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on October 4, 2015
This review is for the R-S201, in order to avoid any confusion owing to the fact that all amps from this line are reviewed in the same place. PLEASE NOTE that specs on this particular model are fairly deceiving, which I hope will spare some prospective customers some trouble.

I bought this amp a while back because I was trying to create "the perfect budget HiFi" for under $250 using the famous Pioneer SB-BS22-LR speakers. These are pretty power-hungry, which is why I ran into problems with this amp. The specs according to Yamaha are "Maximum Power(8 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD): 100W + 100W". This might sound like adequate power, but the "100W" rating is only possible (again, according to Yamaha's own site) under the condition of allowing for 10% Total Harmonic Distortion. Typical receivers usually like to give ratings at 0.10% THD or less, which is a more accurate picture of power. But basically, the higher the THD quoted, the less "usable" power an amp has. I can tell you the R-S201 does not have 100W of power. I would say it likely has less than half of that, because it couldn't drive the Pioneer's to any reasonable volume without distorting. And by reasonable, I mean loud enough to hear when classical music is playing.

Summing up, if your budget demands you spend no more than what this amp costs, make sure you find speakers that:
1. Have high sensitivity (preferably over 88dB). This is essentially a measure of how loud a speaker will play at a given level of power, higher being louder. Klipsch and Polk Audio come to mind. Micca's (no matter how well reviewed) are not sensitive, so I doubt they'd be any better of a match than the Pioneers.
2. Have an 8ohm nominal impedance rating. This is basically a measure of how easy a speaker is for the amp to drive, lower ratings being more difficult. Again, Klipsch and Polk Audio would probably be better fits.

I don't want this review to look like a hater wrote it. I'm sure it's a perfectly good amp under the right conditions. If you have, or can find, speakers that fit these recommendations, you might have better luck with this amp than I did. But if you're set on, or already have, low sensitivity and/or low impedance speakers, you should consider a more robust amp/receiver - one that hasn't so badly inflated its specs.
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on January 21, 2014
Alright, so now that I've had this for about a month, I feel like I am safe to finally do a proper review.

My set up: PC into this receiver, then to JBL ES20 speakers, and a Polk PSW10 subwoofer.

Pro's:

The sound is exactly what I wanted, clean and crisp with no distortion.

The appearance of this receiver is fantastic, couldn't ask for more

The display turns off when "pure direct" is on (99% of the time for me) looks great this way

The volume allows for very precise tuning, which I really enjoy.

The most common adjustments are right on the front of the unit, easy to get to and simple to adjust.

The connections on the back are the most solid I've seen in some time, easily takes 14awg speaker wire.

The sound, again, seriously. It's really that good.

The con's:

Some items are only adjustable with the remote, or just on the receiver. Should be able to do everything with or without the remote.

Includes sirius capabilities, which is antiquated at this point in time. I don't feel like I paid extra for it, but streaming audio is that much better.

The Ipod port is specific and will not be of use to me, but then again you don't see it unless you look on the back. Just seems like a way to sell you more stuff.

Overall:

I got this receiver as a first step into high-fidelity listening and it is perfect for this. The sound is clean across the spectrum, and will not negatively affect the quality of your input. Paired with lower end bookshelf speakers, I know I can get much more out of it later on when I decide to upgrade.

I looked for a month or so before deciding on this, and having compared it to the same speakers with a different receiver, I can tell you that this receiver creates the cleanest sound in the price range.

I would buy another if I had to, but I would strongly consider the A-S500 on the next go around for my uses. I don't need the display and rarely use it, but this R-S500 was an overall better deal.

One thing to consider here, if you are looking for a simple 2 channel receiver, the R-S500 offers a great deal of clean power, but if you want lots of little things to adjust and program look elsewhere.

**Updated review**

I've now had this receiver for around 2 years or so and I wanted to give an update on my experiences with it. I've since upgraded to much larger and much harder to drive speakers than what I started with and I'm just as happy with it today as when I first wrote the review. Now, to get into the nitty-gritty of the thing.

I've yet to experience any issues with this receiver, and it is in use around 8-10 hours a day on average at moderate levels. My new speakers only run around 5 ohms and are much harder to drive than the 8 ohm bookshelf speakers I was running before, and this receiver is still dishing out clean enough power for moderate listening. It does eventually start breaking up a bit at higher levels of volume, but honestly I wouldn't expect anything more for the money.

The only way I can see upgrading this receiver at this point in time would be to go to a pair of monoblocks, and I congratulate Yamaha on making that happen for this price.
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on March 2, 2017
Looks great,sounds great, and much better reception than my old receiver! I spent a little more to get this one with the 'PHONO' input. Yeah....I know....I could've got a phono pre-amp and run my turntable through the AUX. Just really wanted that vacuum fluorescent display to show 'PHONO' when that's what's playing. Perfect replacement for my twenty-year-old Pioneer setup that had seen its better days.
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on September 28, 2017
I've only be using this receiver for about four weeks, but so far am very happy with it. It's driving a pair of Polk Monitor 70's and a pair of modified Marantz 7MKII old timers. No problem with either set of speakers. Plenty of inputs for components - R2R, cvassette, TT, CD, and computer all play though it.. Obviously not on level with multi-thousand $ units, but very good non the less.
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on June 9, 2017
I am impressed with the clean sound and tonal balance as well as the power of this unit. The tuner pulls in my favorite station, which is some distance away, without audible noise. The controls are easy to use and logical. I am looking forward to getting the Yamaha CD changer soon to go with it. I am using this receiver with Infinity speakers and a 20+ year old NAD CD changer (which still sounds quite nice).
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on February 26, 2015
Pros:
The Yamaha R-S201BL has a lot of power and sounds great as a PC audio system making videos and mp3s sound bigger.There is plenty of bass(depending on the speakers used).The unit has a nice tuner for soft jazz and classical stations.Price is low.Well made looking unit.

Cons:
Let me point out my ears are sensitive due to a condition I have witch may or may not make me a good judge of a reviver`s sound.The best I can describe the sound of this receiver is it seems to lack depth in the mid range.It sounds filtered,witch is why I think it works so well on weaker FM station sound.I also use it for movies,but I am not that happy with it for that,again for the lack of mid range depth.The receiver sounds a little better with a graphic equalizer,but there is no tape monitor button so you are limited on using an equalizer.There is no phono input so you have to use a preamp and the sound is far from warm using a basic preamp.As far as a main music machine for my music collection I will continue using my vintage receiver(I have switches set up so I can switch between receivers using the same speakers) there is no contest the old receiver wins hands down for depth and warmth over the R-S201B.

Summery:
If your looking for a main music machine for your collection go the extra bucks even if you have to pay twice the price of the R-S201B.Find a receiver with a built in preamp for your turntable and tape monitor button so you can add an equalizer in the future.If your looking for a nice sounding stereo radio,or a PC audio system or to play mp3s the R-S201B should be fine.
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on March 1, 2015
Great value for the price. I pushed 4 in ceiling speakers (IW280CWH 6.5 inch Yamaha in ceiling) using the A+B speaker setting. This amp handled them effortlessly. Filled a 20x30 room very well.
I also plugged an iPad/iPhone through the RCA inputs and it sounds great. I was worried about bass sound from some previous reviews and I suspect some may have reversed the polarity on the speakers..if you hook them up right, this systems performs! Keep you "+" and "-" correct and you will have more bass than you can handle!!
Not to mention it just looks cool with black finish and blue lights.
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on August 9, 2015
As expected from Yamaha, sound is clear and warm. The amplifier is more than adequate to simultaneously drive two in-ceiling speakers in our living room, and a single in-ceiling speaker in our kitchen. (This is done a KEF SP3597AA stereo-mono transformer--if you try this at home kids, be sure to protect the receiver's output transistors with suitable resistive loads.)

I have two minor complaints, so I've awarded only four stars. As noted by other reviewers, the large knob is hollow plastic and feels a bit cheap. Also the FM tuner is of merely ordinary sensitivity: it does fine with stations in the immediate vicinity, but probably won't pull in signal from transmitters that are over the horizon.

But these are minor quibbles about a product that offers excellent performance at a more than reasonable price.
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on December 14, 2015
I bought this to use in my shop... I'm pretty dissatisfied all around. First, the tuner section is terrible. Even with a top-rated outdoor antenna on a 10 ft. mast on my 20 ft. roof, reception is weak. On the stations that do come in in stereo, there is an unsettling background noise, almost like a constant horn blasting, or church bells ringing. It's very hard to describe, but the sound is colored. This coloration is not present while listening to external sources, like Pandora or an MP3 player. The most annoying thing about this receiver is the fact that it randomly shuts off for absolutely no apparent reason - very frustrating. And the claimed power rating is very, very optimistic. I had a difficult time getting any volume out of my JBL speakers from the '80s (my old 100w Panasonic receiver from the late '90s would rock these JBLs with a ton of headroom to spare). Out of frustration and curiosity I purchased some Yamaha 3 way speakers with a higher sensitivity rating and the volume got better, but at the expense of overall sound quality. If I had the opportunity to make this purchase again, I would not take it. I'd explore the less expensive but apparently much better Sony receiver that's in the same class.
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on April 23, 2014
I bought the S500 receiver to put into a living room to drive a pair of bookshelf speakers in that room and a pair outside on my patio. One thing that drew me to this receiver was the amount of physical knobs on the unit. Many other stereo receivers in this price range force you to do most of the adjusting via a remote, which for me isn't ideal for what I wanted it for.

Setup was easy and pretty much just was plugging everything in. The power from the receiver is pretty good, but don't expect too much for this price point. On the volume scale, between -20 to -30 dBs seems to be the sweet spot for driving a pair of 91dB sensitivity speakers (Def Tech AW5500).

The remote is just okay...archaic looking but gets the job done.

I'm going to connect an Apple AirPort Express unit to one of the RCA inputs this weekend so I can stream music from my iPad/iPhone to this receiver and control everything from the iPad/iPhone over AirPlay. Stereo receivers that include AirPlay built in are at least $500, so if you are wanting that feature, consider an AirPort Express or AppleTV to achieve it.

I have yet to run A/B pairs of speakers at the same time...my PSB Image 6 bookshelf speakers are coming next week. If the receiver struggles to deliver power to both sets of speakers (indoor/outdoor) while both playing I'll update my review accordingly.

UPDATE:
I ran the indoor and outdoor speakers together for about 6 hours on Saturday and it handled them very well. The Yamaha definitely ran hotter than just driving one pair of speakers but it never led to sound distortion or any overheating fuse trips. Very satisfied!
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