(click thumbnail)Yamaha never ceases to amaze me with how they manufacture such a wide range of products. It seems like they do most of them in four-star fashion too. I struggle to comprehend how the same company that made my classic old motorcycle sitting in the garage (a 1984 RZ350/Kenny Roberts replica racer — the last production street two-cycle made in the US) is also responsible for the superb PM5D digital console I mixed a show on last week. Add to that conservatory-quality grand pianos, digital effects processors, ATVs, saxophones, outboard motors and a slew of consumer electronic equipment. The remarkable thing is that nearly every product they produce is well designed and very competent. Therefore, it was with some degree of curiosity that I chose to examine the P3500S power amplifier.
Fast FactsApplications: Live sound, installations
Key Features: Two-channel; 350W per channel; EEEngine technology; high-pass, low-pass filters; onboard processing
Contact: Yamaha at 714-522-9011, www.yamaha.com/proaudio.
The P3500S ($689) is part of Yamaha’s P series amps with models ranging from 275W per channel to 750W per channel (8 ohms stereo). The 3500 has a chassis that is two rack spaces high and 18 inches deep. The unit weighs in at 15kg (33 pounds) and it features a deep blue faceplate with silver trim. Surprisingly, the two more powerful models (the P5000S and P7000S) weigh less than the 3500. This would lead me to guess that those models are equipped with switching power supplies while the 3500 and smaller sibling, 2500 aren’t.
The 3500’s front panel features a power switch, status LEDs (temp, protect and power), two 31-step volume controls, clip and signal LEDs, and two beefy handles. The back panel is home to inputs (balanced 1/4-inch and XLR), outputs (NL4, binding post and 1/4-inch) and a configuration section. Within that section, you will find a filter switch and sweepable frequency knob. The filter switch toggles between Off, Sub-woofer (a low-pass filter), and Lowcut (a high-pass filter). The frequency range of these filters can be adjusted with the rotary control from 25 Hz – 150 Hz with a fixed slope of 12 dB per octave. Also within the configuration section is a mode switch for stereo/bridge/parallel and a switch labeled YS Processing. Apparently, this stands for Yamaha Speaker processing and it engages an EQ circuit that is designed to improve the sound of some Yamaha Club series speakers. This feature, which can only be used when the previously mentioned filter is turned off, is usable with cabinets outside the realm of Yamaha too.
The P series amps utilize Yamaha’s EEEngine (Energy Efficient Engine) technology. It is claimed to make more efficient use of AC power by reducing power consumption and heat generation without degrading output power or sound quality. The P3500 has a power rating of 390W per channel at 8 ohms (1kHz, THD+N = 1%) but it drops to 350W per side when using 20 Hz – 20 kHz and THD+N of 0.1%. The amp also ships with a security cover for the front panel volume controls—a handy feature for install applications.
While most of my subwoofer applications would require an amp with a greater power output, I was able to put the P3500S to use for monitor duty and to power some mid/high cabinets. One impressive feature is the wide range of I/O connectors on the amp. I did not have to scrounge for adapters or special cables when putting the amp into service. Another handy feature is the amp’s sweepable filter. This allowed me to run a biamp monitor mix (with one channel providing lows and the other mid/highs) without external speaker processing. While I realize that this feature is designed to eliminate the need for additional processing equipment, I would prefer a steeper filter than 12dB/octave for such applications. In another instance, I used the filter as a 60 Hz high-pass when running a passive speaker scenario. The amp performed wonderfully and seemed comfortable even when pushing loud wedges for the rhythm section of a 12-piece funk band.
While the P3500S does not rank among the legendary pro audio products Yamaha has created, its performance level far surpasses its price level. With modest weight, good power and flexible I/O, it has potential for a variety of uses. Whether in clubs, worship houses, schools, or even portable sound reinforcement, the P3500S is a capable player. With a list price of only $689, it represents a superb value.
Midas Venice 160 and 320 consoles; JBL SRX 715 and 712 speakers; Audio-Technica AE6100 mics; Rane, Community, TC Electronics, PreSonus processors.