Throwback Thursday: The Iconic Yamaha DSP-A1

Yamaha’s iconic DSP-A1 was named one of the year’s best products in the December 1998 issue of Stereo Review, predecessor to Sound & Vision.

Reviewer David Ranada wrote:

“I rarely encounter a component like the Yamaha DSP-A1 ($2,599) that incorporates the best the audio industry can do in many areas at once. At a measured 116 watts per channel with all five channels driven simultaneously, the DSP-A1’s power-amplifier section has enough oomph for all but the least sensitive speakers in the largest listening rooms. Equally important is its unusually low background noise level. The resulting enormous dynamic range perfectly suits the DSP-A1’s built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.

As if that weren’t valuable and rare enough, the DSP-A1 contains the most refined versions of Yamaha’s Digital Sound Field processing that I’ve heard since the technology’s introduction in 1986. As I said in my review, when used on music this multispeaker ambience-generation system “has the uncanny ability to move you into the same acoustic space as the performers.” Nothing I’ve seen since then has displaced the DSP-A1 from its position as my favorite home theater amplifier.

Deus02's picture

I have still in use in one of my stereo systems the AVR equivalent of this unit(RX-V1)pictured exactly as above, in the champagne finish which sadly, has not been offered in Yamaha's product line-up since about the time of these units. A few years ago, I had to replace one of the DACs, however, overall it has performed flawlessly and it is now about 15 years old. Talk about solidly built, it weighs 63 pounds!

If there was one product that Yamaha produced(for a limited period) that may have even surpassed these was their stand alone processor of the time, the DSP A3000 which I also owned in the champagne color, an audiophile($2000/MSRP in the late 1980's) piece of equipment that was used strictly as an ambient processor(no surround sound programs)which, by today's standards, would be somewhat limited in its connectivity and its max. 16 bit processing. However, the choice of programs and the available parameter adjustments were off the chart which when it came to flexibility and the myriad of choices, nothing before or since has come even close. For music, I wish I still owned it.

Craig Mecak's picture

It's in a box in my garage! Anyone want to buy it?

ROCOTO's picture

I agree about the DSP 3000 and the DSP A1. I have both. They are works of art and overkill by Yamaha. It has to be properly set up and perhaps those that do not appreciate it have not done so. It will recreate a concert like you would hear it in a major concert hall.