Until last week, I had never heard of Yamaha’s M series of amplifiers from the early 80s and certainly didn’t plan to buy one. I was looking for a cheap pre-amp to use with the Adcom GFA-555 that I recently acquired (and am still repairing) and stumbled upon a Yamaha C-60. After a few google searches returned good reviews, I picked it up for $100. As I was leaving the owner mentioned that he had gotten it from his uncle and also had the matching M-60 (which was not on Craigslist). Having just spent a bunch of money on the Adcom and some other items, I turned him down and went home with only the C-60.
A few days later curiosity got the best of me and I googled the M-60. Not only did it get stellar reviews (aside from a glue issue that I will eventually need to address), but I couldn’t believe the pictures: the amp looks like motherf$@#ing Knight Rider! It has two red LED meters that are absolutely stunning. I could not resist. I ended up calling the guy back and picking up the M-60 for $200, which is more than I would typically spend on a 35-year-old amp that I haven’t auditioned. But part of the reason I was willing to spend that much is that the amp looks like it just came out of the box. It is even cleaner than the one in the picture below.
When I hooked up the C-60 and M-60 they looked even better than I expected. In fact, I haven’t been able to find a picture that does justice to how stunning they are. I don’t know if my wife agrees, but I do know that she is tired of hearing me talk about how great they look and how I don’t ever want to sell them, just stare at them.
But how do they sound?
As good as they look. Seriously. Stunning looks, stunning sound. Very clean highs, exceptionally dark backgrounds, clean, tight bass, and I’m not even using them with full-range speakers. So far I’ve used them only with the Dynaudio Audience 40s and I can’t bring myself to either stop listening or change the speakers. Honestly, this thing is killer.
It sounds so good that I’m curious how much it sold for originally. I haven’t been able to find the MSRP online, but I’m assuming it cost a small fortune in 1984-dollars given the sound quality. This combo is definitely in a different league than most of the integrated amps from the late 70s and early 80s that I’ve owned or heard, including my trusty Nakamichi SR-2A.
In fact, this combo is so good that it gives my Naim XS-2 a run for its money. I’m thinking about doing a blind listening test because I honestly think this combo might sound better than the $3600 Naim (retail). It is just so easy to listen to and non-fatiguing. It has a naturalness that I’ve rarely heard, and certainly not in the $300 price range.
It also sounds great regardless of musical genre. It excels with classic rock, handling Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty wise ease and aplomb. It sounds great with jazz and classical, creating especially rich piano and trumpet tones. And it even handles hip hop admirably. I was listening to Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) last night and was hearing lyrics that I was never able to discern before.
The only negatives that I’ve noticed are (1) the amp takes a good 10 minutes to sound its best after you turn it on, particularly in the highs and mid-range, and (2) its runs very hot, which others have commented on as well. But these seem like a small price to pay for such a killer sound. Find one and buy it! Its a steal anywhere under $500.
I have owned an M-60/C-60 combo since the mid/late 80s. The original MSRP of the M-60 amp was around $650 (if memory serves.) I don’t recall what the C-60 cost. I’ve had other amps, but none that I have owned could compare.