News & Opinion

Kanto Audio YU Speakers For Desktop or Surround Duties


We don’t often think of surround speakers and desktop speakers as the same speakers. But Kanto Audio has introduced their YU line of passive speakers with both desktop and surround uses in mind. Usually, we think of desktop speakers as self-powered, small, and easy to place. Surround speakers are generally passive (no internal amplification), can be quite large, and can have multiple designs. Kanto Audio, a Canadian audio company, has decided that their YU passive speakers can do both. Let’s take a closer look.

Specifications

YU Passive 4″

  • Tweeters: 1 inch Silk Dome
  • Woofers: 4 inch Kevlar®
  • Power Handling: 70 W Per Speaker
  • Impedance: 4 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB (2.83 V/1m)
  • Frequency Response: 60 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Speaker Terminals: Knurled Binding Post
  • Bottom Mounting Hole: 1/4″-20
  • Dimensions (each speaker): 5.5” W x 7.5” D x 8.7” H (14 x 19 x 22 cm)
  • Net Weight (each speaker): 5.5 lb (2.5 kg)

YU Passive 5.25″

  • Tweeters: 1 inch Silk Dome
  • Woofers: 5.25 inch Kevlar®
  • Power Handling: 100 W Per Speaker
  • Impedance: 6 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB (2.83 V/1m)
  • Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Speaker Terminals: Knurled Binding Post
  • Bottom Mounting Hole: 1/4″-20
  • Dimensions (each speaker): 6.9” W x 8.1” D x 10.7” H (17.5 x 20.5 x 27.2 cm)
  • Net Weight (each speaker): 8.7 lb (4 kg)

Overview

The YU speakers come in two flavors, the 5.25″ and the 4″ both named after the size of the woofer. They already have powered speakers (one is named the YU4) hence the “Passive” designation in their names. These share the same 1″ dome tweeter and Kevlar woofers but have slightly different specifications. They are both slightly lower impedance than we’d normally see in a surround speaker (the 5.25″ at 6 Ohms and the 4″ at 4 Ohms). With nearfield placement, as is expected in a desktop or surround application, the Kanto Audio YU speakers shouldn’t be a problem for most amplifiers.

The YU passive speakers themselves are not large for a bookshelf, but larger than you’d expect for a desktop speaker. The YU 5.25″ is 6.9” W x 8.1” D x 10.7” H while the 4″ is 5.5” W x 7.5” D x 8.7” H. Neither is a speaker you’d expect to find on a desktop. Think of these as small bookshelf speakers instead of large desktop speakers. They’ll need amplification (something that Kanto does not sell) so look to pair these with a small, desktop amp/DAC combo if you want to use these in an office. The speakers currently only sell in black vinyl wrap but a white vinyl version should be shipping by June 2021.

Expected Performance and Utility

Performance-wise, we don’t know much about the YU speakers from Kanto Audio. Their press release claims an aim at a neutral sound (something we like) but their specifications only give a frequency range and no indication of linearity. Their power handling isn’t very high suggesting that they are meant to be used nearfield. Kanto Audio has included adhesive rubber feet but the YU speakers also have threaded inserts on the bottom for integration with wall mounts.

The 4″ and 5.25″ Passive YU speakers share the same cabinets as the YU4 and YU6 powered speakers respectively. Of course, the amps are left out but the drivers are identical (we thought the YU6 had a 6″ woofer but it has the same 5.25″ driver). The speakers are rear-ported which explains the manual’s insistence that you should give at least 8″ of room behind the speaker. It also spends a lot of time suggesting that these speakers are very placement-sensitive. We’re not sure why these speakers would be so placement sensitive so we’ll have to take Kanto Audio’s word for it.

The 4″ is rated down to 60Hz and the 5.25″ down to 50Hz. We’d be shocked if these actually reached this low without some boundary reinforcement and very nearfield placement. That said, they should reach low enough that crossing them over into a subwoofer shouldn’t be a problem. For surround duty, the YU passive speakers should be just fine.

The one thing that drew us to the Kanto Audio Yu passive speakers was the claim that they could operate as either a desktop or surround speaker. We see lots of utility as a surround speaker, but as a desktop pair? Well, most people think of computer speakers and desktop speakers as the same thing. Without internal amplification, the YU passive offerings are really aimed at a very specific customer. A customer that wants to pair their own amplifier with higher quality speakers. And that customer may not be shopping for these speakers. Why? Well…

Pricing

The “problem” with the Kanto Audio YU 4″ and 5.25″ passive speakers is the price. At $160 and $200 a pair respectively, these look like a fantastic value for surround speakers. But are consumers really going to be interested in buying speakers that cost less than the amplifier that they’ll need to power them for a desktop solution? We’re not sure.

For more information, check out KantoAudio.com.


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