A couple of days before Rocky Mountain 2017 kicked off, Jack and I headed to Arvada, CO to meet a friend of a friend, Yoav Geva, founder of YG Acoustics. My friend, who owns a software company in Denver, and Yoav are in the same dojo and take turns beating one another up to hear them tell it. So, my friend also knows about Jack’s interest in audio and has been trying to connect him with Yoav for a couple of years now.
Yoav Geva is the mastermind behind the company that he founded in 2002 in Israel in an abandoned bomb shelter that he was able to rent for $180 per month. His seed money to start the business came from a grant he received from the Ministry of the Industry for an invention related to speaker crossovers. His love for music and passion for speaker design, however, started much earlier. He comes from a musical family; his brother is a professional opera singer, his father played bass and he has played keyboards as a hobby since childhood. He bought his first stereo system when he was 15 and set to work to build his first speakers shortly thereafter because he wanted a more lifelike sound. That’s been the commitment with every YG Acoustics speaker design.
Family is at the heart of YG Acoustics, and Yoav moved his company to Arvada, CO, in 2004, realizing that the US offered more opportunities for the company to grow and on the advice of his dad who thought a US-based company would have more credibility. The names for his speakers also show his devotion to family; Sonja, shown with the Sonja speaker is his wife, Hailey his daughter, and Carmel his son.
Don’t Let Their Location Fool You
It wasn’t surprising that YG is located in a somewhat non-descript industrial park, but the company placard on the outside of the building confirmed that we were in the right place. And, once we were inside, Dick Diamond, Director of Sales and Marketing, and the rest of the YG team made us feel right at home as they walked us through the steps required to make their all-aluminum, made in the USA speakers.
The big machinery like the Kuhlmeyer CNC polishing robot shown below, an overhead crane system and their computer-driven technology that’s part of every step in their production process is impressive as is their obsessive commitment to perfection.
How They Do It
With an all-aluminum speaker, it wasn’t a surprise to see lots of aluminum in the YG production facility. Big 4-inch thick slabs of aviation-grade, heat-tempered aluminum are delivered on semi-trucks, and an overhead crane system is used to move these slabs.
From this aluminum, they make almost every part of the speakers using CNC machines that are computerized for each part. YG thinks aluminum is superior to wood, composite material and all other types of metals because it has the highest stiffness to mass ration. It can also be machined to the highest tolerances. It’s also non-magnetic and less resonant. While it’s not as heavy as steel, it is much heavier than wood or mdf. YG is a very green company. An unbelievable 99.5% of the aluminum they purchase is recycled.
This 10-inch speaker cone is carved from aluminum. No parts are extruded or tooled as this causes stress to the metal and changes the sonics. Parts are bathed in liquid as they are being carved to cool them down.
From the speaker fronts to the one of the smallest parts, the air dome, which weighs a mere 3 milligrams, each part is carved from aluminum and polished by the CNC polishing robot to apply the finish and harden the surface. Even the feet that are used to sit the speakers on top of the subwoofers are carved from aluminum using the CNC machines.
Here’s a picture of parts waiting to be assembled into finished speakers. The Sonja speaker has about 3,000 parts. Notice, YG uses black anodizing for some parts.
One of the technologies that make YG Acoustics unique is that they wind their own toroidal air cone inductors using this machine. YG says their unique method of wrapping their ToroAirTM inductor has less signal contamination than standard air core inductors.
Here, Dick Diamond shows the unique wrapping YG uses where the copper wire is wound around a plastic ring like a donut. The typical air core inductor used in crossovers wraps wire like thread around a bobbin.
The final step before boxing up a speaker to leave the factory is testing using a set of recorded test signals, which are recorded by a microphone and kept on file for reference.
Speakers are packed and shipped in wooden crates. The Sonja XV speaker is shipped in 12 crates (with two additional boxes) and are generally placed on 3 pallets.
So How Do They Sound?
Following the tour, we had the pleasure of listening to the Sonja speakers in the YG listening room. While the speakers sounded good in the listening room, I have to say that I got a much better idea of how good these speakers really are at RMAF where they were part of an incredible hi-fi system for Classic Album Sundays that included an Audio-Technica AT-ART 1000 moving coil cartridge, a VPI Avenger Turntable, the Jeff Rowland Design Group Daemon Super integrated amplifier and cabling by Nordost.
I dropped in for the Carole King “Tapestry” session and was blown away by the sound. It took me back to a live performance of “Beautiful”, the Broadway musical about Carole King, that Jack and I saw in San Francisco a couple of years ago. The sound was extremely lifelike attesting to both the quality of the system and the quality of the recording. I have to say that the Sonja’s in that system were the next best thing to being at a live concert, which is what you expect when you invest in speakers of that quality.