It’s been too long since I’ve had time to update this blog, but I have a lot of exciting new finds to report. The most exciting is my Yamaha P-2201, which I bought on eBay for $130 plus shipping. I didn’t know much about this amp before buying it, but it turns out to be a beast. It is rated at 200 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo) and has a frequency response of 20Hz to 50kHz with total harmonic distortion of 0.05% or less.
This particular amp was apparently used in a roller skating rink for about a decade before sitting in an attic for years. The faceplate was covered in old scotch tape and other gook, but I was told that the seller had tested it and it seemed to function properly. Boy was that an understatement.
Before plugging the P-2201 into a cheap pair of Infinity bookshelf speakers that I use for testing, I checked the DC offset, which measured a relatively low 30mV on each channel. Feeling comfortable that I wouldn’t blow out the woofers, I connected it to my Benchmark Dac2, which I use as a preamp, and let it rip. (Note that I had to use XLR to RCA cables for the connection, which I bought for $20 from Monoprice). Damn. Even with the cheap Infinity’s I could tell that this amp was something special. I started with a Sarah Bareilles live CD that I know well and was blown away by the amp’s musicality and control, which was the best I have heard on the Infinity’s.
After letting the amp play for an hour at a fairly high volume, it was still relatively cool to the touch. Feeling good that it didn’t have any major electrical problems, I hooked it up to my KEF LS50s (which I will write about soon). I had been listening to the LS50’s with my Harmon Kardon A500 tube amp, but I didn’t find it to be a good match. The A500 makes high sensitivity speakers sing like no other amp I have owned, but the LS50s clearly needed more than 30 watts. With the P-2201, the LS50s immediately opened up and sang like never before.
My first impression was the obvious improvement in the low frequencies. While HK produced somewhat muddled bass with the LS50s, the P-2201 created a tight and clear bassline that was a pleasure to listen to and went deeper than I had heard from the LS50s (or anticipated they were capable of). The was particularly noticeable on jazz and rock tracks, where the bassline suddenly came into focus. While these speakers are not going to produce room-pressurizing bass, with the P-2201 they are capable of producing highly satisfying bass that is taut and musical. I partically enjoyed listening to Beck’s albums Mutations and Guero, where the basslines are both complex and unique. Through the P-2201/LS50 combo, I did not feel I was missing much by foregoing a subwoofer.
While the improvement is bass is perhaps not surprising when comparing a 60-year old tube amp to a 200 watt per channel solid state amp, the P-2201 shined in other areas as well. The mid-range was clear and satisfying, with a great sense of space and differentiation between instruments. While tube amps are known for their warm and bloomy midranges, I did not feel like I was losing much, if anything, when switching to the P-2201. The same was true with the high frequencies. The P-2201 captured the leading edges of notes perfectly and I detected no roll off of any kind, which is not surprising given the specs.
After a day or so of listening to every sort of music imaginable, I got to work cleaning and re-capping the P-2201. The sheer amount of dust and grime inside the case was disgusting, and it was obvious that the amp had never been repaired or even opened. One of the great things about this amp is that it only has 6 capacitors on each channel. I replaced them with Elna Silmic IIs (with the exception of the lone radial capactior, for which I used Vishay part) in less than 2 hours. I deox’d the switches and input terminals, set the bias, and then spent about 3 hours scrapping glue off the front of the case using a product called Goo Gone, which I found on Amazon. It comes with a little plastic scraper, which was a huge help, and I appreciated the fact that it was much less toxic than the other options.
The end result was an amp that basically looks brand new. Not only is there no text missing on the faceplate, but there is not even a ding. The top of the case is equally untouched. This thing must have been put in a rack somewhere (and then an attic) and left untouched for years. I doubt I will find a 40-year product again that goes from looking so bad to so good. That is certainly why I got the deal that I did on eBay.
Sitting here today and looking at the P-2201, I can’t help but think that it is one of those lucky purchases that I will always remember. I bought it in a whim on my phone after deciding to sell my Ayre A-3 (which I will also write about) and couldn’t have imagined at the time that it woudl put that amp to shame for a total invesment of less than $200. I can’t imagine selling it, but who knows, I’m sure in two months something else will catch my eye.
Now I want the P-2200, which is the identical amp, but with beautiful VU meters on the front. Given the price they are commanding, however, it seems others have discovered this gem as well.
Hello BB, I will buy my first p-2201 this week. About the same price as yours. Ok, i’ve only been into gear since I retired-2 years. I have learned a lot, but do not know the in’s and outs of recapping. I read the manual. Great read! I learned a ton about the difference between pro and hi-fi. One question: do I need to add any components in order to use as home hi-fi? I have plenty of xlr to rca adaptors and cords. But will good hi-speaks be safe to use? Thanks very much. ATLjeffro
Hello from Caracas…. Today I found a P2201 in TOTAL mint condition for a similar price. So I am very happy. I believe I will receive this little monster in the last January week. I will be in touch. regards