Reviews

Review: YBA Genesis S2 Music Server: A Sonic Masterpiece with French Elegance

Review: YBA Genesis S2 Music Server: A Sonic Masterpiece with French Elegance and Versatile Sophistication - Melding French elegance with audiophile excellence and versatility

Introduction

The YBA Genesis S2 emerges as a formidable player in high-fidelity audio, embodying the distinctive design and sonic philosophy synonymous with the YBA brand. French audio virtuoso Yves-Bernard André’s commitment to creating devices seamlessly blending into the musical experience while standing the test of time is palpable in Genesis S2. Positioned as a streaming DAC, this device transcends its jargon. It offers a comprehensive music server with integrated storage capabilities, striking design aesthetics, and a robust internal architecture to deliver an unparalleled listening journey.

In this exploration, we embark on a detailed journey through the Genesis S2, unraveling its design intricacies, exploring its multifaceted features, and delving into the nuances of its operation and connectivity. As we navigate through the review, we aim to uncover whether the Genesis S2 lives up to the lofty goals set by its creator, not only in terms of sound performance but also in its ability to redefine the user experience in the evolving landscape of modern audio systems.

YBA, an acronym pronounced as “i-grek-be-a,” embodies the visionary craftsmanship of its founder, Yves-Bernard André, in the realm of high-end audio. With a steadfast commitment to two fundamental principles — creating audio equipment that disappears in favor of the music and ensuring enduring timeless designs — YBA has carved a niche in the audiophile community. Renowned for its amplifiers and CD players and now venturing into streaming sources like the Genesis S2, YBA’s approach combines French elegance with a dedication to sonic purity. With each device, YBA seeks to provide a product and an immersive musical experience, embodying a philosophy that transcends fleeting trends in the fast-paced world of audio technology.

Technical data

Model:YBA Genesis S2
Product category:Music server
Preis:6.500 Euro
Guarantee:2 years
Versions:Schwarz
Distribution:Günter Härtel commercial agency & sales, Hamm
02385 5236
www.haertel-vertrieb.de
Dimensions (H x W x D):115 x 430 x 388 mm
Weight:9,1 kg
Inputs:1 x Ethernet
1 x USB-B
2 x USB-A
1 x Toslink optisch
1 x S/PDIF koaxial
– WLAN
– Bluetooth
Outputs:1 x XLR Stereo
2 x Cinch Stereo
1 x AES/EBU
1 x S/PDIF koaxial
1 x Toslink optisch
1 x S/PDIF BNC
Supported formats:MP3, AAC, WMA, AIFF, FLAC, MQA, WAV, DSD
Supported sampling rates:PCM: bis 768 kHz/ 32 Bit
DSD: bis DSD512, 22,8 MHz/ 1 Bit
Streaming:– Lokal/ UPnP
– Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer
– AirPlay2
– Bluetooth

Design and Features: A Symphony of Form and Function

The YBA Genesis S2 is a testament to the marriage of artistic design and advanced functionality. Following the aesthetic lineage of the Genesis series, the device is encased in a robust metal housing supported by three sturdy feet, creating a visual and tactile sense of durability. The front panel, crafted from dark acrylic, not only contributes to the unit’s sleek appearance but also houses a striking six-inch HD color display that dominates the listener’s perspective. This display, more than just an informational portal, serves as the central control interface for the S2, enabling users to navigate through its myriad features with a touch seamlessly.

The touchscreen’s significance is accentuated by the absence of a permanent menu bar, a characteristic choice that brings elegance and challenges to the user experience. The S2’s design, while undeniably stylish, introduces a movable back button on the display to compensate for the lack of a dedicated home or back button. Though aesthetically pleasing, this design decision may occasionally interfere with the user’s interaction with the interface, creating a delicate balance between form and function.

Yet, the S2’s design prowess extends beyond its exterior. With a focus on integration and versatility, the device is not merely a streaming DAC but a full-fledged music server. Equipped with an integrated hard drive, the S2 transcends conventional streaming capabilities. It becomes a storage hub for music files, offering the convenience of internal access while maintaining the option to connect external sources through various ports, including USB-B, USB-A, Bluetooth, and digital inputs.

In user convenience, YBA introduces the Eddict Player app, providing an alternative means of interaction. The app mirrors the S2’s screen on a mobile device, allowing users to control the device remotely. While this innovation adds flexibility, some users might find the slightly delayed response time a trade-off for convenience.

In essence, the design and features of the YBA Genesis S2 represent a harmonious blend of form and function, where a visually captivating exterior meets an array of functionalities that redefine the boundaries of a traditional streaming DAC. The device invites users to embark on a sensory journey, where the tactile experience of the hardware seamlessly converges with the immersive world of high-fidelity audio.

Interface and Operation: Navigating the Sonic Landscape

The YBA Genesis S2 introduces a user interface that mirrors the elegance of its design, yet with a few intricacies that add both charm and challenges to the overall operational experience. At the heart of the interface is the captivating six-inch HD color display, a vibrant portal that not only conveys essential information but also serves as the primary touchpoint for controlling the myriad functions of the S2.

One distinctive feature is the absence of a permanent menu bar, a design choice that imparts a clean and minimalist aesthetic. However, this decision comes with its own set of considerations. To compensate, a movable back button is introduced on the touchscreen, offering flexibility in navigating through the interface. Yet, this dynamic element can occasionally interfere with specific processes, prompting the user to adjust its position to avoid obstructing crucial information or controls.

The Eddict Player app provides an alternative means of interacting with the S2, allowing users to control the device remotely via a smartphone or tablet. The app mirrors the S2’s screen, ensuring the user interface remains consistent. However, the slightly delayed response time of the app introduces a subtle layer of remoteness to the operation, a trade-off for the convenience it brings.

While the interface is intuitively designed, catering to Android users with a familiarity akin to a smartphone operating system, there are notable omissions. The lack of a dedicated home or back button, staples in many user interfaces, prompts the introduction of a movable back button. While aesthetically pleasing, this dynamic element can sometimes disrupt user interactions’ fluidity, necessitating thoughtful placement adjustments.

Despite these nuances, the interface is attractively designed, steering away from excessive technicality and maintaining an intuitive quality that aligns with the device’s purpose as a conduit for musical immersion. The YBA Genesis S2 invites users to explore its features with a touch, offering a visual and tactile journey into the sonic landscape it endeavors to present. While some adjustments may be desirable, the interface is a gateway to the S2’s rich array of functions, ultimately contributing to a holistic user experience.

Connectivity and Setup: Crafting Sonic Bridges

The YBA Genesis S2, beyond its aesthetic allure and intuitive interface, distinguishes itself through a comprehensive array of connectivity options and a user-friendly setup process. The device embraces a versatile approach, ensuring seamless integration into diverse audio systems.

At the core of its connectivity prowess is the inclusion of various ports, each serving a specific purpose. The USB-B port, compatible with the highest sampling rates, takes center stage, facilitating a direct link to external sources. Two USB-A ports extend the S2’s capabilities by providing connectivity for external hard drives or USB sticks, offering options for storage expansion or file transfer to the internal hard drive.

Bluetooth connectivity adds a touch of modern convenience, enabling swift audio signal transfer from smartphones. Integrating antennas behind the acrylic front eliminates the need for unsightly protrusions, contributing to the overall polished design.

For traditionalists or those seeking to integrate CD transports or similar source devices, the S2 offers optical or coaxial digital inputs. These inputs provide flexibility for users who may wish to bypass the internal digital-to-analog converter and leverage external DACs for a personalized audio signature.

The internal DAC, a pivotal component bearing the AKM AK4497EQ chip, underscores the S2’s commitment to high-fidelity audio. Capable of processing PCM signals up to a remarkable 768 kilohertz at 32 bits and supporting DSD512 files, the DAC’s capabilities align with the device’s goal of delivering an uncompromising sonic experience.

Setting up the S2 is a streamlined process facilitated by the device’s operating system, which is based on Android. The setup caters to various user preferences, whether opting for a wireless connection through the on-screen keyboard or utilizing an Ethernet cable. The management of the music library is simplified through a browser interface, offering options for quick access and organization.

An intriguing and user-friendly aspect of the S2’s setup is the provision for internal access to the 1-terabyte NVMe SSD. A small compartment, accessible with the included screwdriver, houses the SSD. This thoughtful design allows users to remove the hard drive easily, connect it to a computer like a USB stick, transfer music files, and seamlessly reintegrate it into the S2.

In essence, the YBA Genesis S2 provides a wealth of connectivity options. It ensures that the setup process aligns with the device’s overarching philosophy of making high-fidelity audio accessible and user-friendly. The diverse connectivity landscape and intuitive setup options position the S2 as a versatile and accommodating centerpiece in modern audio systems.

Sound Performance: Unveiling Musical Alchemy

The YBA Genesis S2, true to the vision of its creator, Yves-Bernard André, ventures beyond a mere streaming DAC, evolving into a sonic maestro that captivates with its rich and immersive sound performance. From the nuanced precision of its dual AKM AK4497EQ DACs to the intricate interplay of advanced components, the S2 transcends the digital domain to create a musical experience that resonates with depth and clarity.

One of the S2’s standout qualities lies in its ability to balance technical prowess and musical expression. Despite the advanced technologies, including FPGA-based signal processing and clock generators, the S2 doesn’t succumb to the trap of clinical analysis. Instead, it orchestrates a seamless and engaging musical flow that invites the listener into an enchanting realm where the distinction between the device and the music begins to blur.

This prowess becomes palpable when experiencing a diverse range of genres. For instance, with the track “Chronicles of a Diamond” by the Black Pumas, the S2 unveils a sonic landscape where subtle details are gently shaken and finely resolved. The bongos echo with the body, the guitars strike a balance between snotty distortions and clean plucking, and the overall presentation exudes a transparency that is as captivating as it is natural. The S2’s prowess is further evident in its ability to render the atmospheric build-up of choirs and metallophones with remarkable plasticity and timbre.

Transitioning to classical compositions, such as Alexis Ffrench’s “Evolution,” the S2 unfurls a spacious sonic canvas. The piano resonates dynamically, with each hammer strike meticulously articulated. The clean illustration against a velvety black background enhances the physicality of individual elements, allowing harps to float with silvery grace. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s rendition showcases the S2’s adeptness in spatial positioning, giving woodwinds a resonant timbre, horns a powerful presence, and strings a creamy, gliding quality.

In essence, the YBA Genesis S2 proves itself as an audio device and a conduit for musical alchemy. Its sound performance transcends the technical specifications, offering a listening experience that is simultaneously detailed and emotionally resonant. The S2, true to YBA’s philosophy, invites listeners to lose themselves in the music, making it a compelling choice for those seeking audio equipment and a portal to a transcendent sonic journey.

Usability and Unique Functions: A Symphony of Practicality and Innovation

The YBA Genesis S2 excels in its aesthetic and sonic prowess and stands out for its usability and unique functionalities, offering a blend of practicality and innovation that enhances the overall user experience.

Touchscreen Interface and Eddict Player App:

The six-inch HD color touchscreen is the focal point for interacting with the S2. While the absence of a permanent menu bar introduces a movable back button, the touchscreen interface remains elegantly designed and intuitive. Users can seamlessly navigate through functions, select music, and adjust settings with a touch, aligning the user experience with the familiarity of a smartphone.

Complementing the touchscreen is the Eddict Player app, providing a novel way to operate the S2 remotely. The app mirrors the device’s screen on a mobile device, enabling users to control the S2 indirectly. While offering convenience, the slightly delayed response time adds a layer of remoteness to the operation, catering to those who prefer a mobile-centric approach.

Diverse Connectivity Options:

The S2’s connectivity options contribute to its usability by accommodating various audio sources. From the high-speed USB-B port for external devices to the Bluetooth connection for swift smartphone audio transfers, the device bridges traditional and modern audio interfaces seamlessly. Including USB-A ports for external hard drives and optical and coaxial digital inputs adds versatility for users with diverse preferences.

Internal SSD Access and Setup Simplicity:

An innovative feature enhancing usability is the internal 1-terabyte NVMe SSD, accessible through a dedicated compartment. Users can easily remove the SSD, connect it to a computer for file transfers, and seamlessly reintegrate it into the S2. This user-friendly design simplifies the setup process, allowing users to manage their music library effortlessly.

Dual AKM DACs and Advanced Signal Processing:

The S2’s unique functions extend to its internal architecture, featuring dual AKM AK4497EQ DACs, each dedicated to a channel. Coupled with high-performance clock generators and FPGA-based signal processing, this configuration ensures precise conversion of signals, supporting PCM signals up to 768 kilohertz at 32 bits and DSD512 files. This meticulous engineering contributes to the S2’s ability to deliver a musical flow transcending mere technicality.

In conclusion, the YBA Genesis S2 not only captivates with its audio performance but also distinguishes itself through user-friendly design and innovative functionalities. From the touchscreen interface to the internal SSD access and advanced signal processing, the S2 weaves practicality and innovation, inviting users into a realm where the complexities of high-fidelity audio seamlessly align with an enriching and accessible user experience.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the YBA Genesis S2 is a multifaceted masterpiece in high-fidelity audio, blending elegant design, sophisticated engineering, and user-friendly functionalities. Its sonic performance, characterized by a harmonious balance between technical precision and musical expressiveness, aligns seamlessly with the visionary philosophy of Yves-Bernard André. The S2’s unique features, including a striking six-inch touchscreen interface, internal SSD accessibility, and dual AKM DACs, showcase an unwavering commitment to providing an audio device and a portal to a transcendent musical journey.

While the S2 introduces a few nuances in its interface and operation, the device’s overall package, from diverse connectivity options to an innovative setup process, positions it as a versatile centerpiece in modern audio systems. The YBA Genesis S2 caters to the audiophile’s desire for sonic excellence and invites users to immerse themselves in the sheer pleasure of music. It is a testament to YBA’s commitment to crafting enduring audio experiences that transcend trends and, in the case of the Genesis S2, redefine the landscape of streaming DACs with a touch of French elegance and sonic sophistication.

Reasons to Consider the YBA Genesis S2:

Sonic Excellence:

The YBA Genesis S2 is a compelling choice for those who prioritize exceptional audio quality. With dual AKM AK4497EQ DACs, advanced signal processing, and meticulous engineering, the S2 delivers a captivating musical experience characterized by clarity, precision, and a natural flow.

Elegant Design and Build:

Crafted with French elegance, the S2’s robust metal housing, dark acrylic front, and striking six-inch touchscreen contribute to its aesthetic appeal. Its durable construction and attention to detail make it a standout addition to any audio setup.

Versatile Connectivity and Functionality:

The S2 offers various connectivity options, from high-speed USB-B ports to Bluetooth, accommodating various audio sources. Its internal SSD accessibility and the ability to function as a music server add versatility to its functionality.

Thoughtful User Experience:

Despite a few nuances in the interface, the S2 provides a user-friendly experience, whether through its touchscreen or the Eddict Player app. The internal SSD access simplifies setup, and the device’s ability to seamlessly integrate with modern systems adds to its overall usability.

Considerations Against the YBA Genesis S2:

Interface Quirks:

While the touchscreen interface and Eddict Player app offer convenience, some users may find the absence of a permanent menu bar and the movable back button a bit quirky. The slightly delayed response time of the app could be a factor for those seeking immediate responsiveness.

Price Point:

The YBA Genesis S2, with its advanced features and high-end components, comes with a corresponding price tag. The investment might be higher for budget-conscious buyers, especially when compared to other streaming DAC options in the market.

App Dependency:

The reliance on the Eddict Player app for remote control may not be ideal for users who prefer standalone remote or tactile buttons. The app’s slightly remote feel due to response delays might be a consideration for those who value immediate responsiveness.

The YBA Genesis S2 caters to audiophiles seeking an immersive sonic experience complemented by a stylish design and versatile functionality. Potential buyers should weigh their preferences for sonic excellence, design aesthetics, and user experience against considerations like interface quirks and budget constraints to determine whether the YBA Genesis S2 aligns with their audio aspirations and lifestyle.