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Rather more hair shirt and thus definitely high-endig is the 'Pure Direct' function, again to reduce interference currents. Engaged, it defeats the digital output and display (the latter merely retains a tiny play arrow). Mechanically high-endig also is the tray, so smooth and rattle free during loads and ejects in fact that my treasured Fonel Simplicité seems Flintstonian by comparison. Incidentally, Yamaha uses a belt-activated metal post for the open/close procedure.

Sound A-S700
Other countries, different customs and listening habits. This explains for example why Yamaha retains Herr Volker Düsing, an engineer whose duties include voicing adaptations to European hearing sensibilities that more or less clearly differ from the Far East. Fundamentally, the Japanese are used to far higher levels of environmental noise and mostly live in apartments with thinner walls. Hence their audio components are often voiced for stronger bass, says Düsing. Well, particularly fat or bullish the voicing for the A-S700 integrated meant for the German market is not. Rather, open, transparent and fresh were among the earlier entries for my listening notes.

Without question, the 700 is resolved. On the well-recorded "Complexity" of Front Line's Assembly with its potent presence region and treble balance, the various sonic fingerprints of complex electronic sounds were delivered with exceptional accuracy. With its related rhythmic talents, the A-S700s tonal character clearly is no soft-spoken charmer. Rather, it proceeds in a fresh, brisk manner. Piano attacks (as on the title cut "Brainfire and Buglight" on Trio M's 2007 Big Picture) veer more into the offensive and come across a tad more forward than customary. Percussion-heavy cuts or whipper-snap hyper-damped electronica beats retain all their dry edginess without softening.

The A-S700 extended said dryness not only to my demanding Thiel CS 2.4s but applied the same grippy control over the entire bandwidth including the treble. Hence cymbals neither melt like gelato nor exhibit shyness. While devout warmth and smoothness lovers could disagree, this is about enunciation though, not nerve-rattling. As is clearly expected in this league, the small Yamaha amp lacks the fine delineation, the silkiness of rather dearer amps yet it offends not with obvious harshness. To make friends requires mention merely of two further specifics where, in an apple/pear kind of way, it differs from our highly rated Abacus Rieder Ampino (€530), a purist amp that's been stripped down to the bare essentials and in matters of trim and connectivity, thus is a far cry from the full-featured Yamaha.

That a warmth-dialed fulsome foundation and attendant bass fleshiness wouldn't go with its fleet-of-footness the reader will already have gathered for the 700 (though overtly warm the Ampino isn't either). But it's not as though a first audition would elicit instant "lean amp" comments. Our tester's briskness simply implied that relative to its treble and particularly upper midrange, the bass seemed a bit recessed. Instruments like "Brainfire and Buglight"`s double bass demonstrated less mass and saturation, guitar strings on Satellite's "Heaven Can Wait" (from 2007's Into the Night, admittedly not an audiophile bonbon) more thinness than other amps. Overall though, the extent thereof isn't a serious demerit, specifically not in this price class. Simply apply common sense in speaker selection. Further of note is a flawlessly wide and open soundstage, albeit with a localization focus that's rather looser than strict hifi ideals might wish. I noticed this first on densely packed pieces. Personally, those are easier digested when dimensional structuring is more acute. But that's very much a matter of taste.

Sound CD-S700
Where the amp's showing was solid relative to price expectations, the matching CD player was outright surprising. On one hand, qualities similar to the amp made for flawless transparency and timing. Just don't expect soft focus. But the CD-S700 had more and Sand's Still Born Alive showed it off nicely. The opulent construct of "Airlock" relies on a potent underpinning of bass and any low-fat interpretations simply don't cut the mustard. Yamaha's small spinner handled this challenge properly pressurized, scaled and extended, without artificial gelatin, just right on the money. Nice.

As with the 700 amp, staging was broad and open but additionally, nicely stable and well sorted. On Robert Wyatt's "On the Town Square" from Comicopera for example, guitar, sax, steel drum and assorted percussion spread out and layered very realistically, a feat that escapes most competitors in this and higher price ranges to become a veritable Achilles heel. Without further elaboration, I can thus predict that this machine will go eye to eye with dearer ones such as the commendable audiolab 8000CD (which is more shaded on top or more sophisticated depending on your bias) or my long-in-the-tooth but still competitive Audiomeca Obsession II (which is somewhat silkier but exhibits less drive). In short, for €479, I did not expect this.

To be clear, in both high-end terms and in what tends to come through our revolving doors, Yamaha's A-S700 integrated and CD-S700 player are priced very modestly. Mated to ancillaries not of the slim analytical bend, the amp is clearly capable to satisfy more demanding listeners, particularly those who are keen on good timing and transparency. The CD-S700 plainly transcends its price and should be auditioned even if 4-figure sums could be spent. One might well conclude that such funds are better spent elsewhere where they reap more substantial sonic advances.

Yamaha's A-S700 integrated is characterized by...
  • Resolved transparency
  • Impeccable rhythmic fidelity aka timing
  • A somewhat brisk fresh balance on the lean side though without artificial hardness
  • A nicely open sizeable stage with somewhat soft-focus image lock
  • Suitability for more challenging loads
  • Solid workmanship except for the four frontal controls and speaker terminals which don't inspire much confidence
  • Useful feature set.

Yamaha's CD-S700 player is characterized by...

  • Resolved transparency
  • Impeccable rhythmic fidelity aka timing
  • Good tonal balance that's firm, not soft of control
  • A nicely sizeable stage with sharp image focus
  • Flawless workmanship particularly with the loader
  • Useful feature set.

Facts Yamaha A-S700

  • Genre: Integrated amplifier
  • Weight: 10,9kg
  • Dimensions: 435 × 151 × 382mm (W x H x D)
  • Trim: Black or silver
  • Output power: 2 x 90 Watt/8 Ohm
  • Power consumption without signal: ca. 16 Watt
  • Operational class: AB
  • Inputs: 5 x single-ended sources, 1 x MM phono
  • Other: variable loudness control, impedance switch, outputs for two speaker

Facts Yamaha CD-S700

  • Genre: CD player
  • Weight: 6,2kg
  • Dimensions: 435 x 96 x 300mm (W x H x D)
  • Trim: Black or silver
  • Power consumption without signal: ca. 16 Watt
  • Outputs: 1 x analog, 2 x digital (Toslink, S/PDIF RCA)
  • Other: USB input (WMA, MP3), defeatable display and digital outputs
  • Website
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