Yamaha A-S3200

There are many issues taking place now that I by no means imagined 25 years in the past – not least the vinyl revival and the truth that DAC separates at the moment are so central to hi-fi methods. Another factor that I really didn’t envisage was the return of the Japanese shopper electronics giants to the two-channel stereo market. There was a interval across the flip of the millennium when it seemed like massive firms from Japan had been getting out of hi-fi, leaving the market to smaller specialists. Now although, they’re critically again in enterprise – as Yamaha proves right here.

Just a few years in the past, the corporate made a significant push into the market, providing exactly the identical mix of high quality and worth that it did manner again within the seventies when the hi-fi market was at its peak. Even extra shocking is that its new merchandise are styled in a remarkably related manner – which exhibits the crisp timelessness of these unique amps, tuners and cassette decks. The firm has simply launched three new integrateds – the £2,000 A-S1200, £3,000 A-S2200 and the £5,000 A-S3200 that you simply see right here, plus the matching £8,200 NS-3000 speaker. These be a part of the just lately launched top-end 5000 pre-power merchandise, which means the corporate presents the complete ‘practice set’ of audiophile hi-fi separates now.

In my expertise, Japanese merchandise have a tendency to supply a contrasting mix of strengths and weaknesses to British ones. Because of their bigger manufacturing volumes, economies of scale typically imply that barely dearer elements can be utilized – though that is usually spent on the casework as an alternative. UK designs are often the brainchild of 1 gifted particular person, whereas Japanese ones are usually carried out extra by committee. The result’s that one breed just isn’t essentially higher than the opposite, however they’re invariably completely different. The A-S3200 is a textbook instance of a standard giant, full-feature built-in from the land of the rising solar. Unlike so a lot of its worth rivals, it’s completely devoid of streaming and even DAC performance. This is an unapologetically old-school built-in, full with MM/MC phono enter and headphone output – virtually as if this courageous new world of networked digital audio had by no means occurred. Personally, I relatively prefer it like that – as a result of most people who find themselves critical concerning the topic will have already got their favorite DAC and/or streamer, anyway.

It’s not fairly top-tier in Yamaha’s product portfolio – that exact accolade is reserved for the 5000 sequence – however nonetheless sports activities loads of options from the corporate’s flagship electronics. For instance, it makes use of a totally balanced circuit with floating amplifier design to minimise floor noise, a discrete headphone amplifier and customized ft. A big, low-flux leakage toroidal transformer is fitted, cautious mechanical grounding is obvious and thick inner wiring is used. ‘PC-Triple C’ pure copper steady crystal cables are employed for the loudspeaker feeds from the ability amplifier part. Carefully chosen elements together with 4 giant 22,000µF/63V block capacitors are fitted, full with brass screws.

On the surface, we’re handled to a attribute Yamaha fascia panel in stunning brushed aluminium, full with the form of switchgear it was utilizing 4 a long time in the past, and two giant, brightly lit central energy meters. In the seventies individuals scoffed at these as a result of they weren’t notably helpful, due to the sluggish ballistics of the needles, but they’re a beautiful retro contact – and the A-S3200’s meters have a switchable peak mode. Despite this amplifier having a plethora of options, its effective ergonomics are such that the entrance panel doesn’t really feel excessively crowded. It’s obtainable in a selection of black or silver, with polished piano black sides; the standard of end is totally very good for the cash.

A entrance panel headphone socket is obtainable, full with ‘trim’ degree management. There’s switching for 2 units of audio system and a selection of peak or VU settings, plus a dim perform. The standard bass, treble and stability knobs are current and proper (with centre detents), and there’s a big quantity knob to the higher proper of the fascia with a beautiful butter-smooth motion. The predominant enter selector presents a selection between two unbalanced RCA line inputs, two balanced XLR ins, CD, tuner and phono. The ‘predominant direct’ perform bypasses the quantity management, plus preamp out, line 2 out and headphone socket – successfully turning it into an influence amp. There’s additionally an MM/MC phono preamp selector, to the best. A muting change completes the image.

Yamaha claims a punchy 100W RMS per channel into 8ohm and 150W into 4, for this Class AB design – which is greater than most individuals will ever want. The energy comes not by way of discrete transistors, however as is the standard observe today, MOSFET energy modules. Interestingly, the phono preamplifier does use discrete transistors, and may be very neatly specified by a separate circuit board utilizing good-quality elements. It would have been a lot simpler and cheaper for Yamaha to have merely fitted a fundamental op-amp to do that job – so it exhibits a commendable degree of seriousness about vinyl.

Sound high quality
Standout aspects space crisp, detailed and exact midband together with easy and authoritative energy supply. For instance, feed the Yamaha with some punchy eighties pop from Duran Duran, and Last Chance On The Stairway comes over in a extremely commanding manner. Although not the form of programme materials you’d instantly classify as ‘audiophile’, that is nonetheless a nicely recorded observe from the twilight years of analogue. There’s loads occurring, together with a gutsy bassline and an lively midband. Even at highish ranges, driving my massive Yamaha NS-1000M loudspeaker, this amp doesn’t flinch; its backside finish is highly effective and expressive, and by no means exhibits any signal of working out of puff even at excessive volumes on crescendos.

Although the A-S3200 by no means sounds edgy or unstable, its clear and forensic midband is subtly tonally ‘nicely lit’. Heavily modulated nineties digital dance proves extra palatable than anticipated; Nookie’s The Sound Of Music doesn’t assault my delicate earholes anyplace close to as a lot as some amps I’ve heard, the sound introduced with grip, chew and flare-flapping bass.

Another key attribute is the expansive soundstaging; it’s in a position to recreate a cathedral-like recorded acoustic, if that’s what was initially dedicated to tape within the studio. Large scale traditional rock reminiscent of Los Endos by Genesis actually fills the room. The soundstage pushes very huge left to proper, and is decently three dimensional too. Better than many, the A-S3200 is ready to arrange a giant sound. I’m struck by the dimensions and width of Phil Collins’ drum equipment, with epic pan rolls that punch by the complicated combine. Steve Hackett’s legendary guitar noodling can be a pleasure, sounding important and alive.

Rhythmically the Yamaha is a battler. It doesn’t fairly have the fluidity and lyricism of some equally priced tube amps, however nonetheless makes music partaking and full of life. This is achieved in two methods; firstly its midband has formidable transient velocity, with an awesome rhythmic snap to the proceedings. Secondly, the bass is massive and strong, however importantly has subsequent to no overhang. There’s none of that spongy sensation that provides a nice bloom to proceedings, but which slurs one word into the following. For these causes, I discover refined pop songs like The Dolphin Brothers’ Catch The Fall sound surprisingly infectious by this bruiser. This massive built-in amplifier is quick, detailed and lithe sufficient to make even comparatively intricate music sound prefer it has a raison d’être.

This achieved performer succeeds by its breadth and depth of means, relatively than exceeding in a single explicit space. It’s a extremely succesful all-rounder, and plenty of will love its snappy sound and gutsy manner. The solely draw back is its presentation lacks the extra light, fluid character of some equally priced valve amps and solid-state designs. As ever, this comes right down to style – so potential purchasers ought to audition it if in any respect potential. Factor in its very good construct, neat styling and general air of high quality, and I can’t assist however be critically impressed. Although costly, the A-S3200 presents effective worth for cash. DP    

Product: Yamaha A-S3200
Type: Integrated amplifier


● Claimed energy: 2x 100W RMS (8ohm)

● Switchable MM/MC phono stage

● Inputs: 2x XLR; 4x RCA; 1x energy amp

● Outputs: 2x report; preamp; 6.35mm headphone jack

● Switchable peak/VU energy meters

Read the complete assessment in  Issue 464

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