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post #1 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Yamaha A-S801 Integrated Amplifier Official AVSForum Review



This audio appliance packs a lot of 2-channel goodness into its chassis. Its simplified approach makes it an appealing option for budget-minded audiophiles.

-------

Two-channel stereo remains relevant in the era of surround sound since it is the dominant format for music. Many audiophiles feel that a well-tuned 2-channel rig has no equal when it comes to reproducing a live musical performance in their home.

Yamaha's $1000 A-S801 integrated amplifier caters to music lovers looking for a device that offers a lot of 2-channel connectivity and no filler. It's a no-nonsense device in which all settings are user-selectable with knobs on the front panel. It sports a full complement of analog and digital inputs, covering a wide spectrum of stereo sources ranging from turntables to laptops.

Features

The A-S801 outputs 100 watts/channel into 8 ohms with very low distortion (0.019% THD). It's capable of driving 4-ohm speakers and has a frequency response from 10 Hz to 100 kHz +/-1.0 dB, which is well beyond the limits of human hearing.

An ESS Sabre 32-bit DAC supports DSD (2.8 and 5.6 MHz) and PCM (up to 32-bit/384 kHz) audio decoding. A USB connection lets you connect the A-S801 to a Mac or PC. It also sports coaxial and optical digital inputs, but not HDMI.

On the analog side, the A-S801 offers a Pure Direct mode that bypasses the tone controls as well as a CD Direct mode that maxes out the S/N ratio to 104 dB when listening to CDs through a dedicated analog input. It also offers a phono input with a ground. Other analog inputs include one dedicated to a radio tuner and three separate line inputs—two of which feature record-out connections.

The front panel offers complete control over the device using seven knobs and three buttons. It's very simple and straightforward; you don't need the manual to get things working. The A-S801's remote offers input selection and volume adjustment, but it cannot adjust the tone controls or loudness function. However, the remote does offer dedicated controls for Yamaha's T-S500 tuner and various Yamaha CD players.

One of the front-panel knobs is a "loudness" control. Increasing the loudness control boosts the low and high frequencies to compensate for the human-hearing system's lower sensitivity in that range at low volumes. Some people like the effect at higher volumes as well, but it should not be used to compensate for a speaker's weaknesses.

The A-S801 offers a subwoofer output with a lowpass filter set at 100 Hz; the main speakers always get a full-range signal, but the left and right channels are summed and everything below 100 Hz is sent to the sub output as well. It does not offer bass management, but the subwoofer channel is useful if you have a sub with variable phase and crossover controls that allow for proper integration.


The A-S801 has a good number of analog and digital inputs.

There are two sets of speaker terminals, and the A-S801 can drive two pairs of 8-ohm speakers simultaneously. A small knob on the front panels lets you switch between speaker pairs A, B, or A+B—or you can turn them all off. The Speaker A+B mode is also useful for bi-amping speakers that support it. The unit also features a 1/4" stereo headphone jack.

Ergonomics

The A-S801 is a pleasure to use thanks to its simple, thoughtful design. Its knobs look good, feel good, and work together to make basic audio adjustments extremely easy to perform. There is no menu system; you tweak audio settings using the knobs and buttons on the actual device. Then again, if you have a sufficiently good speaker system and room acoustics, you might not ever use the tone controls or the loudness function.

The included remote is functional and easy to hold. The buttons are a bit small and mushy, but at least there aren't too many of them. Notably, Yamaha placed the volume up/down buttons on their own near the bottom of the remote—far from any other buttons—making them easy to find by touch alone.


The volume buttons are easy to locate without looking at the remote.

Setup

Setup was a breeze. The A-S801's simplicity works in its favor; there is no complicated calibration routine. All you have to do is plug it in, attach a pair of speakers, connect one or more sources, (optionally) add a subwoofer, and you are in business.

I used a pair of GoldenEar Triton Seven floorstanding speakers and a ForceField 5 subwoofer for the review. A Sony Vaio PC laptop—connected via USB and running Tidal—served as my primary source.


I used a laptop running Tidal to stream lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz 2-channel audio.

My first task was finding out how the Tritons measured in-room powered by the A-S801. The Tritons are 8-ohm speakers with 89 dB/W/m sensitivity and 300 watts of power handling. GoldenEar's specs list a frequency response of 29 Hz - 35 kHz. I used Room EQ Wizard and a UMIK-1 measurement mic placed at my listening position and measured a few sine-wave sweeps to get an idea of what my room EQ curve looked like with this setup.

I noticed that the A-S801 easily moved the Triton's drivers when I sent it a 10 Hz pulse, and I started to hear a tone in the upper 20 Hz range. When I reviewed my REW measurements and correlated them with what I heard, I found that the Tritons played loud and clear from 34 Hz on up when powered by the A-S801.

I had integrated the ForceField 5 sub before I started my listening, even though I did not plan to use it right away. Getting the sub to disappear into the system was a bit of a challenge because the Tritons dig so deep on their own; I set the sub's crossover to its lowest point of 40 Hz. Ultimately, I wished the A-S801 offered a bit more control over bass management—one more knob offering a defeatable variable highpass filter for the speakers would have been ideal.

Performance

Given the choice, I prefer an AVR to an integrated amp—I consider HDMI and surround sound indispensable. However, the A-S801 pairs a good amp with a good DAC, and that's a recipe for success. Judged on sound quality alone, it qualifies as an audiophile-grade component. Crucially, there's no coloration to its output—it's transparent and neutral.

For this review, I put myself in the shoes of a 2-channel audio aficionado with limited space and a limited budget. I tried to think like someone who just bought a pair of nice speakers and has a laptop full of digital music and perhaps a pair or two of decent full-sized headphones. The A-S801 offers that person a lot of hi-fi capability for the dollar.

The USB connection supports just about any digital format you can throw at it, including double-DSD and 32-bit/384 kHz PCM stereo—and it matches up perfectly with the amplifier's hi-res audio specs.

I tested the A-S801s performance with two configurations. Depending on the song, I started with the Triton Sevens on their own, and then I added the ForceField 5 sub. Even without the sub, I found the system quite compelling. Sly & Robbie's "Drone Snipers" from their album Dubrising sounded pleasing to my ears; the horns had just the right timbre, and the bass was tight and thick. Most importantly, the imaging was lucid and detailed—the speakers totally disappeared, every instrument was in its place, and the whole soundstage had a sense of depth as well as extended width.

First impressions matter, and the A-S801 left me with a positive vibe. By the time the track "Bully Tactics" came up, I had to make sure my surround system was not running in parallel—that's how good the imaging was. When I sat in the sweet spot, the subwoofer-free 2-channel presentation sounded like a full-blown surround-sound system.

"Daydreaming" from Massive Attack's album Blue Lines (2012 Mix/Master) came through loud, clear, and precise. However, I felt like some of the energy I'm used hearing was missing. I turned on the sub and played the song again—that solved my problem. Not every track needed the help of a subwoofer to sound its best, but overall I found it was better to have the sub running. The key was keeping it at a level where the sub did not call attention to itself.

The A-S801 did not need a sub to produce sublime renditions of vocals. I'm no fan of Diana Krall, but I acknowledge that her voice is a reference of sorts—her songs are a fixture of high-end audio shows. The A-S801 made the Tritons sing and fully reproduced the dynamics of her well-produced recordings such as "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye" from her album Glad Rag Doll.

A switch to rap also meant switching the sub back on. Lil Wayne's "Blunt Blowin" needed the extra heft provided by the ForceField 5. In fact, without the sub, the track sounded a bit thin, but that's neither the speakers' nor the amp's fault—the genre demands exaggerated bass.

Brian Eno's album The Drop features exceptional production, and it sounded perfect playing through the A-S801. A track called "Hazard" featured a bass sound that truly sounded like I was in a giant cave. The amp extracted incredible detail from The Drop.

I didn't find much use for the tone, balance, or loudness controls. However, they are there for anyone who wants to play with them. I engaged Pure Direct mode for most of my listening, regardless of the volume level.

The A-S801's headphone jack turns it into a high-performance DAC and headphone amp combo. Plugging in a pair of headphones disengages the speakers—you can't use both at once. You can easily pay more for just a DAC, or even for a so-called audiophile-grade USB cable, but why? The sound quality from the A-S801's headphone jack is great—there's zero audible noise. It had no problem driving all of the headphones I have on hand to very dangerous levels with ease.

If the loudness and tone controls have any real purpose, it might very well be for tweaking the sound of headphones to your liking. I'd still choose flat response as long as your headphones are not weak in the bass department, but it's nice to have options.

Conclusion

For under a grand, Yamaha's A-S801 offers audiophile-quality amplification and digital decoding. It happily assimilates a wide variety of stereo sources, both digital and analog. If vinyl is your thing, it accommodates that as well. A power rating of 100 watts per channel might not seem like a lot these days, but the truth is you only use a small fraction of that most of the time, and you lose only a decibel or two compared with high-end AVRs that cost much more—and I never heard it struggle.

The A-S801's support for double-DSD and 32-bit/384 kHz PCM via USB is not a common feature in AVRs—most top out at 24/192. If you have a need to play high-res audio at insanely high bitrates, you could do worse than this humble Yamaha.

For those whose music consumption includes a lot of at-home critical listening through headphones, the A-S801 has what it takes to make that a rewarding experience. You get high-res capability along with a USB DAC and enough power to drive full-sized cans to very high levels with great fidelity—so please be careful with your hearing.

When it comes to audio, the proof is in the listening. Whenever I presented the A-S801 with a well-recorded track, it delivered a nuanced rendition without ever getting in the way of the music. While it might not be the right device for an AV enthusiast who is into surround sound, it would make my imaginary alter ego—the 2-channel audio aficionado with limited space and a limited budget—very happy.


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Last edited by imagic; 02-11-2015 at 12:07 PM.
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post #2 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 09:37 AM
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Since it is not against forum rules and some may find it helpful - MSRP is $999.95. Maybe I missed that somewhere?

Mark, thanks for the well written review. It will be interesting given this unit's price what forum members may suggest as other options for someone looking for a 2-channel solution.
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Originally Posted by smurraybhm View Post
Since it is not against forum rules and some may find it helpful - MSRP is $999.95. Maybe I missed that somewhere?

Mark, thanks for the well written review. It will be interesting given this unit's price what forum members may suggest as other options for someone looking for a 2-channel solution.
Nope, I missed it. Thank you.

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post #4 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 09:47 AM
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I really think 2 channel stereo for music listening is making a strong comeback. My audio system is separate from my home theater, and I'm using an ancient APT Holman pre-amp that still produces amazing sound. The APT still has one of the best phono pre-amps around (my Rega turntable is a perfect match), so my only concern would be the quality of the phono input processing. Thx for a great review.

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post #5 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by J.Mike Ferrara View Post
I really think 2 channel stereo for music listening is making a strong comeback. My audio system is separate from my home theater, and I'm using an ancient APT Holman pre-amp that still produces amazing sound. The APT still has one of the best phono pre-amps around (my Rega turntable is a perfect match), so my only concern would be the quality of the phono input processing. Thx for a great review.
I have no way to test a phono stage. I'm not inclined to invest in a vinyl rig anytime soon, but I do wish I could have tested the A-S801's phono input.

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post #6 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
The A-S801 offers a subwoofer output with a lowpass filter set at 100 Hz; the main speakers always get a full-range signal, but the left and right channels are summed and everything below 100 Hz is sent to the sub output as well. It does not offer bass management, but the subwoofer channel is useful if you have a sub with variable phase and crossover controls that allow for proper integration.
Soooo, not really an audiophile piece of equipment then. To bad.
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post #7 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 12:42 PM
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i hate to be ignorant, but would EQ help even in stereo? either automated solutions like Audyssey or manual EQ?

educate me

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post #8 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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i hate to be ignorant, but would EQ help even in stereo? either automated solutions like Audyssey or manual EQ?

educate me
It's better to have the option than not, IMO. I would typically recommend an AVR for the same price. A lack of true bass management—of any kind—was my biggest complaint about the A-S801. And it can't hurt to have EQ, especially for dialing in the bass just right—sub or no sub. But it's not a deal-breaker for everybody, some audiophiles argue that it does hurt sound quality to do any of that.

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I love my vintage gear, and even though by most measures the two channel integrated makes little sense, I'm still drawn to it's simplicity and retro-styling. What a shame that the engineers/marketers hobbled the A-S801's usefulness by not including pre-amp jumpers to tie in a stand alone crossover or equalizer. For $1000 one would think they could have at least covered the two channel audio basics.
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post #10 of 327 Old 02-11-2015, 02:22 PM
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The audiophiles who say eq and subs hurt sound shouldn't be totally blamed. There's been to many bad eq products, and receivers that just low pass the sub-out instead of properly managing the bass with variable XO frequency, delay, and high passing the mains (like this one). This has left a bad taste in their mouth and this receiver won't help that. To properly implement subs the user will be forced to line-out to a DSP controller. To not use subs is IMO low-fidelity, though does require a heck of a lot more setup than not using one.

For the record, I have impleted subs by merely low passing the subs and running the mains full range. But it's not the norm, and most any subwoofer plate amp can do this.
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I love my vintage gear, and even though by most measures the two channel integrated makes little sense, I'm still drawn to it's simplicity and retro-styling. What a shame that the engineers/marketers cobbled the A-S801's usefulness by not including pre-amp jumpers to tie in a stand alone crossover or equalizer. For $1000 one would think they could have at least covered the two channel audio basics.
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Why include a subwoofer output with a fixed crossover point? Probably not that useful a feature...

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I don't understand the obsession with 2 channel music when 2.x is an order of magnitude more enjoyable (to me at least). I guess the creator of this preamp loves 2.0.

I would vote for digital bass management and PEQ for at least 4 subwoofer independent control outputs.
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I don't know, I prefer to listen to music in just stereo and I think a lot of other people do too. I think the criticism sort of misses the point of a product like this. There are some people who just want to listen to music-- they aren't interested in bass management or room EQ or complicated setup. There are plenty of products out there that do all of that stuff already. A product like this probably isn't aimed at consumers who frequent AV forums.


IMO we need more simple amps. Maybe a product like this will help more people into hifi.

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Looks like it just missed the mark. I see no pre outs. Only 1 sub out at a fixed 100hz.
Yamaha should take notes from Parasound on the P5 and the new Halo integrated.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post


This audio appliance packs a lot of 2-channel goodness into its chassis. Its simplified approach makes it an appealing option for budget-minded audiophiles.

-------

Two-channel stereo remains relevant in the era of surround sound since it is the dominant format for music. Many audiophiles feel that a well-tuned 2-channel rig has no equal when it comes to reproducing a live musical performance in their home.

Yamaha's $1000 A-S801 integrated amplifier caters to music lovers looking for a device that offers a lot of 2-channel connectivity and no filler. It's a no-nonsense device in which all settings are user-selectable with knobs on the front panel. It sports a full complement of analog and digital inputs, covering a wide spectrum of stereo sources ranging from turntables to laptops.

Features

The A-S801 outputs 100 watts/channel into 8 ohms with very low distortion (0.019% THD). It's capable of driving 4-ohm speakers and has a frequency response from 10 Hz to 100 kHz +/-1.0 dB, which is well beyond the limits of human hearing.

An ESS Sabre 32-bit DAC supports DSD (2.8 and 5.6 MHz) and PCM (up to 32-bit/384 kHz) audio decoding. A USB connection lets you connect the A-S801 to a Mac or PC. It also sports coaxial and optical digital inputs, but not HDMI.

On the analog side, the A-S801 offers a Pure Direct mode that bypasses the tone controls as well as a CD Direct mode that maxes out the S/N ratio to 104 dB when listening to CDs through a dedicated analog input. It also offers a phono input with a ground. Other analog inputs include one dedicated to a radio tuner and three separate line inputs—two of which feature record-out connections.

The front panel offers complete control over the device using seven knobs and three buttons. It's very simple and straightforward; you don't need the manual to get things working. The A-S801's remote offers input selection and volume adjustment, but it cannot adjust the tone controls or loudness function. However, the remote does offer dedicated controls for Yamaha's T-S500 tuner and various Yamaha CD players.

One of the front-panel knobs is a "loudness" control. Increasing the loudness control boosts the low and high frequencies to compensate for the human-hearing system's lower sensitivity in that range at low volumes. Some people like the effect at higher volumes as well, but it should not be used to compensate for a speaker's weaknesses.

The A-S801 offers a subwoofer output with a lowpass filter set at 100 Hz; the main speakers always get a full-range signal, but the left and right channels are summed and everything below 100 Hz is sent to the sub output as well. It does not offer bass management, but the subwoofer channel is useful if you have a sub with variable phase and crossover controls that allow for proper integration.


The A-S801 has a good number of analog and digital inputs.

There are two sets of speaker terminals, and the A-S801 can drive two pairs of 8-ohm speakers simultaneously. A small knob on the front panels lets you switch between speaker pairs A, B, or A+B—or you can turn them all off. The Speaker A+B mode is also useful for bi-amping speakers that support it. The unit also features a 1/4" stereo headphone jack.

Ergonomics

The A-S801 is a pleasure to use thanks to its simple, thoughtful design. Its knobs look good, feel good, and work together to make basic audio adjustments extremely easy to perform. There is no menu system; you tweak audio settings using the knobs and buttons on the actual device. Then again, if you have a sufficiently good speaker system and room acoustics, you might not ever use the tone controls or the loudness function.

The included remote is functional and easy to hold. The buttons are a bit small and mushy, but at least there aren't too many of them. Notably, Yamaha placed the volume up/down buttons on their own near the bottom of the remote—far from any other buttons—making them easy to find by touch alone.


The volume buttons are easy to locate without looking at the remote.

Setup

Setup was a breeze. The A-S801's simplicity works in its favor; there is no complicated calibration routine. All you have to do is plug it in, attach a pair of speakers, connect one or more sources, (optionally) add a subwoofer, and you are in business.

I used a pair of GoldenEar Triton Seven floorstanding speakers and a ForceField 5 subwoofer for the review. A Sony Vaio PC laptop—connected via USB and running Tidal—served as my primary source.


I used a laptop running Tidal to stream lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz 2-channel audio.

My first task was finding out how the Tritons measured in-room powered by the A-S801. The Tritons are 8-ohm speakers with 89 dB/W/m sensitivity and 300 watts of power handling. GoldenEar's specs list a frequency response of 29 Hz - 35 kHz. I used Room EQ Wizard and a UMIK-1 measurement mic placed at my listening position and measured a few sine-wave sweeps to get an idea of what my room EQ curve looked like with this setup.

I noticed that the A-S801 easily moved the Triton's drivers when I sent it a 10 Hz pulse, and I started to hear a tone in the upper 20 Hz range. When I reviewed my REW measurements and correlated them with what I heard, I found that the Tritons played loud and clear from 34 Hz on up when powered by the A-S801.

I had integrated the ForceField 5 sub before I started my listening, even though I did not plan to use it right away. Getting the sub to disappear into the system was a bit of a challenge because the Tritons dig so deep on their own; I set the sub's crossover to its lowest point of 40 Hz. Ultimately, I wished the A-S801 offered a bit more control over bass management—one more knob offering a defeatable variable highpass filter for the speakers would have been ideal.

Performance

Given the choice, I prefer an AVR to an integrated amp—I consider HDMI and surround sound indispensable. However, the A-S801 pairs a good amp with a good DAC, and that's a recipe for success. Judged on sound quality alone, it qualifies as an audiophile-grade component. Crucially, there's no coloration to its output—it's transparent and neutral.

For this review, I put myself in the shoes of a 2-channel audio aficionado with limited space and a limited budget. I tried to think like someone who just bought a pair of nice speakers and has a laptop full of digital music and perhaps a pair or two of decent full-sized headphones. The A-S801 offers that person a lot of hi-fi capability for the dollar.

The USB connection supports just about any digital format you can throw at it, including double-DSD and 32-bit/384 kHz PCM stereo—and it matches up perfectly with the amplifier's hi-res audio specs.

I tested the A-S801s performance with two configurations. Depending on the song, I started with the Triton Sevens on their own, and then I added the ForceField 5 sub. Even without the sub, I found the system quite compelling. Sly & Robbie's "Drone Snipers" from their album Dubrising sounded pleasing to my ears; the horns had just the right timbre, and the bass was tight and thick. Most importantly, the imaging was lucid and detailed—the speakers totally disappeared, every instrument was in its place, and the whole soundstage had a sense of depth as well as extended width.

First impressions matter, and the A-S801 left me with a positive vibe. By the time the track "Bully Tactics" came up, I had to make sure my surround system was not running in parallel—that's how good the imaging was. When I sat in the sweet spot, the subwoofer-free 2-channel presentation sounded like a full-blown surround-sound system.

"Daydreaming" from Massive Attack's album Blue Lines (2012 Mix/Master) came through loud, clear, and precise. However, I felt like some of the energy I'm used hearing was missing. I turned on the sub and played the song again—that solved my problem. Not every track needed the help of a subwoofer to sound its best, but overall I found it was better to have the sub running. The key was keeping it at a level where the sub did not call attention to itself.

The A-S801 did not need a sub to produce sublime renditions of vocals. I'm no fan of Diana Krall, but I acknowledge that her voice is a reference of sorts—her songs are a fixture of high-end audio shows. The A-S801 made the Tritons sing and fully reproduced the dynamics of her well-produced recordings such as "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye" from her album Glad Rag Doll.

A switch to rap also meant switching the sub back on. Lil Wayne's "Blunt Blowin" needed the extra heft provided by the ForceField 5. In fact, without the sub, the track sounded a bit thin, but that's neither the speakers' nor the amp's fault—the genre demands exaggerated bass.

Brian Eno's album The Drop features exceptional production, and it sounded perfect playing through the A-S801. A track called "Hazard" featured a bass sound that truly sounded like I was in a giant cave. The amp extracted incredible detail from The Drop.

I didn't find much use for the tone, balance, or loudness controls. However, they are there for anyone who wants to play with them. I engaged Pure Direct mode for most of my listening, regardless of the volume level.

The A-S801's headphone jack turns it into a high-performance DAC and headphone amp combo. Plugging in a pair of headphones disengages the speakers—you can't use both at once. You can easily pay more for just a DAC, or even for a so-called audiophile-grade USB cable, but why? The sound quality from the A-S801's headphone jack is great—there's zero audible noise. It had no problem driving all of the headphones I have on hand to very dangerous levels with ease.

If the loudness and tone controls have any real purpose, it might very well be for tweaking the sound of headphones to your liking. I'd still choose flat response as long as your headphones are not weak in the bass department, but it's nice to have options.

Conclusion

For under a grand, Yamaha's A-S801 offers audiophile-quality amplification and digital decoding. It happily assimilates a wide variety of stereo sources, both digital and analog. If vinyl is your thing, it accommodates that as well. A power rating of 100 watts per channel might not seem like a lot these days, but the truth is you only use a small fraction of that most of the time, and you lose only a decibel or two compared with high-end AVRs that cost much more—and I never heard it struggle.

The A-S801's support for double-DSD and 32-bit/384 kHz PCM via USB is not a common feature in AVRs—most top out at 24/192. If you have a need to play high-res audio at insanely high bitrates, you could do worse than this humble Yamaha.

For those whose music consumption includes a lot of at-home critical listening through headphones, the A-S801 has what it takes to make that a rewarding experience. You get high-res capability along with a USB DAC and enough power to drive full-sized cans to very high levels with great fidelity—so please be careful with your hearing.

When it comes to audio, the proof is in the listening. Whenever I presented the A-S801 with a well-recorded track, it delivered a nuanced rendition without ever getting in the way of the music. While it might not be the right device for an AV enthusiast who is into surround sound, it would make my imaginary alter ego—the 2-channel audio aficionado with limited space and a limited budget—very happy.


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Thank you, great write up!
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Bass management and a variable cross over would have made this a much more interesting piece.

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Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post
Soooo, not really an audiophile piece of equipment then. To bad.
Not so...Subwoofers can get in the way of music as much as help it.
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Originally Posted by blazar View Post
I don't understand the obsession with 2 channel music when 2.x is an order of magnitude more enjoyable (to me at least). I guess the creator of this preamp loves 2.0.

I would vote for digital bass management and PEQ for at least 4 subwoofer independent control outputs.
Perhaps this will help explain:

1. If we are talking about music actually produced in surround sound, the selection is woefully limited vs the catalog available in regular stereo. Almost nothing in my large music library is actually available in true surround sound. Hence for many it does not make sense to spend extra money on surround speakers/amps etc. when most of what they listen to is going to originate as stereo sources anyway.

2. Which leaves us with the option of listening to stereo sources converted to surround.
Before even getting into the equipment cost equation, some issues people can have with this are that it's a less accurate reproduction of the source, artificially inflated in a way it was never designed to be heard. Many matrix systems significantly alter the sound, altering timbre, changing the presentation from the original, sometimes adding a sense of extra reverb etc (even if accidentally via the way it extracts ambient cues etc). It sounds "wrong" to some people familiar with the two channel discs - E.g. giving some discs a more cavernous or distant sound than in the more immediate sounding non-matrixed 2 channel presentation).

3. It is FAR easier to realize a coherent presentation via stereo/2 speakers than it is when you introduce many more speakers, typically of varying configurations (if not varying brands). I've heard many excellent home theaters - not to mention a great many professional film mixing studies in which we mix surround - and none have ever achieved the level of sonic coherence that I regularly achieve with 2 stereo speakers. It's just a lot tougher to do so for many reasons that have been gone over on these forums ad infinitum.
If you value such coherence - and for me not hearing disunity between drivers/speakers is a touchstone for believable sound - then you are more likely to relize that aspect via 2 channel set ups. (I myself have gone to lengths in building coherency into my home theater surround system, and I really enjoy listening to music in surround sometimes. But when I want the most convincing and uniform sound, I go to my 2 channel system).

4. Given a limited budget, which most of us have, with two channel you can funnel your expenses into better quality equipment (e.g. speakers), vs spreading out that money for lesser quality, more numerous speakers, cabling etc. I can definitely afford much better 2 channel speakers than if I had to spread my money out to buying 5, 7, 9 (or what have you) speakers and a subwoofer.

5. Some of us love to employ equipment that is less amenable to surround sound. I love tube amplifiers in my music system - there being a vastly larger choice in such gear for 2 channel set ups.

6. A well set up 2 channel system can be close enough in terms of delivering spatial immersion to a surround system, that one feels no "need" for surround. I tend to value speakers that image really well, and I also like fairly near-field listening. As enveloping as surround sound can be, there is depth, coherence and precision in my 2 channel set up that surround just doesn't quite achieve. The 2 channel set up is so immersive that virtually every person who hears it first: 1. assumes they are already listening to surround sound, since they are so immersed and the imaging seems to come right out around them. 2. Prefers it to the surround sound system.

These are some of the reasons not a few of us still go for 2 channel listening. If someone prefers surround, that's cool and I totally understand. I love my surround system, and I listen to professionally designed full-range surround systems all the time, so I get it. But there are also totally viable reasons why one can still enjoy and even prefer 2 channel systems.

I hope that helps with your confusion on the issue.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
Perhaps this will help explain:

1. If we are talking about music actually produced in surround sound, the selection is woefully limited vs the catalog available in regular stereo. Almost nothing in my large music library is actually available in true surround sound. Hence for many it does not make sense to spend extra money on surround speakers/amps etc. when most of what they listen to is going to originate as stereo sources anyway.

2. Which leaves us with the option of listening to stereo sources converted to surround.
Before even getting into the equipment cost equation, some issues people can have with this are that it's a less accurate reproduction of the source, artificially inflated in a way it was never designed to be heard. Many matrix systems significantly alter the sound, altering timbre, changing the presentation from the original, sometimes adding a sense of extra reverb etc (even if accidentally via the way it extracts ambient cues etc). It sounds "wrong" to some people familiar with the two channel discs - E.g. giving some discs a more cavernous or distant sound than in the more immediate sounding non-matrixed 2 channel presentation).

3. It is FAR easier to realize a coherent presentation via stereo/2 speakers than it is when you introduce many more speakers, typically of varying configurations (if not varying brands). I've heard many excellent home theaters - not to mention a great many professional film mixing studies in which we mix surround - and none have ever achieved the level of sonic coherence that I regularly achieve with 2 stereo speakers. It's just a lot tougher to do so for many reasons that have been gone over on these forums ad infinitum.
If you value such coherence - and for me not hearing disunity between drivers/speakers is a touchstone for believable sound - then you are more likely to relize that aspect via 2 channel set ups. (I myself have gone to lengths in building coherency into my home theater surround system, and I really enjoy listening to music in surround sometimes. But when I want the most convincing and uniform sound, I go to my 2 channel system).

4. Given a limited budget, which most of us have, with two channel you can funnel your expenses into better quality equipment (e.g. speakers), vs spreading out that money for lesser quality, more numerous speakers, cabling etc. I can definitely afford much better 2 channel speakers than if I had to spread my money out to buying 5, 7, 9 (or what have you) speakers and a subwoofer.

5. Some of us love to employ equipment that is less amenable to surround sound. I love tube amplifiers in my music system - there being a vastly larger choice in such gear for 2 channel set ups.

6. A well set up 2 channel system can be close enough in terms of delivering spatial immersion to a surround system, that one feels no "need" for surround. I tend to value speakers that image really well, and I also like fairly near-field listening. As enveloping as surround sound can be, there is depth, coherence and precision in my 2 channel set up that surround just doesn't quite achieve. The 2 channel set up is so immersive that virtually every person who hears it first: 1. assumes they are already listening to surround sound, since they are so immersed and the imaging seems to come right out around them. 2. Prefers it to the surround sound system.

These are some of the reasons not a few of us still go for 2 channel listening. If someone prefers surround, that's cool and I totally understand. I love my surround system, and I listen to professionally designed full-range surround systems all the time, so I get it. But there are also totally viable reasons why one can still enjoy and even prefer 2 channel systems.

I hope that helps with your confusion on the issue.

acutally by 2.x I meant stereo with bass management. I didn't really mean surround sound which is a separate issue. There is not any material on surround sound that I care about to make a music surround experience matter.

I just don't see the use of stereo without bass management. the 20hz to 100hz range is far too affected by placement of speakers and number of speakers. It is HIGHLY unlikely you will get a great linear bass response with the "subs" basically housed in the same location as the main speaker box. Enjoy that if it floats your boat... but I like to be able to hear every bass note and not suffer from too many peaks and nulls, both of which will make it harder to hear individual notes.

Blazar!
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Ok, I see blazar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blazar View Post
I just don't see the use of stereo without bass management.
Well, apparently stereo has had plenty of use and value to people for most of it's history, without bass management.

I understand why folks like to use subwoofers. The lowest bass is not a big priority to me.
Plenty of people just don't want to incorporate subwoofers for reasons of convenience, aesthetics, sonics etc. I've never met a system employing a subwoofer, including those using bass management, that I've preferred over my two channel set ups, so to each his own of course. (I've also had great success with large floor standing speakers in my room, including some flat down to 20HZ, that remained very articulate and revealing in the bass, so I felt no loss off or need for a subwoofer).

Plus, I love me some tube amps and if given a choice between an SS amp with bass management/subwoofer, and my favorite tube amp with my own speakers, the choice is easy for me. Again, we all have our different priorities, as you acknowledge.
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I find the lack of pre-amp outs odd


The crossover being fixed seems like a quick add on without being thought through.


So basically, it would work well if you only used full range speakers and never want to upgrade the amplifier?


Maybe the second time around, they could add pre-amp outs in RCA and XLR along with a decent crossover ability. Maybe they can kick it old school with power output meters and clip lights?


Yamaha does make pro gear so it is just off the shelf parts--maybe next year?
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Ok, I see blazar.



Well, apparently stereo has had plenty of use and value to people for most of it's history, without bass management.

I understand why folks like to use subwoofers. The lowest bass is not a big priority to me.
Plenty of people just don't want to incorporate subwoofers for reasons of convenience, aesthetics, sonics etc. I've never met a system employing a subwoofer, including those using bass management, that I've preferred over my two channel set ups, so to each his own of course. (I've also had great success with large floor standing speakers in my room, including some flat down to 20HZ, that remained very articulate and revealing in the bass, so I felt no loss off or need for a subwoofer).

Plus, I love me some tube amps and if given a choice between an SS amp with bass management/subwoofer, and my favorite tube amp with my own speakers, the choice is easy for me. Again, we all have our different priorities, as you acknowledge.
Tower flat to 20hz? Please tell me what tower this is...

My 2channel room uses a subwoofer. Music does not suffer. No, it excels. I feel a sub should be used in all setups. Even tube!!!

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Yep that is what I was trying to say as well.

2.x is the ONLY properly calibrated was to setup a system.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenthplanet View Post
Not so...Subwoofers can get in the way of music as much as help it.
Speakers get in the way of the music as well with their high distortion (linear and harmonic), and all the other problems they exhibit. But in order to reproduce music in the home we need them. Subwoofers help the reproduction of music, period. If it's getting in the way, or distracting, or calling attention to itself, or what ever,,, it's setup wrong plain and simple. Like I said before, many audiophiles have good reason for disliking subs because they've heard so many bad implementations. That doesn't mean they're always bad. If setup correctly, they are a superior, higher fidelity way of reproducing music.

I understand simplicity, so if someone prefers to not use them for space or simplicity, fine. But that doesn't excuse this receiver for including a poor sub-out. I didn't even catch the fact that there's no pre-outs until now! So using an external (proper) XO isn't even possible
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post
Speakers get in the way of the music as well with their high distortion (linear and harmonic), and all the other problems they exhibit. But in order to reproduce music in the home we need them. Subwoofers help the reproduction of music, period. If it's getting in the way, or distracting, or calling attention to itself, or what ever,,, it's setup wrong plain and simple. Like I said before, many audiophiles have good reason for disliking subs because they've heard so many bad implementations. That doesn't mean they're always bad. If setup correctly, they are a superior, higher fidelity way of reproducing music.

I understand simplicity, so if someone prefers to not use them for space or simplicity, fine. But that doesn't excuse this receiver for including a poor sub-out. I didn't even catch the fact that there's no pre-outs until now! So using an external (proper) XO isn't even possible
It can be done right, ideally when used with full range speakers. The problem is trying to use subs with bass shy speakers (bookshelf, mini-monitors). Of course to do it you have now entered the realm where a 1000 dollar integrated amp will no longer do.

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It can be done right, ideally when used with full range speakers. The problem is trying to use subs with bass shy speakers (bookshelf, mini-monitors). Of course to do it you have now entered the realm where a 1000 dollar integrated amp will no longer do.
This product is a jack of no trades. Pre outs would have helped a lot.
Even at the 1000 price point Yamablah could have done more with this unit.

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Yet another review where extreme metal gets the shaft.
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I had a Yamaha Stereo Receiver - RX-797 - with 100w/ch. While is does sound nice, and I was very satisfied for the price, and I still use it, I would say it doesn't have crisp detail. When I say crisp, I'm not talking about bright, but rather razor sharp detail at all frequencies. One could say it was a bit blurred, though that might be a bit of an overstatement.

Though my experience is limited, it seems once you cross into 4-digit model numbers (1000, 2000, 3000) the models recover this crisp detail.

The Yamaha A-S801 is currently about $899, that's a bit steep, when the Yamaha R-S700, which also has 100w/ch, is only $499. Though perhaps the crisp detail is precisely what the extra money buys you.

So, I would be very interested in auditioning one if I could find one. Though a bit late since I already bought a new amp.

As to the Subwoofer out. No, virtually NO Stereo amps have Bass Management. I can think of two, the Harman Kardon HK990, no longer in production, and the Parasound P5 Pre-amp. The Parasound for a basic equivalent system would have cost TWICE as much.

So, no bass management is a given. If you want it, you have to be willing to pay for it, and this Yamaha 801 is already pushing the top for a 100w/ch stereo amp.

The Sub out crosses at 100hz, though I heard it was 250hz on older models. Were you really planning to crossover above 100hz? If you were, you bought the wrong speakers and the wrong amp. This isn't bass management, it simply limits the sub out to a reasonable frequency with a simply filter.

As to Room EQ, find me a Stereo amp or Stereo Receiver that has Room EQ. There was one once, the HK990 ($1999), but not enough people bought it to keep it in production. Though those who had it thought it was a spectacular amp, and for $2000 it should have been a pretty impressive amp. If you want more, you have to pay more.

Other than the Detail on the lower models, the only other complaint I have is with the alleged LOUDNESS Control. On my older model it was simply a very narrow notch filter at about 1000hz. Worthless. They might have improved this, but I doubt it.

These are generally good sounding amps at bargain prices. Give the considerable price, I would expect great things from this amp.

One last point, NO Pre-Out, that is a feature that everyone wants but virtually no one uses. Much like Bi-Wiring speaker terminals, everyone wants them, but virtually no one uses them.

In my case, for movies, I use two stereo amps and two pair of Speakers. I couldn't do that without an amp that has Pre-Amp outs. So, relatively important to me. But I can understand why they would leave it out, few people really use it. But I definitely need it, so something of a deal killer for me.

As to Subwoofer, use them if you want them, but I would much prefer to put that considerable money into better floorstanding speakers. As to bass, from Stereo with NO SUB, I get bass with such intensity, that I've felt the upholstery on my chair flex under the impact, felt my hair ruffle, and felt my pant legs flap. I think I'm good, and my system only goes down to 28hz at -6db. Really ... I think I'm good.

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As to the Subwoofer out. No, virtually NO Stereo amps have Bass Management. I can think of two, the Harman Kardon HK990, no longer in production, and the Parasound P5 Pre-amp. The Parasound for a basic equivalent system would have cost TWICE as much.

So, no bass management is a given. If you want it, you have to be willing to pay for it, and this Yamaha 801 is already pushing the top for a 100w/ch stereo amp.

The Sub out crosses at 100hz, though I heard it was 250hz on older models. Were you really planning to crossover above 100hz? If you were, you bought the wrong speakers and the wrong amp. This isn't bass management, it simply limits the sub out to a reasonable frequency with a simply filter.

As to Room EQ, find me a Stereo amp or Stereo Receiver that has Room EQ. There was one once, the HK990 ($1999), but not enough people bought it to keep it in production. Though those who had it thought it was a spectacular amp, and for $2000 it should have been a pretty impressive amp. If you want more, you have to pay more.

One last point, NO Pre-Out, that is a feature that everyone wants but virtually no one uses. Much like Bi-Wiring speaker terminals, everyone wants them, but virtually no one uses them.

In my case, for movies, I use two stereo amps and two pair of Speakers. I couldn't do that without an amp that has Pre-Amp outs. So, relatively important to me. But I can understand why they would leave it out, few people really use it. But I definitely need it, so something of a deal killer for me.

As to Subwoofer, use them if you want them, but I would much prefer to put that considerable money into better floorstanding speakers. As to bass, from Stereo with NO SUB, I get bass with such intensity, that I've felt the upholstery on my chair flex under the impact, felt my hair ruffle, and felt my pant legs flap. I think I'm good, and my system only goes down to 28hz at -6db. Really ... I think I'm good.

Steve/bluewizard
A set of pre outs could have been used as stereo sub outs. MAJOR oversight.

Why would anyone want room correction gizmos on a stereo integrated? Silly most of the time with an AVR let alone a 2 channel setup.

Few floor standing towers deliver bass that can rival a good subwoofer. Most floor standers today have become slim and trim columns designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Manufacturers are shrinking their boxes and driver size. Extension has disappeared with displacement. Unless I had Magico S5 or Dynaudio C4, I would prefer a high end two way with a good sub to augment extension. I would likely use a good sub even with those.

Why have a sub out if you cant cross over the high range speakers at the same frequency?

This unit had a lot of potential. Due to a couple oversights it missed the mark and has no place. For a thousand dollars, give me a P5 and I will find a good amp to go with it.
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