impressed with their heft, sense of scale, and the transparency to source they portrayed. This was my first exposure to CH Precision, and let’s just start by saying that they can expose themselves to me any time they want to. My initial impressions were very good, but unfortunately the system had a few minor hiccups during the session, so I had to re-book for an extended listen two days later. Upon arrival, all had been put right. The gremlin apparently had something to do with the type of balanced cables being used between the CH L1, and the Anat III’s powered-bass drivers. With everything good to go, I sat down for a private audience, and with the remote controls firmly in hand I proceeded to spin the volume attenuator ever farther clockwise.
This is a system that resolves incredibly well with gobs of low-level texture regardless of the volume level. The amp has some muscle behind it (200 w/ch into 8Ω, and features a global-vs-local feedback ratio that is adjustable on-the-fly from the front panel user interface), but it felt like much more heft was involved with the heavy lifting in the lower octaves. Also, I listened mostly to Redbook discs (a couple of SACDs got in too), and the amount of air, and space around the upper register notes on piano, and strings (decay in particular) kept me leaning forward no matter how loud I had it because I just kept on wanting to follow the notes as they trailed off again, and again: it reminded me of what great DSD playback can do (and this is where I give a nod to CH for their D1 player – well done indeed). While there was no denying the transparency to source of the big YGs – and accuracy of their reproduction of wood-bodied instruments’ timbre in particular – I kept having to remind myself that there wasn’t a tube under the hood anywhere in this gear. But that giddy feeling that starts in the stomach, and spreads like whiskey on the palate kept happening while I was listening. Was there was a touch of euphonic presentation to the sound? Or was it just so damn smooth?
I played a solid mix of music through the D1, and no matter which silver disc I slid in (the transport mechanism on the D1 is incredibly solid), this just wasn’t one of those systems that “sounds best with classical..” or that oft-played tune that gets whistled through teeth when a reviewer is trying to say that while this or that component does one thing very well, it leaves one feeling less than enthused when attempting another modal translation. Rock, symphonic, jazz, vocals, acoustic… the CH Precision sound was one of unflappable composure, that spoke more to the heart than the brain in my opinion. That’s not to say it doesn’t possess a cerebral quality to complex, congested passages with massed strings for example – it does – it’s just that the connection is so firmly established to the emotional part of the music-listening experience that it tends to fool the brain into thinking less, and feeling more.
I’m grateful I had a chance to listen to this equipment. Mega-buck systems can often cause a snort of derision among some audiophiles who feel that the über high end is a waste of money. A point of view I completely dismiss because if it wasn’t for the huge amount of time, effort, and money poured into the research and development of dedicated engineers, and music lovers who design, test, and manufacture this type of equipment, there would be no mid or entry-level offerings from any cutting-edge companies or technology leaders in the hifi business. Without pure research into esoteric circuit designs, rare, and expensive materials, exhaustive listening tests with sometimes dozens of derivative component changes, or tweaks, there would be no benchmark for what many like to refer to as reference sound.
CH Precision and YG Acoustics are two such companies that are pushing the development envelope for world-class sound for audiophiles, and music lovers. For their ability to move my listening appreciation away from the logical, and into the emotional I thank them.
The CH Precision system consisted of the following components:
- D1 SACD/CD digital out, analog out (RCA, balanced XLR), Clock-Sync board: $44,500 USD
- C1 Two-CH D/A controller, digital/USB/ethernet/analog in: $45,000 USD
- L1 Two-CH pre-amplifier: $34,500 USD
- P1 Two-CH phono stage: $31, 000 USD
- M1 Two-CH power amplifier: $51,000 USD
- Assorted mix of CH cables, and Zensati cables: $TBD
- YG Acoustics Anat III IReference loudspeakers: $119,000 USD