I spend a lot of time working and I’m one of those developers who will always feel amiss if I’m not listening to music. I feel this way pretty much anywhere I am. Driving the car, at the beach, at a party. Maybe it’s the tinnitus? Silence is a frustration for me since for me there is no such thing. I have an infuriating permanent whine in my left ear which I can hear all the time if I listen for it and I can’t fail to hear it in silence.

Anyway, moving on from that aside, I bought a new stereo for the office today care of Norman Ross’ closing down sale in Lower Hutt. I picked up the demo model Yamaha AX-497 and a brand new pair of Mission 31is. I even had the speaker cables thrown in since they had a whole bunch making a mess of their floor. Here it is:

My new Yamaha AX-497

As it’s replacing a mid-1990s all in one Panasonic piece of rubbish the audio quality is incomparable. Being able to hear the hi-hat hits on the drum kit and the piano hammer action in songs is eargasm material. The closest thing I’ve owned with remotely comparable quality are my Sennheisser headphones. The only problem with headphones is I find them hard to listen to for long periods of time. I’m hoping this new setup will ease my ear load somewhat and rid me of that dreary Panasonic for good (well actually it’s moving a few meters to the garage).

I’ve been looking for a decent stereo amplifier for a long time and have just about bought a few before either 2nd hand or brand new. What generally puts me off is the over the top and unnecessary additions that exist only for the company’s marketing department to create ads around. I’m a real function defines form kind of guy and in this regard the amp ticks a number of functional simplicity boxes

  • It has 7 leds in total. Only¬†one of these leds can be on at any one time (1 for each selectable input and a standby light).
  • It has a power switch not just a standby button
  • It also has a standby button but you don’t need to use this if you prefer the power switch
  • The power button is spring loaded and it physically has an on and off position
  • Other than the power switch and standby button it only has two more switches on the front panel (a poorly named ‘pure direct’ & more fetchingly titled ‘CD/DVD direct amp’)
  • It has two knobs. One for volume, one to change the input.
  • There is nothing else you can do on the front panel (apart from open the settings panel)

Other than the ‘pure direct’ switch I wouldn’t change the front of this amp. I love how there are no stupid trademarks or brands on it that you see plastered all over the home theatre amps. I don’t care about each and every esoteric standard or proprietary format that the amp supports apart from when I buy it. The constant reminder is eye rotting. I also love how the adjustment knobs are hidden behind a subtle drop down panel. Behind this panel are all the classic adjustments that most amps have but with the panel in its standard position, you don’t see any of it and no-one will want to fiddle with them (including me). Brilliant.

As for the Missions? Well they’re pretty deep for bookshelf speakers. They’re making a mockery of my the desk space I gained with my dual monitor stand… Functionally they’re bi-wireable and so is the amp (to the best of my knowledge). So I’ll sort out a second set of cables and see how it sounds then. In the mean time I love them and the sound they make so I’m off to enjoy some Muse, Pearl Jam & Metallica (gutted I missed the concert, had access to a ticket and all but that’s a different story…).

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