Yamaha 5000 Series Premium Hi-Fi Audio Components Targets Audiophiles
At the 2016 Tokyo International Audio Show, Yamaha made a bold statement about the company’s commitment to high-end two-channel audio with the introduction of a new flagship loudspeaker, the $15,000/pair NS-5000. Seen by many as the spiritual successor to Yamaha’s iconic NS-1000M speaker from the late 1970s, the NS-5000 has won the hearts of critics and audio enthusiasts the world over, with its combination of retro styling and high-tech Zylon fiber drivers. Now Yamaha is building upon that success with the U.S. debut of a new series of audio components dubbed the 5000 Series, which according to Yamaha represents “a new standard of components designed for the most discerning and passionate audiophiles.”
The 5000 Series comprises the GT-5000 turntable ($8,000), the C-5000 preamplifier ($10,000), and the M-5000 power amplifier ($10,000). Like the NS-5000 speakers, the new 5000 Series components pay homage to classic Yamaha gear — specifically the Yamaha 1000 and 2000 series components, which were introduced over 40 years ago. Those classic components still maintain a dutiful following among Yamaha fans. The new 5000 Series is the result of eight years of research and development and takes advantage of both Yamaha’s experience building musical instruments, and the “knowledge and insights gained over decades of collaborating with world-class recording and performing artists,” according to Yamaha.
While the GT-5000 turntable, C-5000 preamp, M-5000 power amp, and NS-5000 speakers all promise excellent performance as stand-alone components, Yamaha says that they were designed to work together as a complete system. The company hopes and expects prospective customers to be won over by the simplicity and inherent synergy of a start-to-finish audio system that has been precisely engineered to deliver “perfectly balanced audio transmissions from cartridge to speaker output, for premier performance.”
With this new system, the focus is less on the individual components and more on the immersive and uniquely moving experience created for the listener. Achieving purity of sound is critical, and our new 5000 series was designed with this, and the discerning listener, in mind. Authentic sound reproduction is in the Yamaha DNA, from our musical instruments and the smallest wireless speaker all the way to our flagship Hi-Fi gear. That is the entire concept behind the 5000 series. It’s an achievement in both art and sound.
— Alex Sadeghian, Director of Consumer Audio, Yamaha Corporation of America
At the front of Yamaha’s flagship 5000 Series system sits the GT-5000 turntable, which is slated for release in early 2020. The turntable is said to draw inspiration from the design of the Yamaha GT (Gigantic and Tremendous) series of turntables, which were very successful in the Japanese market. The GT-5000 is certainly a looker, with its tall and massive wooden cabinet finished in the same piano black gloss that adorns the company’s elegant grand pianos. The cabinet sits on heavy-duty, custom-built feet, which provide stability for the 11.5-pound outer platter and 4.4-pound inner platter. The carbon fiber and copper-plated aluminum tonearm promises “superior rigidity, weight balance, and mechanics, resulting in improved traceability.” The GT-5000 is claimed to offer an especially smooth sound thanks to a custom belt-drive system with quartz timing to minimize the influence of the 24-pole, 2-phase AC synchronous motor.
Next along the signal chain comes the C-5000 preamp, which is available to purchase now. The C-5000 is a dual mono design with fully balanced, discrete circuits. According to Yamaha “each channel resembles a mirror image of the other, allowing all signal transmission, power supply and ground connections to be minimized in a revolutionary way.” This symmetrical, book-matched circuit design allows for the shortest possible signal paths and makes for an especially tidy internal layout. The unit boasts excellent channel separation and voltage stability, thanks to a separate toroidal transformer for each of the two channels, and the impedance of the power supply is reduced through the use of thick wires and screw-type connections. A copper-plated chassis minimizes the influence of voltage on the circuit, and Yamaha’s patented circuit design also removes the influence of ground noise from the audio signal by “floating” the phono EQ, input amp, and line amp stages. The C-5000 features both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, plus trigger outputs and a headphone jack.
Editorial Note about Balanced Audio by Gene DellaSala
The type of fully differential balanced design Yamaha employed in the 5000 series components represents the very best circuit topology with respect to noise immunity and distortion. This is a more costly and complex design approach but can yield significantly better performance over single-ended circuit designs that utilize a phase splitter on the last stage to convert to balanced which is often found in most consumer audio components.
If Yamaha has its way, customers will be connecting the C-5000’s outputs to the inputs on the matching M-5000 power amp, which is also currently shipping. Despite the “M” in its name, the M-5000 isn’t a monoblock, but a stereo amp delivering 100W/channel into 8 ohms, and 200W/channel into 4 ohms (20Hz-20kHz, 0.07% THD, 2-channels driven). The M-5000 can be used as a 400W monoblock to power an 8-ohm speaker, but it’s unclear whether Yamaha would recommend this configuration with the 6-ohm-rated NS-5000 speakers, which dip down to 3.5 ohms at some frequencies. Like the C-5000, the M-5000 features a patented circuit design in which the power supply “floats” from the ground, removing “undesirable impacts of minute voltage fluctuations or ground noise.” The amp employs a massive toroidal transformer, and a “mechanical ground concept,” which sees the power transformer, block capacitors, and heat sink all fixed mechanically to the frame, to eliminate vibration. The back of the unit features RCA, XLR, and trigger inputs, as well as pure brass speaker terminals. The front panel is dominated by high-precision meters behind Asahi glass.
Editorial Note About Amplifier Power by Gene DellaSala
Looking at the internal components of the M-5000, it appears Yamaha conservatively rated the power in this amplifier. This is especially clear to me since the M-5000 is rated to deliver the theoretical 4X power in bridged mode over stereo mode. Most brideable amplifiers utilize a lower tap on the power transformer to limit power in bridged mode to avoid running out of the thermally safe operating area. This amplifier definitely has some teeth and we'd love to see how it tests on our bench some day in the near future.
Yamaha Audiophile Roots Remembered
At launch, the 5000 series will only be available in the United States via six exclusive Yamaha “experience centers,” located throughout the country. These include Abt Electronics and Music Direct in Chicago, Shelley’s Stereo in Los Angeles, Soundlux Audio in Miami, Stereo Exchange in New York City, and Gramophone in the Washington, D.C. area. We love the audiophile focus this series of Yamaha products are designed for as it brings them back to the roots that established such a loyal fan base for the brand decades ago.
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