Once I started reviewing SONOS, Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers that didn’t stink, I thought my days with wired speakers were over and done. Then I met the Kanto YU2 Powered Desktop speakers. Three notes into the first song I was a fan. The review sample now has a permanent home in my office. Yeah, these speakers are that good.
When I first pulled the speakers from the box, I wasn’t all that impressed. I’ve seen, used, and reviewed small desktop speakers for some time, and these looked pretty commonplace. Small boxes with an exposed tweeter sitting atop and exposed mid-woofer. (More specifically, each speaker is 5.9″ high, 3.9″ wide and 5.3″ deep.) Add in the fact that my review sample is a putty gray, and I was, at best, mixed.
It went from bad to worse when I realized I needed speaker wire to connect one YU2 to the other. I have speaker wire — plenty of it — but all of it is up at the lake in PA. Until I had a chance to purchase some cable, I simply had a pair of gray paperweights.
“Worse” went to “even worse” when I was reminded that these small gray boxes that required speaker cable were also my first review speakers in quite some time that offered no wireless connectivity. Yes, they needed to be wired to one another AND to their audio source. UGH!
Then I bought the speaker wire, connected the speakers, plugged them into the wall outlet (they are, after all, powered speakers), and connected them to my iPhone.
I believe that “Holy Crap!” was my exact reaction.
Elana came in a few minutes later and said, “I don’t know what speakers you have on, but those things are amazing!”
Suddenly those simple gray boxed looked mighty pretty! The need for speaker wire became a non-issue, and I realized the wireless problem could be solved with the purchase of a $99 AirPort Express.
All of my issues with these speakers suddenly disappeared; the Kanto YU2 powered desktop speakers sound amazing.
As for the appearance, the YU2, which are designed in Vancouver, Canada, are actually available in 10 different color options; they come in both smooth matte and piano gloss finishes. In other words, you only need to get the simple gray boxes if you have a thing for simple gray boxes. If, on the other hand, you want Black or Blue, or Yellow… Or… You get the idea. Ten different options means there is something for every taste and almost every decor.
Check out all the pretty colors…
Yes, there are lots of pretty colors but looks only go so far. Speakers need to sound good. Kanto claims they do noting that:
- From the acoustic grade MDF cabinets to the Kevlar reinforced woofers and silk dome tweeters, YU2 was carefully designed to deliver a spectacular desktop audio experience.
- The YU2 output 25W RMS per channel and delivers a surprisingly big sound – capable of filling an entire room!
- YU2 delivers clean highs and tight bass uncharacteristic of a set of speakers this size.
- YU2 – designed to enhance your desktop audio experience.
I’ll be damned, but they do deliver a spectacular desktop audio experience. The company’s claim …
Amazingly clean and crisp, YU2 outputs powerful bass, balanced midrange and clean highs for a naturally rich sound.
…is spot on. The sound is big, and it is excellent. They give me, through speakers, the kind of experience I am enjoying through the V-MODA M-100 headphones. In both cases the sound is clean, clear, and not overly processed. One other aspect of listening to them prompted me to ask the following of the Gear Diary team.
Question for all of you. I’m reviewing this awesome little pair of powered desktop speakers and what I’m noticing is that not only is the sound really good but I also get less”tired” listening to them as compared to other speakers. I find the same with headphones- some cause more fatigue more quickly than others but always attributed it SOLEY to the physical build and design. Ever notice that certain speakers are just more “comfortable”, “easier” “more relaxed” to listen to than others even if both have good audio quality?
I know this is an unscientific way to describe the listening experience, and that is might make a true audiophile cringe but that is the only way I can describe what it is like to listen to these speakers.
Of course there are some numeric specifications we worth sharing…
- Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz
- Amplifier Type: Class D
- Power Handling: 25W/channel
- DAC Sampling Supported: 16-bit/48kHz
- Sensitivity: 84 dB
- Impedance: 4Ω
The back of one unit simply has the speaker wire connections. The other speaker, however, is much busier. On the back of it you will find the speaker connections, the On/Off/Volume control, the DC power input and the three audio inputs. In addition to an input for a powered subwoofer, there is a 3.5mm AUX in plug and a high quality built-in USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter). The USB DAC lets you plug the speakers directly into a computer and “bypass the computer’s noisy DAC”. I have the speakers connected to my 27″ iMac, and the result sounds amazing.
I was a bit bummed the speakers don’t have any sort of wireless connectivity built into them, so I added some. I connected the 3.5mm Aux-In input to my AirPort Express using a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable I received from Kanto. (More on Kanto’s impressive line of cables in another post.) Once the speakers were connected to my network, wirelessly streaming music from my iPhone or iPad was as simple as selecting the AirPort Express from the mobile device’s AirPlay menu.
So despite my initial misgivings the Kanto YU2 powered desktop speakers have won me over. They have now taken up residence on my desk and are plugged into my iMac and my AirPort Express. That means I get the best of both worlds — wired and wireless — and I get to enjoy big, impressive sound. And while I have already listened to hours and hours of music coming from the YU2s, I still marvel that the sound I am enjoying is coming from these small gray boxes.
The YU2s will have an MSRP of $229. The company will have them in hand by the end of month, and they should be in distribution channels early December. Learn more.
What I Like: Small; Powerful; High quality built-in USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter) cuts out noise; AUX-IN plug for direct connection to mobile device or AirPort Express for wireless connectivity; Available in a variety of colors; Priced under $230!!
What Needs Improvement: No built-in wireless connectivity; No hooks or mounts for placing on the wall
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample