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Not Your Father’s Yamaha: First Impressions of the Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier

At $7499, Yamaha’s flagship stereo integrated amplifier for 2020 pays homage to the company’s heritage. Check out part 1 of our review.

Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier (Silver) Angle

The morning of March 19th, 1983, was a very special moment in my life. It was the day I ascended the bimah at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto and became a man after reading from the Torah. I attended Hebrew school for almost a decade so the act of reading from the Torah was something that became part of my daily life. The second best part of that day was schlepping my parent’s stereo from the living room upstairs to my bedroom on the 3rd floor and spending the rest of the night losing my audiophile cherry to a Yamaha CA-2010 Integrated Amplifier. 

Yamaha CA-2010 Integrated Stereo Amplifier (1977)
Yamaha CA-2010 Integrated Stereo Amplifier (circa 1977)

I was strange back then too. 

It was no secret to my father that I had coveted his stereo for many years and what did he expect when I had spent my childhood inside a stereo store? 

Bay Bloor Radio was my Disney World. Outside of Maple Leaf Gardens, it was my favorite part of Toronto growing up and where I spent far too much of my time. When I started earning money on my own as a teenager, it became my candy store. 

When the old man decided to upgrade his existing system to something far more expensive with bright blue meters, I was offered the family stereo as my Bar Mitzvah present. 

The Yamaha CA-2010 could be operated as either a class A or class AB amplifier and I did stick with the more powerful option as my Celestion Ditton 33 MK II loudspeakers (87 dB, 8 ohms) just sounded that much better with Rush, Talking Heads, the Who, and the vast majority of movie soundtracks that I enjoyed listening to.

The Yamaha had very low levels of distortion and a really open presentation that made the somewhat clinical sounding Ditton 33 MK II come alive. It was a fantastic combination that I kept for over a decade. 

I listened to it almost every single night. When I went abroad to Israel for a few months, I asked my mother to turn it on a few days before I came home to make sure it sounded good. 

The phono section was the best part by far. It was designed to work with both low output moving coil cartridges and moving magnet; and it showed a particular level of favouritism to the Denon DL-103.

Over time, I added a used Nakamichi tape deck, Thorens turntable, and Sansui and Magnum Dynalab FM tuners. By the time I left for college, I was already using a Pioneer laserdisc player as my CD player. 

It was also the last time I had a Yamaha amplifier in my system. 

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Yamaha A-S3200SL Integrated Amplifier (Silver) Front
Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier (2020 flagship model)

Fast forward almost three decades and I find myself staring at the glowing meters of the Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier.

The A-S3200 is a rather solid piece of metal. It required two hands and focus removing it from the box.

Nobody wants to drop a $7,499.95 amplifier.

The Yamaha A-S3200 outputs 100 watts/channel into 8 ohms which doesn’t seem like a lot of power for a $7,499.95 amplifier but I’ve never had to turn the volume up that high with the 3 loudspeakers that are currently being used with it. All 3 love the drive, midrange resolution, and finesse that this integrated amplifier can deliver. 

None of the loudspeakers are very difficult loads; I’m rather certain that anyone who tries this amplifier with loudspeakers that are very difficult loads is in for a nasty surprise. 

Don’t be that guy. 

Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier Rear

It also has a really good phono section. I’ve run three high-quality cartridges through it so far and the A-S3200 has never disappointed.

It also faces a lot of competition from Luxman, McIntosh, Cambridge Audio, and Pass Labs for sure.

It doesn’t have the explosive energy of the Cambridge Audio Edge A ($6,000); but they are both forward sounding presentations that work really well with more laid-back sounding loudspeakers. The Edge A carves out very specific images with almost every loudspeaker that I’ve tried with it. The A-S3200 is less sharp around the edges but rather impressive reproducing the piano. Classical music and the A-S3200 are a fantastic combination; strings and the piano have both texture and a natural sounding level of decay.

The Edge A offers a high-resolution DAC instead of a phono stage.

I’ll have more to say in January, but the Yamaha A-S3200 has taken me back to the beginning of my audio journey; and in a year filled with pandemic, stress, illness, and moments of depression and isolation – I’m very grateful. 

For more more information see the A-S3200 product page at yamaha.com.

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Get an overview and comparison of Yamaha’s A-S3200, A-S2200, and A-S1100 integrated amps here.

Available now in silver or black:

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