The A-S2200 is the second from top model in Yamaha’s integrated amplifier range. It takes a number of design cues from the A-S3200 which sits at the top of the line-up. Slightly confusingly though, it looks almost identical to the A-S1200 that sits below it and you need to have a keen eye to tell the difference between them. This visual similarity hides the fact that the A-S2200 is significantly different beast internally.
The most significant difference is that this is a fully balanced amplifier; a much more sophisticated arrangement than a conventional ‘single ended’ amplifier. It is more resistant to quality-sapping noise creeping into the signal and can be matched with source equipment that uses the same balanced principle to further improve performance and to this end, the A-S2200 gains an XLR input to allow for a balanced source to be connected. This input joins a comprehensive selection of other connections. Like other Yamaha flagship amps, the A-S2200 is exclusively fitted with analogue inputs but you get three line inputs, a tape loop, a phono stage that supports moving magnet and moving coil cartridges and both a pre out and a main in to use the Yamaha as a power amp. Two independently selectable speaker outs are fitted as well as a standard 6.5mm headphone socket.
The A-S2200 produces a healthy but entirely conventional 90 watts into 8 ohms which rises to 150 into 4. With Yamaha, it’s not about the bald numbers though but instead the manner the amp produces them. One look at the chunky power supply and the beautifully arranged circuit should be enough to tell you that it is unlikely to struggle with any speaker in a domestic situation. The construction makes use of Yamaha’s ‘Mechanical Ground Concept’, an technology intended to decisively sit on unwanted vibration with a view to improving the bass response.
The amplifier itself is large and extremely heavy; getting it out of the box is an undertaking in itself and it will need a fairly large rack to accommodate it. It is beautifully made and finished though and, while the gently retro aesthetic won’t appeal to everyone, the nature of having multiple physical controls on the front panel makes this a very easy amplifier to use day to day.
As they share a number of parts and design elements in common with one another, it should not be a huge surprise to discover that the A-S2200 has a number of aspects of its performance in common with the A-S1200 but there are some intriguing little differences too. The biggest similarity is also a huge strength. Voices and instruments are never anything less the completely convincing on the A-S2200. It can take a grand piano and combine the tonal realism needed with the scale and weight that can elude even very talented rivals. The sense that Yamaha’s various musical instrument divisions would never let an amp out of the door that couldn’t do justice to their wares is palpable here.
Something else that the A-S2200 does very effectively is deliver a genuine perception of the space around a recording. This is rather more nuanced that simply sounding big all the time because when the situation calls for intimacy, the Yamaha is more than up to the task. When you do want scale though, this is a fine performer, sounding bigger and more effortless than that 90 watt output would ever suggest. This is underpinned by bass that is deep, controlled and detailed. There’s a weight you feel as much as hear but it never sounds sluggish or languid.
In fact, this slight extra get up and go is the main difference between the A-S2200 and its precocious little brother. Used via the balanced input in particular, there is a greater willingness to really get stuck into uptempo music that makes this is a more exciting device. The clever part of this is the balancing act that the A-S2200 is able to strike. It never forces slower and less rhythm based music and it is still impressively forgiving with less than perfectly recorded material too. There is also the matter of the phono stage. Used with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, the Yamaha is a fabulous performer. The noise levels it offers are extremely low and this is combined with excellent levels of gain and the same utterly believable tonality and three dimensionality. This is far more than a convenience feature; it’s something that stands comparison to some very talented standalone phono stages and helps the overall value calculation of the Yamaha considerably.
The Yamaha is a big (and very heavy) amp. It needs a fair bit of space on any rack or surface and, in either the black or silver finish, it’s no shrinking violet with its retro styling and prominent VU meters (which can be switched off). Using the A-S2200 is a joy though. The physical controls allow for everything to be adjusted quickly and easily, backed up by an excellent remote control. The talented phono stage and headphone amp also reduces the scope for needing more boxes to fill those rolls too.
The A-S2200 is a magnificently accomplished all rounder that builds on the virtues of the A-S1200, offering better connectivity with a fraction more drive and control. The comprehensive and flexible specification and superb build serve to sweeten the deal and make the A-S2200 a very compelling device indeed.
Talking Heads Remain in Light
The A-S2200 takes this dense and complex album and unpicks it into something gloriously enjoyable, showing an energy and lightness of touch that gets the head nodding and has you drawn into the performance.
Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions
The absolute simplicity of the opening Mining for Gold gives nowhere for amp to hide in terms of tonality and soundstage and the Yamaha ensures it sounds tangibly real and utterly sensational.
Daft Punk Alive 2007
The balance the Yamaha strikes here between smoothing off the roughest edges and creating some space and keeping the frenzied, ballistic and utterly joyous energy that this album fizzles with, is beautifully judged.
L&B Tech Reviews describes the A-S2200 as sounding as smooth as golden silk, adding that it would reproduces bass and drums with an authority that makesLars Ulrich blush. Hi-Fi and Music Source reviewer said that it’s the beating heart of my main hi-fi system and adding that they’ve not found any other integrated that comes close to its musical abilities in handling such a wide range of loudspeakers and consistently delivering a big engaging sound. Audiograde finds it sounds smooth and never strays into harshness and Techweek calls it, a temptation for any audiophile.
The A-S2200 offers excellent connectivity, impressive flexibility as to how you can access those connections and combines it with a performance that is effortlessly musical, enjoyable and authoritative with it.