Interview with Dick Diamond of YG Acoustics
Last week, Boris Granovsky of Absolute Hi End, the Australian distributor of a large portfolio of brands gave me a call and asked if I would like to come to his showroom in Cheltenham and meet a representative from YG Acoustics. “At the same time you can have a listen to two of the three models of YG Acoustics speakers that we have setup for display”. I didn’t exactly need to have my arm twisted.
The visiting representative turned out to be Dick Diamond, the worldwide Director of Sales and Marketing for YG Acoustics. A very likable and knowledgeable fellow that travels the world attending trade shows and visiting distributors, dealers and customers alike. Tough gig. He was in Melbourne briefly to have meetings with the local distributor along with a few lucky YG Acoustics owners. After the customary introductions and greetings, we sat down to discuss the company and its products. He also explained what makes YG Acoustics a unique high end product. His presentation lasted nearly two hours, but I’ll summarise a lot of what was said.
What products do you use with your speakers at shows around the world?
At CES in the USA, we have some measure of control. Usually there is a political alliance with another manufacturer. In the last couple of years we’ve used D’Agostino electronics, before that we used Solution. In a lot of the US domestic shows we are using Audionet electronics out of Germany, a company that is coming on very strongly. We have also provided speakers for Vitus, with very good results, also Jeff Rowland, Krell, Boulder, Audio Research and others.
How did the YG Acoustics story get started?
The YG in YG Acoustics is Yoav Geva. Yoav grew up in Israel where he received his education. He received the highest College entrance exam results in the whole country, so is obviously a very bright and gifted individual. His father had a textile business in Germany. During the summer holidays he worked in his father’s business. As a young man Yoav learned to play the piano and loved music. He followed his father’s audiophile hobby and at a very early age, preteen in fact, he wanted a good audio system of his own. His father, realising his son’s aptitude, wisely said that he would not simply give him a speaker system, but that he would buy him some books on speaker design and provide all the materials needed to make his own. Well, Yoav was a young man that was up to the challenge! He jumped in with both feet and as time went on, he developed a passion for making speakers. His father’s wise tutorage really helped and kept encouraging him to progress and develop better speakers. As his father owned some high end components, young Yoav was able to compare his speakers with the better ones that his fathers owned, so this started him on the road to building speakers.
When it became time for him to serve his compulsory time in the military, he worked specialised software and in his own time, continued designing speakers with the best computer software available to him. He tried LEAP, a very powerful program, used in the speaker industry. But still, he was not satisfied with this or other ‘off the shelf’ programs. He wondered to himself that there has to be a way to put in all the variable parameters of the drivers and enclosures into a program and have it spit out an ideal configuration for you. Critically, a configuration with both a flat frequency response, as well as correct phase. As you can guess, he wrote and created his own program. Finally he had something that he was truly satisfied with, a program that enables you to create a crossover with both perfect frequency response and perfect phase response. That’s what really jump started him in the speaker business. He called it the DualCoherent™ design software. Yoav has decided not to patent or licence the software, but to keep it for internal use only.
Virtually all other manufacturers use a single off-the-shelf software tool, which can only optimise either the frequency response or phase, but not both. They are forced to choose one and to compromise the other. YG Acoustics also correctly manage the more important ‘relative’ phase, the phase between individual drivers, like the tweeter and midrange drivers, or midrange and woofer and how those interact with each other. It’s in the frequency roll off from one driver to the other, that the phase response can really get screwed up. The really critical thing that the software does, is optimise the relative transition of the phase between the drivers, so that the phase is absolutely spot on, as this allows us to have the ‘one voice’ quality that we are known for.
Where and how are your speakers manufactured?
In 2002 YG Acoustics started and made our first commercial speaker. In 2004 we based the factory in Denver Colorado, USA and have been based there ever since. All of our speaker’s components are made in house, including the enclosures, drivers, crossovers, even the binding posts. The speaker cabinets are entirely made from aircraft grade aluminium. This is something that YG Acoustics are known for. We believe that it is the best material to make speakers from. The raw aluminium is delivered to the factory as huge flat sheets of varying thicknesses and our machines mill the sheets into the correct sized components. It would be impossible to make components out of wood or other materials to the same precise specifications that we require.
The huge sheets are managed by any of the 4 overhead cranes that manage to pick up the panels and move them as required around the factory. We use a Portatec milling machine, the same one used by Airbus to make aircraft components. It cuts the cabinet panels very precisely. We use a number of very special German made multi axis CNC machines to create all the parts, including the speaker drivers. A CNC polishing robot applies the finish to the front and rear of the speaker panels that have curved surfaces. The finished parts are then sent out to be black anodised.
Why use aluminium for the Speaker Cabinets?
We investigated all types of materials including wood, resin based materials, high tech fibre’s, laminates etc. We tried everything and it came to our attention that the particular grade of aluminium that we use, in the size of panels that we require, simply has the most rigidity and the lowest incidence of resonance. People expect a cabinet that is made of aluminium to ring like a bell, but exactly the opposite happens. Other materials actually have a greater resonant behaviour. This research was conducted using an accelerometer placed on the material and then measured. Yoav came to the understanding that in order to make the least resonant cabinet on the planet, it would have to be made of metal. Whether he liked it or not, he would have to be in the metal business. Hence the factory is geared around a metal machine shop.
You can machine metal parts to extremely tight tolerances. That means that an acoustic suspension speaker like ours, that uses a sealed enclosure, can be made to be absolutely and perfectly airtight. Another thing that metal allows us to do is to use something called pressurised assembly. All the metal parts of an aircraft wing have been made this way, as they need to cope with the expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes. It maintains a consistent connection with the walls of the speaker, very tight and secure.
You also use aluminium for the driver cones?
Yes, for midrange drivers and woofers, we use what we call BilletCore™ drivers. They start off as heavy chunk of aluminium and are precisely machined through various stages until they end up as an extremely thin, light, yet rigid speaker cone. A 7 kg billet is reduced to only 30 grams and 0.2 mm in thickness. By the way, we recycle and sell the scrap aluminium. The cone profile uses computer designed ribs on the rear of the cone to add considerable strength and rigidity to the cone. If you try to squash the cone in your hands as hard as you can, you will find it impossible to compress it. (We tried and it’s uncanny how strong this lightweight cone is.) As the cones are machined, the material is not bent or stretched, reducing stress and metal fatigue. It is then anodised, which slightly hardens the surface and adds the black color.
These billet core drivers have given our company a lot of attention, as they are the most rigid and perfectly formed, as well as some of the lightest, drivers ever created. This allows the leading edge attack of an impulse or transient to move without the cone deforming. They have the ideal pistonic behaviour.
What about the tweeter?
We use a silk material that we get from a company called Kurt Müller in Germany. The motor assembly behind the tweeter is the ScanSpeak Illuminator motor. That was the best magnet that we could find and the dome material is the most consistent. Yoav had the goal of making the lowest distortion tweeter on the planet with the most linear and most extended frequency response possible. He went into the motor structure and remanufactured non parallel internal walls. By using 3D computer optimisation, he cut new shapes into the magnet system, using the CNC machines that the factory has at hand. This resulted in a unique tweeter technology that we call ForgeCore™ with vanishingly low levels of distortion and the frequency range of the tweeter was now extended to beyond 47 kHz. His goal was realised!
How were the names of the speaker models arrived at?
The top speaker is named Sonja, named after Yoav’s wife. (Anat is his ex-wife) The next model is Hailey, named after the 8 year old daughter. Carmel is the 7 year old son.
As far as model numbers go, they indicate the amount of individual modular speaker components stacked on each other to make up the speaker. For instance the 1.2 has 2 speaker modules locked and braced together, while the 1.3 uses 3 driver modules.
After the very informative discussion with Mr Diamond, we were shown the two YG Acoustic loudspeakers on display, along with the associated electronics and equipment in two superbly set up demonstration rooms. In the first room was a pair of YG Carmel 2, Modwright LS-100 preamp and KWA-100SE power amp, DigiBit Aria Music Server as a source with an iPad to control it, Finite Elemente Master Reference Rack, Jorma Design Origo speakers cables and interconnects, Voodoo power cords.
The second room held the YG Hailey 1.2 , Vitus Audio RI-100 integrated amp and RCD-101 SACD/CD player, Solid Tech Hybrid racks, Siltech Signature speaker and interconnect cables, Voodoo power cords.
How did it sound?
As you can see by the photos, they are very nice systems with high quality electronics matching the YG Acoustics speakers. The systems were unfamiliar to me, so it’s difficult to be definitive about the sound of a particular speaker in an uncontrolled environment, that would take a full review. But having made my disclaimer, I found the systems to have a common, overall ease and level of detail only found in high end systems. The Carmel system in the first room had amplifiers that were not as yet fully run-in, but the high frequency extension was immediately obvious. Having effectively only the tweeter and midrange drivers of the Hailey 1.2, but in a larger enclosure, they were limited in the amount of deep bass that they produced, yet they were satisfyingly musical and had a highly detailed sound.
The second room with the larger Hailey 1.2 had a lot deeper bass content to add to the overall description of the Carmel’s. Having a sealed enclosure gave the bass a tight punchy sound, a little different to some ported designs. The sound stage was larger and gave a more even handed presentation to musical content. Both the rooms were large with tall ceilings and the sound filled out the room nicely. They both had very good timing and that’s no doubt credit to the linear phase response. They also didn’t mind being played quite loudly and I noticed that they didn’t artificially compress the sound or add any detectable box related coloration. To say any more than that will take a full review, which would be a lot of fun to do.
Dick Diamond was leaving Australia the following day and travelling to Thailand to visit their local distributor, before heading back home to the USA. On behalf of StereoNET I would like to thank Mr. Diamond for his generous time and expressive manner of presenting. Also Boris from Absolute Hi End, for arranging the meeting and allowing us to listen to these very special high end speakers and systems.
Prices (RRP) in Australia are as follows: Sonja 1.3 $149,000, Sonja 1.2 $102,000, Hailey 1.2 $59,990 and Carmel 2 $33,000.
YG Acoustics™ speakers are based on six proprietary technologies:
- BilletCore™ - revolutionary drivers machined from solid billet
- ForgeCore™ - the ultra-low-distortion motor system
- ToroAir™ - leading-edge inductors without signal contamination
- DualCoherent™ - the crossover coherent in both time and frequency domains
- Cabinet Technology - fully CNC-machined, aircraft-grade aluminium construction
- FocusedElimination™ - pinpoint elimination of resonances without loss
For more information visit Absolute Hi End.
Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early 80’s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now manages a boutique audio manufacturer.
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