YG Acoustics, Ayre Acoustics, Argento

YG Acoustics speakers were featured in several rooms at AXPONA 2024. The highlight for me was a room featuring the Carmel 3 speakers ($29,800 per pair), the entry point to the company’s Reference range. These speakers are housed in aerospace aluminum cabinets finished in silver or black, embodying a minimalist, modern-sculpture aesthetic. The design is purposeful: Form follows function in this slender tower.

The Carmel 3 is a two-way that crosses over at 1750Hz. YG emphasizes phase alignment between the drivers across the crossover range. Core specifications include “usable output” from 32Hz to 40kHz, with an average impedance of 6 ohms and a minimum of 3.2 ohms. However, such numbers don’t capture how beautifully these speakers perform.

The Carmel 3 shares design DNA with its siblings—the XV, Sonja, and Hailey lines—with the goal of delivering similar fidelity in a compact form. My brief experience corroborated this; I was captivated by the sound from the first listen.

I’m giving a lot of credit to the speakers for the sound; the electronics deserve their share of credit.

The front end of this system includes a suite of Ayre Acoustics electronics including the KX-R Twenty preamplifier ($40,000), MX-R Twenty monoblock amplifiers ($48,000/pair), the QX-5 Twenty Streaming DAC ($15,000), and the CX-8 CD player ($5450). All the music was streamed using the QX-5 Twenty. Cabling was by Argento.

On Charlie Hunter’s “California Love,” played live, the well-textured saxophone soared over relaxed rhythms. Hunter is known for playing seven and eight-string guitar, which allows him to provide his own bass. This recording was clean, vibrant, and intricately rendered. The clarity and separation of the instruments imbued the soundstage with nuance, making it sound like live music.

In Jacob Collier’s “Little Blue,” the focus is on vocals. Solos, duets, and choruses culminate in a dynamic, energetic crescendo. The arrangement is rich and satisfying, enveloping the listener and achieving a delicate balance between sweet gentleness and profundity.

“Black Frequencies” by Omar Sosa, Childo Tomas, and Gustavo Ovalles features a blend of piano and percussion that gracefully complements the vocals while introducing a deeper tonal quality. To my ears, the sound here was rich, textured, and immaculate.

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