AV Peripherals and Systems Guide
ASUS and Yamaha Team Up for Audio Extravaganza
When it comes to high end audio, Yamaha has always been a force to reckon with. Over the years, their home theatre products have set the standard for what users should expect when looking to improve their audio experience. At an event held at the Park Royal in Singapore, Yamaha has introduced another slew of products aimed to take your listening experience to the next level.
The Soavo Speaker Series
The word "Soavo" means "graceful voice" and the Soavo speakers seek to deliver natural sound. There has been a five-year break between the last set of Soavo speakers and the new up-coming introductions. The single biggest change in the updated Soavo speaker line-up is the upgraded and improved paper cone for better reproduction of high resolution audio. In a way, Yamaha is keeping up with the ongoing trends by offering better tuned products for improved audio source materials like SACD and especially high resolution and high bit-rate digital audio sources. The other notable change is the increased variety of color options and finishing to better fit your ambiance and intended use.
The new products include a 3-way bass reflex floor standing speaker dubbed the NS-F901, a 2-way bass reflex center speaker in the shape of the NS-C901, and a 2-way bass reflex bookshelf speakers in the form of the NS-B901. For audio purists interested in outstanding high resolution stereo sound source reproduction, Yamaha recommends recommends the heavier NS-B951 bookshelf speaker pair as they come with a slightly larger tweeter and a larger 16cm (6.5-inch) woofer rather than the 13cm (5-inch) woofer found on the NSB901 speaker pair that's better used for surround/side speakers. As a result of its larger woofer, the NS-B951 has a lower frequency response range too. Also included in the new Soavo Speaker series is a dedicated sub-woofer called the NS-SW901. The sub-woofer comes with a front firing orientation and Advanced YST II features, but apart from more color options to match the new main speakers, it's mostly similar to the Soavo-900SW model it replaces.
The Soavo 901 Series will be available for Pre-Order now at the following prices.
1. NS-F901 (Piano Black and Piano White) S$5999, NS-F901 (Brown Birch, Dark Brown Birch and Black Birch) S$5299
2. NS-C901 (Piano Black and Piano White) S$1299, NS-C901 (Black Birch and Brown Birch) S$1199
3. NS-B901 (Piano Black and Piano White) S$2499,NS-B901 (Black Birch and Brown Birch) S$2339
4. NS-SW901 (Piano Black and Piano White) S$2599, NS-SW901 (Black Birch and Brown Birch) S$2399
5. NS-B951 (Piano Black and Piano White) S$2899, NS-B951 (Brown Birch, Dark Brown Birch and Black Birch) S$2599
The Aventage Series
The exciting new additions to the Aventage series come in the form of a new flagship pre-amplifier and power amplifier combo under the A5000 banner.
The pre-amplifier is called the CX-A5000 and is capable of handling full 11.2-channel surround sound. It uses an ES9016 Sabre DAC and four cinema DSP engines to ensure high quality audio. Taking a peek at the back of the product reveals that it uses high grade XLR ports for hooking up speakers. There are also eight HDMI input ports and two HDMI output ports.
Yamaha has designed the CX-A5000 to be a product that users can employ for a long time. The pre-amplifier comes with 4K Ultra HD pass through capabilities and also provides upscaling via Yamaha's video processing. In addition users can also access music streaming service Spotify with the help of the CX-A5000.
The Yamaha MX-A5000 power amplifier is the perfect companion for the CX-A5000 to handle power needs for an 11-channel system. Yamaha was also keen to stress the fact that the A5000 combination is an excellent solution for users looking to set up multi-zone audio systems.
The Aventage CX-A5000 pre-amplifier and MX-A5000 power amplifier will retail for S$3699 and S$3999 respectively, available in both Titanium and Black color options.
Yamaha also welcomes a few other products to the Aventage series. Announced a little while ago, the Aventage RX-A730 and RX-A830 amplifiers have been available for a while. Now the other amplifiers in the shape of the RX-A1030, RX-A2030, and RX-A3030 are also available for retail and board ESS ES9000 series DACs. These new additions are priced at S$1899, S$2499 and S$3199 respectively.
Another product worth mentioning is the Yamaha RX-S600 AV receiver. With a slimmer profile and a support for wireless playback over AirPlay and DLNA as well as access to Spotify, the product looks to be targeted at modern audiophiles who may not have the space and capacity to set up a full fledged AV theater in his or her home. With a slim body of just 111mm in height and 320mm deep, the RX-S600 would fit perfectly fine in narrow AV racks that are often seen in current home decor trends. The AV amplifier has features mostly similar to Yamaha's RX-V475, but because of its slim line chassis, its power output is rated for only 60W per channel (6 ohms, 20Hz - 20kHz) instead of 80W per channel at an almost similar price point. The RX-S600 will retail for just over S$800.
The Sound Bars
Yamaha sound bars have an uncanny ability to excel and provide an amazing home theater experience. There were two specific sound bar products unveiled at the event. Do note that the new products are additions to Yamaha’s sound bar selection and will not be replacing any older all products.
First up is the YAS-152. The sound bar’s size is designed so as to be compatible with TVs ranging from 55-inch to 65-inch in size. Armed with two 6.5cm speakers, two 8.5cm woofers, a digital amp with 120W output and Yamaha’s Air Surround Extreme Technology, the YAS-152 provides virtual 7.1 surround sound. It is also Bluetooth compatible and has its own control app for both Android and iOS devices. The Yamaha YAS-152 is priced at S$699.
The second Yamaha sound bar is the YSP-1400. The "YSP" nomenclature denotes this product is part of "Yamaha's Sound Projector” series which uses a string of string of array speakers to reproduce accurate surround sound audio by producing beams of sound that reflect off the walls of your room. Beaming accuracy and tuning can be further controlled by the remote and onscreen settings. The YSP-1400 has eight beam drivers (2.8cm each) and two woofers (8.5cm each) at either end to deliver 5.1-channel surround sound. Like the previous sound bar, it is also compatible with Bluetooth and comes with an app for Apple and Android devices. The price of the YSP-1400 is S$799.
The S3000 Series
The last two new products from Yamaha are billed under the S3000 moniker and represent high end, high fidelity, personal audio listening. The S3000 series includes the CD-S3000 which is a compact disc player and the A-S3000 which is an integrated amplifier.
From a design perspective, the A-S3000 is a gorgeous looking amplifier. It comes with an analogue VU meter display which lends the product a touch of old-school elegance. Yamaha has also simplified the circuit design from the previous S2000 integrated amplifier and created their own unique floating and balanced amplifier technology, which adopts MOSFETs to realize complete left and right symmetrical design. This ensures great signal-to-noise ratio and a well-defined sound field.
The CD-S3000 CD player on the other hand accomplishes superior vibration control and ultra-precise signal reading via optimized high-precision rigid CD mechanism. Besides playing compact discs the device can also handle digital sources and high quality formats such as FLAC via USB at the rear.
Both the A-S3000 integrated amplifier and the CD-S3000 CD player are priced at S$6999. They are available in Silver with Piano Black sides finish, Silver with Birch Wood sides finish and Black with Piano Black sides finish.
ASUS' Audio Offering
Alongside Yamaha, ASUS also announced the launch of its Essence III pre-amplifier, USB DAC and headphone amplifier. Targeted at discerning audiophiles, the Essence III boasts a couple of high-end features such as balanced outputs and support for Direct Stream Digital (DSD64 and DSD128 encoding rates).
Ives Chiu, product manager of ASUS Multimedia Business Department, said that "Essence III is more than the flagship product of our audio range. It is a representation of how dedicated and how serious we are in the pursuit of high-quality audio. We have crafted Essence III to be just as satisfying to use as it is to hear."
To achieve these lofty claims, the Essence III comes with dedicated AD1955 DACs for each stereo channel and separate circuitry for analog and digital signals as well as power delivery. The 6-layer PCBs used are also filled with copper ground layers for added isolation. All these help to minimize interference and distortion.
ASUS also employs a "listening panel" consisting of audiophiles, musicians and sound engineers to fine tune the sonic characteristics of the Essence III. The result is the decision to go with premium ceramic AD 827SQ and Japanese-made MUSES 02 op-amps to deliver the ideal sonic signature.
The Essence III is available now for S$3499 and comes bundled with Mini XLR to XLR converter cables.