Kanto YU6 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware

If you look across Kanto's lineup of their YU speakers, you will see how all of them have a very similar look. Obviously, size is the main difference between these speakers, though there are other things as we will see throughout this review. Personally, I really like what Kanto has done with this minimal styling, as it combines a clean and eye-catching design. The lack of any branding by Kanto on the front or sides also continues this minimal look. The curved exterior looks almost cute with its rounded edges, but this is just my opinion. As Ben mentioned in his review of the Kanto YU4, I was the one who chose the color of the review unit we received. Unfortunately, they did not have the same color I wanted for this YU6, but the matte black looks nice nonetheless. While it does become less of a centerpiece with this color, I do not think speakers really need to be the center of attention, especially as the sound it emits matter more than its looks. From the YU4, I know the glossy finish looks really nice, but it is a fingerprint magnet. The matte finish fares better in preventing the fingerprints, though oily marks will still show up on the black color. As we have mentioned already, there are other colors available, including black and white in matte and glossy, matte gray, glossy red, and a natural bamboo finish. In terms of dimensions, the YU6 are quite big for bookshelf speakers, though they still can fit on one. At dimensions of 27.2cm tall, 17.5cm wide, and 20.5cm deep, these speakers are notably bigger than the YU4s. No detachable speaker grilles are included with the YU6.

Taking a look at the left and right Kanto YU6 speakers, they are pretty similar, other than the two circular areas on the front. The left one has an IR receiver and LED area on the left side and a multifunction knob on the right side. The left circle displays the power status as well as Bluetooth status when in wireless mode. When it is on, this area will illuminate with a white color, while on standby this area will show an orange color. Bluetooth functionality will show a blinking blue light when it has nothing connected and a solid one when it is connected to a source. It would have been nice to see multiple colors of lighting for the different input modes, but it is not a huge deal. Otherwise, the IR receiver is used in conjunction with the included remote. The multifunction knob on the other side acts as a volume knob when turning as well as cycling through input channels when pressed. Pressing and holding this knob will either put the speaker into standby or wake it up from standby. Otherwise, both of the speakers house a 1" silk dome tweeter and a 5.25" Kevlar woofer. Combined, their frequency response is rated at 50Hz to 20kHz. The total harmonic distortion is rated at <0.3%, while the crossover frequency is rated at 2.0kHz. The rated impedance comes in at 6 ohm. These numbers will be translated into actual performance when we evaluate these speakers later on.

On the backside of the Kanto YU6 powered bookshelf speakers, we can get a better view of some of the connections. By "powered", it means it comes with an internal amplifier. Internally, the pair of speaker outputs a total of 100W RMS. Kanto specifies the active left speaker weighs around 4.3kg, while the passive speaker weighs a lighter 3.5kg. This is not too surprising, considering the extra components and electronics inside the active speaker. A bass reflex port opening can be seen at the top of both speakers. Power is supplied by a 100-240V internal power supply, which can be turned on or off by a rocker style switch.

As you can see in our photo above, Kanto offers quite a few sets of input connectors on the YU6. The first is an RCA line-in followed by a 3.5mm auxiliary input. To the right side, we have two TOSLINK optical audio inputs. The input sensitivity of these is 560mV. In the middle of the YU6 left speaker, we have a turntable ground post to ensure a common ground in your speaker setup with the turntable should you connect it. Next to it is an RCA switch to switch between a phono and line output. This allows users to easily hook up turntables, as there is an integrated phono preamp inside the YU6s. As for outputs, we have a few of them here. First to mention is a stereo line level output, which is marked as Sub Out. This allows you to pair a subwoofer with the YU6 to help with filling in the bottom end. Second is a USB port, which is only intended to be used for charging devices. A standard 5V 1A output is provided here. It would have been nice to see this work as an input for the speakers, but this is not the case. Finally, we have the right channel out to connect the passive speaker to the active one. One thing I wish Kanto included with the YU6 is a speaker cable with banana clips attached. This is especially since the channel output and input on the active and passive speaker already can accommodate banana plugs, and it makes connecting the two speakers easier. The included speaker wires are 16AWG and measure approximately five meters in length.

One thing I should note is the fact I think there seems to be an issue when using the RCA and 3.5mm auxiliary input, especially when plugged in using the provided auxiliary cable. A lot of popping sounds were heard when this cable was used to plug into a computer or a mobile device. In addition, a notable amount of white noise was heard when plugging my computer into either of these analog inputs. I would like to say it is a one-off issue, but this is similar to the issues we saw with the Kanto YU4, and I think the issue is more than just the cable.

On the wireless side, Bluetooth 4.0 operation depends on an internal antenna. As noted on the box, the aptX protocol is supported here over Bluetooth. For your information, aptX is a time domain ADPCM compression algorithm that promises "CD like quality" according to the people promoting it -- but so does MP3 at 128kbps, which, in my opinion, is quite an overused marketing term in the industry. Do not get me wrong; it is probably still an improvement compared to the standard profile, since it has a more efficient encoding algorithm and higher bitrates. The range on the wireless operation is actually quite good, as I was able to operate with it while being floors apart. Obviously, you probably will not need to worry about this scenario, but it is great to see the range on the YU6. To pair, start the speakers in Bluetooth mode, and then find the speakers on your device. If it is already paired with another device, you can reset it by hitting the blue reset button on the remote.

The Kanto YU6 is built using a wooden enclosure. Our photo above shows the bottom of the YU6 with no rubber feet or pads to dampen it. Instead, Kanto has provided eight of these feet for you to attach should you want to do so. As this will probably be placed on a hard surface, these four feet will help in keeping the speakers upright while preventing any unwanted vibrations between the place it rests on and the enclosure. Otherwise, a standard 1/4" insert is present for wall mounts.

As for the remote included with the Kanto YU6, it is actually the same one we saw with the YU4. This black plastic rectangular block is pretty standard, and while it may not necessarily blow your socks off with style, it definitely has a lot of functions to go through. It is built quite well and feels solid in the hand. It is also powered by two standard AAA batteries and Kanto has included this in the box. As for the functions, we first have the power button at the top. The first row of buttons is where you can select the input audio source for the speaker. Then we have a standard volume up and volume down in addition to individual settings for bass and treble. Underneath, reset buttons can be found for each of the equalizer settings as well as a mute button in the middle. A pair of balance button and a respective reset is used to bias the sound towards one side or another. Finally, a set of media functions are at the bottom with Previous, Play/Pause, and Next buttons making an appearance here. Kanto's logo finally makes an appearance on the remote at the bottom.

With all this in mind, it is now time to put the Kanto YU6 through APH Networks' infamous subjective audio tests.

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