Kanto YU4 Powered Desktop / Bookshelf Loudspeaker
The little speaker that (really) could.
Review By The Audio File Of Headphone.Guru
Kanto YU4 is a luscious little remote-controlled two-way powered gem of a
loudspeaker at $349 per pair. These diminutive beauties are jam-packed with
tech-for-days and built with equal amounts of integrity, pride, and precision.
This is a Lifestyle product that can find itself as a killer "small scale"
system but can just as easily find itself in an audiophile's second system, be
it bedroom or office, or even home cinema. Read on – and YES, I loved it.
Most Valuable Speakers (MVS)
As a reviewer, I can usually tell very quickly when "the box"
arrives how a company feels about and treats their own product. The YU4 had that
"we care about our product" feel. Everything tidy and neatly in place. The parts
fit right, and the set up was so easy. Nothing awkward – no ketchup on a hot
dog (not right) feel. Everything with a purpose and a purpose with everything.
Color me impressed.
There was a lot to take in. I immediately connected the YU4s
to my streaming set up via optical TosLink. There are two of these (TosLink) inputs
available to you on the rear panel along with other I/O that makes this powered
Swiss Army Knife of a loudspeaker super easy to slide into (virtually) any
connectivity demand. Bluetooth – check, two TosLink – check check, plus
analog in with a surprise twist. One can select line in via these twin RCA jacks
or (bit of applause) you can use your turntable directly into the YU4s as there
is a built-in phono-stage. Bitchen'. Love it! More about this later as Ben
Carter from U-Turn Audio helped me out with one of their amazing and
overachieving decks to pair with the YU4s. Brilliant...
Shock And Awe
When I see a smaller scale product like this one, I typically
assume it can't possibly play that loud or produce dynamic contrasts or stand up
to the major rigors of day to day use and listening habits. Boy was I wrong. The
YU4 is a little beast in its own right. These powered buddies rock hard and that's
without a sub connected (even though, yes, they have that output at the ready).
I was amazed by how they handled some of my large-scale tracks with ease and
even grace. There was a disciplined and sound (no pun intended) approach to the
design in mind here. As mentioned, they are just right and plenty enough to be a
Lifestyle product for many, but they can also be the playback instrument of a
second system for audiophiles that desire music for the office or bedroom... they
are that good. I know a lot of guys and gals that went out and spent $2000+ on a
second system only to wonder why they can't stream via Bluetooth from their
phones or tap into Chromecast, etc. The YU4 gives you all that and more. Kanto
Living = Kanto Delivering. Nice...
A Few Demo Tracks to Liven Things Up
Let's Get the Party
"Waitin' On A Woman" (Time Well Wasted)
This is a very nice Brad Paisley homage to the women we all
know and love. There is a really nice slide guitar in this piece that I've often
heard sound tiny or indistinct, but the YU4s did a great job at expressing the
beautiful sound that a slide guitar can produce. The harmonized vocals were
outstanding, and I could easily pick out the individual voices, while still
hearing the entirety of their harmonies. There was never a moment of smear or
indistinct playback. My favorite part is the fiddle that was beautifully
recorded and mixed as part of this track; I found myself immersed in this
beautiful instrument on this tune. The vocals were pristine; even the backup
vocals were well recorded and portrayed in excellent fashion. The YU4s never
failed to make me smile in admiration.
"Misturada" (Reference Jazz, Etc. First Sampling)
This is a superb track and the YU4s were again up to the task.
There is a beautiful piano track throughout this piece and the YU4s did a
fabulous job of making that piano prominent and beautiful. As well, there is
flute throughout, which was exceptionally full and vibrant. Not once did our
little friends stray or make listening painful in any way. What was especially
beautiful was the decay on the drum kit that was flawless in nature and very
well portrayed. I loved the echo that I was able to hear easily, and how it made
this kit sound so real. That beautiful attack and decay on the drums were
Jacques Ibert, "Escales – Anime (Valencia)"
Orchestral Sampler on Reference Recordings)
So much vitality in this recording. Brimming with vigor (to
borrow from another review), it is a wonderful recording and easily a reference
keeper for any collection. The YU4s breezed through this test. I was really
pleased as the Third Movement is chock full of crescendo and massive dynamic
contrasts. There was no hint of compression at even advanced levels. It was
room-filling and the huge strings and winds shined as recorded. These little
guys danced on and on and never let me down. The 4-inch woofer was doing its
thing while that 1-inch silk dome never gave up or gave in. NICE!
"Big Spring" (Pat Coil UpClose Volume 16)
A classic demo track that continues to live in my collection
much like "Bumblebeat" from Mosaico. This track demands clarity and drive
with tons of purpose. The YU4s had plenty of bop and bounce and actually played
well beyond their physical size. This track is demanding and requires a
loudspeaker that can render a "sense of power and balance." At first, it was
hard for me to believe that these small-scale loudspeakers could do all of it.
This was a chocolate chip cookie FULL of morsels. Tasty package in every way.
I was fortunate during the review process to share several
messages with Ben Carter from U-Turn Audio, makers of some of the nicest "affordable"
turntables right here in the USA. I had asked Ben for one of their tables in
order to test the Phono In on the YU4s. He sent out a fantastic 'table (this
and I ended up being so impressed (even thrilled) with its performance, that I'm
going to turn it into a Summer Review – maybe June or July.
Suffice to say that testing this turntable with the YU4s
re-opened my eyes in a very real way. I have a confession to make. I Founded
Dynavector USA way back in 1979 but I had lost interest in analog in general
until this system arrived. My hunger for LPs and analog, in general, came back
in a strong way and now I'm planning for much more analog in my system. This
simple yet beautiful U-Turn turntable awakened the analog beast in me – thanks
The Big Wind Up (With A Flourish)
Let's all remember that this is a product that retails for
$349 a pair. As a reviewer, I have several tasks at hand, but the two main
things I always try to serve are THE PRODUCT and its intent. These super little
instruments are not going to make you forget that sensational speaker you heard
that sells for $5,000 a pair, but given its price and the "intent" of the YU4s
they serve to remind all of us just how far small scale audio has come, and how
utterly simple it is to assemble a superb personal system with a pair of these
and one of U-Turn's glorious turntables — all for around $500 dollars. Add one
of Kanto Sub 6's and for $750 you have a system that will be "present and
accounted for" every day of your life. Please remember dear reader that a fine
quality audio system (even a small-scale one) will improve your daily quality of
life more than you can imagine. After 50+ years in the audio industry, there is
still not a day that my system in my office or sound room is not singing to me.
My life is better for it – yours will be too.
So, to conclude I wish to convey to all of you that in its
price class and general genre, this is a product to love and enjoy. To me, it
was abundantly obvious the moment I unpacked the Kanto YU4s that there was
purpose and a disciplined approach to the design and trade-offs that were made.
This is a product that was clearly thought out and delivered honestly with a
multiple of user groups in mind. I applaud the thought process and more
importantly, the product itself. Standing Ovation.
Highly recommended – enthusiastically recognized.
Until next time...
-- The Audio File
PS: I almost forgot to mention... here's the lovely
remote that's included as well.
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Type: Powered loudspeakers
Tweeter: 1" silk dome
Midrange / Woofer: 4" Kevlar driver
Frequency Response: 60Hz to 20kHz
Amplification: 70 Watts RMS Class D
Inputs: 3.5mm mini-jack, RCA with Phono switch and two TosLink optical
Bluetooth 4.0 with Qualcomm aptX
Outputs: Subwoofer analog and USB Charge 5V @ 1A
Remote control with Batteries
Speaker Wire (16 feet)
3.5mm Auxiliary Cable (6.5 feet)
Eight Rubber Feet
Dimensions: 5.5" x 7.5" x 8.7" (WxDxH)
Weight: Active is 6.9 lbs., passive is 5.5 lbs.
Price: $349 per pair
110 – 2440 Canoe Avenue
V3K 6C2 Canada
Voice: (888) 848-2643