I have their vintage budget line -AudioRefinement - in my bedroom and built a system using the same components for my girlfriend. Both sound great.
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I have run YBA for quite a while, first with the Audio Refinement series, then YBA separates and now a 100w Passion integrated. All performed very well but I never really had another amp/preamp to compare to. In my opinion one of the coolest features of the YBA line is the remote and volume control. It does not seem linear. Hard to explain but it seems the volume has two different "levels" There is a point in the control where the volume "jumps" from a low listening level to more of a "powered" level. Kind of like you have multiple volume points at low listening levels and then a separate set of volume points at higher volume levels. Hard to explain like I said. Maybe someone can explain the mechanics of it better than I unless I am imagining it!
Yves Bernard Andre, is the company.
They even did/made their own transistors. Output devices, IIRC.
Well made stuff, with a refined tastes type aim.
When you are done with the big buttocks, breast implant and collagen lips kind of musical beauty-bluntness of the mid-high level pretension... and have learned a bit more about how things should really sound and can sound..then you can get introduced to things in the audio world like YBA.
We all do this at different speeds, some right way in their audio adventures..some after decades...and some...not in this life.
I’ve got a YBA WD202 dac direct connection to poweramp here that does everything but mix you a drink, it was very good stock, but with a simple buffer opamp change 10min job (they used the oldest nastiest $1 opamp TLO72), changed for the "fairly" good OPA2134, which is YBA’s stock for the I/V stage also, turned it into something pretty special.
Now I don’t go much for DS dacs, but this one is a hybrid, some 6bits of R2R multibit and the rest DS.
I visited a person who had a YBA CDP. It sounded very musical. I began to look into one (old models now) and he told me that he had nothing but issues with the unit. My research also turned up the same (CDPs only). So do your homework. From what people are saying here, nobody has reported any issues so go figure.
Indeed. The Bel Canto, as you say, was no slouch but the YBA top to bottom rings truer to my ears. It is uncanny how much it sounds like a tube amp. And the power really provides something my SET could not do. is The Black Keys Gold on the Ceiling, Gregory Porter’s Holding On and Pink Floyd, Time to name a few. It’s a very personal thing, but the Woodstock baby in me sometimes loves to go to hard rock ear bleed quality levels. Btw, I am still using my Bel Canto SEP 1 modified SET preamp. It’s nice to be back on the ‘gon
I own a pair of YBA Passion 600 monos and they are very musical. Mine were the baby brother of the highly regarded Passion 1000 and those models went away around 2007. YBA was designed by the owner Yves Bernard Andre from France and was highly used to drive the Focal Utopia speakers of old both being made in France. High quality parts were used throughout including C-core transformers, transistors, vishay resistors, ect. No parts exceptions on these.
Also the lay-out was simple compared to many current designs and runs in class AB maintaining cool temperatures. The sound is very smooth and refined with everything in place and good tight bass.
Yves is still there in France I am told but implements the highest end product called the Signature line. I am told he is a perfectionist by an ex-dealer I bought mine from. The rest of the line is sourced to another country under his direction I believe. There is a dealer in Dayton Ohio called TMH-Audio that carries the current line and can expound more.
I have had YBA in my system for last 20+ years, got them because they have sound of tube with benefits of SS. Remember that older units were made in France, Refinement and Passion series are made in China. Prof. Andre has, to my knowledge, distanced himself from Chinese company, but not sure. So, if you find unit made in France, grab it. Rarely seen on AGon. Best part is, they are incredibly efficient. After playing for hours, the heat sinks barely get lukewarm. They need to be left on all the time for heat stability and consume only 6 watts in idle state. The Signature series is interesting in that, each component is hand tested by the professor, auditioned and signed by him.
The older passion that I own was their top of line made in France back in the late 90's to early 2000's. I believe when he sourced out the newer series but kept the Passion name only the Signature series is now made in France. Not sure when that move was made (but think it is available on-line) but thought he is still keeping an eye on the complete line not just the signature that he oversees.
As the US Distributor of YBA, a point of clarification...
Although Yves-Bernard Andre continues as part of the ownership team and the Chief Designer for Signature, Passion & Genesis series, there is no manufacturing in France of YBA products.
To YBA's credit, they do not attempt to hide or obscure the manufacturing location.
Jim Ricketts/tmh audio
I’m afraid many make in China. You can get very high quality products from China, the issue is partnering with a company that works with you and ensures your quality processes are included in the prices and costs.
Too often manufacturers go to China, and ask for the lowest possible price, regardless of final quality or components. That is where the quality issues come from.