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Yamaha A-S801BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
- 100 W + 100 W (20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.019% THD)
- USB DAC function: DSD (2.8 MHz / 5.6 MHz), PCM (384 kHz / 32-bit), WAV / FLAC
- Gold plated digital coax input/TOSLINK optical input
- Gold plated analog inputs including Phono
- Speakers A, B, A+B
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From the manufacturer
Yamaha A-S801BL Amplifier
Yamaha knows music
As the world's largest musical instrument manufacturer and home theater innovator, Yamaha knows how to make your TV, movies and music their absolute best.
Yamaha A-S801BL Amplifier (Black)
Natural Sound Integrated Amplifier
Enjoy USB DAC functionality coupled with high fidelity. ToP-ART circuitry, Pure Direct, Continuously Variable Loudness Control, gold plated terminals and refined construction come together to offer superior musicality with rich, natural sound.
- 100 W x 2-ch (20 Hz - 20 kHz)
- USB DAC function supports native DSD resolutions (2.8MHz / 5.6MHz) and PCM (384kHz / 32-bit)
- Digital signal indicator shows DSD and PCM playback formats and sampling frequencies
- High efficiency ESS 32-bit DAC (ES9010K2M)
- Digital audio inputs for TV or Blu-ray Disc player
- CD Direct Amplification and Pure Direct
- High strength chassis with double-bottom design
- ToP-ART (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) and high quality parts
- I/O (input to output) direct symmetrical design
- Custom made power transformer / 12,000uF block capacitors / extruded aluminum heat sinks
USB DAC Function
The USB DAC function supports native DSD (2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz) and PCM (384 kHz / 32-bit*) resolutions. This function allows for a direct connection to PCs which opens the door to play back of the highest resolution audio content offered today. The Yamaha-developed USB device controller has its own master clock that eliminates PC jitter. The driver is a low loss, high throughput ASIO 2.3 Yamaha Steinberg USB driver. During playback, indicators on the front panel clearly show which sampling frequencies are currently being used.
Exceptionally High Performance 32-bit D/A Converter
After careful listening evaluations, Yamaha selected the 32-bit, 2-channel SABRE Premier Audio DAC from ESS Technology, Inc. Most notable is its high precision processing power of 32-bit audio along with the ability to handle large amounts of audio data with full PCM 384 kHz and native DSD 5.6 MHz.
Digital Audio Input for TV and/or Blu-ray Disc Player
The A-S801 is equipped for digital audio inputs with an optical and digital coaxial input terminal. The optical is for receiving audio from a TV and the coaxial for receiving audio from a Blu-ray Disc player. The audio stays in the digital domain giving you pure, pristine and dynamic sound for all of your entertainment sources.
With a straight connection to the CD input, CD Direct Amplification maximizes the CD source's signal to noise ratio. Additionally, engaging the Pure Direct mode causes the music signals to travel the shortest possible circuit route, bypassing the buffer amp, the tone, loudness and balance controls to virtually eliminate any signal degradation for the purest sound quality.
Continuously Variable Loudness Control
The A-S801 also features a new analog loudness control on the front panel that uses electronic volume for higher sound quality which lets you adjust the loudness effect as desired. Separate from the overall volume, this controls the balance of the low and high frequencies providing full tonal range at any volume level by compensating for the natural loss in the human ear at soft levels.
A terminal for connecting a subwoofer is provided, allowing you to increase the bass output of your system for a more powerful sound with better overall sound quality.
Gold Plated Terminals
Gold plated terminals ensure a high quality connection that prevents signal loss. The A-S801 has gold plated speaker and input terminals.
Phono Moving Magnet Input Terminal
You can connect a turntable with a MM phono cartridge to play vinyl records. Get the best of both worlds whether listening to analog vinyl or the latest digital technology.
Speaker A, B or A+B Selection and Speaker Terminals for Two Systems
You can connect two separate speaker systems and hear them in different rooms at the same time. There are four terminals, so by just rotating a simple selector dial you can switch between the two pairs of speakers to play the selected source.
|Power (20 Hz - 20 kHz)||100 W + 100 W (0.019% THD)||100 W + 100 W (0.019% THD)||85 W + 85 W (0.019% THD)||60 W + 60 W (0.019% THD)|
|Frequency response||10 Hz - 100 kHz +/- 1.0 dB||10 Hz - 100 kHz +/- 1.0 dB||10 Hz - 100 kHz +/- 1.0 dB||10 Hz - 100 kHz +/- 1.0 dB|
|Pure Direct / CD Direct||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / No||Yes / No|
|Digital inputs (optical / coaxial)||Yes / Yes (Gold plated coaxial)||Yes / Yes (Gold plated coaxial)||Yes / Yes (Gold plated coaxial)||Yes / Yes|
|Phono input||Yes (Gold plated)||Yes (Gold plated)||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/8 inch x 6 inch x 15-1/4 inch||17-1/8 inch x 6 inch x 15-1/4 inch||17-1/8 inch x 6 inch x 15-1/4 inch||17-1/8 inch x 6 inch x 15-1/4 inch|
|Weight||26.7 lbs.||24.7 lbs.||22.7 lbs.||19.8 lbs.|
With high sound quality, ToP-ART circuitry and high stability construction along with incorporating advancements like a USB DAC function for the latest high resolution sound formats, this integrated amplifier delivers superior musicality and powerful, natural sound.
Top customer reviews
Now for the review, I certainly don't consider myself an "audiophile" my expectations are probably "mid-fi" at best and this unit meets my expectations. I have it connected to a pair of SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers. For sources, I have connected a Vizio TV, a PS3 Slim, a Stanton T.92USB Turntable, and a Yamaha YBA-11 Bluetooth Audio Adapter. The PS3 is connected via HDMI to the TV, and the TV optically to the amp's built-in DAC. The Bluetooth Adapter is connected to the DAC as well, via coaxial, and its power is being provided by the included USB connector on the amplifier. The turntable, while offering pretty much every means of connection possible, is being connected to the "Phono" input of the amp via an Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable.
So for the build quality, it has a nice thick and solid brushed aluminium face plate but yes, the knobs are plastic. The controls however do have a nice action to them and work very well. Looking inside, the layout is very nice including dual heatsinks and nice oversized components. Wiring seems to be kept to a minimum and every section is isolated to its own separate circuit board. The circuit and component layout seems to be a pretty thoughtful design. for both short signal paths and serviceability. Around back are a nice set of binding post connectors for both an A and B set of speakers, a permanently attached power cord, impedance switch, a switch to enable an energy saving auto power off (after 8 ours of non-use) plenty of RCA inputs(5), a coax and optical digital input for the built-in DAC plus a USB port to supply 5v power. Please note, you cannot connect a USB audio source to this jack, its for power only. Last but certainly not least, a Phono input suitable for MM cartridges. The included remote, well its functional, but has many small non backlit, hard to read buttons and feels very cheap and plasticy. Its also silver, funny being that the A-S301 is only available in black in the U.S. I wish it matched. Like I said, functional, but kind of disappointing compared to the amp itself.
I've had no problems with the DAC and any of its digital inputs. They sync up and remain connected, and the sound, while some may say is not as good as a standalone unit, sounds very good to my ears, smooth and warm sounding. Personally I think it sounds better than the same inputs on my Marantz NR-1604, a 7.1 receiver that I also own, but my speakers could be coming into play here. The RCA connections are fine, no hum, hiss, or anything bad. As for the phono stage, I've read some reviews that say its not all that great. Well to me with my turntable, (Stanton T.92USB) vinyl has never sounded better. I should mention I upgraded the terrible included cartridge to an Ortofon S-120. Before connecting to this amp, the turntable was connected to my Marantz and I have tried all the inputs. USB to a PC was by far the worst, followed by RCA line level, Coax digital actually sounded a bit better than RCA, go figure. Now using the proper phono input offered by this Yamaha the sound is by far the best. Bass is much more solid, mids are smooth, and highs, which for some reason were always lacking are once again present. I've had the T.92 turntable for years and to be honest have never really liked the sound. This Yamaha is finally making it sound like it should have in the first place. I can only imagine what an upgraded more for listening and not DJ use turntable may bring. So for me, the built-in phono preamp is very much a win.
Finally onto the overall sound. The amp is still "burning-in" as they say, and while I generally don't buy into that, I did notice a difference when I got my replacement. I had used the first one for almost 2 weeks and had come to really enjoy the sound, very neutral, smooth, but articulate and powerful for its class. When I received the replacement, how can I say it, the sound was almost "boxed-in" by comparison. That being said, I now have probably 15 hours on the new one and its already opening up and sounding better and better as time goes on, so be sure to give it some hours of use before passing judgement on the sound. My other amp choices might have been better, but i'll never know. I do feel with music especially, the sound does compare very favorably to my Marantz NR-1604, a more expensive 7.1 unit. The Yamaha just sounds a bit warmer and inviting, especially when pushed. The 60w/ch power rating is probably a bit on the conservative side. The amp has no problems driving my SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers (8ohm, 87db sensitivity, 20-150w recommended power, 6.5" woofer, 1" tweeter) to extremely loud levels if asked.
So to sum it up, the A-S301 offers nice sound, plenty of power, excellent connectivity, and great build quality. The built-in phono stage and DAC are NOT mediocre but actually sound pretty nice to me, and for most may never need to be upgraded. This is a great entry into better than average 2 ch audio. As long as I don't have any issues with the replacement, I hope to be happy for quite some time.
UPDATE 4/10/16 Since this review I have upgraded some of my equipment (my turntable to a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, and just today a U-Turn Audio Pluto phono preamp.) I have been using the Pro-Ject turntable for months and it has been great, a solid upgrade from my old Stanton. This Yamaha continues to work without issue. I wanted to talk about the built-in phono preamp. While many have complained that the preamp was sub par, I disagreed, however had no real basis for comparison. Now I do. I still stand by that the built-in works well, but its not the "end all be all" As I mentioned earlier, I just purchased a U-Turn Audio Pluto preamp due to some very favorable reviews online. After some serious A-B testing, its probably not surprising that the Pluto sounds better, the difference however is not as huge as one might think. Output level is similar enough not to matter. Background noise/hum is a little cleaner on the Pluto. Bass output is comparable as are the highs. Where the Pluto excels is at midbass, much more pronounced than the Yamaha built-in but certainly not too thick or muddy. The resulting sound is warmer and fuller, and in a good way. Certain LPs had an almost brittle or thin sound quality and could be fatiguing at higher volumes when played through the built-in. I'll be keeping the Pluto. All that said, given the price point of this amp, the built in is sufficient and still does a decent job for what it is, although if the purchase of the Yamaha is based solely on inclusion of the preamp (it was for me) just know that going with a dedicated preamp may yeild more pleasant results.
So I mainly use this amp two ways, one is with digital audio from my Macbook Pro using the USB input, and the other is my Sony Blu-Ray player using the coaxial input.
My main worry when I first got this is that it wouldn't be as full as my Luxman L-100. However, using Spotify Premium through my MacBook I have to say that I was really, really surprised about how full it is out of the box. With higher quality Flac files it gets even better, but I can't believe how good Spotify sounds (granted this is on the Premium-only high quality setting)...I have to surmise that the Steinberg plugin in my MacBook and the built-in SABRE DAC are on very nice terms.
I haven't experienced any of the muted tones that the other reviewers have mentioned. I'm wondering if their external digital sources aren't syncing up with the amp. I bought this amp because it had the built in DAC, and with its crazy high frequency and bitrate processing capabilities and ESS roots I don't know why anyone would be pairing the amp with an external DAC. So if you're planning on using your laptop I think the Yamaha would be perfect for you.
On the Blu-Ray front I have to say I have absolutely no complaints. If anything streaming through Netflix, Amazon and Hulu sounds a bit bass heavy so I usually put on the Pure Direct setting. I love full bass, so that says a lot.
The one thing I wasn't sure about at the beginning was the Phono stage. At first it was very thin and I had to apply generous amounts of the Loudness knob to get it sounding like my Luxman did. However, it's finally filled out and sounding like actual vinyl again. It's been well over 100 hours of play, which is a ridiculously long break-in period, but I'm just glad I don't have to buy an external phono stage because I really, really like this amp.
One gripe I have is that the headphone output isn't great. I mainly use my headphones (Shure SE535-V & Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9A) for listening away from home so this isn't a huge problem for me, but I'd recommend a separate headphone amp for someone that's doing a lot of headphone listening at home.
I'd say if you're getting serious about digital hi-fi audio but don't want to give up your vinyl collection and already have a solid set of speakers to pair with this I'd say you can't go wrong with the Yamaha A-S801. And I'd also caution anyone getting into hi-fi digital to do a bit of reading about setup and keep their drivers up to date--it's definitely been a learning experience for me.
Most recent customer reviews
This amp is a good budget amp.Read more