We recently had the pleasure of a visit from David Robinson, editor-in-chief of Positive Feedback. David had previously reviewed our Sonja 2.3i speakers and has extended listening experience with them. We wanted to share our new Sonja 3.3 with him and see if he liked them as much as we do. After his visit, David was kind enough to send us this.
Lightning Impressions: a trip to hear the YG Acoustics Sonja 3.3 Loudspeakers
David W. Robinson, Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback
Earlier this week (October 2, 2023), I flew out to Denver from Portland, Oregon, to visit the home base of YG Acoustics. Duncan Taylor, Marketing, and Steve Huntley, VP of Global Sales, were my hosts for this return to YG, a brand that I knew quite well. I had been out to see them a couple of years ago, during some of the worst of COVID, to tour their factory and listen to some of their next-gen loudspeakers.
That trip was a great time, and eventually led to a new speaker project evaluating the YG Acoustics Sonja 2.3i, with the “i” designating its newly upgraded tweeter and internal crossover network. The Sonja 2.3i would be here for nearly two years, with its excellence earning one of my Brutus Awards for 2022. Therefore, when we shipped the 2.3’s back this year, it was with a sense of loss.
But then came a communication from Duncan Taylor, the new honcho of Marketing at YGA. There was a new generation of the Sonja line, the Sonja 3.3, that they had developed and wanted me to hear, because of my extended prior experience with the 2.3i. That’s how I ended up on a flight to Denver, for a quick extended listening session with the Sonja 3.3’s.
Truth to tell, I thought that this would be hard. I had expected some incremental improvements…here a little, there a little…which can be tough to describe in a way that helps our readers. Subtle changes are tricky beasties for the audio wordsmith to trap.
But…it turned out to be easy.
While the Sonja 2.3i and the new 3.3 looked quite similar, that’s where the parallels stopped.
We listened in YG’s new demonstration room to a system with Soulnote Z-3 network transport (along with X-3 external clock generator), D-3 DAC and P-3 preamp, driving the Sonja 3.3 with two Burmester 909 MK5 power amps in bridged mode.
We started out with a session of streaming audio, the usual sorts of PCM tracks via Qobuz. Within seconds…seconds, mind you…I was floored.
In fact, after listening to Qobuz tracks for a while, I simply had to confirm the quality of what I was hearing. I took out my handy-dandy Astell & Kern SP2000 high-end portable player, one that had a number of my personal reference recordings in DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, and even DSD512. Using an adapter cable, we plugged the SP2000 into the system preamp, and spent time listening to DSD. (I’ll note that DSD at all levels clobbered streaming PCM rather massively. That’s just in case you were wondering.)
The use of reference DSD recordings made things starkly clear: the improvements between the Sonja 2.3i and the Sonja 3.3 were not a minor set of hard-to-qualify transitional steps. They were an avalanche of sonic advancements in every category: transparency, detail, seamlessness, imaging, soundstaging, dynamics of all flavors, and a harmonic rightness extending from very deep bass to the ultrasonic range.
As a result, I could pay the Sonja 3.3’s my very high compliment of possessing a truly organic feel, musicality, and the ability to deliver presence that only a relatively few loudspeakers can do.
No, I didn’t think that the Sonja 3.3’s could be a massive step up from what I had heard with the 2.3i’s over a very extended period of time…but they were. They were a smashing achievement that had me smiling from beginning to end!
So, there’s simply no comparison. The YG Acoustics Sonja 3.3’s represent a mighty leap over the earlier Sonja 2.3i’s that they are replacing, and demonstrate that YG Acoustics’ 3.3’s are radical improvements that will have to be taken very seriously by audiophiles everywhere.