General F.A.Q.

by Kevin OBrien on May 16th, 2013

 HOW DO I PACK UP MY REF-3 FOR SHIPMENT?                                                                                                                                                                                                                
We wanted to take the time out to show our customers the proper way to pack up the YFS Ref-3 SE music server transport for shipment. If these steps are not followed, the Ref-3 will be damaged during shipment and the customer will be responsible for repair costs.

Follow these simple steps to pack the Ref-3 before shipment.

1.) Open the top cover.


2.) Place the ~ 1/4" piece of foam over the heat sink. If the foam insert has been misplaced, any foam piece approximately the same size as the original will do. Place the foam in an anti-static bag just to be safe. The pink foam insert we supply is anti-static in nature. If you need another insert for shipping your Ref-3 and you have misplaced the original insert, please contact us and we'll send you another insert. DO NOT SHIP THE REF-3 WITHOUT THE FOAM INSERT IN PLACE!




3.) Place the top cover back on the Ref-3. Sandwich the foam insert between the top cover and the heat sink. (This happens automatically) Now your Ref-3 is ready to be shipped.


THANKS for reading! These steps are crucial for transporting the YFS Ref-3 successfully and must be followed in order to do so. 

-YFS Design Team


by Mike OBrien on 03/08/2012


A lot of folks are asking us what we do. I figured I'd spell it out exactly for everyone so there's no confusion. Read below for a look into what we're trying to accomplish here at YFS.

We’re often asked about the availability of the custom equipment on our website, and what exactly do we do. First of all, we have day jobs, music and electronics are our passion. Years of designing low noise aerospace electronics, precision instrumentation, professional audio, and consumer electronics have heavily influenced our audio designs. Principles and techniques developed in these disciplines are applied to audio system design. It isn’t a monumental task (though tricky sometimes) to design a reference level amplifier based on design principles developed in the RF communications, instrumentation, and power electronics fields. Many of the preferred topologies and concepts were developed in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The same can be said of cable design. Many of the standard power supply concepts employed for decades in the instrumentation world are just now finding their way into audio. It amazes me the audiophile community is just figuring out that a power supply influences circuit performance. Some of the lame designs available (at outrageous prices) are appalling. One of the objectives of this website is to show that there is no magic in audio design and many “new” discoveries are resurrections and slight modifications of old designs.

We have been making custom audio electronics for 30 years. The operative word is custom. We have no standard products, just basic designs. I guess we can be thought of as an engineering services house for the audio community. Along with our own designs, we modify, optimize, and repair commercially available equipment. 

Typically, a customer will audition a circuit in our listening room (with their source and speakers if they choose) to decide what topology they like. They determine the component front and rear panel layouts (number of inputs, functions, controls, style, font, color, height, etc.) for us to build. There have been several cases where the hardware was double the circuit/electronics cost. We understand that aesthetics is often as important to the customer as the sound. To minimize cost and time we build prototypes with minimalist panels (but still presentable) and concentrate on the inside. We have two graphic artists on staff to assist in the aesthetic design if desired.

One current project involves designing a preamp with a specific tube the customer picked up at an estate sale (over 50 pristine GE NOS dual triodes). The tube is a little known type with perfect characteristics for audio (nice curves!). Special circuit board materials such as ceramic and Teflon have been employed at the customer ‘s request. We have also sold populated and tested circuit boards to customers who want to build their own cases. On the other hand, we have done the metalwork for other DIY’ers who have built their own boards. This is common with power amp builders where we do the critical heat sink design and power distribution.

Solid-state circuitry is not excluded. We personally like tubes because of the ability to play with the sound by swapping tubes (from different manufactures) or even tube types in some cases. Since we deal with SS designs all day, vacuum tube design is an enjoyable break. We have designed and built many MOSFET and bipolar power amplifiers and preamplifiers. Hybrid power amplifier designs are also popular. Currently available IC’s and transistors have amazing performance compared to what was available in the 70’s. Several of our reference quality discrete designs rivaling tube gear have been designed over the years.  

Cables are also a key part of the audiophile system. We use our own interconnects developed from work done in the aerospace and instrumentations fields. There are marginally better cables commercially available with absurd price/performance points. We’ve had several unpleasantly surprised customers that couldn’t tell our cables from their $5000 units they brought to our listening room! We rarely discuss cable design; every manufacturer claims theirs is best for various reasons. We have applied basic physics and engineering to develop cost effective designs using relatively common material. It is amazing what can be done with a little geometry, electromagnetics, and materials science. If there’s an interest, we will post some work done on active shielding and EM noise cancelation for an electron microscope facility. 

The least addressed part of the audiophile system is room acoustics. Often a music reproduction system is actually a living room or family room not exactly optimized for sound reproduction. We have designed and built acoustic treatments for several customers to fit into their décor. After analyzing the room (modal, absorption coefficients. etc.) a set of treatments are designed. Our main listening room has an array of diffusers and absorbers to neutralize the room as much as possible. Customers are amazed at the difference in imaging and overall frequency response of their speakers in a properly treated room. Our acoustics experience extends to speaker design. We have developed several sets of reference speakers (to technically challenge ourselves), but we have our favorite commercial units (Acoustic Zen, and Von Schweikert) we use as references. We have no desire to build speakers, not even another set for ourselves! :-)

If you’re interested in how we come up with our designs or just want to chat, we’re here to help! Drop us a line and we’ll be glad to design/ build your dream component or just help you with anything audio related.  When we say we’ll help, we mean it.



by Kevin OBrien on 02/17/2012



The age old question of which speakers to look at for your system is a tricky one. Speakers are very personal and as a rule of thumb they are the most important part of your system and I feel should have the most money AND time invested in them. It's fairly easy to swap out amps and sources but usually the speakers are the one component that remains the same in the "constant tweaker's" system.

I prefer to first make a list of manufacturers you like (Von SchweikertVandersteenWilson AudioAcoustic Zen) and are willing to demo IN YOUR OWN LISTENING ROOM. If you are not willing to put in a little extra work in this department you may get frustrated. The work you put into this stage of your system is directly what you will get out. It's never fun hauling big, awkward, and heavy transducers from your local stereo shop into your listening room. Unfortunately, what other option do you have if you really want to know what each speaker is going to sound like in your room? There is no other way.

Find a local shop that will let you demo their offerings for at least 30 days and try and find speakers that have been on loan previously so they are fully broken in. You will not have sufficient time to break in most speakers within the 30-day demo period most high end shops offer so this is very important. Or you could buy your speakers on the used market to avoid this as well. Break-in is not fun and can be excruciatingly painful to perform when all you really want to do is LISTEN to them in your system!

Back to the list. I have found that talking directly to the designer of the speakers you are looking into is the best way to figure out which makes and models are suitable for your room. For instance, you would not want to place Wilson MAXX 2's in a tiny listening environment and vice versa. Ask the designer what the specific recommended models are tuned for music-wise. If you listen to classical and chamber music you do not want a speaker that sounds great with dance music and nothing else. This sounds super-obvious but I've seen it happen before more times than I like to admit.

Your listening room is really your biggest constraint. Money is your next biggest constraint and that is really where most of us just cannot go the extra mile especially in today's economy. This is OK. That is what used gear is for as you can always find somebody looking to upgrade who will be willing to unload their current speakers at a drastically marked down price.

So, narrow down your search to 2 or 3 manufacturers and then contact them and describe your room and listening preferences. They will most likely want to know whether you have room treatment as well. [This is where we come in] They will be able to guide you in the proper direction and they should be able to tell you which models are in your price range and which will perform best for your needs.

Your final step in this process is to LISTEN to them IN YOUR ROOM and make your final decision after letting your system "settle in" to the changes you have made. I would listen for at least two weeks and confirm you have made the correct choice. If not, get a hold of the manufacturer and let them know what your issues are and they should be able to help you find your perfect speaker.

THANKS for reading and keep on listening!



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