Should I Upgrade my Yamaha A-S801?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by George P, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    My system:

    Yamaha AS801
    Denon DCD-1600NE SACD player
    B&W 704 S2 speakers
    Nordost - 4 flat speaker cables, White Lightning interconnect

    I am curious what I would be gaining if I upgraded to one of Yamahas higher grade amplifiers.

    I realize that Yamaha has some new amps out, the A-S1200, A-S2200 and A-S3200.

    I also realize that some of their older amps (A-S1100, etc) can still be found at a discount.

    Does it make sense to upgrade my amp? Will it be a significant improvement? Are the A-S1200, A-S2200 and A-S3200 as good/better/worse than the A-S1100, A-S2100 and A-S3100?

    These threads were helpful in getting some info on this topic:
    2020 Yamaha Integrated Amps A-S1200/2200/3200
    New Yamaha AS-1200, 2200 vs 1100, 2100

    If anyone has compared the A-S801 to the above amps, I'd love to hear your findings.

    Thanks! :wave:
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  2. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    If you can afford an A-S2200 but are not limited on space, it might be better to consider separates.

    It’s no secret around here that I like Yamahas, but in your particular case, I suspect the move to a 1200 or 2200 might be too much of a lateral move in terms of power.

    A Parasound Halo A21 or 21+ would pair well with your B&Ws. Add a Schiit Freya Plus, and with a typical discount, you’d be around the same price as a new 2200.
     
  3. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks, if I plan to not get a Yamaha, I will consider that.

    However, this thread is just for Yamaha. I'm glad you stopped by, for I was hoping you could compare the quality of sound from your A-S500 to the A-S1100.

    I agree that in terms of power (watts) it would definitely be a lateral move. I am not considering an upgrade to gain more power, but to improve sound quality.
     
  4. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC


    Just found this. I plan to watch it tomorrow. His review on the A-S301 briefly mentioned a comparison to the A-S1100. He said that the 301 was an excellent, neutral amp that didn't color the sound, but it has a very transistor, clinical, cold sound, while the A-S1100 was fun, musical, tube-like, warm sounding.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
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  5. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC


    Here's the A-S301 review I mentioned above. At about 28min he compares the 301 and the 1100.
     
  6. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    The Bipolar-powered amps (501/801) are more dynamic in the midbass and have better timing. The midrange is good but not romantic. In contrast, the 1100 has a tube-like midrange, wider soundstage, slightly deeper bass extension, and is more detailed. Overall, the 1100 sounds “open” compared to the 500, however, it’s less forgiving of poor recordings. Both share the Yamaha voicing of saturated tones.

    The phono preamp in the 1100^ is many times better than the one in the 500, if that matters to you.
     
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  7. Martin Takamine

    Martin Takamine spinning black and silver

    I went from the 801 to the 2100, @Helom gives a good comparison but I'll add for me that I heard better decay of cymbals i.e. simmer. But I do like the suggestion of the 21+ w/ Freya+ which is a move that I've been pondering.
     
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  8. Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hamburg, Germany
    I upgraded from the 701 to the 1100 and I am very happy. While I was very happy with the 701 the 1100 is a way beefier and more powerfull amp. Definetly an upgrade and worth the investment.
     
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  9. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Hi George,
    I like the Yamahas (have had 501, 1000, 1100 and 2100 in my systems), but still I recommend that you keep an open mind towards alternatives, too. You may find a brand that suits you even better.

    About the difference between 1100/2100 versus 801 etc: I'd consider the 801 slightly grayish sounding in comparison, but in fact probably more 'technically correct', and a bit punchier in the mids (as mentioned by @Helom above) however the 1100/2100 can do colorful and lush in a way that can be just magical in the right system. Lower mids seem slightly recessed which may or may not suit specific recordings. The headphone amp in the 2100 is extremely good. Would you be able to make use of the balanced design of the 2100? (That is to say: will you be using xlr cables?) That could make the 2100/2200 more interesting.

    Some brands to consider with your B&Ws (selection seems random, but these are brands I tried succesfully in the past when I had B&Ws):
    Primare (I like the older I30 integrated, or their separates Pre30/A30.2)
    Classé
    Simaudio Moon
    Quad separates
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  10. DaleClark

    DaleClark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bexley, Ohio
    I think you have a wonderful system. Just my 2 cents, I would save and make a giant leap (as3200).
     
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  11. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    Location:
    USA
    Not sure what you mean by "saturated" tones"? Would that be like a sax?
     
  12. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Some would call it “color,” but it’s not that exactly. Yamaha voiced the amps to sound similar to their guitars and pianos. It’s a rich and fleshed-out timbre and tone. If you happen by a Guitar Center, go in and play/strum some of the non-Yamaha acoustic guitars, then play a Yamaha and you’ll hear what I’m referencing.
     
  13. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    Location:
    USA
    So, sort of like a lot of even harmonics along with the pure notes?
     
  14. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for this info. Your point about the 1100 being less forgiving of poor recordings is especially helpful, as I have a lot of historical CDs, many 80s CDs that don't sound that great, even with my 801.

    Thanks again, I am SACD/CD only, so this would not be a factor for me.
     
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  15. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Sort-of, but without the wavy phase anomalies that even-order harmonics can cause. So not like a tube amp if that’s what you’re getting at. It’s the sonic equivalent of a TV with the color saturation turned up a few notches. The character is also present in their grand pianos.
     
  16. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    Location:
    USA
    In my experience, the flip side of "less forgiving of poor recordings" is "more revealing (and thrilling) with virtually everything else." Not a hard choice for me, but we all differ. My take on Yamaha (although I have not heard the latest iterations of the 1000-3000 series that came out recently), is that they way-over-deliver at the 501-801 level, due largely to good design, production scale efficiencies and above average parts quality. Above that price, where success starts to become less about returns to scale, and more about "talent" and personal inspiration (eg, Pass, Conrad-Johnson, John Curl, Dan D'Agostino, and going way back, Saul Marantz), Yamaha isn't quite as compelling. Don't get me wrong, fine products, but usually you can do better for the same money if you look around. By the same token, the 801 is tough to beat for $899. I agree with @Helom that the 1000 series would be more of a lateral move, unless you need a phono stage.
     
  17. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    That is my experience too. However, more than half of my collection is made up of historical classical and recordings, 80s CDs that sound fair and some modern recordings.

    For me, this is good news, for the 1000 (or 2000, 3000) would mean not only a lot of money spent, but also I'd have to negotiate getting a new system rack with my girlfriend and I'd need to sell the 801, as I no space to store it.
     
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  18. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC


    In the comments, Sean from Zero Fidelity had this to say:

     
  19. ChrisR2060

    ChrisR2060 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    In audio, upgradetitis can only be cured with getting better gear... I would look for tube preamp into solid state with bw
     
  20. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    Location:
    USA
    Funny, so is my collection, but for the most part, I prefer the first CD releases. I'm a fanatical collector of the Keith Hardwick Maria Callas transfers on EMI 1985-1992, as well the first CD release of the 1950s era Karajan and Fricsay Mozart operas on EMI and DG respectively, Giulini's Don Giovanni etc. The first release Decca CDs of Ansermet's orchestral and smaller scale works have never been improved upon by later remasters, and I would say the same for Klemperer on EMI. Actually, here's my real point -- to me even the ones that are not so great -- mostly the Karajan orchestral and chamber works on EMI, including the disastrous Dennis Brain Horn Concertos, still sound better to me with every "more revealing" upgrade. It's a question of adapting your expectations, and in a sense, you auditory system. That said, the 801 is a really fine amp, one that more than acceptable with these earlier CDs. What I guess I mean, is that I wouldn't hold off getting upgrades just because you have a lot of the early CDs. They will sound very nice on more revealing gear. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy!
     
    George P likes this.
  21. rill

    rill Well-Known Member

    Location:
    PA
    I'm beginning to think these new amps are very different sounding from the 1100,2100 and 3000. I own the 801, 2100 and the 3000 and I wouldn't use any of those adjectives to describe the 2100 and 3000. Definitely not forward and if anything quite smooth. I also disagree with the 801 being more forgiving than the other two.
     
  22. George P

    George P Notable Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks. Can you say more about how the 801 compares to the 2100?
     
  23. rill

    rill Well-Known Member

    Location:
    PA
    Well, I bought the 801 first and it is pretty good. The bass is punchy, but given the smaller power supply, it just doesn't have the weight and authority of the bigger amps. In addition, I find the midrange to be thinner sounding, lacking that bloom that the 2100 and 3000 have. I'd also have to say, the bigger amps also have a cleaner sound with less grain than the 801.

    The 2100 is the real sweet spot in the line. The 3000 is a little better, but its real diminishing returns. I bought the 2100 and 3000 as refurbs from accessories4less.com and saved a ton. They were both in perfect condition.

    One final thought, I remember you talking about being space limited in that cd player thread. These are definitely bigger, at least deeper than the 801. Also a good bit heavier. As you mentioned above, a new rack will be required...
     
  24. nyrjoe

    nyrjoe Member

    Location:
    New York
    I’m wondering too if the 1200 and up are voiced with more of an upper mid, lower treble bump than the previous series? This as I’m considering a new 2200 at @25% off list or a Yamaha factory refurb A-S3000 at nearly %50 off list. Was leaning towards the 2200 but seeing too many borderline comments about this series and it’s upper-mids, lower treble. Anyone hear both series that can offer up some insight?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
    George P likes this.
  25. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
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