It is now just over a year ago that I first heard the Wilson Audio Yvette speakers, and it is still one of the best demos I have had to date. They completely blew me away with their amazing sound quality. They produced one of the biggest sounds in a room which was fairly large to begin with, but still, they managed to recreate the music as it was originally intended. At the helm of this demo was the highly regarded Peter McGrath, he set the speakers up and positioned the Yvette’s perfectly. At that time, I was the owner of the Wilson Audio Sophia 2 speakers so had a good idea of how brilliant the Sophia’s already performed, so was expecting an improved version of them. How wrong could I have been, they were a completely different animal altogether with a sound that not only bettered the Sophia’s but moved the goalposts even further for what my expectations were of this new offering from Wilson Audio.
You can read my first impressions of that demo and how impressed I really was, from my report that I did at the time HERE. Since then I have waited patiently to get the Yvette’s in my own listening room, to conduct a full review. I am very familiar with the Wilson Audio line up and have reviewed the gorgeous Sabrina’s and also the Duette series-2 stand mount speakers, which can be read here at The Speaker Shack. I recently attended the HiFi Show Live 2017 event in which Wilson Audio launched their new Alexia series 2 speakers and got to hear them in full flow. I am also familiar with the stunning Alexx speakers which I have listened to on many occasions now. So, you could say I am somewhat a Wilson Audio aficionado.
In hardly any time at all Wilson Audio have released a handful of speakers and the man responsible for this is the son of the great Dave Wilson, Daryl Wilson whom I have conversed with on many occasions and is now the man in charge (CEO) of this historical and pioneering high-end audio company from the USA. They have been the market leader for quite some time now and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible from a studio and domestic loudspeaker company.
Features and Build Quality
The Yvette’s that I ordered from the factory has one of the most beautiful paint finishes that I could have possibly wanted, the colour of my order was for Black Kirsch, a black paint finish with red flakes embedded into them. This has created a color which when looked at in different lights gives off a purple flair which is just stunning, I am absolutely made up that they look so good in the flesh and now fully appreciate the careful hand finish that these speakers have had and all the time and effort that has gone into making them. The finish on them is beyond reproach and I do not think I have seen anything better in the thirty odd years that I have been buying speakers. The weight of each speaker is nearly 80Kg and when they arrived they were packed and boxed in individual crates which really does make this delivery even more special than any other that I have received, the effort that goes into getting these speakers delivered to you boxed so diligently is wonderful and goes to show how incredibly astute Wilson Audio is, every single detail of each crated speaker is immaculate. Thankfully each speaker is on casters so that when opened you can just wheel the speakers into place. This makes positioning them an easier task but is not a one-man job, as moving them takes considerable effort and Wilson do advise this. In the crates, you get a toolbox for the Yvette’s which contain everything you need for setting them up and also a carefully laid out guide of how to get the best out of your new speakers, even a beautiful cleaning cloth is included and once polished the shine is out of this world as you need to peel off the protective film which encases each speaker. This takes some time and once done a good polish is in order. This film protects each speaker from any scratches they may get when moving around which does its job perfectly. The lines on the Yvette’s makes them look simply divine as they are sculpted with a precision that is rarely seen in speakers and makes them look more like art than speakers they are that beautiful to look at, and I have not even moved on to the sound yet, just looking at them to take it all in is a must as the sleek lines make them one of the prettiest looking speakers and reflects their beautiful name perfectly. Sorry, I have got carried away but I wanted to make a statement of how good they looked in this review as they certainly deserve all the praise. Thankfully this is something Wilson Audio is renowned for and you get a better understanding where all the money is spent once you take this all in.
The obvious build quality is something that Wilson Audio has worked on for over 40 years and the X and S materials that go into the build is something that makes them extremely special and expensive, these materials have been distinctly developed with one goal and that is for reproducing the best sound without any hindrance to each of the drive units that are housed in their meticulous designs. I believe the composites are in their 3rd iterations and represent some serious R&D which is what makes their designs so special. The S material is only used in the baffle of the mid-range as this has a perfect sonic attribute for their seven-inch mid-range drive unit which is the same as the one used in their top of the line XLF speaker. The rest of the Yvette is composed of the X material which is one of the most inert materials used and this is what makes Wilson Audio speakers so unique, this is something that Dave Wilson has worked on all his professional life. The tweeter is the Convergent Synergy version III and is the same one found in the Alexx and Sasha 2 and features Wilson's latest thinking on rear wave diffraction and ultra-low resonance characteristics, it works especially well in the Yvette’s. It is one of the best sounding tweeters I have listened to in all my years. The bass driver is one of two built for the Alexia and is a cousin to the ten-inch drivers fitted into the Alexx and WAMM Master Chronosonic speakers, it is a ten-inch unit and offers incredible speed and definition in the lower octaves. On the rear of each speaker, you find the aluminium plates which covers the accessible tuning resistors which also help protect the tweeter and mid-range if too much power is pushed through the speakers thus protecting them like fuses. The bass does not have an accessible resistor as it is built into the bottom of each speaker which is also where the critical crossover section is located.
On the back, you will find a single pair of speaker cable binding posts and the beautifully finished serial number plates with the even number being your right channel and the odd number being the left channel. It is such attention to details that make your Wilson journey all that more special and it certainly makes you feel assured that you are indeed in possession of something that has been lovingly made. This is a family business and that is what has made them so successful is by making exceptional products and by paying such close attention to the small details.
Setting up and Equipment Used
Setting up the Wilson Audio Yvette speakers is a simple task as long you know what you are doing and when purchasing such a quality product your dealership will more than likely be setting them up for you anyway. In the case of my Yvette’s and after placing many different speaker products into my systems over the years I am quite confident of setting them up and Wilson Audio also provides a very detailed manual in which it explains the WASP approach which is Wilson's very own (Wilson Audio Setup Procedure). This entails finding the right positioning and measurements needed to get the most out of your Wilson Audio products.
I have previously been using Isolation platforms, Townshend Audio’s Seismic Podiums which were placed under my ProAc speakers and had great results with these, but with the Yvette’s they do not benefit from such components as the build quality is so exceptional that they are more or less perfect by design and do not need any kind of isolation and are voiced to be spiked and placed on the aluminium discs.
The Wilson Audio developed X material composites that the Yvette’s are made from mean that the cabinet architecture has extremely low resonance and extremely accurate time domain performance. They have been built using the latest laser vibrometer testing methods so they have excellent damping where needed, this, therefore, negates the need for the Townshend Podiums.
Once in place with the right amount of toe-in, the distance from the main listening position is approximately 13ft and the tweeter height from the seating position is approx. 41” from the ground with the spikes inserted, the height can be adjusted by screwing the spikes up or down and this then makes sure you have the perfect setup achieved.
Powering the Yvette’s is my McIntosh Labs MA8000 Integrated amplifier and the newly installed dCS Network Bridge with Roon Labs running, for a stunning digital front end feeding through the Mytek Brooklyn DAC, also in use is a Cyrus CD Transport connected to the Mytek DAC which is all wired with Transparent Cables.
Performance and Sound Quality
Moving on to the performance and sound quality which is the most enjoyable part of any review process. For music, I am listening to a variety of pieces in different high-resolution flavours and this includes one of Dave Wilson's Audiophile recordings, the brilliant Winds of War and Peace which was conducted by Lowell Graham and converted to DSD from the original Studer Master tapes by Wilson Audio.
The first track Liberty Fanfare is a spectacular piece of music originally composed by John Williams and recreated using a 50-strong ensemble of some of the finest musicians and talent available. At the helm and conducting this incredible band is the brilliant Lowell Graham. It was recorded at a state college in Hampton Virginia USA and under the technical direction of Dave Wilson whose talent as a recording engineer and passion for music is clearly apparent in this recording. The original WATT speakers were used at the time to master the music and for this particular DSD version, it was again mastered onto DSD using Wilson Audio speakers, the mighty Alexandria XLF and Thor Hammers under the control of Daryl and Dave Wilson, who again gave it their seal of approval.
The Yvette’s give a stunning rendition with the brass and percussion section of the band sounding totally beautiful with a top end which is so detailed and defined and a delicious mid-range which blends seamlessly with the bass section. The defining moment is when the big bass drum sounds and this is a massive forty-inch drum which uses a MOD by the musician as described by Lowell Graham as the (Mallet Of Death), and the ten-inch bass driver in the Yvette starting and stopping on a dime with huge transients which you feel in your chest when the big bad drum is hit by the MOD. When I originally heard the Yvette’s back in 2016, they stunned me by the massive sound stage that they produced and again I am in awe of their performance as the sound stage is so deep and wide with each placement of instruments clearly visible in my mind and set out in front of me as the music is playing. It is as if this type of music is made to be played on Wilson speakers such as the sound quality and natural sounding nature of the Yvette’s, trying to differentiate from this and a live performance I would assume it to be virtually indistinguishable when you close your eyes and just listen to what is being played. This is what sets apart Wilson from most other manufacturers as they can recreate a live event with such ease.
Track Five El Camino Real is a fast-moving piece of music which is another one of my favourite tracks on this album as it has everything in there to really draw you into the music as it starts off with real attack and veracity that Yvette’s capture perfectly. The Trumpets and Trombones in the band sound just incredible with such a sweet but powerful sound, at approx. 2:47sec into the music it slows down with a delicate balance of sound with the clarinet taking on a section in the music that you can distinguish so clearly with a beautifully performed part. The imaging is the best I have heard from any speaker that I have had in my systems, it is head and shoulders above everything that has come before them. The fluidity that the music has it just tremendous and the Yvette’s just allow the music to flow without any hindrance or compression at all. Eight minutes into the track it again speeds up to what is one of the most beautiful sounds I have listened to, it is a real masterpiece in terms of sonic purity as what you get is unadulterated musical bliss from the Yvette’s. They draw me into the music unlike anything else.
Track Seven Symphonic Dance #3 is the last track on the album with wind and percussion sections which are simply awe-inspiring when listening to the Yvette’s. For me, it has redefined my listening experience for classical music and takes you on a journey which is relentless at times and yet so satisfying all at the same time. The Yvette’s reproduce huge dynamics which are just so natural sounding that the speakers are invisible in the room with no distinguishable left or right channel in play, just music produced from a blank canvas which evolves in front of you and they paint the perfect picture.
On to my next album of choice and this was inspired from my recent visit to the HiFi Show Live 2017 event in which Wilson Audio was demonstrating their latest and greatest, the new Alexia series 2 speakers. Peter McGrath was spinning the tunes and he played a track which I had not heard before and it wowed the audience with its incredible musical nature. It was by the legendary Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones and taken from his solo album Main Offender released in 1992. It is a reggae-inspired piece, I fell in love with the sound and had to have it on CD. Words of Wonder is the track and has a thumping bass line which sounds sublime. The Yvette’s manage to reproduce the sound that I was expecting to hear and you can tell that the Alexia and Yvette’s are both cut from the same cloth. For me, it is only Wilson Audio speakers that manage to reproduce bass as well as they do. Could it be that they are so coherent when it comes to the time-domain, that they produce such a clarity that it is not always heard so well by other speakers? I can only conclude that it is so and that they have mastered this attribute in their speaker designs. It is such a simple piece of music yet sounds so good and as such is excellent demo material for the Wilson’s as they are not even breaking into a sweat. Again, they present the music as it was intended with nothing else added, as natural as it comes.The bass that Yvette’s produce is just wonderful with real weight and punch which hits hard, but at the same time with so much detail, every shift in tonality flows between the mid-bass and bass drivers with such accuracy that Wilson has completely nailed it down. This gives them the edge over anything that comes before them, it’s the same punch and scale that I fell in love with when I first heard a pair of Alexia’s back at the Guildford Audio Show, it was then that I thought I need this level of accuracy and realism of music in my life and especially in my Hi-Fi system.
Moving on to my final album for this review and I am listening to a solo album by a great bass guitarist from the infamous Jazz Group Fourplay, Nathan East is the artist and it is his second album. Reverence has an MQA transfer and is in high-resolution at 24bits 96kHz sample rate, it is a great sounding album which has benefited from this transfer and MQA encoding giving it such a polished finish and sounds simply incredible playing through my system. Reverence was released at the beginning of 2017 and has some reinterpretations of some great classics from artists past and present, it also features his brother Marcel East who joins him on this musical journey paying tribute to Earth Wind and Fires Maurice White who recently passed away, with brilliant versions of Love’s Holiday and Serpentine Fire. Listening to this album through the Wilson Audio Yvette’s is just something truly brilliant to behold as the sounds are so incredibly sweet with such rhythm and pace that it just pulls you into this wonderful music, with some great bass guitar and percussion sections that will have your foot tapping in time and some simply divine brass sections. Track six Higher Ground is one of my favourites on the album with an almost tangible feel on strings and the trumpets and saxophone are placed in my room with absolute precision such is the imaging quality. Track seven The Mood I’m In features some beautiful vocals from Canadian Nikki Yanofsky and once again the imaging and incredible depth that these speakers manage to portray is breathtaking. The mid-range on the Wilson’s is just exquisite with a richness that makes vocals sound simply glorious and the top end is up there with the best that I have heard from any speaker system in my time of listening to high-end audio and Hi-Fi. It has to be one of the most natural sounding speakers available, allowing the music to really sing and I can only imagine that with even better electronics they will allow you to hear even deeper into the music.
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
From the very first listen I had way back in 2016, I fell in love with the way the Yvette’s played music and now to owning them for my very own system, they have far exceeded expectations of what a single enclosure 3-way speaker system is capable of. Whatever the music they manage to bring it to life in your room bigger and better than anything I have had before them. Daryl Wilson continues to push the boundaries of what is possible for speaker design and manages to keep Wilson Audio moving to new heights in the world of high-end audio.
The Speaker Shack awards the Yvette's with an Editors Choice award. One of the most natural sounding speakers currently available irrelative of the price.