Kanto YU4 Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

This is not the actual test setup. But nevertheless, you got to do it for photo-ops.

There are many challenges when it comes to reviewing speakers because of how subjective the experience is. It takes experience and time to train your ears to be able to make a proper judgement for an audio review. These challenges force us to take quite some time to listen and compare it to other sound equipment to have the best results, and to be able to give it a fair observation. Unfortunately, since different people have different tastes in their speakers and what they think it should sound like, it is hard to come to a truly objective conclusion. I will also make it clear that I am not a bass head in any sense of the term, but I personally prefer a deep and distinct bass that stays balanced with the rest of the frequencies. As such, the Kanto YU4 speakers were put through a series of subjective tests to come to the best conclusion. I conducted the tests with Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kwan to ensure a more accurate analysis. The product was also broken in for an extended amount of time to ensure the best listening experience at the time of testing. All tracks were uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher.

There are, no surprise, even larger speakers on the market today, and size does play a part in the listening experience. The Kanto YU4 have an average size, and ended up being as expected in every category of the tests. I do not say as expected as a bad thing; just that there were no surprises throughout the tests. The Kanto YU4 performed as they should for their size and price, which delivered a mostly flat, but impeccably clear sound. One thing to note, the included auxiliary cord caused a lot of static noise when I plugged the speakers into my computer, making them impossible to use. Using a new auxiliary cord reduced much of the noise. However, the best option is to probably use an optical cable for digital input instead.

As I have mentioned earlier, I am not a bass head in any sense of the term. I do like my bass to be present, and I should always be able to hear a nice solid sound from the lower frequencies with a satisfactory punch. The Kanto YU4 delivered on this promise -- well, mostly. The bass was a little light, but it is understandable considering their size. This is to say there could have been more punch to the bass. A good punch can be felt as well as heard, in which case the Kanto YU4 speakers were decent. Otherwise, the bass was solid and no trace of the sound was boomy or boxy. Instead, the bass was round, smooth, thick enough, and best of all, not overpowering.

The upper midrange had a slight boost, but it was not immediately apparent. The midrange for the Kanto YU4 speakers really does fall in the middle of the range. Once again, there were no surprises in this category. It was not entirely thick while being moderately filling. The saturation was average, all the while the sound was mostly warm as well. I would like to reiterate that saying the midrange was average does not mean it was bad; just as expected for the price and size. Overall, it was natural enough for clear and comfortable listening.

Moving into the treble, the theme of no surprises continues. The sound was clean, even though it was slightly thin, but I would say nothing to fret over. The treble had good sharpness attached to it. Unfortunately, it lacked some depth. As a cello player, I appreciate it when I hear any strings in a song, and so I am always happy to hear some, especially if the sound is reproduced well. The Kanto YU4 speakers produced a nice warm sound for the strings, making the sound mostly wet, but this could be improved upon more wetness. The treble has the appropriate sharpness as well.

When it comes to soundstaging and soundscaping, the Kanto YU4 speakers performed well. The soundstage was appropriate for the size. It was slightly narrow, but mostly had good depth. The soundscape gained similar comments. Working together, they created a pleasant and mostly realistic listening environment. The imaging was neutral, while the layering was good. Throughout the analysis, I was able to clearly pick out the different instruments, and very little sounded stuck together, thanks to the good frequency separation. The sound was cohesive and was really clear. Overall, the Kanto YU4 speakers are mostly balanced, except for a slight boost in the upper midrange and treble. The entire experience was acoustically pleasant, however, it could be a bit more full and have a warmer sound.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion