The A-S2000 puts Yamaha squarely back into high-end audio territory.

It’s a matter of no small concern to me that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy a two-channel amplifier bearing the name of a major multinational manufacturer yet it’s equally highly satisfying to find that there are several major multinational manufacturers still building two-channel audio amplifiers. And if this sounds contradictory, it is. But that’s a good introduction for Yamaha’s newest*—and best!—two channel amplifier because although it’s thoroughly modern, it’s been derided by many for its so-called ‘retro’ looks, which hark back to the décor of the 80s. [*As the result of Yamaha releases since this review was originally written, this is no longer the case. Please see the "Stop Press" paragraph at the conclusion of this review...Editor]

The Equipment

In my books, the A-S2000 integrated amplifier is a good-looker! Unfortunately, because Yamaha has decided that brushed aluminium would look classy, it doesn’t look nearly as good in any of the photographs I’ve seen as it really does in the flesh (because brushed aluminium is notoriously difficult to capture on film or in pixels)—so by all means use whatever photos accompany this review as a guide, but my advice is to take the time to check one out in a store for yourself. And while you’re there, try picking it up! It tips the scales at nearly 23kg, most of which is due to the enormous weight of the power transformer. Yep, Yamaha has gone the true ‘audiophile’ route and eschewed a switch-mode supply in favour of a traditional linear supply. However, it isn’t a typical linear supply, because I understand that Yamaha is using constant current/constant voltage supply rails. Neither is the amplification circuitry entirely traditional. Rather than provide a standard unbalanced circuit, Yamaha’s A-S2000 is completely balanced, all the way from its gold-plated XLR inputs to (just before) its large gold-plated speaker terminals. Although this type of circuitry is often found on high-end audiophile power amplifiers, Yamaha claims the A-S2000 is ‘the world’s first integrated amp to offer full stage balanced transmission’—and I’m not about to argue. And never you mind if you don’t have a source component with balanced outputs: there are standard unbalanced outputs on the A-S2000 as well.