Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
As much as the Kanto YU2 thematically resembles the Audioengine A2+ from a distance, the Canadian company worked out the details in its enclosure design to create a little more visual distinction. This includes its rounded edges, and the glossy finish option like our review unit today. Feel free to queue the sarcastic "wow" at this point, but the truth is, like its retail packaging, this makes the YU2 a lot less serious looking than the A2+. Of course, whether that is a good thing or not is really personal preference. The 5.3” high, 3.9” wide, and 5.3” deep cabinet is slightly smaller than its American cousin, and will fit very nicely on your desk. Our particular unit came in glossy white, but if you want, you can also get it in glossy black, teal, grey, green, yellow, matte white, and matte black. Now that is a lot of color options! As simplistic as it looks, we can never judge acoustics by the way it looks, so we will dig into the auditioning results in the next section.
From the front, both the left and right speakers look almost identical -- save for the fact the left speaker has a blue LED at the bottom right corner to indicate its power status. If you are paying attention, yes, the left and right speaker is swapped in my photo above. At the bottom is a 3" Kevlar woven composite woofer with rubber surrounds, and at the top is a 0.75” silk dome tweeter set at 2.5kHz crossover. Together, their frequency response is rated at 80Hz-10kHz ±6.0dB, but despite its studio monitor looks, do not expect flat response all the way down to 80Hz. We will talk about that in our evaluation on the next page. The use of high end materials for construction allows reduced distortion at high volumes, and it is tough enough to alleviate the need to speaker grilles. That said, it will still be wise to keep your three year old kid away from your $150 speakers in my opinion, haha. Sensitivity is specified at 84dB and THD+N at 0.1%. One major complaint I have is Kanto did not include any front audio controls for the YU2, just like the Audioengine A2+. The volume control knob is at the back, which is quite unintuitive. I agree it makes the speakers compact, good looking, and symmetrical, but you will have to sacrifice some functionality for that.
Here is a shot at the back of the Kanto YU2 powered desktop speakers. By "powered", it means it comes with an internal amplifier. What we have here is a Class D amplifier located inside the left speaker -- shown in the right, as you can see in our photo above -- that provides 25W RMS per channel. As such, the left speaker weighs a little more than the right; where Kanto specifies a weight of 3.0lbs and 2.8lbs, respectively. Power is supplied by an external brick. The Kanto YU2 also comes with a digital to analog converter, which can sample at 16-bit/48kHz. This is not exactly the most powerful DAC out there, but if you do not own a high end sound card or an external DAC, then this is definitely a welcomed option. This is especially convenient for laptop users who are looking to easily boost their listen experience -- simply plug in a USB cable and go. It would have been nice if the Kanto YU2 had an S/PDIF input as well, but they will probably need a different chip.
As you can see in our photo above, Kanto offers a reasonable array of input and output connectors on the YU2. A bass reflect port opening slit can be seen at the bottom. On the input side, we have a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack and USB. For my particular setup, I used the 3.5mm stereo mini-jack for input from my SilverStone EB01-E dedicated DAC, a high end device I own that features an XMOS XS1 TQ128 USB decoder, TI PCM1798 24-bit/192kHz DAC in conjunction with a TI NE5532 OpAmp. The Kanto YU2 also features a mono line level output via a single RCA jack. This allows you to hook up a subwoofer, which I have done so in my setup.
The volume control knob is located at the top right corner when viewed from the back. When turned all the way down, the speakers will turn off at the click. The knob is not placed in a particularly poor location, since it is close to an edge, and it is near the top. Unfortunately, it is at the back of the speaker, which is quite inconvenient. While it is possible to simply leave your speakers on at a constant volume setting at all times and adjust the volume from the source, the Kanto YU2 features no auto on/off circuitry, which really does not work in its favor. Kanto says other speakers in their lineup does go into standby automatically when no signal is detected though. The way I see it, it is just better to have an easily accessible volume control in front. I understand it is a packaging compromise, but I think most people will prefer a front volume control, even if it means a slight increase in enclosure size.
If you are familiar with home theater equipment, then the knurled binding posts should not be new to you. In fact, the Kanto YU2 uses standard speaker wires to connect the left and right unit together via the speaker connectors at the back. The included cable is three meters long, which should be more than enough for most people. If not, they are readily available at pretty much any electronic and home audio equipment shop.
While the Audioengine A2+ features a thin layer of foam at the bottom to dampen it from the surface it resides on, the Kanto YU2 has absolutely nothing. Instead, ten self-adhesive rubber feet are included inside a plastic bag from the factory, which you will need to stick on yourself. Only eight are necessary; the rest you can keep for spares. With the rubber feet attached and all these things in mind, it is now time to put the Kanto YU2 through APH Networks' infamous subjective audio tests.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis