Yamaha A-S3200 integrated amplifier Herb Reichert November 2020

Herb Reichert wrote about the Yamaha A-S3200 in November 2020 (Vol.43 No.11):

The Yamaha A-S3200 is a strikingly beautiful, all-analog integrated amplifier. When switched on, it gives off a brilliant, slightly warm light from its dual glass-fronted VU/Watt meters. Looking at it makes me feel good but also reminds me how much of a baby boomer I really am.

The A-S3200's sleek, knob-and-switch–lined silver faceplate triggered clear-as-yesterday memories of my youth reading Audio, Stereo Review, and High Fidelity magazines, then going to J&R Music on Park Row here in New York City and staring at the wall of made-in-Japan integrated amps.

My friends all bought Sansui or Pioneer, but to my ears and eyes, Yamaha was the class of the J&R pack.

Sadly, after ridiculous amounts of spec comparisons and deliberation, I bought a midlevel Kenwood integrated and matching tuner. The tuner was world-class; I kept it for 20 years. The amp made my Large Advent loudspeakers sound hard and flat. I kept it for two weeks.

Because this Yamaha, the A-S3200, costs a not-inexpensive $7499.95, I began this follow-up review by struggling to imagine what price level its users would consider appropriate for an ancillary DAC. Choosing a DAC seemed like an important decision, because the choice would influence my perceptions of the A-S3200's sound quality. My solution was to start with the reasonably priced ($768) Denafrips Ares II and then switch to my reference DAC, the Holo Audio May ($3798–$4998).

The first album I played, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya's Slide-Guitar Ragas from Dusk Till Dawn (16/44.1 FLAC Riverboat Records/Tidal), made it instantly clear that this new Yamaha was more exciting, sonics-wise, than those 1970s Yamahas I auditioned long ago.

In the October Gramophone Dreams, I described the Denafrips Ares II as specializing in realistic energy retrieval, solid bass power, and raw engagement. Those exact traits dominated my experience of From Dusk Till Dawn with the Ares II and the Yamaha. Before this spellbinding album was over, I had no doubt that this amp, with the Ares II DAC, could bash and boogie with the best. If you like your music live and dynamic—if you like to play air guitar, bob your head, and tap your feet—this combo could move you to do those things.

I played Bhattacharya's Hindustani slide guitar with this combo driving, first, the $5k/pair Alta Alyssa standmount speakers (see review elsewhere in this issue), then my reference Harbeth M30.2s ($5499/pair). Both speakers seemed vitalized by the A-S3200's 100Wpc (class-AB) into 8 ohms and 150Wpc into 4 ohms.

Switching from the overachieving Denafrips to the super-lucid Holo Audio May, and from Hindustani slide guitar to the guitar-driven blues of Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins, I began to experience the A-S3200 in its fullest music-making measure. Hopkins's guitar and voice on Lightnin' Hopkins Live at Newport (16/44.1 FLAC Vanguard/Qobuz) are close-miked and direct-sounding; with the Yamaha amp, it had demonstration-quality presence.

Hopkins's blues are blood-of-the-earth and aligned with the constellations; I strongly regret not seeing him live when he was alive. However, when my sound system sounds right, as it did with the May feeding the Yamaha, which drove the Alta Alyssa speakers, Lightnin' felt almost live, like there was almost nothing between myself and the stage Hopkins was playing on. That "almost" is important; while listening to Live at Newport, I began to notice a slight transistor-like opacity that limited the normally stunning transparency of this Live at Newport recording. The effect was slight and did not reduce Lightnin's powerful mojo.

Compared to the Pass Labs INT-25
Currently, all my equipment comparisons refer back to one basic reference system: the Holo Audio May DAC, the Pass Labs INT-25 integrated amp, and the Harbeth 30.2 monitor speakers. The $7250 INT-25 is my reference amplifier because it is the most transparent, microdetailed, dare I say invisible solid-state amplifier I have used. It operates in pure class-A and is rated at 25Wpc into 8 ohms and 50Wpc into 4 ohms.

I simply replaced the Pass Labs amp with the Yamaha A-S3200. Immediately, the Yamaha's greater power made its presence known. Into the power-loving Altas, the Yamaha out-punched and out-danced—but did not out-sing—the Pass Labs integrated. The Yamaha displayed thrust, while the Pass Labs created intimacy.

Into the Harbeth 30.2s, the A-S3200 played more dramatically than the INT-25 did. Bass had more force and bite. I would describe the Yamaha-Harbeth combo as outgoing. In contrast, the INT-25 delivered an attractive, microtextured, inner view that befitted its class-A pedigree.

And God created black discs
The Yamaha A-S3200 arrived bearing a standard RIAA phono stage, with a simple front-panel toggle switch for selecting either a moving-magnet or moving-coil cartridge (with a preset 50 ohm load for MC). When I connected the Yamaha to the Dr. Feickert Blackbird turntable, with the Jelco TK-850L tonearm and an Ortofon 2M Black moving-magnet cartridge, I was immediately impressed by the depth and transparency of sound.

Through the Yamaha, the 2M Black played Hamza El Din's Escalay: The Water Wheel (LP, Nonesuch H-72041) with sensuous, intoxicating rhythms, excellent transparency, and a radiant, detail-revealing light.

I have always admired Ortofon's $755 2M Black moving-magnet cartridge for its dense, superdetailed presentation, but I didn't use it much because I found it low on flow and drive. Clearly, that assessment was wrong. In my previous follow-up, the 2M Black played with force, vigor, and acuity through the Rogue Audio Sphinx V3's phono stage. Now it's playing like that through the Yamaha's phono input.

The next test was big: I exchanged the 2M Black MM for the $7495 Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, a low-output (0.3mV), low-impedance (5 ohms) moving-coil cartridge.

I assumed the Yamaha's "discretely configured" head amp would load the Koetsu effectively at the specified 50 ohms(footnote 1). (Normally, I load the Koetsu at 60–100 ohms.)

Not surprisingly, the Koetsu made El Din's Escalay: The Water Wheel sound more transparent, vibrant, and sharply focused than the 2M Black did. The Koetsu into the A-S3200 facilitated an intense and engaging listening experience. Loaded at the Yamaha's 50 ohms, the fancy Koetsu played instruments with exceptionally tight bass and a detail-packed midrange. Loading seemed correct, as transients and high frequencies drew no attention to themselves.

The quality of the Yamaha's high frequencies was most obvious with the Koetsu playing Hamza El Din's "Song with Tar," where the goatskin head on the tar (an open, single-headed hoop drum) displayed, to wondrous effect, its thickness, diameter, and exact position in the soundfield.

Still curious about the Yamaha's unchangeable 50 ohm impedance, I tried the low-output (0.3mV) $6995 My Sonic Lab Ultra Eminent Ex moving-coil, which sports an internal impedance of just 0.6 ohms. Despite that ultralow internal impedance, Music Direct's specs for the "Ex" recommend 100–800 ohms, adding that "ideal is around 400 ohms."

Spinning Vladimir de Pachmann plays Chopin (LP, Everest X-921) into the Yamaha's 50 ohms, the sound of the Ultra Eminent Ex was thicker, duller, and less dynamic-sounding than it was when loaded at the recommended 400 ohms into the Parasound JC 3+ phono preamplifier. It also sounded duller than the Koetsu or the Ortofon.

So, the Yamaha's fixed MC load worked very well with the Koetsu moving-coil, but not so well with the My Sonic Lab. Those who buy this Yamaha and utilize its phono stage will need to choose MC cartridges with care. I feel certain that no users will be disappointed with the moving-magnet input. Overall, the Yamaha's phono stage far exceeded my expectations.

Headphone output
Another quandary: What headphones should a Yamaha A-S3200 owner use? Probably not my reference JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC. They cost $4995 and sit funny on the head, but I used them anyway, just to see what lays behind that ¼" front panel jack and its accompanying Trim selector that allows a user to choose gain settings to match headphone sensitivity (–6dB, 0dB, +6dB, +12dB).

Because this performance by the Art Ensemble of Chicago has a lot of talking, weird percussion, clanging bells, slow saxophone, and miscellaneous stage and crowd noises, I use BapTizum – Performance At The Ann Arbor Blues Festival (16/44.1 FLAC Rhino Atlantic/Qobuz) as a test for info-sorting, image solidity, and tone-truthfulness. On the +6dB gain setting, the Abyss TC did surprisingly well on each of those accounts. Its only deficiency was a reduction in transparency compared to the Focal's Stellia closed-back headphones might be a perfect match for the A-S3200. When I tried them, the Stellia's cognac and mocha finish looked superstylish lying next to the sleek Yamaha. Better than that, the Stellia's 35 ohm impedance and 106dB/mW sensitivity were an ideal match for the Yamaha's headphone amplifier.

While auditioning the Stellia-Yamaha combo, I put the Ortofon 2M Black back into the A-S3200's MM phono input and achieved the crowning all-analog, all-Yamaha babyboomer moment, starring "Casey Jones" and featuring a 45rpm reissue of the Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead (LP, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 2-428).

I can think of only one reason for having a fancy sound system in my home, and that is to connect my dreaming mind with my record collection (which of course represents the soundtrack highlights of my long life). The Yamaha with the Dead and the Stellia and Ortofon cartridge accomplished that with lively, clear, engaging sound.

This luminous, retro-looking integrated is more than a babyboomer nostalgia toy. It is a serious, high-value music-playing machine. I enjoyed every minute with it.—Herb Reichert

Footnote 1: I'm surprised the Yamaha's restrictive 50 ohm load worked better with the 5 ohm Koetsu cartridge than it did with the 0.6 ohm My Sonic Lab cartridge. But there is much we don't know about this system; for experienced listeners, hearing is knowing.—Editor

Yamaha Corporation of Japan
US distributor: Yamaha Corporation of America
6600 Orangethorpe Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 522-9011

CG's picture

Based on the description in the review, it appears that both balanced and unbalanced inputs go through the same or similar circuitry. That is, the "ground" or "neutral" conductor of an unbalanced input signal is applied to the negative or inverting input of the balanced preamp stage. (That's just my interpretation of what I read.)

So, the question the is: Is the Rossini's balanced output just better sounding than the unbalanced, or is it the Yamaha that makes one sound better than the other?

All hard questions to work through, I know. Not a criticism...

georgehifi's picture

"Interestingly, when I repeated this test into 2 ohms, which for logistical reasons I could only do with one channel, the distortion was lower (gray trace) than it had been into 4 ohms with both channels driven (cyan trace)."

Power Supply???

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wilson Alexia2s drop down to minimum EPDRs between 1.2 to 1.9 Ohms (see, Hi-Fi News measurements) ..... They are difficult loads for amplifiers ...... Yamaha A-S3200 may not be providing enough power for their loads .......

JVS could review the new Musical Fidelity M8xi integrated amp ...... M8xi is a EISA award winner and reviewed by Hi-Fi News .........

JVS could also wait till November and review the new Rotel Michi X-5 integrated amp ($7,000) ..... In addition to other built-in capabilities, X-5 also provides 12-band graphic EQ :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
JVS could review the new Musical Fidelity M8xi integrated amp ...... M8xi is a EISA award winner and reviewed by Hi-Fi News .........

Jason will be reviewing the Musical Fidelity integrated amplifier in the October issue.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Excellent ....... Looking forward to reading that review :-) ........

dworkman's picture

Kal will also be reviewing the NAD M33 integrated. October issue is an EXPLOSION of integrated amps! 2020 - the year of the integrated amp (and COVID...)!

helomech's picture

do you encounter an amp that doubles down on power as impedance halves? Not very often from what I've read here over the years. To mention the Yamaha's 4-ohm power spec as though it's a caveat to ownership is a bit unfair considering how often you measure amps that do not even meet their claimed power outputs. Why is this caveat not mentioned in measurements section of pitiful amps like the Sphinx?

Long-time listener's picture

Some established audiophile brands seem to get a pass. The Alexia 2s, which in some respects -- such as their dispersion -- look absolutely awful, are labeled merely "idiosyncratic." This amp seems to have exceptionally good channel separation and exceptionally low intermodulation distortion, among a number of other good characteristics.

georgehifi's picture

Good ones with good current ability, can do > 75% higher. This was lucky to do 50% at 4ohm. And at 2ohm "may" have gone backwards even, if it was put up.

Cheers George

helomech's picture

the manufacturer's published spec, so why the denigration? At least Yamaha gives you more than what they claim, which cannot be said for some five-figure amps that have graced Stereophile's pages.

I've driven Magnepans and LS50s to uncomfortable volumes in a 3100 cubic foot space with the A-S1100. Maybe it would have been a different outcome had I the hearing ability of a man 60+?

stereophileuser2020's picture

Do you think you're conveying useful information to your readers by using Wilson Audio Alexia2 speakers to test this integrated amp? How many people on this planet know what those $58K speakers sound like?

Why not use a more mainstream speaker for your reviews? Choose a well-known and well-understood speaker for testing, like the KEF LS50, Harbeths, or whatever, so that when you say "warm", more people will know what it means.

_cruster's picture

This article reads like an excuse to list impressive gear owned by the author. I still have no idea what this amp sounds like.

Long-time listener's picture

stereophileuser2020 makes very good points, and JVS himself raised a lot of questions about the nature and validity of this review. Using speakers that cost about 10 times more than the amp, and comparing an integrated to monoblocks that cost about 5 times more, seems odd. And why not choose a reviewer like Herb Reichert who has on hand a selection of amplifiers and speakers to use for comparison? This amp is not aimed at anyone who can afford the Alexia 2s or the D'Agnostinos. The amp is aimed at people like me who don't have the space for those monstrosities and who, for whatever reason, still actually like to have things like tone and balance controls. (And the implementation of the tone controls, based on JA's measurements, looks excellent.)

michelesurdi's picture

back to reviewing midfi,hard times indeed

rl1856's picture

This review was doomed from inception. Who uses a $7k integrated amp with $53k speakers ? Who uses a 150wpc integrated amp that fails to double output into 4ohms, and is not rated for 2ohms, with speakers that demand plenty of current into a sub 4ohm load ? For many purchasers, this will be a one box solution for a main system. To fail to review the phono section is irresponsible. Competing amps at this price point (McIntosh, Luxman and others) point to the quality of their phono stages as reasons to purchase. This piece deserves a followup review by someone who can use this amp in the proper context.

Jim Austin's picture

Herb Reichert is writing a follow-up review for the November issue of Stereophile.

Jim Austin, Editor

Tony Plachy's picture

Jim, This review was ill conceived and poorly exicuted. It should have never been published.

a.wayne's picture

Any idea what Speakers Herb will be using with the Yamaha ..?

Jim Austin's picture
Kidding. You'll have to wait and see. :-) Jim Austin, Editor Stereophile
Alban's picture

That's so funny. Love it! Looking forward to HR's review.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

A-S3200 may even have hard time driving the Magico A1 bookshelf speakers ...... A1's EPDRs fall down to minimum 1.3 Ohms and 2.2 Ohms ...... See, HI-Fi News measurements :-) .....

A-S3200 may have easier time driving the Wilson Tune Tot bookshelf speakers though ...... Tune Tot minimum EPDRs are between 3.3 and 3.7 Ohms, according to Hi-Fii News :-) .....

JA1 needs to publish the EPDR measurements of Magico M2, ASAP :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

A-S3200 would be a good match for HR's references Harbeth 30.2 and P3ESR :-) ........

JHL's picture

Jim, given the general ignorant din in so many of these comment threads, and given the consistent want of appreciation by pretentious, self-involved anons for what fine audio does and is for, have you considered just closing the comments section?

The print edition thrives without comments while online the bad almost always drives out the good. The high end is worth preserving.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Just don't read the comments section Monsieur JHL ....... Just read the reviews :-) ........

JHL's picture

...these comments threads can indeed be a disgrace, and we're admitting it.

At this rate we can wipe the high end out completely and the world shall finally be safe from enjoyment. Harrison Bergeron does music the way it's supposed to be. With a $300 cap and some graph paper.

(Maybe next you can compare the next dozen reviews ........ from the next six publications, buguloo ......;o)

CG's picture


Seven bonus points for you for referencing Harrison. (Insert thumbs-up emoji here)

Jim Austin's picture

JHL, thanks for the comment. Yes, of course, I think often about whether the comments are, on balance, a good thing. Sometimes, on some articles, the answer is an obvious "no." This is especially true when we're infiltrated by anonymous people who have it as an explicit aim to discredit the traditional magazines. Here, though--especially lately, even since you posted this comment--things are looking up. We're starting to get a more nuanced perspective. And let me be clear that just because a comment is critical of Stereophile, that does not, in my view, mean that it is without merit. I'm open to ways of making Stereophile better, and the more measured, thoughtful criticisms can actually be helpful.

Best Wishes,

Jim Austin, Editor

JHL's picture

...should there be one, can't help but evoke the whole world of fine components from the heyday of stereo shops. The list of Japanese brands was as long as it was noteworthy, and much of that lives on, whether in standard luxury gear like this reminiscent, artful piece - which is gorgeous inside and out - to exotics and even reissues of vintage super-fi American classics.

It's all wonderful stuff. This review in particular does it a service. It is a very good review, aesthetically sensitive, technically complete, and in the service of fine sound, perceptive and truthful. And while the A-S3200 may not in practice see nearly as many Wilson speakers in dedicated spaces as it will diminutive boxes in loft bookshelves or mid-sized classics on short stands, all the anonymous blathering about how compromised a Wilson/Technics pairing surely must be shows an obvious want of technical chops from our objectivist armchair experts. After all, the big Wilson has the big advantage of bandwidth and sensitivity the others will not.

Audio objectivism, as a practice more than an ideal, has by now acquitted itself in absurdity. From a dogma of disdain for sighted bias so extreme you mustn't see your gear while you hear it, now it's substituted graph paper and the THD numbers that were heard past 40 years ago for ears. It listens, if that's even the word for it, in one-speaker *mono* because it's so secure in its faith - yes, it's *belief* - in limited theory.

This segues into its most obvious failure: It has yet to revel in the sound of reproduced music! There's probably a corollary there to how it then appoints itself arbiter of how the rest of us are allowed to hear ours.

I'm open to ways of making Stereophile better, and the more measured, thoughtful criticisms can actually be helpful.

Of course. My concern is that Stereophile, as benchmark of ears-on high end audio, succumb to any aspect whatsoever of the absurdities of so-called objectivism, if for no other reason then that logically it is the most *subjective* way yet found to diminish, paint, revile, and generally put into the gutter a pursuit that when done well transcends expectations, suspends disbelief, invokes awe, and recreates beauty.

I hope you and yours stay the course, Jim. These are just our times and they will pass.

Jim Austin's picture

There's an aggressive version of this "objective" approach out there that appears ignorant of hi-fi history, or perhaps they're determined to revise it. I'm hostile to that movement, but I'm accepting of science and measurement as a foundation for hi-fi--just not an overly greedy and reductionist one. It's good to be grounded in certain realities, so long as being grounded doesn't limit you excessively. The problem is that unless you're very careful, it does limit you.

Otherwise, I'll just note a coincidence. I'm in the middle of writing AWSI for our November issue. There is a most peculiar convergence of themes between what I'm writing and what you have written here. To me it seems coincidental, but perhaps it reflects some ... subconscious convergence. Many times in my life I've noticed my conscious brain trying to catch up to ideas that somehow seem to be in the ether. That appears to be happening here. I attribute this to the mysteries of the brain and not, as some would, to esoteric mysticism, but whatever.

Jim Austin, Editor

JHL's picture

...a long time to allow a thoroughly subjective viewpoint, at least in public, about fine audio. I've certainly experienced some utterly radical, Doc Brown-style mad-fi, with thousand volt B+ supplies wired up on the rug, and they've sounded sublime. They just wouldn't evidence any of that sound on paper except to a very, very nuanced analysis.

On the other hand practitioners can assemble sound like that as if by instinct. The same is true for experts in all fields. So much for simple graph paper waved by amateurs.

The casual view of data is inadequate except to bias the reader. The in-depth view of data informs the engineer about specific phenomenon. All data requires interpretation; nowhere is that interpretation more assumed than in casual audio objectivism, the same arena in which motive, intent, and character are routinely projected.

I'm accepting of science and measurement as a foundation for hi-fi too, and without question. I just don't apply it casually and perhaps like you, I don't cotton to projecting, reductionist abuses of it. That we call scientism, which is the belief that we know what we've yet to evidence (and that the other guy is compromised).

We don't know those things, of course, and that mindset is a faith. As such it is almost wholly subjective, a characteristic it demonstrates all the time.

PS: Fine audio realism, as a pursuit, a quality, and an editorial style, is why I enjoy HR so much. As Pass once said, this is enjoyment, not dialysis..

ok's picture

..esoteric mysticism; people rely on it all the time. "Placebo" for instance (a fancy word for "I don't have a clue" to be sure) is an utterly elusive and unexplainable notion in physical terms -I wouldn't call it a phenomenon for it doesn't actually show- but objectivists routinely use it as their ultimate argument when all else fails.

tonykaz's picture

Everyone's opinion is valid, including yours.

This Publication's ability to hear and listen to the voices of it's readership is a very large part of what makes Mr.Jim Austin a Leading Editor amongst his peers out of the diverse group of Editors that I read.

Stereophile features outstanding editorial & philosophical content from it's writers, the writing has been superb.

Tony in Venice

ps. I still pine for a good fuse reviewer and someone to cover important things like Cramolin Red & Blue from Monster Cable of old. This is a Big Tent, all 150,000+++ of us belong, we're a large group of Cults. ( Cultures )

JHL's picture

Stereophile's content has been the benchmark for decades. (No disrespect to Positive Feedback or TAS, naturally, or others.) S'Phile's technological diversity plays a key role.

To the end that the audio high end is worth preserving and expanding, a curious, courteous readership partners in that pursuit - it's why reviews are written.

Some readers won't have experienced the magic of great audio but they should be invited to seek it as the unspoken credo of a good audio press. Put another way, if you haven't been bowled over by two channels projected into a space, keep hunting. The writers here have and their enthusiasm evangelizes the next generation. This is not a pursuit that lends itself to the mass market, and like all good things it takes work and persistence.

With good things come bad. Some uncivil types will damn these efforts out of hand, generally for unconscious reasons. These graph paper readers will draw faulty conclusions about sound and carry it so far as to damn the writer and his motives.

Sound isn't very subjective but we soon see that opinion is. It follows that obviously not all opinions are valid. Some are malign.

Fortunately the rules are universal: Live and let live, and if you project and condemn out of ignorance and bad form and from behind the safety of an anonymous internet account you invalidate yourself.

Reproduced sound has no metric other than experience, and because of that we look to the work of the listener-reviewer. It's up to us to have the good form to work to further our joint understanding, not tear it down.

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, I think you are referring to perceived rudeness of readership. I can agree.

Can we keep in mind that most folks have never been allowed to voice their grievences?


Should we keep in mind that our Education System was never strong in teaching writing skill sets? and our Comment contributors do not have the benefit of an editor or beta reader or even take the time to write and re-write tommorow, then again a next day re-write?

A grain of salt needed.

Our Comment group seem to be enjoying a little bit of "shoot from the hip" quick reaction ability.

Maybe we could relax a little, this is a new freedom for most of us.

And besides, Mr.JA2 seems capable of a little wrist slapping when the need arises.

Tony in Venice'

ps. I thought your writing skills to be rather outstanding. You're a pro

JHL's picture

It's interesting that you invoke a number of common practices. There *are* parallels and analogs, aren't there?

While I don't buy the argument that in the social sense what X says is ever Y's responsibility to allow or promote - especially when the American press is so consumed by professional liars - it's clear that with media, ostensible *education* has played an enormous role in that degradation. These two institutions have been well marched through by now, haven't they? As planned.

In their postmodern world we've swallowed the fundamental fallacy that all views are equal and that since they are, that they have the magical power to equally describe reality.

They don't, of course, or we could walk into busses and defy them to not flatten us.

This ties back to our audio high end. If it seeks to recreate authentic, real sounds and if those sounds can't be charted, then the informed, experienced, and especially, the honest and forthright editorial is key. And if that's so then it must be met with civility. Sometimes it isn't.

I don't see the problem being oppression, Tony. It rarely is. I see the problem being accountability, and in these pages we should be accountable to simple civility. Victim-blaming and look what you made me do should stay out on the streets.

tonykaz's picture

I'll submit that when two people think alike, only one is doing the thinking.

I ask for the opinions to be voiced. Isn't that honourable Democracy

I've abandoned 33.3 for 16/44 , so I'm an outlier in this amateur analog arena. The Pro people are the technology leaders here.

Your contributions here are critically important, even if someone disagrees.

Tony in Venice

ps. and you are one hell of a writer

JHL's picture

...but as a logical turn, when two people agree they may very well agree on tangible reality. They both know that walking into busses and defying them not to flatten them generally ends poorly.

Likewise fine audio. I've known dozens of instances where the supposedly inaudible has been heard by two or even ten people, independently, without the influence of any of the others, even to the point of their using interchangeable language to describe the effect.

That's a pattern of evidence, and it's a far sight different than the other end of the scale where sound is simply claimed by guys with specs or meters who haven't heard it and probably wouldn't know what it was anyway. They tend not to use the same language to hear the Officially Audible and they tend not to describe to boot.

I know which I prefer and which should be given air time.

Opinions are one thing ... and you know what they say about their ubiquity. Whether they stand to reason is entirely another thing.

PS: I can only wish I could write. The writing is in the original columns in these pages. I just appreciate it. Hopefully that's good form.

tonykaz's picture

Yes,Yes,Yes and Yes. Did I forget one??? maybe

I once owned Esoteric Audio in Farmington Frills, Mi. We sold stuff like VPI, Koetsu, Elecrocompaniet, Conrad-Johnson.

We had a regular group that would collectively evaluate gear, it was thrilling to stay there past Midnight doing group blind tests and every sort of evaluation we could think of. It was great fun discovering things and doing our own product evaluations. ( we could and would bring in product lines for evaluation i.e. Mark Levinson - which we didn't like or carry )

Yes, minute things can and do present significant performance changes. ( we could never establish or discover any importance to cable trusses )

Stereophile is important for it's Editorial Integrity that spans Decades. It is not important for Review Accuracy but for the eclectic range of gear being presented. I never would've considered much of what I now own if it wasn't for Stereophile Staff: John Atkinson, Steve Guttenberg, Tyll Herston, Herb Reichert, along with a few of the others.

And of course, Stereophile allows the Voices of folks to be heard. Stereophile readership have thousands of Years of experience and live all over the Planet. This is the most fertile ground in all of Amateur Audio.

Tony in Venice

Spla'nin's picture

Maybe HR could elucidate on the eastern mystical partnering of the speaker to amplifier complementariness and the need for more than one plough horse in the barn on a large agricultural research facility.

jporter's picture

Thanks for making me laugh Jason. This amp actually needs 1000 hours for proper evaluation. You also need to sacrifice a goat and spin around a baseball bat for 50 turns before you can really get the full effect. Cheers!

rl1856's picture

HR for followup..... KEF LS50, Falcon LS3/5a, Magneplanar LRS or .7...all should be more appropriate and place less demand on the power supply of the amp. And we will find out how the phono stage sounds. Interesting to read his (contrasting ?) opinion.

georgehifi's picture

"Jason will be reviewing the Musical Fidelity integrated amplifier in the October issue."

If there's any integrated, that has a chance of driving the Alexia's to what their capable of doing it "could" be the Gryphon Diablo 300.
I've heard what the Alexia 2's can do with Parasound Halo JC1's and the Gryphon Antillion was better, this Yamaha didn't stand a chance of getting the best from the Alexia's

Cheers George

Ortofan's picture

... come to pass, it should include a sidebar wherein Flemming Rasmussen can expound his use of "wire-wound emitter diodes".


Alban's picture

I think the reviewer needs to reconsider his fundamental purpose in publishing a component review. To me, a review should inform the reader about the sound of the component and whether it might be of interest to them for their own system. Like many reviewers, he plops the component into a reference system and then tries to judge how close the equipment comes to replicating the replaced component of that system. Comparisons should be fundamental to the review process; a component's sound signature can only really be defined in relation to other components. The problem here is that the implicit comparison, the D’Agostino monoblocks, is not really that illuminating. What every reader interested in the Yamaha would want to know is how the amp compares to components it is competing against in the market and how it might perform in a system similar to that in which it would likely be used. In this case, the Yamaha would never be considered for the kind of system the reviewer has set up, nor was it designed for such a system. Sure, the reviewer may come across another integrated that performs better in his system, but what exactly is that telling the reader? The fact that the Yamaha doesn’t excel at something the designers never really intended it for isn’t particularly revealing.

The reviewer should also adequately explore the features of the component in the ways its intended buyer might. Look at the Yamaha: a ton of money went into the casework, including the fancy feet. Why not review how well the feet were engineered instead of tweaking them with some other product. The balanced inputs have attentuation switches designed just for the problem the reviewer encountered. How well did the Yamaha engineers' solution work? We’re not going to find out from the reviewer. The unit has tone controls; how well do they work? The reviewer does test them but not really to solve a specific tone control problem. I mean compare the lack of useful information in this review to the review of the predecessor model, the s-3000, by Paul Seydor in another publication. Seydor tests and describes the tone controls in a much more informative way. He also doesn’t bloat the review with endless marketing quotes. Why give up so much space to what is essentially ad copy?

Interestingly, both Seydor and this reviewer share a passion for classical music. I listen mostly to classical as well, but even I found the Stereophile reviewer’s musical choices sometimes too obscure to be informative. And I mean, come on, "smoothed-out tonal contrasts that brought to mind the sound of pianos in San Francisco's Herbst Theatre, pre-renovation, especially when they were positioned farther back on the stage.” Even for a die-hard classical music fan, this is an absurd reference to give the reader, pretentious and useless.

Dennis 6352's picture

I agree completely. This review fails on multiple levels, most importantly in being informative about the qualities of the product under review.

bean-on-a-roll's picture

Thank you Alban for your insightful comments. I also found this particular review to be nearly worthless in terms of shedding light on how the Yamaha A-S3200 performs with components appropriate to its price range, and how it would compare with other competing integrated amps within its particular market niche. Since this reviewer apparently lacks components within an appropriate range to complement and/or compete with the Yamaha A-S3200, I'm left wondering why he was chosen to review this particular amp. What troubles me most, however, are the reviewer's failed attempts at being "oh so clever and urbane" by remarking how a particular recording by Perahia as played through the Yamaha reminded him of "the sound of pianos played in San Francisco's Herbst Theatre, pre-renovation (of course) especially when they were positioned farther back on the stage." It would be most refreshing to see this reviewer supply readers with useful information on a given product rather than muddling his work by failed attempts to sound clever at the expense of clarity and insight. Perhaps, if efforts were focused more on these objectives, the reviewer might be willing to acknowledge that "Professor Austin" has, at long last, managed to penetrate his core - or at least, in some measure, improve the quality of his reviews.

helomech's picture

had the predecessor to this amp (the A-S3000) independently bench-tested and the results were significantly better. Being that very little if any changes were made to the core amplification circuit or power supply between the 3000 and 3200, one has to wonder if the example Stereophile received is out-of-spec, or if JA's measurements were flawed in some manner (not to imply he didn't strive for accuracy). Unfortunately, AVHub has been acquired and its webpages dissolved, but I know for certain the 3000 they tested posted better numbers. Maybe someone knows of a way to resurrect this page?: http://i.nextmedia.com.au/avhub/australian-hifi_reviews_2013_2013-10_yamaha_as-3000_amplifier_review_test_lores.pdf

jacanomiret's picture

I had the same experience once. I participated in the Grand Prix du Montercalo with my Honda Accord ES. I was able to finish, but did not win. And ran out of gasoline many times! I guess this is the decadence. I miss so much the old times.

Mikk's picture

As mentioned by others, this review fails on every level, and only manages to highlight the pretentiousness that might otherwise be (unfortunately) accepted for genuine high-end component reviews. I’m surprised that it was considered publishable, considering how little value it contributes to both the consumer and manufacturer.

I look forward to HR’s follow-up review, so I can find out how it sounds, how it compares to similar components, how it sounds with appropriate speakers, how it sounds with other ancillary components, how the phono stage sounds, and how the amps features perform. Ie, everything that should have been covered in the primary review.

a.wayne's picture

Very nice unit , anyone familiar with 70’s/80’s yamaha will recognize this is typical Yamaha , a pity such an incomplete review ...

Stick it on a pr of Maggies 3.7 and report ...



David Harper's picture

when I read in a review something to the effect that; "...only in comparison to my reference $90,000.00 Ultimo Superbio monoblocks do the sonic deficiencies of this amp become audible" I am reminded that the "high end" never changes. Price determines sound quality.

Anton's picture

A review is not meant to, nor ever could be, a complete description of any product under every circumstance.

As a recurring reader, I have the capacity to see how JVS relates to the sounds he hears and how a piece of gear under review compares in the context of his reference.

If you really wanna know where the Yamaha runs into its own limitations, this is a perfect review. The amp falls short of JVS' reference amplifiers/preamp...and he told you in what ways.

Why do people need to demand a review under less revealing circumstances? A less revealing system might gloss over a flaw that might be better discerned on other systems.

How the Yamaha fared compared to the zillion dollar steam punk amps gives us a great 'worst case' scenario for this baby. I'm fine with that.

Follow up in different systems is great and wonderful and useful, but no need to piss on JVS.

JVS even anticipated the antipathy his review has generated. Did he not ask pertinent questions...

"• How can any reviewer make definitive statements about a product after only evaluating it in a reference system that was carefully constructed to reflect their particular sonic preferences?

• How does one take into account fundamental differences between the reviewer's system and a design team's reference when the sum of their respective sources, speakers, cabling, supports, and room has a very different sonic gestalt?

• To what extent is the sound I heard a true representation of what the Yamaha A-S3200 can produce and that its design team strove to create?"

I do admit that bullshit term "high end audio" keeps popping up, which really brings down the hobby, but the term seems to have caught on with the self-congratulatory crowd.

David Harper's picture

I do admit that the bullshit suggestion that the term "high end audio"does not accurately describe this subject matter seems to have caught on with the lower I.Q. crowd.

Anton's picture

Maybe you can wear a “Sonic Connoisseur” button for properly staking your claim.

If you can find a more self-congratulatory term, trademark it! The dopes who fall for calling something High End will likely pay you to use it.

Maybe “Delicate Audio Blossom?”


volvic's picture

JVS's system is his own that he built, that he enjoys his tunes with but that he also uses as a reference system to compare other equipment. To that end, I think it and JVS accomplished their task by showing me that while the Yamaha is a good amplifier it just falls short of what you get with the uber-expensive reference gear. I do not think this is a put down of the Yamaha amp just that to get that final degree of magic costs.

dworkman's picture

But do we really need a lengthy review to determine that a $7500 amp does not stack up against an uber-expensive setup? I don't think so. IMO there's much more value in testing the component in a system that is comparable in price and performance to the component, and then comparing the component against other similar components in that system. Which is what Stereophile normally does. This review seems to be an outlier and JVS even questioned its value. In hindsight, if Jim had his time over, perhaps he would not have asked Jason to do this review. Hopefully an editorial lesson learned.

jacanomiret's picture

I think a review should tell you what are the virtues and the flaws of a component, what is and is not good for, not how it sounds in a given system with a value of 100 grands, because that is irrelevant. Like it would be if you do the review with a pair of speakers from your KIA Sorrento and a Barbie CD player.

Anton's picture

The Yamaha was placed into a situation where it was likely the limiting factor for playback. Isn’t that kinda what we’d want?

What more would you have learned if JVS used a KEF LS50 or Wharfdale Linton speakers?

You now know the Yamaha’s limitations in a reference system, and JVS even pondered the essence of how reviews occur.

At this point, how about you list the gear to use for the ‘correct’ way to review the Yamaha.

ok's picture

..comparing products of vastly different price tags; people in here do it all the time as long as they think that the outcome is in favor of their pocket size. Same goes for Alexia's impedance curve; I've seen countless reviews where powerless SETs are being paired with insatiable monsters while the audience applauds it as a comfirmation of their belief that all valves suck. An alternative follow up is always handy but that has nothing to do with this particular review. I have also read other reviews of this amplifier and the descriptions of its sound were very similar to this one save for the fact that the reviewers ultimately liked its character more than JVS seems to do.

jacanomiret's picture

It is irrelevant because I already know it is not going to perform as well as a pair of D´Agostino. Use the system you want, but tell me something about the unit, not about how it compares with he best gear in the world. If you use a Formula I circuit to tell me a Honda Accord does not perform as well as a McLaren (especially when the McLaren has been painted in red), that is irrelevant.

ChrisS's picture

...Accord outfitted with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ tires at 30mph tell you anything about the performance of the tires?


And we don't want to read about it either.

volvic's picture

"Use the system you want, but tell me something about the unit, not about how it compares with the best gear in the world."

So then what is the point of the Recommended Components List if we cannot rank gear in hierarchical order?

avanti1960's picture

Comparing a review sample to a reference component is done all the time. If the review piece is well liked, it will be expressed in favorable terms- e.g. "it gave up just a touch of....to my reference amplifier but held its own....".
Let's face it, this is a less than positive review of the Yamaha and we need more of them to keep us all honest.
Bravo JVS and Stereophile.......

NeilS's picture

"...I don’t think the sky is falling on the high end just because of some pushback on this particular review..."

The post from which it was excerpted appears to have disappeared.

Ortofan's picture

... previously expressed concern regarding the ability of the Yamaha A-S3200 to adequately drive the Wilson Alexia Series 2 speakers used by JVS was prescient.

While this review was not “useless” - as some would suggest - it did serve to highlight that the worst case load presented by the speakers is a significant factor to be taken into consideration when selecting an amplifier.

One might ask how the evaluations of equipment are assigned to the various reviewers?
Do the reviewers have any input into the process, or is that decision entirely in the hands of the editor?
Likewise, do representatives from the manufacturers know who will be reviewing their products and/or can they request that a specific person be assigned to (or excluded from) the evaluation, based upon the components in their reference system?
For example, did Yamaha know in advance that the evaluation of the A-S3200 would be assigned to a reviewer who would be using it with Wilson speakers?

Regarding how much power JVS likely requires, he reported no difficulties when using an $8K Krell K-300i integrated amp. According to Hi-Fi News tests, the peak output of the K-300i is 230W/450W/480W/288W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω/1Ω. By comparison, Yamaha’s peak ratings for the A-S3200 are 120W/180W/300W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω. JA1’s testing indicates that Yamaha’s ratings are conservative by about 10%, so the actual peak outputs might be closer to 130W/200W/330W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω. Perhaps, for the next model update, Chief Sound Designer Susumu Kumazawa should consider raising the supply voltage and adding an extra pair (or two) of power mosfets to the power amp stage in order to double the output power capability.

Besides the ($6.5K) Musical Fidelity M8xi (880W/1740W/1300W/720W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω/1Ω), other integrated amps whose output meets or exceeds that of the K-300i, and thus should be able to adequately drive the Alexias with their sub-2Ω EPDR, include the following:
Rotel RA-1592 ($3K): 315W/605W/1110W/1840W
Pass Labs INT-250 ($12K): 325W/605W/755W/400W
Mark Levinson 585(.5)($16K) 355W/635W/988W/1211W
D’Agostino Momentum Integrated ($45K): 345W/635W/1070W/1620W
Hegel H390 ($6K): 279W/544W/1070W/1160W
Hegel H590 ($11K): 325W/640W/1240W/2290W

It’ll be interesting to see the manufacturer’s comment for this review.

Anton's picture

Your time and effort is appreciated.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great post Ortofan ...... Congratulations and thank you :-) ........

dworkman's picture

NAD M33. Kal's review coming in October issue of Stereophile.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mark Levinson 5805 integrated amp ($8.5k) could also handle 2 Ohm loads, according to Stereophile measurements ...... ML 5805 could provide enough power to the Focal Chora 826 and the SVS Prime Pinnacle floor-standing speakers, which have low EPDRs ....... Both Focal Chora and SVS speakers are EISA award winners and both were reviewed by Hi-Fi News :-) ......

Ortofan's picture

... of the ML 5805 was 174W/328W/305W/172W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω/1Ω - so, significantly less than the Krell K-300i.
Unlike the ML 585(.5), the 5805 is reaching its power/current limit as the load drops to 2Ω.

According to the review by JVS, the Krell exhibited no lack of power, but we don't know how much less might have been sufficient.
For example, would the Luxman L-509X, that KM reviewed, have worked well in JVS's system? Its peak power output is 183W/342W/507W/278W - higher than the 5805, but (mostly) lower than the Krell.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Well .... Luxman L-509X costs more than ML 5805 and does't offer a DAC like 5805 ..... Krell K-300i doesn't offer a phono stage. like 5805 ...... ML 585 (.5) costs more than ML 5805 ...... ML 5805 has a built-in phono stage and a DAC with 7 user selectable digital reconstruction filters :-) ....

Ortofan's picture

... as much as you like, but the key issue is which integrated amps can generate enough power into the load presented by the Wilson speakers in order for the drum thwacks to jolt JVS out of his listening seat.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Ok ..... In that case, Mark Levinson 585.5 may be a good choice ...... 585.5 also has a built-in phono stage and a DAC ....... I don't know whether 585.5 can jolt JVS out of his listening seat or not :-) .......

jacanomiret's picture

I've been an Stereophile subscriber since 1998, and I am letting my subscription run out these days, 22 years later. It has to be me, I know. I've been in audio since I was 14, 52 years ago. I may be tired. Boy, I miss so much the old times. it is me, sorry.

"Some of the sparkling life and joy I expect from this music was replaced by smoothed-out tonal contrasts that brought to mind the sound of pianos in San Francisco's Herbst Theatre, pre-renovation, especially when they were positioned farther back on the stage."

"When I tried the three Ansuz Darkz T2S resonance support feet—the ones that usually support my reference D'Agostino Progression monoblocks ($38,000/pair)—the improvement I heard was consistent with what I hear with the Progressions: a fuller, more fleshed-out midrange and a smoother, rounder sound with heightened depth, air, and detail. The soundstage was also set farther back and seemed more realistic."

Jim Austin's picture

Just please do remember that Stereophile publishes a range of writing from writers with varying tastes, viewpoints, and budgets.

Whatever you decide, be well.

Jim Austin, Editor

jacanomiret's picture

Thank you, Jim. I know. I told you, it is me. This is still the best audio magazine in the world.

tonykaz's picture

Stereophile : "Do I believe that many card-carrying audiophiles will love the sound of the A-S3200 ?, Absolutely.

My questions are :

Does this Reviewer actually believe this ? ( Credibility at stake here )


When and where do I get my Audiophile Card?, who has these cards and are they mostly a Yamaha Owners Group located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest ?

Tony in Venice

ps. I've owned hundreds of pieces of HighEnd gear. I've loved and still miss a very small few ( under 10 ).

MatthewT's picture

I agree completely that your credibility is at stake with the accusation that the "Reviewer" is lying.

tonykaz's picture

I agree, Believing is a rather spiritual personal position.

Does this reviewer "believe" this Amp is properly good enough for most of us readership but not good enough for his purposes? once again a display of hubris.

Where does the in-depth knowledge of Audiophile needs and requirements arise from ?

I'm suggesting that the quoted line is a payment to an Advertiser ( I could easily be wrong and hope that I am ), unless we suddenly discover that this reviewer can't live without the piece and decides to keep it as a prized possession. ( which he better do now that he's made such a committed statement like we'd read in Stereo Review of 1965 )

I'm an automotive manufacturer, this is the kind of comment we demand of a paid magazine reviewer.

Tony in Venice

ps. you are the person say'n "lying". Don't involve me in your sort of accusational phrasing.

Jim Austin's picture
I'm suggesting that the quoted line is a payment to an Advertiser ( I could easily be wrong and hope that I am )
Of course you're wrong--offensively so--but I'll overlook it. What you're missing is that in audio there is more than one axis; it is not merely a matter of better and worse; it's a matter of different.

Not his cup of tea, but he hears virtues that others would surely appreciate. Fortunately, we live in a world where we don't all like the same things. To me it seems rather obvious.

Jim Austin, Editor

tonykaz's picture

Of course Yamaha is ultimately desirable to typical home audio folks. It's beautiful, easy to operate, visually easy to navigate switch gear, matches with all the other Yamaha Loudspeakers, Turntable, etc. This Yamaha is Living Room presentable as an entire system. ( in a 1980s walnut gear cabinet )

I represented, stocked and sold Harmon-Kardon Home Audio Gear, a Yamaha Competitor. Neither Brand attempted to satisfy tweaky "Card-Carrying" audiophiles. ( although the Harmon-Kardon T60 was a very nice belt drive turntable )

Funny as it might seem, my Minister Wife prefers her Schiit stuff which is easy to operate and features a small few buttons to successfully operate. ( despite the horrible company name )

Ok, what do folks have to do to get their Audiophile ID cards ?, did mine come in the mail but I missed it?

Thanks for writing, you presented a nice cup of tea. Will there be biscuits or was that only a JA1 thing?

Tony in Venice

MatthewT's picture

"ps. you are the person say'n "lying". Don't involve me in your sort of accusational phrasing."

Says the man accusing 'sphile of being pay-for-play. LOL, again.

Ortofan's picture

... that concluding statement by JVS is that it was an effort to put some positive spin on the review and afford Yamaha the opportunity to save face.

tonykaz's picture

I've already been spanked so I'll refrain from further commenting.

Tony in Venice

ps. are you a Card-Carrying Audiophile? , do you love this Yamaha?, do you know a Card carrying audiophile that loves Mid-fi brands?

Ortofan's picture

... consider raising the supply voltage and adding an extra pair (or two) of power mosfets to the power amp stage in order to both increase the peak power output and improve the ability to drive lower impedance loads.

The performance of the Accuphase E-480 would be a good target for which to aim.

tonykaz's picture

It seems, at least to me, that this A-S3200 write-up is probably a Product Presentation instead of a review.

I've just had a deeper look into this device and see a good many positive features that begin to justify it's hefty price. But, the price is still too hefty for the light it shines. We need to learn what this thing will do with a nice Magnapan and Stadium Rock from Queen.

I have not been able to understand how any of us tweaky, hair shirt Audiophiles/Stereophiles might find anything slightly interesting about any part of the Yamaha Product Line ( with the possible exception of their Motorscooter & Outboard motor range) .

Accuphase is up in the higher pay grade/Caste options. Have you had experience with this outfit?, I might have to start addressing you as Sir.

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... the tweaky, hair shirt audiophile lifestyle, then you are probably not a target customer for the Yamaha product line.
Do audio products have to be tweaky to be good?
Are you forever flipping between the 'triode' and 'ultralinear' modes on your tube amp?
Do you enjoy tube rolling more than listening to the same piece of music interpreted by different artists?

Looking at the Yamaha NS-5000 flagship speaker (which has a nomimal impedance of 6Ω and a minimum impedance of 3.7Ω) might give some clue to the performance limits of this amp.
The Accuphase E-480 has three pairs of power mosfets in the output stage (versus one pair in the Yamaha). The mosfet transistors used by Accuphase cost about $1 each. Is adding another $10 worth of parts likely to push the price of the Yamaha amp up to a "higher pay grade/Caste"? Maybe they could ditch the wood side panels, or offer them as an option.

I've had an Accuphase E-202 since the mid-70s, bought when a local dealer was having a clearance sale. At that time, Accuphase was being imported/distributed by TEAC. Then, they seemed to disappear from the US market for a few years. Later, for a brief interval, some outfit named D&K Imports was handling the line. After that, Madrigal took over for a while. Finally, sometime in the '90s, Axiss became the US agent and continues in that role to this day.

The present number of US Accuphase dealers seems to be rather limited. In Florida, Legend in the Miami area sells the line and claims to have the only Accuphase reference system in the US.

tonykaz's picture

I'm rolling tubes, tweaking wires, carefully adjusting the mounting hardware of driver transducers, etc, etc, etc.

Vinyl era was far more tweaky as turntables were sitting in listening rooms, acting as regenerative detectors of pressure waves ( cycles ). It's probably what makes 33.3 sound so unique in this dominant digital world.

I'm now having a Google image look at the E-202. It looks impressive, speaker dampening, two phono with impedance matching for disc 1, pre-out/main-in , speakers A, B, C, circuit breaker, Multi-voltage power, switched power outlets. Hmm Power level meters, Bass Treble, Phones.

I'd think that this Accuphase ( or probably any Accuphase ) will still be working for a very long time.

Tony in. Venice

Robin Landseadel's picture

" . . . I have not been able to understand how any of us tweaky, hair shirt Audiophiles/Stereophiles might find anything slightly interesting about any part of the Yamaha Product Line ( with the possible exception of their Motorscooter & Outboard motor range) . . ."

Their concert Grand Pianos are quite Grand, a brighter sounding alternative to Steinways. Great bass. Record well. A bonafide High End audio product.

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, the people with skills to own and enjoy a Grand are probably creating their own HighEnd audio. They may actually own a Yamaha Stereo Integrated but I suspect it wouldn't perform to their expectations or aspirations.

My older brother was a Concert Hall ( DSO ) Horn player, he never owned more than a Fisher Radio ( that I gave him ).

My mother was an Opera Voice in the 1930s and loved her Magnavox Console that I maintained for her. She owned 78s. & 33.3 Mono Vinyls. She never progressed to Shure V15 Stereo.

Tony in Venice

Robin Landseadel's picture

I recall assisting during an interview with a Major-League Early Music Conductor. The music room had a Harpsichord, a Viol and an all-in-one $200 CD boom box on the floor in the corner. This conductor has a number of "Audiophile" recordings out there in the so-called real world.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Then Yamaha could raise the price to $12k like E-480, and call it A-S5000 :-) ......

Ortofan's picture

... they need to provide a Hegel H590 level of output power.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hegel H160 was reviewed by Stereophile ....... H160 could not withstand Stereophile pre-conditioning test ....... H160 got over heated and its THD+N levels rose ....... Who knows, Hegel H590 may blow-up in smoke, if Stereophile does that pre conditioning test :-) ......

Pass Labs INT-250 ($12k) and McIntosh MA9000 ($10k), may be good choices :-) .....

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Ortofan, the new king of the integrated amps has been crowned ...... See, Hi-Fi News review of NAD M33 ($5k) :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... Denon PMA-A110 (at $3.5K).

It's based on the PMA-2500NE which, according to the Hi-Fi News test, had a peak power output of 165W/300W/510W/777W at 8Ω/4Ω/2Ω/1Ω.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Denon PMA-A110 does not have ..... Dirac Live, subwoofer outputs, Wi-Fi access and streaming capabilities, HDMI, MQA and more power output like the M33 :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... order one, yet?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Not yet ...... I'm thinking about buying one :-) .....

Denon DCD-A110 CD/SACD player ($3k) looks good :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I think it is more like CYA by JVS :-) ........

bean-on-a-roll's picture

Please Guys, let's take a timeout here and consider what Jim is saying which, it seems to me, is grounded in the word "preference" or a form of the word thereof. Which do you prefer - coffee or tea? A martini shaken not stirred or a some bourbon - neat or on the rocks? A Corvette or a Jag? Blondes or Brunettes? Switzerland or Spain? Tubes, hybrids, or transistors? Class A, AB, or D? Integrated or separates? Benchmark, Naim, Lamm or _____________. It's simply a matter of preference, and what a grey world we'd live in if life so resticted us to one choice and once choice only - be it a beverage, a car, a soul mate, or even a low, mid, or high end system. Much of the joy can be found in the journey, and we should never become so narrow as to reject other preferences in our individual pursuits of worthwhile goals, which clearly exist outside our own choices and are every bit as valid. Thus, even though I find much of this review to be sorely lacking in a number of important areas, JVS is merely stating a fact that there are, no doubt, a good many music lovers and/or audiolphiles who would find much to like about this Yamaha integrated, and to deny that possibility seems nearly absurd to me as believing that only one way exists to enjoy coffee or tea or .....

tonykaz's picture

I once owned a NAD 3020 Integrated Amp.

It was wonderful, it drove real loudspeakers, it was simple and it sounded very good. ( why did I ever sell it? )

I've represented and sold a rather large range of other integrated Amps that were mostly duds. Blah.

If a person has owned the original NAD 3020 as a Integrated first impression, all integrateds will subsequently seem worthy of consideration. My experience has been that the majority are compromised, Product Line hole fillers.

Loudspeakers & Rooms require a specific Amplification Solution ( Loudspeaker Manufacturers typically know which is the best Amp for their designs ).

Pre-amps give sources a great singing voice.

Engineered Cable Systems make or break, lots of trials, lots of cash spent. Offer to buy them used and resell.

Tony in Venice

Robin Landseadel's picture

"I once owned a NAD 3020 Integrated Amp.

It was wonderful, it drove real loudspeakers, it was simple and it sounded very good. ( why did I ever sell it? )"

'Cause you knew it would eventually blow up?

[A previous owner of said amp].

tonykaz's picture

That is cute !

I didn't know that it would eventually fail, I simply moved on to bigger and better.

Nelson Pass suggests that Solid State devices will probably never fail. ( one of the best arguments for owning non-tube gear )

The New Version, D3020, will definitely fail and can't be repaired. [ according to my service tech ]

Service is critical, there is gear out there, pricy gear, that cannot be serviced.

Serviceability should be an included part of every gear review.

Tony in Venice

ps. by the way, those vintage 3020s can be serviced and saved

Robin Landseadel's picture

Well, my first one blew up, I moved on to a Rotel integrated that sound okay, but not as good as the 3020. Got another, yard sale, wear and tear had some elements functioning under spec. By then I had multiple options for phono input [including an old Advent 300 and an Audible Illusions pre], and the NAD was no longer king of the hill. But that first 3020 was great, while it lasted.

My favorite integrated was the H.H. Scott 299b, one of those arguments in favor of "euphonic distortion", rounding out the surface noise of vintage vinyl and bringing the singers up front and center.

Right now I'm listening to Bruckner via Amazon Prime on a cheap laptop [Acer Aspire 5] via AKG K167 'phones. It's like I'm living in a different galaxy.

tonykaz's picture

I ran into Art Ferris at CES in Vegas, brought home one of his little Pre-Amps that tore a huge hole in my full Line of Conrad-Johnson Preamps.

I also owned the Advent 300 , never found a Scott or had one traded in. I'm still looking!

We are progressing into Shirt-pocket HighEnd Systems, it's thrilling to experience.

These next 10 years will be exciting.

Tony in Venice

ps. Steve Guttenberg just YouTube reviewed a New $350 dollar Pass Amplifier, he loves it!!! i.e. Amp Camp Amp by N.Pass, a DIY kit

Ortofan's picture

... factory assembled and sold through a dealer, it would likely cost $3-4K, similar to the First Watt amps.
Those flea-power amps are fine if you have high-efficiency speakers or only listen at low sound levels to program material with limited dynamic range.

tonykaz's picture

Still, $350 is Schiit kind of pricing, isn't it? Low power and all. Made in USA , nice chassis, great provenance.

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... the ACA kit would seem to be right up HR's alley.
Afterward, JA1 can put it through the wringer on his test bench.

Of course, with the way it measures, you have to ask yourself if you are listening to the music or to the distortion?

tonykaz's picture

I did a few Heathkits.

The HW-16 I built was a very good CW transceiver, I was a Brass Pounder back in those days.

Now-a-days I try to build everything. I have a well equipped shop with a Pro grade Weller Solder station. I'd love to build a few of these Pass Amps for a good old Tri-Amped speaker System.

I get excited by this Quality level and DIY

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... soldering iron (not) to pick up, then you should encounter no difficulty in assembling the ACA kit.

You can peruse a set of instructions for the 1.6 version here:

The latest version (1.8) is only slightly different:

tonykaz's picture

is that sarcasm, amps are simple.

Building this would be a low priority project more than a desirable vacation adventure, perhaps.

One night's sleep has this build losing 50% of it's excitement. hmm.

Tony in Venice

Robin Landseadel's picture

"• To what extent is the sound I heard a true representation of what the Yamaha A-S3200 can produce and that its design team strove to create?"

Looks like your speakers and this amp are a mis-match. I'd imagine something with more reasonable current and power demands would be more suitable, not to mention a smaller and less expensive set of speakers would be more in line with the cost and footprint of this specific integrated amp.

Different horses for different courses.

Analogair's picture

And there I was enjoying my as501 through dali zensor1’s thinking I must be the luckiest guy to be able to enjoy my favourite tunes in such fidelity and came here for a bit of fantasy escapism only to find out so many people with gear 50x the outlay unhappy with what they have or wanting more or less differently. If I was to ever have gear of such magnitude I would definitely need to have it in one of those grand cathedral like spaces you often see gear being advertised in cause I am sure it would be wasted in my regular household room. All that power and glorious attributes for it to be stuck in idle in my mediocre living room. I am sure JVS’s gear would closer approximate a live performance than a lot of other peoples but sometimes you can still enjoy a concert at the local high school or college performance even if they are a little short on scale compared to ones at the Met if we can’t make it there. Thanks to all for the content and the creation of community engagement here at Stereophile. Hope everyone stays well and safe and enjoy the times ahead in this difficult year with the blessings we currently have.

MatthewT's picture

Perhaps 'sphile should publish a disclaimer when reviewing gear no "card carrying audiphile" or 'sphile reader would be caught dead owning. We keep reading comments about the high price of high-end gear, only to read nothing but fecal piling-on comments when you do review a mainstream piece of gear. Some of you should make up your minds.

Me, I'll continue to enjoy whatever reviews are published about gear I'll never hear, let alone see. As a vintage Yamaha fan, this review of modern Yamaha gear is highly relevant to me, and I'm sure others. Don't like a piece of "mid-fi" trash? Don't read the review. Easy.

Anton's picture

“That reference system is too good to be able to hear what this amp can do!”

“That system is too revealing of the Yamaha’s faults to be a valid impression.”

dvb's picture

I am biased. I am a patent attorney and have worked with Yamaha for almost 40 years. I have worked on audio products (amplifiers and D/A converters) but primarily on sound synthesis (keyboards). I have done work with many other electronics companies as well, and even did a patent for James Bongiorno for a class A amplifier circuit in 1980. He definitely was a character as has been noted many times. I majored in electronics because of my hifi hobby in high school, and my hobby became my work. For some context, my current amplification products include a Levinson 526 preamp and bridged Benchmark AHB2 amps, both purchased in no small part due to Stereophile reviews. I have owned numerous Yamaha products through the years, but also many, many products from numerous other companies.

I have been reading Stereophile for as many years as I can remember. I can't recall ever reading a more "bleh" review. I read the review several times, and cannot find a single sentence that actually praises any aspect of the amplifier's performance. Even the tone controls.

Then, I recently received the October issue of Stereophile. To my amazement, the amplifier is listed in Class A. I can only imagine that this was based on additional listening with different related products, by the same or a different reviewer. In any event, it confirms the numerous criticisms of the usefulness of this review.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JVS threatened Stereophile with bodily harm :-) ......

David Harper's picture

I feel silly bringing this up but I must assume that the readers here are aware of the fact that the distortion produced by the dynamic drivers inside the wooden box speakers that most are listening to eclipses completely the distortion of the amp that they are listening to. This means, of course, that it is impossible for them to judge the sound quality of an amp based on what they're hearing from their speakers which have, probably, ten times more distortion than any amp.

Dennis 6352's picture

Your discussion in the "Recommended Components" for 2020 described this amp as "hot running" but JA's measurements don't reflect that, especially when compared to similar products.

Jazzer1's picture

useless review. I cannot believe that it was printed. You owe both your readers and Yamaha an apology. Period.

psemeraro's picture

Lots of complaints... with no solution. What are the steps for me to become a reviewer? Pat in Orlando

MikeP's picture

Match this Yamaha A-S3200 with the new ProAc K3 or K6's and your be in "Audio Heaven" ! ProAc could be my End-Game speakers !

curmudgeon47's picture

Have just now seen this review and find it, well, interesting. Nonetheless
for nearly the same money, once could purchase a BAT VK3000 integrated, or
a McIntosh integrated (they have a bewildering array thereof) and get a lot
more one's money. I see no reason to even consider this unit.