Hot: Clarity, with a middle-of-the-road presentation – neither too imposing or relaxed. Won’t trip up driving difficult loads for long hours, played at reasonable levels. Well staged vocals, with good focus, a dash of warmth occasionally, but allows a deep insight into the recording. Inky sonic backdrop, allowing gentler nuances to sift through without editorial. Impressive degree of detail and finesse, belying its entry-level pricing. Well suited to gentler music, especially with acoustic trappings. Ultimately quiet involving, unless …
Cold: … your musical diet comprises hard rock and beyond or dance, then you might want to look at something with more grunt and drive. Controls on the front seem somewhat fragile.
Encore: The retro styling will appeal to old-school audiophiles, so will the sound, if you’re into lighter forms of music, like folk, female vocals, jazz and such. Yamaha obviously has a plan, and that it hasn’t caught on is more a reflection of the time the company has spent away from purist hi-fi than any major shortcomings of the S500. Ultimately, and within the above context, an attractively-priced amp around which one can build a pretty decent stereo rig.
Specs: 85 watt-per-channel RMS stereo integrated amplifier / Controls for volume, source select, bass, treble, balance, loudness, record and speaker selection / Headphone output / Pure direct mode / 2 sets of speaker terminals with resistant loading guide / iPod dock terminal (dock optional) / Subwoofer output / 6 line inputs, 1 phono MM input, 2 sets of record output / Captive power cord / Remote control / Dimensions: 435 x 151 x 387 mm (w/h/d), 10.3kg / Finish options: Silver, black