First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Absolute power corrupts not at all.
- Beautiful retro styling, powerful, versatile, dedicated headphone amp
- Heavy enough to destroy an A/V rack (but that's a good thing, right?)
Exacting build quality and retro styling make the A-S2000 feel like a vintage model from the 1970s. Everything internal is nice and modern, however, resulting in a clean analytical sound that's able to be pushed to incredibly (and we mean incredibly) loud volumes without the slightest hint of distortion. Just don't try to move it around without a pal.
Price$ 2,299.00 (AUD)
Yamaha's A-S2000 dedicated amplifier is a jack of all trades, with balanced and unbalanced inputs, A/B speaker outputs as well as a dedicated headphone circuit. It manages to deliver a ridiculously large amount of power and no evident distortion. Build quality is exemplary and we appreciated the retro styling, as well as the noticeable weight.
On first looks you could be forgiven for mistaking the A-S2000 for one of Yamaha's vintage models like the CA-600 or CA-800 from the 1970s. It has the same brushed aluminium fascia, covered with a modest range of perfectly weighted switches and dials. You'll find the volume dial (always the largest, naturally), a switch to toggle between primary and secondary speakers, a dial to flick between seven different inputs including balanced and unbalanced, bass and treble rocker switches — the list goes on.
Another nod to past models is the heavy switch to turn the amplifier on and off, a far cry from the somewhat-uninspiring buttons found on the majority of modern amplifiers. Your house guests will most likely take pity on you for not having whiz-bang flashing blue lights and disco balls, but the A-S2000 trades on understated brilliance.
Equally impressive is the internal circuitry. The unit's power supply is more complicated and sophisticated than usual, and it is able to maintain constant current and voltage characteristics regardless of the draw from speakers. The volume control, treble, bass and input settings are all isolated from each other; less electrical interference is always a good thing. The system's headphone amplifier is built on a dedicated circuit for clarity. There are plenty of other examples which illustrate the thought put into this model. Every component inside the A-S2000 is designed with the sole intention of providing a clean, linear boost in power.
When it comes to making noise, the A-S2000 won't disappoint. It's able to sustain a gargantuan 150 Watts RMS for each channel at 0.02% total harmonic distortion, with that figure rising to 190 Watts at a higher distortion level. But the fact of the matter is that you simply won't be able to reach these volume levels unless you really, really want to. The by-product of this massive power is a lot of headroom: you don't need to drive the amplifier very hard to get extreme volume levels, and therefore distortion levels from the amplifier are unnoticeable. Even when driving primary and secondary speakers simultaneously the A-S2000 breezes along, with more than enough grunt to handle inefficient speakers.
The amplifier — partly by virtue of its massive power capability and tone controls, and partly by the nature of the components inside — was able to shine with every musical score we threw at it. Rock music sounded rich and enveloping, while classical music had fantastic detail and separation between instruments. Put simply, it's a powerful performer with plenty of inputs that will suit even the most inefficient and power-hungry stereo home audio setup.
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