For all the fun an elaborate surround sound set-up can be, there’s something alluring about the simplicity of a well-assembled, properly set up stereo rig. It’s a notion that, outside of audiophile circles, seems to have been forgotten since the early 1990’s. As with fashion, however, everything old will one day become new again. And it seems Yamaha is ready to meet that trend head-on with a pair of new upscale stereo components. Today, Yamaha announced the availability of its flagship A-S3000 integrated amp and A-S3000 CD/SACD player (which, by the way, plays digital audio files, too).
If the A-S3000 sounds as good as it looks, then it could end up making some serious waves this year. The two-channel integrated amp is designed around simplicity, with just enough analog-inspired flare to get those of us who remember the glory days of analog audio salivating. Front and center – right where you’d expect to see glowing blue LEDs showing input names, surround decoding modes, and volume digits – we find two large, analog VU meters ready to dance along with the power fluctuations as the amp feed your speakers with high-current amplification.
The amp is outfitted with eight inputs, including not one, but two stereo balanced inputs, two line-level inputs, one for “main direct,” and one each for CD, Tuner, and Phono. The phono input is switchable to accommodate turntables with either moving magnet or moving coil cartridges. To the left of the basic tone control and balance knobs, we see a switch for VU meter display type (off, peak, or VU), A and B speaker switching and a trim knob for a high-end headphone output.
The interior of the A-S3000 is over-built and super-robust, with a massive toroidal power transformer front and center. Sitting just behind the transformer are some massive-looking storage capacitors. Yamaha touts the amp’s 1/4-inch thick top panel made of non-magnetic aluminum plate and “comprehensive low impedance design,” with the shortest possible signal paths and an all-copper chassis. As amps go, the A-S3000 is dead sexy. And it needs to be, because Yamaha has priced the A-S3000 at $8,000.
To accompany the A-S3000, Yamaha offers the CD-S3000 CD/SACD player. Yes… a CD player. Some of us still keep the little sound frisbees around. (Some of us even have a little collection of increasingly rare but sweet-sounding SACDs hanging out.) But for audiophiles with roots planted in the 21st century, Yamaha also provides a USB input for digital audio files which can be routed through the player’s top-notch 32-bit ESS SABRE32 Reference DACs.
Yamaha repeatedly uses the word rigid to describe the CD mechanism as well as the rest of the player’s design. Indeed, the same thick copper chassis is used, and the interior of the player looks more like a high-end amplifier than it does a CD player. Perhaps that’s part of why this piece will run you a cool $7,000. Hey, being an audio-nut ain’t cheap, y’all.
Those 4K/Ultra HD and OLED TV’s are starting to look a little more affordable now, aren’t they?