At first glance, the R-N2000A looks like business as usual for a Yamaha stereo product but appearances can be rather deceptive. Firstly, unlike the similarly priced A-S2200, which is nominally at the same ‘class’ as the R-N2000A, you won’t find any balanced connections (some advocates think these are superior in sound quality to the more conventional unbalanced connections that are found on most hi-fi equipment), support for moving coil phono cartridges or the ability to use it as a power amp. You do get the same sufficiently powerful 90 watt output though and there is still a comprehensive selection of analogue inputs. Fairly unusually for this day and age, the Yamaha has a full suite of tone and balance controls that can be turned off if you want but can be useful in making some fine tweaks to the performance.
Where the R-N2000A really shows its difference though is what else it can do. Those analogue inputs are joined by optical, coaxial and USB digital connections and there is also an HDMI ARC socket for simplifying using the Yamaha with a TV. Not content with that, the company has also fitted the latest version of their MusicCast network streaming software. This offers native support for most major on demand streaming services as well as internet radio, streaming from your own music library and the ability to work as a wider house of MusicCast components, all controlled from the same app. AirPlay and Bluetooth complete the feature set.
Yamaha isn’t done there though. Unlike any other stereo product from the company, the R-N2000A is equipped with a version of its own YPAO setup and calibration software that is used on their AV Receivers in effect to tune the amp to the room's conditions. It can be used to help ensure that the two speakers (or, if you fancy, a 2.1 system using a subwoofer too; something that the R-N2000A has connections for) are effectively tuned to work in the space and position of your choosing. A setup mic is supplied for this task and the process is usefully self-explanatory.
The R-N2000A is not as sophisticated internally as the more conventional, A-S2200 stereo amp but there are still some aspects of their behaviour which are very similar. Perhaps most importantly, the 90 watts on offer always feels like enough. With the slight exception of the phono stage which might struggle with some cartridges, the R-N2000A has power in spades.
There’s more than brute force on offer though. Yamaha has long been about tonal realism and this really shows here. The R-N2000A might not have ‘Natural Sound’ written on the front but its ability with voices and instruments is consistently good. There’s nothing forced or artificially attention grabbing about what the Yamaha does. Instead it consistently manages to sound absolutely believable. The nature of the relationship between performers and musicians is also unfailingly believable and the feeling of space and three dimensionality is both impressive and reactive to the scale of the music being played.
Something else that is a more recent development in the Yamaha house sound is the level of energy and rhythmic assurance on offer from the R-N2000A. You can still buy amplifiers at a similar price that are more forceful and urgent but the performance here is deft, articulate and genuinely good fun at times. A positive flip side to this as well is that the Yamaha never makes slower and more considered music sound forced or strained. It’s a very neat balancing act that helps to make the R-N2000A a formidable all rounder.
And this even handedness feeds perfectly into the sheer scope of things that the R-N2000A can do. The tonal balance between the digital and analogue sections is really very judged indeed so the performance is very consistent regardless of how you happen to be listening at the time. When you factor in the stable and user friendly experience of MusicCast, the result is an amplifier you are likely to want to keep listening to for extended sessions. This is every bit as applicable with the HDMI connection too. The two channel R-N2000A is never going to match the immersive qualities of its multichannel cousins but it creates a soundstage that complements the imagery on screen and has excellent dialogue retrieval.
The R-N2000A has the same imposing dimensions as the simpler stereo amps but this has to be offset against you almost certainly needing less partnering equipment for it. Like the other members of the Yamaha stereo range, the aesthetic of the design could be described as ‘retro’ but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Yamaha has been using this styling for some years now and the logic of the controls and ease of use is genuinely impressive.
The classiest touch is the display built into the strip on the front panel. Unless you know it’s there, you’d never guess and it preserves the appearance without making the R-N2000A a glaring pain to live with. The R-N2000A is completely logical to use because of the display; You can see the volume level, selected input, network status etc and this makes it easy to see at a glance what it is doing. Because the display then goes off and is hidden in that strip at the bottom of the front panel, it keeps the aesthetic of the amp looking like its simpler stereo relatives rather than a messy blend of old and new. It's really clever.
Combined with the good remote control and excellent MusicCast app, the result is an amp that is absolutely painless to live with, only the omission of Roon support counts against it. Like almost everything else that the company makes, the built quality is uniformly excellent too. This is not a cheap amp but you can see where the money has been spent.
The R-N2000A is a deeply impressive bit of kit. It delivers the same engaging performance as the more conventional stereo amps from Yamaha but combines this with one of the most comprehensive specifications you can find anywhere near the price. The result a tremendously flexible and multi-talented performer.
Yazz Ahmed La Sabouteuse. The Yamaha revels in this unique, Arab tinged Jazz performance, delivering both Ahmed’s trumpet and the supporting instruments with invigorating realism.
LCD Soundsystem London Sessions. As well as ensuring that all the voices and instruments in this superb studio recording sound as they should, the Yamaha also manages to deliver the varied tempos and rhythms, literally without missing a beat.
DJ Shadow Endtroducing That there’s barely a real instrument anywhere in the mix doesn’t prevent the Yamaha from sounding incredibly immersive while also not bringing too much attention to the limitations of the recording.
If you are moving to two channel after a few years as a home cinema user, the Yamaha has enough of the niceties you grew used to with AV Receivers to be a comforting user experience. The comprehensive specification- literally just add speakers- also means that there is very little that the R-N2000A can’t turn its hand to, in turn reducing your box count