It’s difficult to know where the sweet spot between price, quality and performance lies, isn’t it? There’s so much choice. Too much, perhaps. So many brands and models purporting to have the right answers for you and your system and, when it comes to anything audible, personal taste is a serious factor making things even more complicated.
But all is not lost, every now and then something unique emerges, something which ticks all the boxes and will find a way to satisfy pretty much everyone. Even the most discerning aficionado! Today, we are taking a look at one of those very products. A verifiable sweet spot that manages to please, regardless of which angle you observe it from.
The Yamaha A-S801 Integrated Amplifier is a good all-rounder of an integrated amplifier from a trusted and experienced brand. It’s Yamaha’s latest amplifier, which fits into the range between the “lower models” such as the A-S701 and A-S501 and the higher-end amps A-S1100 and A-S2100. While all of the aforementioned are excellent amps in their own right, they have been out for a very long time, and a long time in the hi-fi world usually connotes some serious advancements have been missed out on.
So, enter the Yamaha A-S801, an amp which takes more from its higher-end predecessors in terms of technology, but still sits at the very comfortable mid-range price of £899. In terms of design, the chassis has a double bottom with a 1mm iron plate and the power transformer and heat sinks are stabilised by an ART (Anti-Resonance and Tough) base, all of this works alongside a solid centre bar. The result is an incredibly high level of resonance dampening, resulting in a clearer signal and overall improved sound.
In order to handle the more demanding audio signals, only the highest quality parts (including “a custom-made power transformer, custom-made block capacitors, two direct signal path speaker relays, one point grounding system and aluminium extruded heat sinks”) have been used – with each carefully selected and tested before being used.
One of the best things about the Yamaha A-S801, however, is its ToP-ART Design concept:
“ToP-ART Design (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) and ART Base ensure optimum sound processing, transmission of the audio signal is simple and direct reducing the chance of it being affected by noise and distortion. Yamaha’s ToP-ART technology features an I/O (input to output) Direct Symmetrical Design, with left and right channels organised in a straight, symmetrical layout for highest signal purity.”
Other features include its electronic volume (with a tactile analogue control) for continously variable loudness, a USB DAC (ES9010K2M with ESS technology) function which supports 2.8MHz/5.6MHz DSD native resolution and PCM 384kHz/32-bit reproduction. It is also wonderfully versatile, catering for a variety of hook ups, with terminals for two separate speaker systems as well as a subwoofer and even a terminal for connecting a turntable with an MM phono cartridge.
For what technologies, features and benefits the Yamaha A-S801 has, it’s clearly closer in every way to Yamaha’s higher end amps than the lower end ones. And yet, it remains at a very comfortable price at under £1000. A verifiable sweet spot, and a contender at every level.
Like what you see? Click here to take a closer look (including the full tech specs).