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26 Mar 2011: George Chatziminas

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-system

By Nikos Protonotarios

It seems that even the opportunity of a long weekend away from the city was not enough to dissuade the loyal ACA members from being present in numbers at this monthʼs meeting at Georgeʼs residence.

The system...

Certainly, a huge incentive was to listen to a system based on the rare YPSILON electronics which powered a set of French GKF EXCLUSIVE speakers.

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-pic-2This is the second meeting where the club had a chance to become acquainted with an YPSILON based system- the other belonging to Georgeʼs brother Alexis - although the equipment differed slightly in that this time the preamp was in the form of left-right monoblocs with passive multi-tap transformer volume control and containing the driver stage of the DAC. The DAC chip itself is situated in the made-to-order CD transport and if I understood correctly the current to voltage conversion is implemented in the preamp using proprietary nano-crystal transformers. The amplifier is a production model with a valve driver stage and mosfet single-ended power stage which drives an output transformer(!) and is rated at 120W.

Perhaps the greatest difference in sound between the two YPSILON systems we have auditioned is the use of the French GKF speakers which follow a speaker design philosophy based on the classical American speakers of yesteryear but with obvious refinements. The design is two-way with the use of two huge 15 inch woofers coupled to a compression horn loaded unit taking over from 500HZ. Sensitivity is extremely high at close to 100db/W/m.

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-pic-1I have to admit that I had not heard of this company before but some web research resulted in reading a review of this speaker by the well-known French REVUE DU SON magazine. In fact one of the two reviewers was JEAN HIRAGA who is rather famous and well respected in hi-end electronics circles. The fact that the speaker was awarded the maximum rating of 5 stars made me look forward to hearing the speakers for myself at the club meeting.

The arrival...

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-pic-3Arriving early at the meeting I had the chance to audition the system without the usual distractions and acoustic enhancements which are brought about by the addition of more than 30 happy homo sapiens in the listening environment.

The horn design seems to have been implemented ideally since there was absolutely no shouting or emphasizing of certain frequencies at all. In fact the wide dispersion and lack of directivity of the horn is excellent at obtaining a very wide sweet spot which was great for our large turn out that day.

Usually, at our meetings only 4-5 members manage to be in correct positions to really enjoy the systems at their best. At least in the mid to high frequencies the response seemed very smooth and natural sounding. One could discern that the mid to low frequencies were slightly “richer” than normal which our host attributed to the fact that his custom crossover with premium JENSEN capacitors and coils (seen in the posted pictures) was not sufficiently broken in. It must be said that these speakers really need a large space to sound their best - perhaps in excess of 50 squ.m. Although Georgesʼ living room was slightly less than this he had managed to help the room response with the addition of two large bass traps and some corner treatments.

The audition...

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-pic-4Going on to the musical impressions, I really appreciated how the speaker managed to convey a sense of the liveness and immediacy of the musical event with very fast dynamic shifts and a big but still natural sound. Perhaps it will not appeal to those who prefer a very detailed monitor type sound with millimetric placement of the instruments in the soundscape. On the other hand the GKFʼs seemed to go straight to the heart of the performance and convey the emotion, flow and overall palpability of the music. Of course these speakers are also suitable for those that have a heavy hand on the volume control and can play extremely loud, deep and uncompressed at real live concert levels as was demonstrated on the night by a drums and bass track that really blew our hair back.

G.Chatziminas-march-2011-pic-5Concentrating this presentation mainly on the speakers has not allowed much space for a well deserved mention of the critical contribution of the YPSILON electronics to the overall great sound of the system. In part this is because YPSILON perhaps needs no introduction to the Greek hi-end community despite the fact that auditioning them is rather a rare occurrence for most audiophiles. It is a somewhat small “boutique” company at the very high end of the market with a hand assembled low unit production. I would like to mention that I was quite taken by the performance of the DAC which may be the best that I have heard.

The hospitality...

Last but not least, there are no words to express our appreciation for the Hatziminas family hospitality which was key to holding another very pleasant and successful ACA meeting.

System Description

  • CD Transport: Ypsilon CDT-100
  • D/A Converter: Ypsilon DAC-100
  • Preamplifier: Ypsilon PST-100 MKII
  • Amplifier: Ypsilon SET-100 ΜΚΙΙΙ monoblocks
  • Speakers: GKF Exclusive
  • Wiring: Alexis copper 2 (interconnects), Alexis copper (speakers, power)

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