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Yamaha Flagship Integrated Amp Panned in Review......

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by avanti1960, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    First time in a long time Stereophile has reviewed a Yamaha amplifier. The commentary and measurements are less than enthuiastic, which is surprising to me.
    Yamaha A-S3200 integrated amplifier
  2. Robert Goodison

    Robert Goodison A troubled cure, for a troubled mind.

    Suffolk, England.
    "In no way do I wish to suggest that the Yamaha A-S3200 is less than musical, or that it isn't a bona fide high-end component, but on my standby recordings, I kept thinking about my much-more-expensive reference."

    Comparing a $7.5k integrated amplifier to a $60k+ pre/monoblock amp pairing...
    Maybe a more valid comparison would have been with similar priced equipment - or, as the author acknowledges, conducting the review with easier to drive speakers.
    Maybe the updated review in a different system will yield different results.
  3. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Nothing wrong with a critical review, although I'm thinking:
    1. Those Wilsons may have been a bad choice to test the Yamaha with as they have a difficult load characteristic. Also, it's not a speaker that many of his readers will be familiar with.
    2. Reviewer's preferences seem biased toward expensive boutique equipment; just read some other reviews of his; he seems obsessed with his hugely expensive 'reference' system.
    3. I agree with his observations on the many fundamental problems associated with reviewing hifi gear in general.
  4. Raylinds

    Raylinds Resident Lake Surfer

    One of the most important lesson I learned regarding audio gear is not all components play well together. I had a very highly regarded and expensive phono pre in my system that sounded lackluster. I replaced it for one in the same price range but different topology and my system came to life. Yet I heard the one I replaced in other systems and it shined. If I had been reviewing that original phono pre it would have gotten a poor review that it didn't deserve.
  5. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Costa Mesa, CA
    I read this last night. To echo some of the earlier sentiments, the whole review seemed fundamentally flawed from being based around insanely priced reference components for comparison. Would it make sense to write a review of a Lexus sedan and pan it throughout because it doesn’t live up to the reviewer’s Bentley?
    The Beave, Jerjo, Manimal and 14 others like this.
  6. Clay B

    Clay B Forum Resident

    This review has been discussed on this site and elsewhere since it first appeared. Concensus has been that Jim Austin should never have assigned the review to Serinus, given the latter’s choice of equipment, and that the review itself was not very well done. In the last few paragraphs of the article both reviewer and editor seem to acknowledge that they screwed the pooch and promise us a follow-up review. Unforunately damage done. You don’t always appreciate an Editor like John Atkinson until something like this happens. One can only ponder what might have been had Art Dudley’s been able/felt inclined to accept the editors position when offered.
  7. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig I didn't Choose Farm Life It Chose Me

    Olympia, WA
    Just some points to consider. When using a piece of equipment with other associated components it is possible to get the "rising tide raises all boats" effect, in that the level of performance is elevated of the reviewed component due to it being paired with reference level gear that can show all of its potential. Sometimes you pair inexpensive gear with modest associated components and you don't get to hear what is possible. The flip side of the coin is that hobbyists who buy the component and don't use it with comparable reference level associated gear may not get the same level of sound quality as in the review, and then they feel they have been scammed. Finally, if reference level gear is not used with the component, perhaps you do not hear the flaws and limitations of the review component. This is all a balancing act, and in the end you cannot please all the people all the time.
  8. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    I agree this amp was miss assigned to Serinus. I felt similarly whenever Dudley would get a solid state amp to review. No way was it going to shine in his system, with his bias. Don't get me wrong. I think both reviewers work is/was great, but you have to expect bias to play a part when a reviewer is entrenched in their audio camp.
    Manimal, 342, 33na3rd and 2 others like this.
  9. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    This is not really review, but just a comparison with high end equipment! The value of information is therefore low. It would have been better to compare it with some peers.
    Also, the 3200 has a MM/MC phono stage, which has not even been tried in this test. This makes it an attractive package according to other reviews. Interestingly, the 3200 is available for 5500€ (6600$) in Europe, which adds to its attractiveness!
    luckybaer, Manimal, timind and 2 others like this.
  10. eltigreferoz

    eltigreferoz Forum Resident

    Well, to be fair, we're talking about a $7,000 amplifier--Yamaha's top-of-the-line, reference amplifier. It should be compared to other "reference" gear in that sense--but, yeah, teaming them with speakers that cost over 20k, and not ones that are within the Yamaha's specific pricepoint, is a little specious. But the breadth of pricing among "top-of-the-line" gear is very wide and, at least to me, is hard to wrap my head around.

    Ultimately, the sales of the new Yamaha amps speaks louder than the reviews. I'm sure this is a fine amp that will please a lot of people. Maybe just not someone who, like the writers at Stereophile, get to play with a lot of better, more expensive equipment every day.

    I will say that, having seen this in a shop, this amp is GIGANTIC. When did amps start trending back to being the size of old television consoles? I live in an apartment and this thing would take my entire floor!
    Wimbo, timind, mreeter and 2 others like this.
  11. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    While I have a feeling that I would be extremely happy to own the Yamaha, I will also say that it took a lot of integrity for Stereophile to run a critical review of a big advertiser. I think offering Yamaha another opportunity is also quite fair. Frankly, given the law of diminisng returns, and that $7,500 is not exactly chump change, I think it is fair to compare it to a super high end amp. How else can you assess where it lets off? However, I would also have liked a comparison with a similarly priced Marantz, Mac, or other popular brand amp.
    The Beave, Archguy, Art K and 14 others like this.
  12. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    quadruple like.
    bgiliberti likes this.
  13. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Costa Mesa, CA
    I certainly wouldn’t have minded a critical review if it were a fair comparison. The more apt contrast would have been reviewing Yamaha’s new M series pre and power amps ($10k each) against the reviewer’s own reference gear.
    progrocker, Razakoz, McLover and 2 others like this.
  14. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    My biggest disconnect with this amp is $7000, it started clipping at 110 watts / 8 ohms and restricts the buyer to 4 ohm min speaker impedance through the entire bandwidth.
    A $7K solid state amp should be able to drive more speakers. Some models of Magnepans could challenge this amp.
  15. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    unfortunately the critical comments have merit when you consider other reviews. it is quite common to read that a certain review piece "held its own" or "gave up just a bit of...." when compared to much more expensive products.
    this review did not do that.
  16. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    There are amps in the same league, but a lot smaller and lighter (Class-D). The French seem to be good in this area, for example the Micromega M-One 150, which has almost functions you can think of or a Devialet. All have impressive sound!
    eltigreferoz likes this.
  17. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    Frankly, I'm not sure it would have made much difference. It sounded to me like he didn't like the Yamaha's voicing, which would be quite similar to that of the M series. It's the Yamaha "Natural Sound," which is smooth and to me very euphonic. But, not for everyone,

    It's pretty standard fare to compare tested gear to reference level gear. Jeff Dorgay does that regularly in Tone, and I've found it very helpful. Foe example, when I bought my Harbeth 30s, it was still helpful to know what I was giving up by not going to the Harbeth 40s. What I discovered is that while the 40s are a much more complete speaker, the the 30s gave me all the aspects of the 40s that I wanted most. Going way back to my Kef 103.2, it was helpful to read in High Fidelity magazine that they came surprisingly close to the fabulous for their time Kef 105s, which cost twice as much.
    Archguy, Art K, rednedtugent and 2 others like this.
  18. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    My review? YAMAHA ROCKS!
    Wimbo, Archguy, Manimal and 3 others like this.
  19. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Costa Mesa, CA
    I recognize and very much appreciate that point when it’s more of an apples to apples comparison - like the Harbeth 30s vs 40s comparison. Other folks may disagree, but I didn’t see that to be the case in the present context.

    The funny thing is that the review didn’t say that the Yamaha was a bad product at all in total. It’s the comparison aspect that overshadows the whole tenor of the piece. I walked away from it feeling like the reviewer was bemoaning that his glass was 10% empty rather than being 90% full.
    Manimal, timind, Shawn and 2 others like this.
  20. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    Agreed, $7500 for an integrated amp? It really should be the equal or better of many separate preamp / power amp combinations at that price point. It's tough to say what would be fair for comparison. Certainly it was outclassed by the top end separates used as a reference by the author, but you can't compare it to what most folks would choose as an integrated amplifier offering at say $1000, $2000, and $3000 price points. Beyond that, I would be looking at separates myself.
  21. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Will You Be My Neighbor?

    It was about as bad a thrashing as you are ever likely to see in such magazines. These guys are masters in the art of writing highly negative reviews without literally saying a bad word.
  22. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    A total of about 15 minutes looking at a Stereophile back in the mid/late 90s was enough to last me a lifetime. Falls under my "there are two types of people in this world" category.
  23. Slimwhit33

    Slimwhit33 Forum Resident

    Orange County NY
    I have no skin in this game whatsoever, but if I were Yamaha I would be extremely unpleased with them for publishing this garbage. I've subscribed to Stereophile for years, I read most of the reviews. This is by far the most unprofessional one I have seen. From start to finish Jason botched this. How does a writer do what he did in good conscience? And more importantly, how does an editor let that go to print?

    It actually bothers me so much that I might not re-up the subscription. It just seems like Journo 101 type stuff and I'm just not sure what benefit I get from reading reviews of equipment if the reviewer is going to hook everything into his system that is many multiples of the Yamaha, and then trash the Yamaha for not living up to his reference system. The fact that they acknowledge the obvious problem annoys me even more. They knew the process was egregiously flawed, yet ran the story anyway.

    If I'm Yamaha I cut my ad budget quick.
    Manimal, Razakoz, Scott222C and 6 others like this.
  24. lonelysea

    lonelysea Time Operator

    The North
    I admire the guy’s honesty. Review still doesn’t change my desire to upgrade my 3000 for the 3200, though.
  25. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I will say that I don't much care for SS amplifiers or Yamaha's sound new or old, but let's be at least a little critical of the review.

    The speakers drop to below 2 ohms - integrated amps - even at $7500 have limitations here and it is somewhat silly to be directly comparing this amp to $38,000 amps.

    But step 1 is to try and always review gear that should - at the very least - work well on paper. Speakers that drop below 2 ohms are simply beyond the ken of virtually all integrated amps. Most amplifiers are not rated to or capable of driving 2 ohms let alone speakers that drop below 2 ohm. This pushes the Yamaha well beyond what it was meant to drive.

    Yamaha is a mainstream company that is typically not targeting the kind of buyers who spend $50,000 for Wilson loudspeakers.

    You have to be fair and give Yamaha a fighting chance to perform well here and the fact that it didn't shut down or blow a fuse are points in the amp's favor in my view.

    It makes me want to review the amp so it can drive speakers that won't make it sweat too much so that we can actually hear the sound quality of the amplifier not it huffing and puffing trying to power speakers it just can't handle.

    And yes there are integrated amps like Accuphase which are stable to 1 ohm but are also only 30 watts per channel at 8 ohms and they cost a lot more than the Yamaha.

    The ability to drive low impedance doesn't make an amp sound good - Krell can drive 1ohm but eesh - it sounds like Krell - thanks but no thanks.

    Amplifiers are not all about sound quantity but sound quality and to get the latter you usually have to give up the former. SS or Tubes.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    Bevok, Ingres3225, Razakoz and 8 others like this.

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