Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

It was a snap decision. Back in May, at the 2023 High End show in Munich, Germany, I found myself sitting in YG Acoustics’ room getting the cobwebs of a hangover blasted out of my skull by the Denver, Colorado, company’s new Ascent speakers. The room was populated by a bunch of young folks, all wearing YG Acoustics polo shirts, all extremely enthusiastic, all ready to talk about the company’s speakers, and all more than ready to take musical requests. It was a fun visit, and I was exceptionally keen to get in a pair of these new speakers for review. So I put a bug in the ear of CEO Matthew Webster, and followed up several times via email to make it so.

The Ascents arrived at my house via a freight service, palletized and strapped down in sturdy double-walled cardboard boxes. They were easy to unpack, with sensible decanting instructions right at the top, where they should be.

The Ascent is part of YG Acoustics’ new Peaks lineup, which is a more affordable range of speakers than the company’s Reference series. The Reference speakers are constructed from CNC-milled aluminum slabs, and that’s not cheap. Speaker enclosures from the Peaks series, however, are made from HDF, which no doubt accounts for some cost savings. Priced at $19,800 per pair (all prices in USD), the Ascent is the second-largest speaker in the Peaks line, which consists of five speakers, ranging from the $8500 Cairn monitor to the $25,000 Summit floorstander. There’s also a Peaks series subwoofer, the $7800 Descent.

To give a bit of added context to the price differential, the closest speaker in overall specifications to the Ascent in YG Acoustics’ Reference lineup is the Vantage, which—at $41,700 per pair—is more than double the price of the Ascent.

The Ascent is a handsome speaker, with proportions that have a classical feel about them: appropriate and pleasing to the eye. Each speaker measures 40″H × 10.6″W × 17.7″D and weighs 120 pounds. The two Ascents initially felt larger in my small room than I recalled from Munich. As I became accustomed to them, they shrank in profile, the matte-black front and satin sides blending nicely into my room. The Flamed Rosewood veneer (Datuk Ebony and Balanced Oak are also available) wrapping my pair was flawlessly applied. Given that YG Acoustics cut its teeth on metal boxes, the company should be proud of its work on these speakers.

The Ascent is seriously dense, given its reasonable size. There are several reasons for this. First off, the 1.25″ front baffle is machined from a solid slice of aluminum, as is the substantial base. The contribution of the aluminum base was obvious when I unboxed the speakers in my living room—the bottom is far, far heavier than the top. The cabinet’s sides are gently curved—so gently that it’s not immediately apparent.

YG Acoustics takes its cabinet materials very seriously. Bypassing the ubiquitous MDF, despite its reasonable cost and journeyman performance, the company decided to use a type of HDF described in its white paper as “a particular material which is typically used for specialist engineering where extreme durability and strength is required. This is made with an environmentally friendly resin, mixed with very fine, treated wood fibers. It has a high resin content and is produced under very high pressure, increasing its density.” The 1″ thick outer panels are pressed into shape at a European factory, and the cabinet itself is heroically braced. Augmenting the curved side panels, YG Acoustics spent much time and effort computer-modeling the internal bracing and reinforcement to minimize standing waves and resonances.

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The Ascent’s proprietary drivers are another of the company’s hallmarks. The cone drivers are the exact same units used in YG Acoustics’ top-of-the-line Reference series. The cones themselves are a fascinating study in sculpture. YG starts with a slab of aluminum, and then removes everything that isn’t a speaker cone. Using high-end CNC machines, that slab of aluminum is machined down to produce a cone that—by its very nature—is light and stiff. The 7.25″ midrange and 8.75″ woofer share this technology.

The ForgeCore tweeter is unique to the Peaks line, in contrast to the BilletDome tweeter used in YG Acoustics’ Reference series. The Ascent’s tweeter has a silk dome, backed up by YG’s own motor system, which incorporates “computer-optimized, highly sophisticated 3D geometries into the magnet system, using CNC-cutting of the motor parts.” The tweeter is nestled in a waveguide, the geometry of which was the result of a ton of computer-modeling time.

Connections are by way of two high-quality binding posts. The crossover resides in a hollowed-out portion of the aluminum plinth, which provides isolation from vibration and a short path to the binding posts. I asked Duncan Taylor, YG Acoustics’ head of marketing, about the crossover frequencies and slopes, and he referred me to CEO Webster, who responded with a detailed description:

Our crossover circuits are very unusual, designed through a massive campaign of multi-domain computational modeling which looks not only at every aspect of the speaker, but also simulates carefully modeled real-world amplifiers driving it—all playing real music in modeled listening rooms.

The circuit designs are not conventional and we use the detailed behavior of the cabinet and drive units as part of the roll-off between different drivers. For example, this is how we can extend the bass response of our speakers while keeping exceptional impulse response and low distortion. So it’s not a case of saying it’s just a fourth-order filter at a specific frequency. For the Ascent, the treble/mid crossover is around 1.9kHz with an effective slope of around 22dB per octave; the mid/bass crossover is around 125Hz with an effective slope of again around 22dB per octave.

Grilles are not available for speakers in the Peaks line. That’s fine by me, as I tend to remove the things whenever I receive a pair of speakers, but the absence of grilles is something to be cognizant of, given that there’s a soft silk dome in there just itching to be poked. The large, polished floor spikes are beautifully machined and lethally sharp.

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I drove the Ascents exclusively with my Hegel Music Systems H30A amplifier, which provided sufficient current to accommodate the speaker’s 4-ohm average and 2.5-ohm minimum impedance. Those numbers point to the Ascent being a somewhat difficult load, and despite YG Acoustic’s declaration that the Ascent’s sensitivity is 90dB, its sealed cabinet and challenging impedance suggest the need for a stout amplifier.


The Ascents were at the same time the most infuriating and rewarding speakers I’ve experienced. Strong words, but I stand by them. My first month or so with the Ascents was spent moving them from one position to another, trying to integrate the low frequencies into my room.

My room is rather complicated. There’s a big-ass 40Hz hump, but my actual listening position is in a bit of a null spot, where there’s much less bass than anywhere else in the room. In the past, I’ve just plonked down pretty much every other speaker that’s cycled through my system in one spot, and, for the most part, things worked out just fine. I fuss a bit with the distance to the front wall to optimize the bass, play with toe-in a bit, and call it a day.

This process did not work with the Ascents.

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With the speakers in their usual positions, the bass was far too thin and lightweight, so I pushed them way back to gain some boundary reinforcement. An extended listen with the speakers in this new position proved unsatisfying. The bass was right, sure, but the proximity to the wall, and likely the interference of my rack right between the speakers, rendered the soundstage flat and uninvolving. The midrange tonal balance also suffered, gaining a cupped-hands megaphone coloration.

So, bit by bit, I pulled the speakers further out into the room. The further out they came, the more the midrange, highs, and soundstage improved. But the bass became thin, both the low end and the upper bass, which made the Ascents sound shouty and tipped-up. I agonized through several weeks of this. Part of me was getting fed up, wanting to quit the whole process, but there was so much to like here. The Ascents were image monsters; they carved up quick, detailed, realistic images, both on a lateral plane and to great depth.

At this point, I felt like I was beaten. But I knew Doug Schneider had measured the speakers at the NRC anechoic chamber in Ottawa, so I gave him a call to see if science could help. Doug suggested that, based on the measurements, I should try moving the speakers into the corners, not just closer to the front wall.

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Fair enough. I moved the Ascents about a foot further apart, with each speaker going an additional 6″ toward the side walls. This was the secret sauce, the roast beef, the pirate treasure! This simple change made the Ascents go from I can’t do this anymore to mother of 12 bastards, this is amazing! Now their inner edges were 108″ apart, and I was 102″ from the front plane of the speakers. Each speaker was 21″ away from the nearest side wall and 20″ from the front wall.


For this review, I’m only going to discuss the sound quality after I finally got the Ascents set up to my satisfaction. This experience closely reflects what I heard in Munich. Sound good to you?

I can do a couple of memory tricks. The first and oddest is that I can remember the characteristics of every motorcycle I’ve ridden. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve tested over 130 motorcycles in my time writing for Inside Motorcycles magazine as a test rider and senior editor. I can’t list them all, but if you ask me about a specific bike, I can give you a detailed rundown on its acceleration, braking, riding position, and instrumentation.

My other, more relevant but equally useless talent is the ability to remember the first album I listened to via review gear when I finally get a component to sound good. Sometimes it’s immediate, at first listen, where it all comes together. Other times I have to fuss with setup, which was the case here.

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In my January editorial, I relayed my experience of integrating a top-notch digital front end into my reference system. As you might expect, having access to the world’s music via Tidal and my fairly extensive digital library has been a ton of fun. I’ve found myself digging around in John Zorn’s discography, flitting from album to album. FilmWorks IX: Trembling before G-d (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, ripped from Tzadik Records TZ 7331), the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, is a stunning collection of sad, introspective klezmer compositions, and it’s the first album I played once things clicked. Jamie Saft works on both the piano and organ on this album. On the eponymous first track, I felt the weight that the Ascents could reproduce down in the bottom end for the first time. Saft’s organ note energized the room. It’s not a single pipe-organ gut-blaster type of sound, more like the left hand on a piano. Parked over in the corners of my room, the Ascents gave it an anchor that solidified the music most satisfactorily.

So, the Ascents could deliver a deep low end, but sounding incredibly tight, with no overhang. There was a quick sense of start-stop, coupled with superb pitch definition. The added distance between the speakers increased the image sizes but the center image was still rock solid. There’s a whole bunch of clarinet in FilmWorks IX, and the Ascents delivered a realistic, corporeal instrument right there in the middle, fully formed, round, slightly larger than life, but beautifully rendered. Take, for example, the utter tragedy that is “Mahshav,” a song that feels like it’s been unraveled from ancient DNA, a place where bearded men wear fur hats and ride shaggy ponies. There was an aurora around that clarinet, a burnished glow, a roundness, a feeling of the actual reed itself, sized just fine. Again, rock solid.

Days before filing this review, I received Mobile Fidelity’s reissue of Van Halen’s eponymous debut album (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UD1S 2-032). It’s from their Ultradisc One-Step series, pressed on SuperVinyl, and cut at 45 rpm. It’s the best possible version of this fantastic record. I say that with certainty because I can’t imagine any other record—of any music—giving me goosebumps in quite this manner. I only played side 1, as it’s intense music that must be played loud, and I need some time to decompress after a session. Up to this point, I’d not really given the Ascents a true workout. Oh, I’d played them quite loud, but mostly with polite, civilized music.

I lowered the needle on the VPI and scampered back to my seat, the remote for the Hegel P30A in hand. Then I cranked that beast up, up, up. Right from the first few bars of “Runnin’ with the Devil,” this record just gobsmacked me, and my respect for the Ascents stepped up several notches. The Ascents just slammed out Michael Anthony’s bass, and, for the first time with this music, I could easily distinguish it from Alex Van Halen’s kick drum. As I twisted the throttle, the Ascents energized the room, retaining control of the low end while still letting the overtones bloom.

The cherry on top was Eddie’s guitar solo, the same one that’s repeated twice. Each note sounded crisp and polished, a bolt of lightning slashing through the room. Now we’re up in the top end of the Ascent’s frequency range. That’s a soft-dome tweeter in there, right? But a tricksy one, right? Whatever YG Acoustics has done to that thing, it’s brilliant. Now mind you, I was listening loud. LOUD. That solo, at that volume, was striking, biting, aggressive, for sure. But at no point did it sound harsh, at no point did it feel like the Ascent’s top end was fatiguing. On the contrary, I wanted to turn it up louder, but . . . there was no need. This was the perfect driver at the perfect volume. Smooth, relaxed, a tweeter that pulls you in.

That said, there’s delicacy mixed with speed in the Ascent’s top end. It’s the edge of a knife, the fulcrum point. That near-ideal balance of ease and detail, the one we rarely get. My body language said it best. For the first few seconds of the album, I was leaning back, in a sort of blown-away, reclining position. After I’d adjusted to the volume and the assault of this monster band in front of me, I found myself moving forward, trying to get closer, closer.

It’s always a pleasure to discover an audiophile speaker that can rock out.

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I suppose I should trot out some classical stuff right now to get the taste of testosterone and stale cigarette smoke out of your mouth and tell you how civilized music sounds on the Ascents. My three-LP box of the Végh Quartet’s cycle of Béla Bartók’s string quartets (Telefunken SKH 25083-T/1-3) is a challenge—all sharp edges, elbows and knees sticking out at odd angles. So it takes a while to find the tune. I sat there, mouth agape, as the Ascents spread out a semicircle of musicians, each perfectly locked in position. This was true midrange magic. Again, the images were slightly larger than I’m used to—the wider positioning likely the cause—and just slightly ahead of the plane of the speakers, but so fully formed that I found my eyes darting left and right, looking for the musicians that I could clearly hear.

Back to the bass once more, because it gave me trouble at the beginning. I think it’s important to let you know that it was my room, not the speakers, that was fighting me. Throwing one of my old chestnuts onto the VPI told me worlds about the Ascent’s bottom end. Chet Baker’s Chet (LP, Riverside / Analogue Productions APJ 016) is just awash in tube juice—the entire album sounds like wet sex. Paul Chambers’s double bass sounds physically huge on this LP, and it’s easy for a speaker to miss out on the crisp leading edge that stops it from turning into mush. The Ascents handled this difficult instrument with the perfect balance of accuracy and extension. That single woofer cranked it out crisply on “If You Could See Me Now,” reproducing that initial bite while still retaining the room-enveloping bloom—the comfy pillow on which the track rests. Most importantly, there was no overhang whatsoever.

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It’s the whole package, this speaker. It’s attractive, with its high-quality veneer, matte-black baffle, and classical proportions. Couple that with perhaps the best tonal balance and upper-register clarity I’ve had in my room since the Estelon XB Mk IIs. Admittedly, the Ascents landed in my room right after the Estelons, but before that, I can’t think of a speaker that I’ve enjoyed more than these here Peaks Ascents.

My only reservation is that I had a devil of a time placing them, and part of me worries that a blanket recommendation isn’t quite warranted. Placement is, in my experience, very, very important here, and you may well need some boundary reinforcement. That said, in Munich, the Ascents were quite far away from walls and corners, and I didn’t notice any lack of low end there, so maybe it’s just my strange room. I plan to move the Ascents to my neighbor’s place. Rob’s large, main-floor living room has more placement flexibility, so stay tuned to SoundStage! Global and a further installment of “My Audiophile Neighborhood” for a follow-up on the room thing.

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I guess it’s time for a value judgment. At just under 20 large per pair, the Ascent ticks all of my boxes. It’s a lot of speaker for the money, no matter how you slice it. When I sent the Estelon XB Mk II speakers on to their next destination, I found myself in actual mourning. The Estelons had been in my system for many months, and I felt like I could easily live with those speakers for the rest of my life. Then, my daughter Toni could have them and bury my wife and me in their appropriately sized flight cases. But I could buy five Ascents (I know, they come in pairs but work with me here) for the price of one pair of XBs, and use them in my home-theater system, with one laid on its side for a center channel. My heart still lies with the Estelons, but it doesn’t take much squinting to see the value in the Ascents.

The YG Acoustics Ascents came along at the worst possible time. Coupling my grief for the loss of the Estelons with the aggravation I faced when positioning the Ascents and I was close to audio despair. But the clouds parted, sun shone through, and the Ascents sprinkled rose petals all over my listening room.

Here is another pair of speakers that I could happily live with forever. If they work in your room, the Ascents are a goddamn bargain.

. . . Jason Thorpe

Associated Equipment

  • Analog source: VPI Prime Signature turntable; EAT Jo N°8, DS Audio DS 003, DS Audio W3 cartridges.
  • Digital sources: Logitech Squeezebox Touch, Meitner Audio MA3.
  • Phono preamplifiers: Aqvox Phono 2 CI, iFi Audio iPhono 3 Black Label, Hegel Music Systems V10, EMM Labs DS-EQ1, Meitner Audio DS-EQ2.
  • Preamplifiers: Sonic Frontiers SFL-2, Hegel Music Systems P30A.
  • Power amplifiers: Bryston 4B3, Hegel Music Systems H30A.
  • Integrated amplifiers: Hegel Music Systems H120, Eico HF-81.
  • Speakers: Focus Audio FP60 BE, Estelon YB, Aurelia Cerica XL Totem Acoustic Sky Towers.
  • Speaker cables: Audience Au24 SX, Nordost Tyr 2, Crystal Cable Art Series Monet.
  • Interconnects: Audience Au24 SX, Furutech Ag-16, Nordost Tyr 2, Crystal Cable Diamond Series 2.
  • Power cords: Audience FrontRow, Nordost Vishnu.
  • Power conditioner: Quantum QBase QB8 Mk II.
  • Accessories: Little Fwend tonearm lift, VPI Cyclone record-cleaning machine, Furutech Destat III.

YG Acoustics Peaks Ascent Loudspeaker
Price: $19,800 per pair.
Warranty: Five years, parts and labor.

YG Acoustics
4941 Allison St., Ste. 10
Arvada, CO 80002
Phone: (303) 420-9120