We think the Yamaha A-S2000 looks brilliant. Wooden panels flank the amp’s metal body, giving it an old-school vibe. On the front, moving parts exude quality. Twist the volume, tone and balance dials and you’ll find them reassuringly weighty. The power toggle goes flick; the input dial goes clunk. Putting on music becomes a ceremony not unlike preparing for take-off.
Oh, and it’s also built like a tank. This is a solid, hefty amp, weighing nearly 23kg. Talk about perceived value.
The remote control is just as encouraging as the main unit. It’s a lovely wand of ergonomic plastic and metal with a simple layout that won’t make you want to fling it at the wall.
Smooth. Too smooth…
It’s time to stop fondling the machine. We settle down to listen, and get started with a CD of The xx’s Islands.
We often use this quite unforgivingly sparse track to try and trip up amps and CD players with their timing and dynamics — but the Yamaha gets by just fine, making the most of the stop-start structure of the song.
The amp sounds every bit as muscular as it looks. Armed with 100W per channel, the Yamaha suggests a great sense of scale. Load up something foreboding like Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack from The Dark Knight and the introduction sounds effortlessly epic.
It’s a relaxed sound on the whole, however, and doesn’t quite convey the sense of Gotham City’s impending plight. In fact, whatever we listened to was rich and weighty, capped with a veneer of smoothness and refinement..
This goes well with Norah Jones, but not so much with Daft Punk. Sometimes you just need a bit of bite and bile, and this Yamaha is too relaxed to give it.
Push it hard, and the occasionally thin treble gets a little sharp. This is a laid-back amp — arguably a lazy one -more suited to casual background tasks.
Plug in some headphones and it’s a similar experience. It’s a capable but relaxed amp that doesn’t seem to try awfully hard to engage or entertain you. If anything, the sound is a touch thinner than when put through some speakers.
The Yamaha has a built-in phono stage, and can handle moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges. Switching between the two is a breeze. The simple toggle on the front of the machine means there’s no need to open the lid and poke at the circuit board as the Audio Analogue demands.
Our findings are consistent as we switch over to some turntables. While the MC input is punchier and weightier than MM, the amp’s character remains.
The Yamaha A-S2000 has a lot of things going for it. Its fantastic design and build deserve all the praise we can throw at them. But we can’t say the same for its sound. As much as we love the look and feel of the machine, there are more entertaining amps for the money.
Power output 100W per channel • Inputs 4 x line in, MM phono, MC phono, tape loop • Outputs 2 x speakers, headphone, preamp, tape loop • Remote Yes • Dimensions (hwd) 23 x 16 x 12cm, 23kg
FOR: Lovely design and build; tone and balance controls; smooth, rich sound
AGAINST: An overly relaxed sound that never really engages
VERDICT: Attractive and powerful, but its laid-back sound puts it behind the competition