Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier Page 2

The amp has two sets of balanced and four unbalanced line inputs, plus the phono stage, and there's also a single line-out, preamp outs and direct power amp inputs. The speaker terminals, machined from brass and shaped to allow them to be tightened down well onto spades or bare wires alike, are especially impressive, and the amplifier also has the usual complement of remote options, with cabled inputs and outputs and a 12V trigger connection.

A switch to set automatic standby completes the rear panel roster, but this is only of passing use, as it waits eight hours before powering the amp down – oh well, better than an over-short period, I guess. Oh, and there's a miniature USB port to be found on the amp's back panel, but it's only there for service purposes.

sqnote Made To Measure
Emblazoned on the front of every Yamaha hi-fi product used to be the legend 'Natural Sound'. That may be missing here, but it's very much what you get from the A-S3200 – a presentation that at first seems very understated, but swiftly creates a growing realisation of 'rightness', combining ease of listening with true musical involvement.

621yam.remThe iron fist here is very much clad in the finest of kid gloves, as is clear as soon as music is played through the amplifier using a variety of analogue sources. Driving PM's resident B&W 800 D3 loudspeakers [HFN Oct '16] exceptionally well, the dense mix of Yes's 'Yours Is No Disgrace' [The Yes Album; Rhino Atlantic download] was delivered with plenty of drive and bite, but all in a very mature and measured manner. The sound communicates directly, with bass, drums and all instruments rich and warm, with impressive bass growl.

Yes, there are more revealing amps, but they can make the odd, edgy recording sound harsh and irritating. Not so the A-S3200, even with Big Audio Dynamite's 'Medicine Show' [This Is Big Audio Dynamite; Columbia 88697482392] at high volume levels, the presentation is focused and clear, and with every element easily heard. And yet it pounds along catchily, the A-S3200 doing that trick of keeping control without being controlling.

The New York Philharmonic/Boulez recording of Ravel's La Valse, from Boulez Conducts Ravel [Sony Classical SS 89121], is dramatic right from the opening low chords; the sound is lush but with so much insight into the orchestra, and faultless soundstaging. The strings sound silky, but the bass rumbles the room without calling attention to itself. And when the timpani kick in, wow, there's nothing polite or oversmoothed there as, instead, the instruments sound totally natural.

Slam Dunk
With ELP's Ginastera-based 'Toccata' [Brain Salad Surgery; Sanctuary/Universal 5308195], the A-S3200 delivers magnificent slam, with the trio so tight, and superb bass power. I've rarely heard PM's reference B&W speakers so well controlled – and we've used them on the end of some very serious amps in the past. The sense of drum skins in Carl Palmer's kit is remarkable, and you can almost hear the oscillators working in Emerson's synths, with Palmer driving hard and the synths going off like a firework display. Magnificent stuff!


Two-part frame features a secondary copper-plated chassis supporting a substantial PSU with custom 625VA toroid, 4x22,000µF caps and 2.7mm2 wiring [centre]. MC/MM phono stage is separately screened [top right]

Then there's the immaculately-produced pop of Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's Up From The Dark set [Rykodisc RCD 10011]. Here the A-S3200 does a fine job with the vocals and the multiple layers of instrumentation, and also proves more than capable of getting a shift on when the music switches from wistful to hard-driving. Those characteristics are also heard to good effect on Queen's 'Doing Alright', from the band's eponymous first album [Island UIGY-15011]. Here the opening is delicate and well-judged, the mid-section tight and jazzy, and then the track slams into flat-out rock. The Yamaha A-S3200 delivers all the power anyone could want, but does so with absolute refinement.

It's no surprise, then, that the New York Philharmonic/Bernstein recording of Britten's 'Sea Interludes' [from Sony Classical SS 87981] is an absolute tour de force for the Yamaha flagship, from the sparkling, clanging bells and beautifully rendered strings of the 'Sunday Morning' interlude to the focused chaos of the 'Storm', all drama in the strings and percussion, and a rolling, menacing undertow in the brass that tingles the spine.


Hi-Fi News Verdict
The idea that Yamaha amps are all about smooth lushness is swiftly dispelled when the A-S3200 is heard working in anger: this is a fast, dynamic and mighty exciting amp that carries its sonic armoury with total ease. It cruises through gentle chamber, jazz or easygoing pop, but is also able to unleash massive power without missing a beat or breaking a sweat. Add in the sheer quality of the whole enterprise, and it's a bit of a star.

Yamaha Corporation
Supplied by: Yamaha Music Europe GmbH (UK)
0844 811 1116