YBA Passion IA350A Integrated Amp/DAC

hfncommendedBeing 'designed in France and built with passion', the IA350A integrated amplifier from YBA's Passion series promises high quality with more than a sprinkling of Gallic flair...

Agood hi-fi system should invoke 'passion' in the listener – be that an urge to crank-up the volume, to play an air guitar or wave an imaginary baton. French brand YBA knows this only too well, bestowing this particular moniker on its penultimate lineup of models. Coming in below its Statement units, but above Design, Heritage and Genesis, the six-strong Passion range also includes the PRE550/AMP650 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '18].

Filling the Passion series ranks are the CD430 CD player, CDT450 CD transport, PH150 phono preamp and the £4500 IA350A integrated amplifier we have here, rated at 115W/8ohm. The natural/silver anodised finish seen in our pictures is the only option, by the way, as black versions are not available.

The IA350A is an elegant proposition, offering two unbalanced line inputs on RCAs and one balanced on XLR, labelled CD, Video and XLR, respectively. The 'Video' connection can be reconfigured to bypass the volume control, using a series of commands on the slim remote handset. Sadly, there is no obvious indication of the input setting, so care needs to be exercised here in case the amplifier is left in power amp/full gain mode.

No RIAA phono input is fitted or even available as an aftermarket upgrade, but YBA does offer three suitable standalone phono stages, with its stablemate from the Passion series, the PH150, at £4250.

Defeat Switch
The digital side of the IA350A is a little more comprehensive, with no fewer than five inputs. These include standard coax, a USB-B socket for computer connection, a USB-A port labelled 'iPod', an AES/EBU input and an I2S option via an RJ45 connector. Unusually, it's possible to de-power the digital section via a rear panel switch, an option that YBA claims improves sound quality when using the analogue inputs.


The digital inputs will accept LPCM up to 192kHz/24-bit only – some might bemoan the lack of MQA, DSD or DXD compatibility or consider that perhaps 192kHz isn't sufficiently 'high resolution' for 2019. Personally, I feel there's plenty to tickle the sonic palate at these lower, but still 'high-res', data rates and there was nothing in my digital library the IA350A wouldn't play.

In order to use the USB-B computer input with a Windows PC, a driver must be downloaded from the YBA website. With this installed, the IA350A needs to be reconfigured as the default audio device on your PC and music files 'pushed' using your choice of playback software. Mac users escape this necessity, but I found it to be a straightforward process with no issues.

Dual-Mono Design
On the output side of things, the IA350A offers one set of loudspeaker terminals that will accept spades, 4mm plugs or, indeed, bare-wire connections. A single pair of unbalanced analogue outputs allows the IA350A to be used as a preamplifier, or drive one or two active subwoofers. The amplifier also has a coaxial digital output to feed an alternate choice of DAC.


Internally, the IA350A is dual-mono in design, using two 320VA UI core transformers to feed linear power supplies for each channel. A smaller power supply sits between these for the digital circuitry. The output stage hosts complementary power transistors from ON Semiconductor, designed for high-power audio applications, and these are securely bolted to a chunky heatsink in the centre of the amplifier.

The internal construction of the amplifier is excellent, although this should not come as a surprise bearing in mind that it's built by Shanling in China, which has a proven track record in this regard. The internal wiring is all neat, the CE mark on the rear panel is a valid version and the primary earthing arrangement of the mains input socket is also correct. A handful of manufacturers from this part the world still get it wrong!

sqnote True Grip
For my time spent listening with the IA350A, I partnered it with a Naim CD5 XS CD player, using both its analogue and digital outputs, connected through to PMC Twenty5.24 speakers [HFN May '17]. In this system, the IA350A grabbed my attention from the first bars of music I played. It's the sort of amplifier where you spin a familiar track and suddenly find yourself sitting up and listening as if for the first time. I had it in the back of my mind that the less-than-flat nature of the measured frequency response might endow the unit with an extreme tonal balance, but not a bit of it. The IA350A has a strong, commanding sonic presence but remains faithful to the essence of the musical performance.

Bures sur Yvette, France/Shanling, China
Supplied by: Nintronics Ltd, Herts
01707 320 788