Yamaha A-S3000 Integrated Amplifier Home Trial Notes

Discussion in 'Yamaha' started by SeanMG, May 5, 2014.

  1. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    I was going to post a review of the A-S3000 in it's own thread but I'd rather not since we are all fans of the A-S2000 and folks who are more focused on the Yamaha badge and not the sound don't deserve to know what they are missing. ***Correction*** I'll just post this in the Yamaha section so Yamaha fans can check out their current flagship 2 channel amplifier.

    I just received the Yamaha A-S3000 and I will be auditioning it to replace my A-S2000. The A-S2000 amplifiers reviewed well a few years back and are built to last a couple lifetimes.

    They have a "retro" or austere appearance that suits their quiet confidence and ability. I'm the kind of stereo enthusiast who enjoys listening to his recordings and likes for equipment to get out of the way. I began my 2 channel system around an A-S700 and found that I thoroughly enjoyed the naturalness of the A-S series. I tried slightly warmer speakers (B&W CM1, CM5, And Vienna Acoustics Bach Grand, and Hayden Grand) and I could note the nuances of the speakers design. As I moved to less sensitive ATC speakers (SCM11 and SCM40--though they aren't as insanely insensitive as some would suggest), I moved up to the A-S2000 and was rewarded with significantly more headroom and an amplifier that is built like a tank and gets better and better every time you listen to it.

    My most recent long-term floor speaker is the Yamaha NS1000. This speaker is well-known for its accuracy and I think that the ebony version I own is a work of art. My problem has been that I've needed a subwoofer to augment the low frequency response of the NS1000 and I get very tired of the long process of finding the optimal settings and location for a sub only to have new music show up the challenges of subwoofer integration. Having owned the ATC SCM40, I know that speakers that need high current AND high damping factor from and amplifier can get an undeserved reputation for being bass shy. I suspected that more was possible from the NS1000 with a slightly warmer amplifier and higher damping factor. The A-S3000 with its MOSFETS and high damping factor (250) seemed like exactly what I was after.

    First impressions:

    I'll just share that I opened the box and had the amplifier running in no time. If you're familiar with the Yamaha A-S line, this amplifier is only 4 lbs heavier than the A-S2000 at 54.2 lbs. Not sure why I was expecting heavier--possibly that huge dent in my checking account. :)

    Updated picture. Bought a silver unit to match my Sony HAP-Z1ES

    [​IMG]

    The sound has been amazing so far. Significantly more focused imaging, the soundstage gets a little beyond the NS1000's and that is a feat as they don't generally do a very wide soundstage. The soundstage is deeper and the damping factor is clearly gripping the woofer more effectively. I could actually see life without a subwoofer as the low frequency is now properly integrated with the high and mid and increases/decreases proportionately with volume.

    20 hours in:

    I'm now wishing I'd never ordered or heard of the A-S3000. It slightly better than the A-S2000 out of the box and after a few days, at least with the NS1000's, I'm blown away. It doesn't do one thing better than the A-S2000, depending on your speakers, every aspect is better.

    The imaging is much better, the sound-stage is a little less fenced-in by the edges of the speakers but I can hear much more the placement of instruments within that sound-stage.

    A few of my current favorites for reference:

    Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit LP, 16/44 ALAC, 24/96 FLAC
    Erin Bode - Over and Over 16/44 FLAC,
    Kat Edmonson - Way Down Low 16/44 FLAC
    James Taylor - Gorilla 24/96 FLAC
    Cassandra Wilson - New Moon Daughter 24/96 FLAC
    Michael Franks - Every CD he's every done :)

    The part that is just head and shoulders above the A-S2000 is the power, control and tiny dash of warmth. The amp drives the hard to grip woofers to the point that I don't need subwoofers at all and there may be too much low frequency for my space. Anyone who's heard NS1000's on a few different amps knows that too much low frequency in reference to the NS1000's is unheard of. One review I read noted a tube-like sound of the A-S3000 and I would think that that may be the case with warmer sounding speakers. I'd bet that this amp would be amazing with the SCM40's. (Also, the ATC SCM19 is almost a perfect match for the A-S2000 if you like neutral and a great mid range.)

    The part that I'm really loving about not needing a subwoofer is that I was never able to match a subwoofers levels in a way that it sounded spot on at every volume. The subwoofer would nearly power off at my evening listening level and then get boomy if I went higher than my usual volume. That was more an issue with my B&W ASW610 than the PV1 or PV1D but it was still audible. The A-S3000 may be a modern-day Yamaha B2 in pairing so seamlessly with the NS1000.

    Thoughts heading into week two of my demo period:

    I'm getting a little anxious about keeping it as it was so much more expensive than comparable McIntosh gear. The good thing is that but for the A-S2000 sitting on my coffee table, I doubt that my wife would have noticed it. Much less flashy than McIntosh but it sounds every bit the "flagship" label.

    I just ordered a Sony TA-A1ES just to be certain that the FET's and class A/B on that amp can't achieve anything like what I'm hearing from the A-S3000. Gotta have a ton of equipment around to overlap these trial periods. :) If the Sony is even nearly as good as the A-S2000 but a hair warmer and able to move the NS1000 woofer, I'll just keep the Sony for the NS1000's, send the A-S3000 packing, and put the A-S2000's and B&W PM1's in another room.

    Not sure I can go back to the A-S2000 after this:

    [​IMG]

    Also, just for the sake of matching every speaker I have on hand with every amp--something I learned when I sold a set of speakers unopened to preserve the value rather than trying them out with amps I had on hand--I tried the B&W PM1 and KEF LS50 with the A-S3000. My impressions was almost the opposite of the comparison I posted in another thread (PM1 > LS50 with A-S2000). I found that most of my "problems" with the LS50's went away with the A-S3000 and the PM1's were barely listenable. I guess I would say that the LS50's sounded like a class A speaker while the A-S3000 sounded a little trapped behind the PM1's. Mind you, I only tried this for a few hours... NS1000's were doing things I'd never heard so I consider that three hours a sacrifice for the community.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
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  2. frankbooth

    frankbooth AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  3. belgianbrain

    belgianbrain AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Excuse my graphic bluntness, but this article gave me a hard-on.
     
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  4. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

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    Thanks for the excellent write-up!

    If the sound quality matches the build quality, the A-S3000 would be an exceptional integrated amp. That would be in keeping with Yamaha's history of top-notch integrated amps.
     
  5. SuperLead100

    SuperLead100 "These go to 11"

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    Great write up indeed! It's a shame there aren't more comments or questions on a Yamaha forum about this amp. Is this because it's new generation? I wonder:scratch2: I love my vintage Yamaha stuff but just bought a A-S500. I also plan on writing a review....we'll see how it goes...
     
  6. Snoober

    Snoober Dysthymic

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    Holy GAwd, that price! Thanks for the review!
     
  7. cdfac

    cdfac AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    they key with considering the A-S3000 is, which amps sound clearly better? that will help buyers gauge whether or not the cost is worth it. i sincerly hope enough people find that it's worth it, so that Yamaha keeps up their high-end line.
     
  8. belgianbrain

    belgianbrain AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Someone posted a great comparison of, I think it was the A-S2000 vs the CA-2010 some time ago.

    I'd love to know how Yamaha's top of the line integrateds today compare to the separates from the 70s and 80s? Can you come close to or match the sound of an A-s3000 with a M2/C2?

    That would be interesting.
     
  9. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Very pretty amp. Those back-lit black-face meters remind me a lot of the meters on my Yamaha P2200, a look I've really fallen in love with.

    I really find it interesting that you've found such a large difference between the A-S3000 and A-S2000 when it comes to power. Their 8ohm RMS power output is only 10w apart (100w vs 90w) and they both list the same 4ohm RMS power output (150wpc). Is the difference you are hearing the result of the tiny difference in wattage or something else?

    On a somewhat related note, I find it disheartening on a certain level to see that the TOTL Yamaha integrated, that has an MSRP of $8k, tops out at only 100wpc. It seems like options for high powered amps are pretty slim these days unless you go Vintage or Pro.
     
  10. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    Well, I read the review of the A-S3000 that Aussie HIFI did and what I'm hearing makes a little more sense or at least I'm not alone in hearing lots of power. I would compare it to 200 wpc integrated amplifiers like the McIntosh MA6700. I'll elaborate when I'm not so busy but Yamaha was conservative in rating the A-S2000 which tested at around 100 wpc. The rating on the A-S3000 is 100 wpc and it tests around 100 wpc but the effortlessness with which it drives speakers that can dip to very low ohms through intense passages is something you have to hear to believe. I played around with my A-S2000 for three years--occasionally trying to hear the upper bounds of it's power and it was fine with most speakers but didn't really push the ATC SCM40 or Yamaha NS1000 to their best performance. The A-S3000 demonstrates control and power at every level and drives a full range speaker in the same manner the A-S2000 can drive many 2-way designs.

    I took this video to discern the quality of the microphone on my camera--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgI61_du02c--previously, I couldn't get the music to a level where the sound reached "realistic" levels without issues at the high and low end of the spectrum. Whatever the A-S3000 is doing, it just grabs each driver and wrings out everything. They used Wilson Alexia's in the review so I'm pretty sure that what this amplifier can't drive, I can't afford. Makes me want to find some ATC SCM100's :)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  11. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    I really don't think that the North American market will ever keep up after talking with Yamaha yesterday. It makes sense that the American market has more buyers who have space for muti-channel systems and that creates a dichotomy where buyers are spreading their dollars over two systems (two channel and multi-channel) or buying whatever two-channel solution fits in with their multichannel setup. Smaller average home size in Asia and Europe--per Yamaha--drives better sales of two channel products.

    They said that we are at least six months from finding out what will be available in North America. Also, I think that some folks don't understand the sheer quality and value for money of pieces like the A-S2000 due to the Yamaha badge (Mine is on the 'bay right now by the way). :)
     
  12. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    I've never heard the B2 but I can't imagine how the NS1000's could be better matched than they are with the A-S3000. It is jaw-dropping. If anyone is near Detroit and has a B2 or other classic Yamaha power amp in good repair, I'd love to compare it to the A-S3000.
     
  13. jon tuna

    jon tuna New Member

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    A quick comment/aside:

    SeanMG, having finally found a satisfying interconnect for my RS700 receiver in an Audio Metallurgy GA-3 this video indicates to me an equally pleasing execution, could you tell of the interconnects and speaker wire.
     
  14. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    Thanks Jon TUNA. I'm not a big cable guy. I tend to like cable that just gets the job done and I've been more and more impressed moving up the Audioquest line each year.

    Here is my current cabling:

    Audioquest GO-4 14'
    Audioquest Columbia XLR .75M
    Audioquest Columbia RCA .75M
    Audioquest Cougar Tonearm cable

    Pondering: Audioquest NRG-1000 cables for A-S3000, NP-S2000, and CD-S1000

    With the A-S2000, I'd been running two speakers on the right with a set of 7' GO-4 cables and two speakers on the left with a 14' set of GO-4 cables (NS1000 as anchor speaker and alternating between the KEF LS50 and B&W PM1). It shouldn't be audible but the imaging was just off a bit with the A-S3000 in that configuration.
     
  15. Yamahaha

    Yamahaha Active Member

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    a year later where did this all end? Still with the A-S3000?
     
  16. Dr. Ear

    Dr. Ear Well-Known Member

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    I got my A-S3000 four weeks ago and I can only confirm that this is an outstanding amplifier. I am so impressed by the effortless power it can deliver and the incredible controlled and powerful bass response. By comparison, bass is beefier than from my fully reworked M-2. The presentation is comparable clean, but warmer and more silky. Soundstage is similar.
    The phono stage is great, too. Interestingly, I was never satisfied with the sound from my Dynavector 20X2, neither with the A-S2000 nor with my vintage pre's. With the 3000er I am now getting what I am expecting from this highly acclaimed cartridge. The combination with the CD-S3000 is hard to beat. I'm now beginning to love my SACD's.
    If you find the 3000 a bit to expensive go for the 2100. It is almost as good (had it before).
    I have not tried it with my NS-2000 yet which I still enjoy hooked on a C-4/M-2 combo in another room. This gear is all much too heavy and my back is worn out.
     
  17. SeanMG

    SeanMG Member

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    Well, if you look at the volume of posts I've made since the A-S3000, you could guess that I'm listening to a lot of music :)

    I actually sold my black A-S3000 and bought a silver one to better coordinate with my Sony HAP-Z1ES. Still quite an amazing amplifier. Particularly well suited for the Yamaha NS-1000. I also found a pristine pair of those and picked up a VPI Traveler.

    Now I'm wondering what the new ATC SCM40's would sound like with the A-S3000 and pondering picking up a CD-S2100 or CD-S3000 to run my Bluesound vault into and replace my HAP-Z1ES. Still making some tweaks but every time I'm tempted to move to another amplifier, I just think about the sound and connectivity of the A-S3000. 100 watts, sounds like more, 2 sets of XLR's, great phono stage, lines in and out for just about everything. I have a Sony TA-A1ES that sounds great with the LS50's but can't do the NS-1000's justice. Also lacks a phono stage etc. considering the Rogue Cronus Magnum as well but not motivated to change anything right now.
     
  18. AudioGeek

    AudioGeek too hip to function

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    I think it might be a bit less biased to look at a review like this:

    http://www.whathifi.com/yamaha/s3000/review

    I've noticed people on AK get caught up too much in brand loyalty, so that almost anything from Brand 'X' is going to be "jaw-dropping". I like Yamaha, one of my fave tuners was a CT-7000 and I also liked the M-1000U I had. But it's good to keep things in perspective.
     
  19. Dr. Ear

    Dr. Ear Well-Known Member

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    Isn't What Hifi also (GB-) biased? Sometimes I simply cannot follow their ratings.
     
  20. AudioGeek

    AudioGeek too hip to function

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    They may tilt a bit that way, or they review more GB brands than some others which one might expect but I think they're pretty fair overall and with Japanese makes, too. I've seen them critique a fair amount of Brit components as well.

    For example, I think they're right on with their assessment of the Marantz CD6005. OTOH, many of their reviews are too short IMO.

    No review is without some bias, but when you've spent your own money and time on a piece it's easier to get caught up thinking you've made a great choice or the "best" choice. The trouble with user reviews is everyone thinks what they just bought is a "5-Star" unit...until the honeymoon is over and they begin to hear the flaws but even then, many don't like to acknowledge those flaws.
     

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