Founded by Torakusu Yamaha, back in the late 1800’s, Yamaha had its beginnings making reed organs. Today, Yamaha is one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments, well recognized worldwide for its pianos, string and percussion instruments. Grounded in music, even the company logo features three tuning forks overlaid in a circle. Along with instruments, Yamaha produces audio/video products; from A/V receivers to loudspeakers through to streamers and headphones. Yamaha has seven integrated amplifier models; second from the top sits their A-S2100 ($3,499 US) superseded only by their flagship A-S3000 ($6,999 US). NOVO’s Glen Wagenknecht reviewed the less expensive A-S801 integrated amplifier in 2015. I though, had never evaluated a Yamaha audio component and wondered, could a company so accomplished with musical instruments capture such musical verve in its top-line integrated amplifiers?
Yamaha created the A-S2100 to satisfy discerning listeners…both audiophile and musical lovers alike. Built like a tank, weighing at over 50 lbs given its massive EI power transformer and filter caps (22,000µF x 4), it has a mid-‘70s aesthetic. Real wood side panels finished in a piano gloss black lacquer give tribute to the company’s piano heritage, while front VU / peak power meters add panache to the retro-chic style. A 5mm thick aluminum faceplate comes in brushed black or silver. The volume, source selector, bass/treble knobs are made of real aluminum, exemplifying its quality. The Yamaha A-S2100 eschews an integrated DAC in favour of a Moving-Magnet (MM) / Moving-Coil (MC) phono-stage for turntables. A front headphone jack is connected to a discrete head-amp circuit with its own trim level and possible speaker connections include A, B or A+B.
On the back, the A-S2100 has three stereo sets of single-ended (RCA) input jacks, phono (RCA) jacks, an in/out (RCA) tape loop, and a single stereo set of balanced (XLR) inputs. In addition, there is also a Pre-Out if you’d like to connect the A-S2100 to an external amplifier. There is also a Main-In, allowing the A-S2100 to be used as a dedicated amplifier, by-passing its preamplifier section. Though impressively equipped with inputs/outputs that are well laid out, it was the solid brass, seriously overbuilt five-way speaker binding posts that had me floored – talk about hiding the jewels. Another surprise was found on the bottom, where well-built vibration insulating feet are convertible to spikes via removable magnetic pads, and adjustable for levelling – talk about attention to detail. A svelte brushed aluminum faced handheld full-function remote is also supplied.
Without getting heavily into the electronic design and believe me there’s much to be said, I’ll sum it up in a few sentences. The Yamaha A-S2100 is a symmetrical balanced floating A/B MOSFET design with low noise, to facilitate pure transmission of signal. Output power is 90 Watts/channel (8 Ω) and 150 Wpc (4Ω). Within the A-S2100 lies a massive EI custom built transformer mounted with brass washers for vibration control. The preamplifer circuit of the A-S2100 is the same as that of Yamaha’s flagship A-S3000; it is fully balanced from input to output.
I evaluated the Yamaha with a MOON by Simaudio 280D DAC and MiND player as the digital source, with digital files from my PC and also streamed from Tidal HiFi. My resident VPI Scout turntable was the analog source and cables were all Nordost Heimdall 2. I primarily used my Audio Physic Scorpio 25+ loudspeakers but also tried my Focal Electra 1008 Be monitors with the A-S2100.