Am­pli­fier of the Year un­der $1000

Am­pli­fier of the Year un­der $1000

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When we re­viewed this smart am­pli­fier back in our June-July is­sue, we spent much of our time try­ing to work out what was wrong with it. It’s loaded with net­work­ing abil­i­ties in­clud­ing Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth, AirPlay, Spo­tify and all the ben­e­fits of Yamaha’s Mu­sicCast mul­ti­room sys­tem; it even looks pretty good, pre­sented with the de­sign cues of Yamaha’s finest stereo com­po­nents. Yet the price is just $699. Some­thing has to give, right?

Of course there is more avail­able in the world of am­pli­fi­ca­tion in terms of sheer drive and head­room, and those seek­ing the finest ex­pres­sion of mu­sic may wish to ex­pend fur­ther funds up Yamaha’s range of stereo hi-fi. Yet it’s a mat­ter of some won­der that Yamaha can de­liver so much in the way of con­nec­tiv­ity at this price, and still here in­clude am­pli­fi­ca­tion of a power and qual­ity that proved able to drive all but dif­fi­cult speak­ers with dy­nam­ics and mu­si­cal­ity. It quotes 2 × 100W into eight ohms, though mea­sured with an al­lowance of 0.2% THD, a lit­tle high by hi-fi am­pli­fier stan­dards, so the more di­rectly com­pa­ra­ble fig­ure would be rather lower.

Mean­while, look what you get. It has six phys­i­cal au­dio in­puts in all — four ana­logue line-level (in the US they get a turntable in­put, a dis­ap­point­ing omis­sion here for vinyl lovers), and two dig­i­tal in­puts, one op­ti­cal, one coax­ial. So the only ob­vi­ous omis­sion be­sides turntable is USB, with nei­ther USB-B for a com­puter nor a USB-A slot for plug­ging in sticks, drives or a smart de­vice.

The back panel also has a sin­gle an­tenna con­nec­tion for the DAB+/FM in­cluded — there’s no AM here, but in­ter­net ra­dio can be eas­ily ac­cessed through its Mu­sicCast abil­i­ties. As de­scribed else­where, Mu­sicCast is Yamaha’s stream­ing/mul­ti­room plat­form, with app con­trol, ac­cess to stream­ing ser­vices, Blue­tooth (both re­ceiv­ing and send­ing), AirPlay and net­work mu­sic shares. If you have more than one Mu­sicCast unit in the home, you can share by group­ing rooms for play­back.

There are two sets of speaker out­puts, though to run two sets at once (not that we ever sug­gest do­ing so), Yamaha spec­i­fies speak­ers of 16 ohms and higher, and eight ohms even if you use only one set of speak­ers; a re­stric­tion worth not­ing “to avoid over­heat­ing” Yamaha says.

As a rel­a­tively bud­get am­pli­fier, then, Yamaha is giv­ing you a huge amount for your money here; it’s an en­try-level tri­umph. More info:

JUDGES’ COM­MENT “Re­mark­able at the price, given it comes loaded with abil­i­ties in­clud­ing the Mu­sicCast stream­ing & mul­ti­room plat­form, and still de­liv­ers a clean mu­si­cal out­put.”

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