The Yamaha A-S 3200 Integrated Amp Review 2024

The Flagship Integrated from Yamaha

The Yamaha A-S 3200 Integrated Amp Review 2024

By Steve Huff

My Video Review of the Yamaha A-S 3200

Having just spent six months with the Yamaha all in one R-N 2000a (see my review here) I knew I had to hear Yamaha’s flagship integrated amp, even though it is not a network receiver like the 2000a. That flagship from Yamaha is the A-S 3200, which is the successor to the doppelgänger A-S 3000 from years past. I reviewed that A-S 3000 many years ago and have now spent considerable time with the A-S 3200. So much so that I have some pretty strong feelings about it. I will get to those in this review.

The a-s3200 is an all analog integrated just like from the old days of just a few years back (seems most integrated amps today are all in ones). By all analog I mean there is no DAC inside, no digital bits. The big and beautiful VU Meter equipped A-S 3200 just has good old fashioned analog inputs via RCA or XLR for your front end source gear to attach to. It also has those extra large very well lit VU meters. Real ones, not those fake digital types. This follows the likes of Luxman and Accuphase who also have BBM’s (Big Beautiful Meters) on the front. It’s a 70’s thing for me ; )

So to be clear here, this amp is not for those looking for an all in one. If you want to stream digital music to this amp you will need a streamer and a DAC going into it. You can use anything from a $200 Wiim Pro streamer all the way up to a $20k digital source to get digital tunes into the Yamaha. A huge expense is not needed though the better you feed it, the better it will sound. I did try a WIIM Pro + streamer and DAC but mainly used a Hifi Rose RS130 Streamer ($5200) along with a LAIV Harmony DAC ($2700) for my evaluations in this review. I tested the amp with a variety of speakers priced from $1200 to $9k.

Good Old Fashioned Class A/B Analog Power

In todays world it seems most new amplifiers made for home audio are indeed the “all in one” type, many use Class D amps inside of them as well, which can be really good or well, not good at all. These pieces can be superb but also can be just average on a whole, depending on the model. I’ve seen some gimmicky pieces that sounded flat and uninspiring but have also heard some that are true top performers. Going back to the 3200, this is the kind of amp one may or  want to keep for life. For its looks, it’s build, it’s vibe and who knows, it may be very desirable 15 years from now when NEW analog amps may cease to exist. (Just a guess).

Ask yourself this: Are you a critical listener with a dedicated system where you listen in the “sweet spot” or do you just use your system for background music in your home. If you just want background music to fill the space an amp like the 3200 is not needed (but heck, still desirable for its looks and build quality). Just get any decent all in one and fill your home with gorgeous music. If you like to sit, like me, in a spot set up for max soundstage, depth and experience then an amp like the A-S 3200 can be a real treat indeed, as well as an instrument that allows you to hear what your other gear really sounds like.

The Yamaha A-S 3200 is the brands best integrated amplifier and it is not inexpensive. The question I had was “is it worth the retail cost” of $7999.00?

Yep, eight grand is what this gorgeous piece of tech will cost you though it is quite easy to find great deals on this piece. I will tell you how in this review.

The Yamaha A-S 3200 is the most beautiful integrated amp I have had in my space. I prefer it to the $12k Luxman 595 ASE in looks (as well as sound). This Yamaha is a beast of an integrated but also has something special about its sound reproduction. It competes with Luxman and Accuphase and can easily hang with them. The Yamaha doesn’t sound like those amps though…

The A-S 3200 features RCA and XLR inputs as well as a dedicated phono stage that is said to be spectacular for a built in job. This beautiful beast is also a fully balanced amp from circuit to speaker. It’s also the quietest amp I have ever experienced, including the class D models. It houses a big toroidal transformer that has zero buzz or hum and even has full mechanical grounding. Phew. It also has some upgrades over the older A-S 3000.

There is a headphone amp as well, with adjustable gain. It has been sounding luscious and rich with the new Verum 2 headphones from Ukraine. This is the only head amp within an integrated that I have found to be commendable. It doesn’t best my $4k dedicated headphone amp but it’s very good.

This amp is also in the dead zone. What I mean is that I never heard a buzz, pop, hum or any noise coming from the A-S 3200. While some amps that arrive here have transformer buzz (so far most that buzzed have been El Core Transformers vs Toroidal which is what is in the Yamaha) the 3200 has zero hum, buzz or noise. It’s part of the design, the overbuilt nature of the 3200.

The underside of the A-S 3200 shows just how well this amp is made. No slop. Thick wires. Screwed in rather than soldered in. An immense attention to detail. Looks to me as if it is built to last a lifetime. 

It Does Vinyl 

Oh, and by the way. I know this amp came out a while back and has bene reviewed by many. I am late to the party but is this amp still desirable in 2024?

Let’s start by testing the built in phono stage. 

I tested the phono stage but only with a moving magnet cartridge. The phono section does allow for use of a moving magnet or moving coil cart but the loading is preset for MC at 50 ohms. This may not be optimal for every MC cart but does work well with the fancy MC carts from Koetsu, if they are a flavor you enjoy. As a MM preamp, I found it to best units I have here that are in the $500-$1200 range but I feel you can better it if you really want to spend more.

As it is though, I was very happy with the MM stage here with my lovely and minimalistic U-Turn Orbit Special (latest Gen). I tested it with an Ortofon Red, Blue and some AT Carts in the $200-$700 range. All sounded fantastic and gave me a big juicy sound with a lower noise floor than a dedicated $3500 phono stage I have here. Crazy. Instrument separation with the MM stage is also quite nice but there is a full bodied sound here as well due to the immense power that the Yamaha seems to have.

Rated at only 100 WPC into 8 ohms and 140 into 4 ohms, this is not a monstrously high powered amp. It is a class A/B amp but it’s not considered a high current design. I tested this integrated amp with many speakers over several weeks and found it lacked nothing in regards to power, drive, energy, focus, beauty as well as dynamics. This amp has plenty of juice to power any speaker as long as it doesn’t drop to 1 ohm or is rated at a very low efficiency, say 83-84DB. I’d say this amp could power 95% of speakers made today with absolute ease.

Heck, even with my more challenging speaker loads of 86DB I listen in my space at a mid level and the amp tells me I am using less than 10 watts (thank you VU meter) to reach my preferred volume.  

THE DESIGN and BUILD

Before I get to the sound of this unit (and it sounds different from Luxman, Accuphase and even lower end Yamaha Integrated amps such as the 801, 1200 and 2200) I must talk of the absolute all out build quality here once again.

The caps in the 3200 now use the capacitors from the brands flagship 5000 series separates ($20k), and caps can really help with refinement of sound. The better the caps, the better the sound. 

This amp is loaded with copper plates, big screws, thick copper wire (all screwed in rather than soldered) and there are no visible screws on the amp itself until you get to the back. It is without question the most beautiful integrated I have had in my home no matter the cost. I have had integrated amps in here up to $25k. None have been as beautiful as the A-S3200. I say that with 100% honesty. There are some amps that woo me from the start but fade over time. This design is classic, and I am an old school kind of guy. I’ve loved this look since the 70’s and I am certain many reading this feel the same.

The piano black sides are made of real wood but they exude class and style. The knobs for the balance, treble and bass (yes there are awesome tone controls included and they do not destroy the sound like some do) are solid, made of metal (not plastic like many amps) and have a premium feel to them, The volume knob is silky as well. Every knob, button or dial is top class and so much nicer than so many other high dollar amps I have had here.

I could speak of one integrated I once owned from a big name brand. Cost $12k retail and the knobs were crooked, plastic and one fell off within 2 days. The Yamaha is leagues better in this regard.

In regards to build and parts quality it sits with the best there is, period. I have owned Luxman amps (The 590 AXII and 595 ASE) and I was shocked to prefer the sound of the Yamaha, but more on that later (and why). Those Luxman amps are gorgeous though, and built to the same level, some will say better but I always like to say “different” as to me, “better” doesn’t exist in audio. We all have different things we like in style and sound when it comes to HiFi Audio gear.

Solid Brass Speaker Binding Posts that are huge, solid and easy to clamp down. 

As for the design, this amp takes me back to the 1970’s but with a modern flair in looks and sound. It’s so much more beautiful in the flesh than in photos or videos.

So this amp for me gets a 9/10 in looks and build for me. Not a 10 as I am sure there will one day. be something I feel looks even nicer ; ) 

So I have heard that Yamaha is not as good as Luxman, McIntosh or Accuphase?

I hear many people say this on audio forums and it is pure rubbish, nonsense and absolutely untrue. The higher end Yamaha amps such as the A-S 1200, 2200 and 3200 absolutely can stand toe to toe with these more pricey brands.

It seems there are some in the “let’s bash Yamaha club” and maybe this stems from the fact that Yamaha has really always been known as a Best Buy type of brand to some. Someone sees a $400 reciever at their local store and then stumbles upon an Amazon listing for an integrated from the same “cheap'” brand for $8000! What are they to think?

How about longevity?

Yamaha has been around a long time. Musical instruments have been their thing forever and this amp is a lot like a musical instrument. In fact that is how I see many HiFi pieces when they are done right. Ive never seen an integrated as over built as the 3200. Yamaha has many classic integrated amps from the 70’s that some still seek out and lust for. They’ve been at it a long time and they do know what they are doing.

As for that Magic I speak of, there is nothing magical about any audio amp, just good engineering and design as well as setup and synergy with the users speakers and room. This is what creates the magic. The room, the setup, the synergy, our mood. Not the amp.  All of these brands I speak of are well known and all are world class when it comes to beauty, design and even sound for what they offer but this Yamaha is no lesser of an integrated then say a Luxman 507Z.

Each brand has a “house sound” and none of these amps sound identical. To those who think all amps sound the same, that is also simply not true in any way, shape or form. The trick is finding the sound you love, for your ears. Some amps are flat, some are boosted, some are colored, some are even “tuned”. The Yamaha for example is a smooth operator with slight warmth, big body and a wide open clear mid-range that lets you see into the music but always keeping the beat and rhythm solid.

This is not an amp for those looking for sizzling detail, nor is it an amp for those looking for big fat syrupy warmth. I will get more into the sound of the 3200 but let’s take a look at some comparisons…

Let’s See…

Pass Labs has a unique sound, and I have had three of their integrated amps in my system. The INT-25, INT-60 and INT-250. All were spectacular but each had its own vibe. What stayed true with all of them was the Pass Labs design and the Pass Labs sound which is basically pretty detailed and very silky up top, a crunchiness and fullness with richness in the mids. Pass has a slight warmth and big bass in the bottom, that is well controlled and tight. These make sweet music but are very expensive. The Flasghisp INT-250 was voted by me as the best integrated amp I have ever tested or used. Does the 3200 better it? Well, no, not really. For sound, the INT-250 is piece that will work well with almost every speaker made, even those that dip down to 1 ohm. It’s a powerhouse but $12k and 100lbs. The Yamaha hangs with the Pass for build (exceeds it actually) and looks better IMO but the pass just has something “electric” about it. The Yamaha has more of an ethereal flow about it.

Accuphase, I have heard two of their integrated amps. Recently I heard the drop dead gorgeous $7k Accuphase E-280 integrated amplifier and I really enjoyed it but for me it wasn’t as open or big sounding as the Yamaha A-S 3200. The Yamaha for me was more engaging, keeping me up at all hours. The Accuphase could do this for me as well but it sounded a bit more constricted in the soundstage vs Yamaha though it did something special with strings and also could touch me emotionally. The E-280 is drool worthy and the starter amp in the lineup. Should be compared more to the Yamaha A-S 2200. I could live with it and would love it but I enjoyed the A-S 3200 just a bit more.

Luxman is superb as well, and they make lifetime amps. The sound of Luxman these days is more tipped up in the treble than Luxmans of the past it seems. For me, it’s almost too much of a good thing in the treble with some speakers so synergy is key here. For me the 595 ASE was too much in the top for some speakers I tested it with but was sublime and heavenly with others.

The Luxman amps also bring a nice smooth buttery midrange and very good bass but not to the level of some of the others. My fave Luxman is still the older 590 AXII but I love the Yamaha AS-3200 just as much for my tastes in sound, today. In other words I am putting the A-S 3200 in the same company as the Luxman 590 AXII, build and sound. The Yamaha sounds smoother, and has bass that bests the Luxman for these ears. To be honest I feel the Yamaha has a slightly better build. I just love the way Yamaha designed this A-S 3200 on the insides.

McIntosh makes some iconic gear indeed, They are legendary in the USA and many save and save for years just so they can buy a McIntosh. I have owned the MA7200, 8000 and 9000. Also a couple of tubed amps and a couple of solid state amps. They were gorgeous amps though much bigger and heavier than I usually like.

The sound of McIntosh is a little warm, not as open or 3D as some of the others but very musical and easy to listen to. They have a rich midband, and solid big fat bass performance. The real beauty of McIntosh lies in the design and looks, which are stunning to some who love that look. I also, long ago, used to own McIntosh separates and enjoyed them with some Sonus Faber speakers back in the day. As cool as they are, the build is not better than the Yamaha 3200. Equal, sure. better? I don’t see it. Both are built to extreme overbuilt levels.

What is the Yamaha A-S 3200 Sound?

The Yamaha A-S3200 sound is different from all of the above, even when using the same streamer (I use my beloved Hifi Rose RS130), DAC (my new reference DAC is the LAIV Harmony) and everything being volume matched. That is the thing, they are all DIFFERENT rather than one being BETTER. If 50 people listened to each amp, they would all have different favorites for different reasons. Each of these brands is awesome, superb and you cant go wrong with any of them. It’s all personal taste my friends. With that said, I am here now to talk about the Yamaha and I have fallen once again for a piece of HiFi that touches my heart.

SOUND of EMOTION

Some talk of emotion when listening to music and yes it is true, at least for me, that when everything is just right in the system and with my mood and space, music can really touch us in many different ways. It can be healing, it can help us to cope with a stressful day, it can envelop us and even take us to another world at times. With music and our mind, we can make a small escape  even if just for a small while. It’s like therapy for me at times.

To get this sound, for me, requires some warmth, beauty and a solid bass foundation to the sound. A little sparkle up top and a richness and depth to the sound.

The A-S 3200’s sound can and does bring that emotion to me when listening and it has done so with every speaker I have hooked up to it from the Borresen X1 ($5500) and X2 ($8800) to the AMAZING Triangle 40th Duettos ($7k) and Closer Acoustics OGY and BOB combo (which is the most airy and transparent of all). Even with the budget audiophile Galion Voyager TL ($1200) the sound is big, bold, full, and smooth with sparkle.

It’s pretty neutral, the A-S 3200, and that is what I love about it. There is no real flavor so if you want fat, slow and fuzzy look elsewhere. If you want analytical or razor sharp surgical imaging, you do not want this amp. If you want something in between, something with a tube like midrange (it has this), superb deep bass performance (finest bass of any integrated I have tested) and smooth extended treble (never hard or harsh but very smooth yet sparkly) then the A-S 3200 can deliver this. 

In my space and with the gear I have here the 3200 has not been forward, aggressive or bright in ANY way except for the first few hours out of the box, when it was a touch sterile and cold. After a few hours it opened up, and after some weeks it has blossomed like a spring flower, fully open and organic.

This amp for me has been fluid, liquid, smooth, slightly warm and with a full bodied sound. Details are here but come out in a natural way vs an etched artificial way. Very natural and enveloping which makes it easy to “fall into the performances”. There is simply nothing offensive going on here, and my brain loves the full big velvet hug from the 3200.

That’s what it feels like when listening to the 3200 with say, the Triangle 40th Duet’s. It’s like the music comes out and gives me a big warm velvet hug as it whispers sweet gentle details in my ear. Lovely.

The 3200 is different from the R-N 2000 and A-S 2200 (was able to get the 2200 in for three days to compare). The build is similar but a step up with the 3200 vs 2200. It’s also a larger amp than both of those pieces.

The sound of the R-N 2000a was more punchy and just a hair less refined, not as all out smooth as the 3200. It also did the imaging thing with a wide stage but was more surgical in this when using the RN2000 DAC. The music had backbone, boogie and refinement but the 3200 does in fact sound like a more “high end” piece. You can hear the improvements that Yamaha made in its smoothness, clarity and it even seems more effortless.

The A-S 2200 was a slight step up in refinement vs the 2000a. It was a bit cleaner and more open. The amps felt effortless when it came to producing music and both of these were amps I could easily live with (and I did live with the 2000a for six months). The 2200 is close to the 3200 in sound but not quite exactly the same.

The 3200 takes it up even more with a more refined sound, even lower noise (this amp is dead silent and I would need a stethoscope to hear anything from it) and it is clearer, wide open and the music is just larger sounding, bigger. It’s also smoother and still has warmth. The treble is silky here rather than sizzling.

The 3200 is the most effortless sounding of the three but the refinements come from the capacitors which are used in the 5000 series. It comes from the parts inside and the way the amp was designed with thick wire, copper plates, grounding, screws and more. Even the all brass feet from the $20k 5000 series help here.

At the end of the day the A-S 3200 bested the other Yamaha amps (though the 2200 is the better “value” and gets close) for me and I even preferred it to the others I mentioned though again, your ears may vary. All are superb. Heck, even the Yamaha 801 is stellar for those on a budget as no one “needs’ to spend so much on an amp. At this level it’s all about the “want”. See the 801 (and the reviews) here. 

No, the 801 will not sound like the upper tier Yamaha amps but it’s still very very good and GREAT for the money it costs.

WAY TOO EXPENSIVE? 

Let’s take a look at the price of the Yamaha A-S 3200. It retails for $7999.00. Eight thousand dollars. I remember when the older A-S 3000 came out and I bought one new for $6k, which was the retail price. I was shocked that a Yamaha was $6k back then but these days I understand why these cost what they do.

Since the 3000 we are now looking at $2k more for an amp that LOOKS exactly the same. Yes, the looks are just like the 3000 but the 3200 does offer these improvements which does help with a slightly more refined sound. I can only go from memory on the 3000 but when I owned it I remember it having a slight coolness to the mids where the 3200 does not. Nothing cool, dry, grey, forward or colored about the mids of the 3200.

Even so, cant go wrong with a used A-S 3000 if you can find one as I am sure deals are out there though I admit, you rarely see a 3000 or 3200 for sale on the used market. That’s a good sign : )

At $8k there are many amps out there one could look at in the realm of integrated analog amps. Pass Labs, Luxman, Accuphase, Hifi Rose, NAD and COUNTLESS others. New brands seem to launch monthly! 

Heck, the Pass INT-25 is close to $8k these days and it gives 25 watts per channel. All Class A. It will sound sharper, more energetic in the treble and will have clearer mids vs the Yamaha. Then again, the Yamaha will never fatigue your brain and just always has that welcoming big warm hug kind of sound yet with a superb clarity all at the same time.

After living with the 3200 for many weeks now I can easily state that this amp is worth every cent of its asking price. With that said, one can get it for much less than this price, brand new.

CHECK THE LIVE PRICE HERE as it changes ALL THE TIME!

Amazon sells this amp and normally it is listed for $8k. BUT, if you refresh the product page 2-3 times a day you may find it pop up between $4900-$6700 depending on day, time and who is selling it. Sold and shipped direct from Amazon via prime and sometimes from authorized dealers as well. At these discounts it’s almost a no brainer if you are in the market for an amp of this price and quality.

So no, you do not have to pay retail as you can get it for much less right from Amazon just as I did.

I will do my best to describe the sound of the A-S 3200 as used with various speakers.

THE SOUND

The Yamaha A-S 3200 has a big, dynamic, wide open clear sound but it is in no way bright or sharp sounding. It’s interesting to me that some say these are bright amps. What I hear is a large scale big open and clear sound but with warmth in the mids and upper mids. No artificial bass boost (but this puts out some bass power when called upon) at all so it sounds natural and real. Live music sounds live with power and force. Vocals sound sweet and liquid with some fullness and solidity. The bass is natural but when in the recording it shows you what bass is, with definition, clarity and some oomph.

This amp does have a sweet treble but that treble is of the velvet variety rather than the snappy crisp version. That word kept popping up in my notes…”VELVET” over “SIZZLE” so if you like those crazy airy highs, this is not the amp that can do the best in this area. This is not an airy amp, it’s old school in a way and gives a more inviting, intimate sound yet with power and grace both.

As for the midrange it is very clear but has some weight and warmth to it though not too much as Yamaha designed this to bring exactly what is in the recording to your speakers. It’s a truth teller of sorts but not the analytical type (of which I can not stand as those are fake sounding tuned for detail) as we hear the details, and depending on your source and DAC this could go from extreme lower level micro and macro details to details that jet into the room. Also depends on your speakers. Listening to the Borresen X2’s are quite the treat as the Yamaha brings the drive and dynamics but again, with warmth and force. The music just flows and wraps around you.

With the Closer Acoustics OGY and BOB the room lights up with sparkle, showing the Yamaha can do this if the speakers are the right match. Even so, I have never heard the OGY/BOB sound so good as the Yamaha smooths out the top end slightly which is quite revealing on the OGY, making the performance once again, more fluid and liquid vs analytical and dry.

In fact I found the 3200 to be one of the finest reviewer tools out there. Finally, and amp that is neutral and can show the differences in speakers, DAC, streamer and yes, even cables. It will allow the character of your speakers to shine rather than adding a bass boost or treble boost as sone amps do.

With the LAIV Harmony DAC (my new reference) the sound is incredible with the 3200. Using the Hifi Rose RS130 with the Harmony brings some of the finest digital sound I have heard from any system I have owned to date. This DAC is one of those rare special pieces that perform on the next level yet it costs thousands less than what it competes with.

I will have a review of the LAIV Harmony soon but it’s remarkable and different from any other DAC I have tried. It’s like it breaks through to offer a new level of performance and the design is remarkable. I believe 6 Moons, a review site, just made it their reference DAC and they deal in some very high end gear. This DAC will be the one to watch.

The inside of the amp shows us the actual thick copper wires screwed in. This is a very high level of detail. 

LISTENING

As I listen to the new song from Strand of Oaks “Party at Monster Lake” on my OGY and BOB combo from Closer Acoustics, I hear it in a way that infects my soul with a beat. I am swaying and moving as my wife comes in the listing room singing the line “Something about the rain”. Details are immense and the OGY’s have a touch of brightness that adds shimmer and shine. These speakers love the Yamaha.

Soon we both get up and dance in the room. How cool is that, it even got my wife Debby into the groove. The sound is huge and room filling and a bit other worldly in its vibe but that could be a Strand of Oaks thing. Have a listen to their “In Heaven” album, it’s remarkable and sounds gorgeous and melodic.

Switching to the Triangle 40th Duetto the sound has more mid energy and rhythm, as the bass here is even better than the OGY and BOB combo. These are remarkable speakers in looks, build and sound, made in France. Review soon.

Going to Ulver and their recent live album “Grieghallen 20180528” brought me a bombastic, full bodied and energetic performance from the band. I ended up listening to the entire album and the sound was remarkable when using the OGY and BOB which brought a transparent open treat to behold. Again, it was infecting my bones, my mind and lifting my mood.

When “1969” came on I was deep inside of the music. This time I had those flagship speakers from Triangle on hand, the 40th Duettos. Again, these are heavenly and have more mid body and impact vs the OGY/BOB. Also just as big in the bass. Incredible speakers and the Yamaha drives them with authority. These are turning into some of my all time fave 2 way deigns, regardless of cost.

Switching it up to the “Anywhere I Lay My Head” album from you guessed it, Scarlett Johansson, I was treated to a very three dimensional performance ESPECIALLY with the track “I wish I was in New Orleans”. Just WOW, this was a treat and while I am not a huge fan of the album overall it does bring a surreal vibe to the listening room. This track sounded amazing on the Triangle Magellan 40th Duettos as well as the OGY/BOB with the OGY’s bringing a more spatial presentation vs an all out room filling ethereal vibe with the Duettos. With the Borresen X2’s the bass was rich, and the most prominent of all down low but it could be the room. These speakers seems like they want to bust out into a larger room but they sound so sweet, soulful and clean.

Can it DRIVE ‘EM?

I listened to all kinds of music with a few speakers and will talk about those now.

While I had the Yamaha I had speakers on hand from Borresen, Galion, Closer Acoustics, Triangle and Klipsch. I do have a set of Heresy IV in the house again after being without a set for over a year. Still a blast to listen to but after hearing so many super refined speakers the Heresy speakers do now show me their weakness in the treble and refinement.

With the Triangle 40h Anniversary Duetto the sound was about as good as I could wish for. These were my fave with the Yamaha and Harmony DAC, full stop. These speakers look high class, are built to a very high level in France and the sound is to die for when powered with the Yamaha A-S 3200. 

Some associate Triangle with being bright. NO way! Not here. The Triangles bring HUGE big sound with a full bodied midrange and deep bass down into the 30’s. The treble is one of the sweetest I have heard and I may like it better than the Borresen X1’s I recently raved about. The treble of the Triangles are a touch smoother and spatial and also have amazing off axis response. This means if someone is in the room with me and then sit away from the “sweet spot” it still sounds just as good. Not all speakers can do this as some high end boxes sound awful out of the zone.

These speakers are all about refinement, looks, build and luscious sound. The details are all here but they are not bright nor do they image in a surgical way. Rather the images are there (in a set up sweet spot system) but not as cut out of defined in space as some other speakers. This leads to an extreme musical performance that lacks in nothing and gives a euphoric vibe. I have heard way more analytical speakers, I have heard much brighter speakers and I have heard much warmer speakers. These feel like a mix of all as they are detailed yet smooth, warm yet transparent and have a huge bottom end with body to the music.

These are 88 DB efficient and drop down to 4.7 ohms but are 8 ohm speakers. The Yamaha 3200 drives them without breaking a sweat at all.

The Closer Acoustics OGY and BOB combo is the speaker system I called “The Speaker System of the Gods” and I still stand by that. I say this as they are very airy, very detailed, somewhat ethereal and can really get to my emotions at times depending on the recording. There is a purity here that I do not hear from others and the bass is smooth and never overdone, if anything, a little under done maybe with some music. Tight, controlled and never boomy or too thick. To some, these may be too light on their feet as the little tiny 4″ driver OGY has a crisp, somewhat recessed sound. Together with the BOB’s these make for my 2nd fave speaker (that I have here) with the Yamaha.

The Borreson X1’s are speakers that if you like the design of, I can not imaging you not LOVING the sound. Big value here, as these feel, look and sound more like $15k speakers. These are effortless, big, uber detailed and they specialize in producing the hidden details, some you may have never knew was in your recording, The bass is solid and quick as can be, they have punch, attack and big dynamics.

I loved the three dimensions of music that they were able to produce. These are awesome and if they looked like the Triangles I would own a set as we LOVED the sound and wanted for nothing else in regards to sound. The look was just too industrial for our log cabin style house. With that said, while the Triangle sound is different I enjoy it just as much for my personal use. The Yamaha also ran the X1”s with ease and with a touch more warmth than the brands own Axxess Forte 1, which is their perfect match.

With the $1200 Galion Voyager TL speakers the Yamaha did great again, These are not very revealing in the treble like all of the above, but rather are warm, punchy and full sounding with a very smooth non offensive or shouting treble. The bass is big but not as tight as the speakers above. If you don’t have a budget over $1200 and want a warm grooving sound, check out the Galion Voyager TL’s for sure. Compared to the speakers above they may sound a little “Boring” but once your ears get used to the sound you MAY even prefer it! These are musical and non offensive. Very full and fun. These are the hardest to drive of the bunch but no problem for the A-S 3200 from Yamaha.

With Klipsch Heresy IV the Yamaha does VERY well though I may prefer the R-N 2000 with the Heresy as it’s a slightly warmer amp. The Klipsch treble can be a touch much in some situations depending on the room, source, setup, etc. Even so, the 3200 sounded lovely and more open than the 2000. So it may depend on your own tastes.

I heard Yamaha was Bright and Forward, Is this true?

No, it is not true but any amp can sound bright or forward. It will depend on three things.

  1. Your speakers that you choose to pair with said amp
  2. Your room where you place said speakers
  3. Your source that will feed said amp

I can state with 100% confidence that all of the Yamaha Integrated amps I heard did not sound bright or even forward. Rather open, full, rich mids and a smooth slightly sparkly treble. 

Using the HiFi Rose RS130 and Harmony DAC along with the 3200 I get some warmth, huge subsonic bass that is tight, controlled and so detailed and even 3D at times (when in the recording). I get a smooth intimate treble without any harshness, at all. The mids, if anything, are even with the speakers in the stage. Not recessed or forward. The sound is clear and transparent but it brings some beef as well to the foundation but its not a beefy sounding amp in the mids as they are going for clarity here, without being analytical.

This Yamaha is a smooth operator and brings the bass to levels I haven’t heard from any integrated as longs your speakers can bring it. This amp also offers up a creamy liquid midrange. Again, the top end is extended yet very smooth, some may even feel it is slightly rolled off but I do not feel it is. It’s as if the shine is there when it is in the recording and not added with tunings or voicing.

I also removed the high end Hifi Rose and LAIV source and put in a $200 WIIM Pro Streamer and DAC. When I did this the sound thinned up somewhat, the treble was a bit brighter and had some slight grit. I did hear some of the digital edge but this is not from the amp, it is from the source which is a budget source so to be expected. It’s great for almost everyone but to those who are overly and oddly picky (like me) you will want a higher end source to bring out the most from the amp. It can scale with whatever you throw at it.

If you use a cheap source you should not complain that the amp is bright or forward as it would be the source causing this. If you use $300 speakers with this amp then you will not get the most from it. If you place speakers up against a wall in a busy room, well, you will get weird sounds. This amp deserves your attention and to be fed with quality from source to speakers. It’s an amp that can grow with you through life. Only upgrade the DAC and Speakers when you can kind of an amp as the amp is not the bottleneck here.

So no, if you hear brightness it could be your speakers or your source or even the setup in the room. This is not a bright, lean or analytical amp. Nor is it a warm, bloated, veiled amp. It fits in between and is why it is so darn good.

This amp did not come from Yamaha, I bought it after selling off a couple of other things such as a camera and a set of speakers I no longer needed here. So no sponsors here, just me, my cash and the amp. I paid $5400 for it, brand new from Amazon. 

CONCLUSION

I have owned some astonishing integrated amps in my lifetime so far and that is part of the fun of this hobby for me, trying new things. Let’s face it, this is a hobby as many of us love the gear as much as the music. This happens in photography as well with camera gear. It’s a thing, and I love hearing new gear all of the time. Sometimes it’s not as good as what I have heard prior, sometimes it is better and sometimes a piece impresses me so much I cant let it go. Only a select few can hang with me long term but I do have some pieces that have and do.

The Yamaha A-S 3200 for me sits with the best of the best I have experienced in an all analog integrated amp. In build, in style and in sound. It sits with my all time faves like the Pass Labs INT-250, Audio Research VSi 75, Luxman 590 AXII and others. It’s the quietest of the listed amps, thats for sure. It’s as well made if not better than the rest as well. My Luxmans had a transformer hum, the Pass had a slight hum though acceptable, the AR was silent. This Yamaha sounds like its off when on. It also runs ever so slightly warm but not hot in any way. No it doesn’t get hot, just warm.

The key to unlock the beauty of what this amp can bring to the table is that it deserves speakers that are worthy of the amp itself.

In other words I wouldn’t recommend blowing your cash wad on the amp only to be limited for your speakers. My advice would be to get your speakers lined up first and choose the amp to fit the speakers. This amp deserves a source that costs as much as the amp. It even deserves nice cables (though nothing crazy is needed), I use Kinki EARTH cables and I adore them. They have been in for 7-8 months and I love them. The speaker cables bested some 3X the cost of these (they are $799).

This 3200 may be a classic one day. The last of a dying breed of all analog amps? Maybe but not yet. It is no lesser than more pricey brands such as Luxman and Accuphase, it’s just a different vibe. I love the vibe of the Yamaha. The Yamaha produces music with transparency, dynamics, soul, slight warmth, world class bass and it also doesn’t add artificial sound to your music.

It simply allows the recordings you play to be their best and sound like they should. What it does for Piano is spectacular as it can produce the weight of the keys, not all amps can do that.

This is a remarkable amp but be prepared to pay for it! It needs great speakers and a source that is worthy if you want to get the most from it. 

For those who want to spend a bit less, I can easily recommend the Yamaha R-N 2000a, another fave of mine but it is an all in one so it has a streamer and DAC as well. Lovely amp indeed.

The Yamaha A-S 3200 is not cheap at $8k bit yes my friends, it is worth that price, even paying full price. So if you did, do not fret as it is well worth the asking price in 2024 dollars. Sadly it is priced out of most of the audio worlds pocketbooks as these days, times are tough. I sold some things to fund mine, had to. A camera, an amp and some accessories. Do I regret this decision? No way as this amp will serve as the heart of my personal system as well as be used for reviews. It allows me to hear the differences in everything, and that is good.

This is an amp that can last you a lifetime and for some it will do just that. I know a guy who loved his 3200 so much he bought one in Silver AND Black! He was worried they would discontinue it and he wanted a backup. Yamaha has a slew of hardcore fans, and there is a good reason for this. They offer amps in all price ranges from $300 and up, and even their $300 model is great at what it does. Yamaha doesn’t make stinkers in the 2 channel area, at least none that I am aware of. But yes, the more you pay up the line with Yamaha the better it gets.

The A-S 3200 is their statement in the integrated amp world, and it’s worthy to sit among the best of them no matter what you have heard.

As for cost, if you are one who is interested in purchasing this amp you can get a much better price over retail. To get a better price you can find a dealer of your choice OR you can check this link at Amazon. They sell these via prime but every now and again, sometimes every 2 days, they lower the price on almost all Yamaha amps. The 3200 can sometimes be seen via Amazon prime for anywhere from $4800-$6700). I suggest that if you have interest in this amp, check this link as often as possible to see when it gets lowered, Sometimes the silver is lowered, sometimes the black, sometimes both.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE AMAZON LIVE PRICE

That’s it. I love and really enjoy this integrated. It is gorgeous to look at, is amazing in build and remarkable in sound. Nothing bad to say here at all. I can’t wait to see what Yamaha does next for a flagship integrated. I fear this may be the last all analog unit though (hope not as I am hoping they do an A-S 5000 integrated). 

One more thing about this amp that I forgot to mention.

It does take a week or two to open up and sound its best. Out of the box it will be a touch cold, dry. After a few hours it will sound fatter and larger. After a few weeks it will open up dramatically. It’s not just me that says this, it’s almost everyone who owns this amp and reviewers alike. It’s a thing with the 3200, probably due to those massive capacitors. Once it does open up it just lets music flow unrestricted as if it’s BREATHING music.

I went through three stages..

1st day was a touch cold, grey and flat

3rd week things got very bass heavy, soft and treble lacked sparkle

5th week the amp blossomed. Became clearer, more dynamic, had impact and oomph and threw a large wide and deep stage.

After this, the amp no longer changed in sound. 

OH! Also, this amp has pre amp in and out. This means you can use this as a preamp or a power amp. I tested it as a preamp with the Galion TSA75 and the Galion allowed the sound to become airier and “wetter” so the amp did change the sound. This is great as the 3200 is sort of future proofed in this way. You can also use the pre out to go to a sub or pair of subs. As a pre, the 3200 keeps its warm full bodied character though. As an amp, I tested it with a Pass Labs XP12 pre and here I heard the character of the Pass Labs pre more than anything. The sound was more alive and crisp and gave me a shot of adrenaline. So love that the 3200 can also serve as a high end hub if you decide to change up the sound.

As a pre it is full bodied, a touch warm and inviting and well, smooth.

5 Comments

  1. Great review, Steve. I’ve moved up from a AS-500 to AS-1100 and have been very impressed with the performance. On thing that’s preventing me from investing into a AS-3200 is the lack of watts for the price. I want at least 250 watts at 8 ohms for my next amp and the 3200 only provides 10 additional watts over the 1100. Why doesn’t Yamaha provided more power for the price of the AS-3200?

    • Doesn’t need the power as this amp can power almost any speaker with ease. It’s about the even higher level of parts and build, and it does sound better. So, it seems to be about the all out sound quality here. The best amps I have ever heard have ranged from 15-75 watts. Never had an issue driving any speaker. I could see the Yamaha struggling to drive some $80k Wilsons but for 98% of speakers, not an issue.

  2. Hi Steve, I’ve got an A-S1100 an a CD-S1000. It is my first “high end” audio setup. I use the Amp with Focal Aria 926. I really love the sound of it. I also got myself the center speaker and rear speakers from the Aria line, I use them with a Sony AV receiver. Listening to music is a night/day difference, on the Sony there is just so much missing in the music. It also humms very loud, whereas the Yamaha is silent. But for TV and gaming the Sony is very nice.

    I really love the design of the Yamaha Amp, just so timeless and elegant. It will still look nice in 20+ years.
    Enjoy your Amp and best regards. 🙂

  3. I was so glad to read such a thorough review on the 3200. And of course it’s comforting to have specific findings on a piece of equipment that aligns with my own. I’m so glad you touched on break-in as some reviews regarding a cool and thin sound immediately make me think of a lack of time for the 3200 to come around.
    The phono stage IS very good. I’m using an MC Sumiko Starling cart with a Technics 1210G.
    I’ve also tried using a Chord TT2 as a Pre-Amp (using Direct-In on the 3200) and the overall sound is great for the Speakers (Blade 2) and my room. I’ve also used more powerful Amps than the 3200’s specs but somehow the Yamaha digs deeper and is able to sound louder and more effortless.
    Thanks again for the great review!

    • Does your Sumiko Starling sound a bit off at louder volumes? This amp’s 50 ohm impedence means it has a limited overload margin so it works best with 0.3mV or less low output MC carts. I have it paired with a Phasemation PP-300 which sounds great.

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