CODA #16 vs Benchmark AHB2 | Yamaha NS500 Speaker

Last week I purchased a 11-month-old Benchmark AHB2 for the 6th time. I am actually $$ positive on the other 5 cumulative buys. The reason I got it again was that I love the sound of this amp, especially on the top end. My prior speakers were Thiel CS3.7 and KEF LS50. The LS50 sounded great with the AHB2 but it is not full range and the AHB2 was not really taxed that much. I even had AHB2 monos with both speakers. The Thiel was not as dynamic as I wanted it to be with both the stereo and mono AHB2 (especially on the low end).

My KRELL DUO 175XD (sold), CODA #8 (sold), and Parasound A21+ (sold) sounded more alive with the Thiel CS3.7. It was the bottom end that those amps sounded better than the AHB2. However, the AHB2 was preferred to all those amps in the top-end, though the KRELL’s super buttery smoothness is something I miss.

I now have 2 new speakers, the Yamaha NS5000 and the Magnepan LRS+. The Yamaha is in my kid’s playroom / audio room (Livingroom), 15x20x25. The LRS+ is in a small office, 12x11x9 (plus a 4-foot closet for desk and monitors). The LRS+ is like the Thiel CS3.7 with regards to the amp requirements, so I never even considered the AHB2. The 2 best amps I have had on the LRS+ are the CODA #16 and the Sanders Magtech.

The Yamaha NS5000 is another story. It is a much better speaker than the LRS+. It is also better than my RAAL SR1a earphones + RAAL VM-1a amp, which I never thought I would say. This speaker is also not that hard to drive. The Yamaha M5000 amp that is recommended for the NS5000 (I heard it) has 100-watts.

My setup is as follow:

  • Yggi+ Less is More DAC + Sonore OpticalRendu streamer
  • Holo Serene preamp
  • CODA #16 amp
  • Yamaha NS5000 speakers (long wall placement with no first reflection issues and a very high ceiling that I think mitigates the speaker being only 18 inches from the front wall. No DSP used but, in the future, I will call Mitch Barnett from to take a look at my setup to get his opinion. He does ROON compliant Convolution filters (DSP).
  • Cables used were Benchmark XLR between the DAC and preamp and preamp and amp. I normally use Audience AU24 SE from DAC to preamp but not this time due to placement issues for the test.
  • Speaker cable is WyWire Platinum. I sold WyWire Diamond a few weeks ago and put the Platinum with the NS5000. It is an OK cable.

The contender was the used AHB2 with the Benchmark speaker cables ($150).

Replacing the CODA #16 with the AHB2 and the Benchmark speaker cables revealed that the AHB2 is still the king on top. Just so smooth and beautiful. The surprise was the bass. Tons of bass, I was not aware that the AHB2 could do bass like this. It was almost like CODA #16 bass. However, there was a hardness to the sound that I could physically feel in my ears.

I should have mentioned that I normally have a Benchmark DAC3B in the Livingroom system streamed via a PlayBack Designs Streamer-IF. The plan is to get the PBD Dream DAC in the future. I first did a ROON grouped stream with the Yggi+ and the DAC3B getting the same signal to do quick A/B comparisons. It was easy to see that the DAC3B was too hot on top for the AHB2. For the CODA #16 that hotness is masked a bit, and it is not a problem.

I left the Benchmark DAC3B behind and just went with the Yggi+ LIM (my office DAC). I was still getting a hint of hardness in the sound. It was not in the top end but in the lower end. For example, on the Eagles Hotel California the drum hits were sounding too hard (physically irritating). It was not as bad as the DAC3B (also bad on top) but still not perfect. Though I was wondering if I could live with it. It sounded pretty good though not perfect.

The next thing I did was try the Yggi+ in NOS mode. That sounded dull to me, and I dropped that as an option.

Then I thought let’s try the WyWire Platinum speaker cable on the AHB2. On the same Eagles song, the drum hits sounded different but still a bit irritating in a different area of the sound.

This got me thinking that the AHB2 is really revealing deficiencies in my speaker cables and maybe with great cables this setup would work. I so happen to have great cables. I have very short Audience FrontRow speaker cables from years ago that I luckily got low balled when I tried to sell. I bought them to use with my old RAAL SR1a setup, but great speaker cables are no longer needed for the SR1a (new solution available).

I converted the AHB2 to mono and tried only 1 speaker with the FrontRow. Now this is not really an apples-to-apples comparison but the irritation I got from the drum hits totally disappeared. I actually did not want to stop listening even though it was only 1 speaker. It sounded amazing, as good as the CODA #16 with the WyWire cables. Now maybe the CODA #16 with longer FrontRow speaker cables, goes ahead again.

I will be buying a second AHB2 to use with the existing short FrontRow cable. Buying a longer FrontRow is much more expensive than getting a second used AHB2. I will move the CODA #16 to the office LRS+ system.

This was a very satisfying result. A couple of things to note. With the AHB2 I prefer a very quiet preamp such as the Holo Serene or Benchmark LA4. I liked the AHB2 with the CODA 07x preamp (sold) but not as much as the quieter Serene and LA4. The AHB2 in stereo mode is not that loud, there are 3 gain settings on the amp. I tried the lowest and middle settings. Getting AHB2 monos gives 6dB more loudness. I would use monos on the lowest setting, where the amp measures the best. The PlayBack Designs DAC with the AHB2 should be killer with this combo. I was not sure if my personal tastes would match the Dream DAC with the CODA #16.



Thanks for posting.  I have an AHB2 and the DAC3 and I find others impressions interesting as I chart out my upgrade path.  For what it is and what it costs, the AHB2 is pretty amazing.  I am not suggesting it the best amp ever.  The fact that you can buy a second AHB2 for less then your new cables made me smile.  

 Your favorable coment about Krell duo XD made me go for one.

Ha Ha

I got the hunch that it will work well with Scaena main tower.


It had been 25 years since I used Krell last time.


Krell KSA 150 worked wonder with Apogee Duetta Sig from 1990 to 1999.


But it sounded too bright with Avalon Ascent Mark II.


Since I also have Raal Sr1a, I am curious how Yamaha NS5000 sound.


Could you upload youtube video here  like below one?




@shkong78 I do not have anything to record my system with.

When I was looking to get the NS5000 it was the worst demo I ever had, but I thought the speaker had potential as I listened to it in near-field almost like headphones. It was not ideal, but I could sense the musicality and coherence of this speaker. I had the worst headache from that demo because the room was terrible. No respect for Yamaha.

I emailed some reviewers that had heard the NS5000 and asked them to compare it with some other speakers that I also knew. Even though I had heard it I was not sure if it was great. One reviewer loved it but said they would take the Vivid Kaya 90 over it (a close call). Hearing what I have now with the #16 and AHB2, there is no chance I take the Vivid (which I have heard). Some people told me that the speaker needs to be far from the front wall. A lot of things that I now feel are not correct based on my room’s dimensions.


Last year, I sold the best amp for the RAAL SR1a, the RAAL VM-1a. I needed the cash to buy an amp for my Magnepan LRS+ speaker, the Sanders Magtech. It was the right choice to make at that time since I listen more to the LRS+ while I work during the day. This upcoming Sat I get delivery of a replacement VM-1a, this amp is likely the last new RAAL VM-1a available. RAAL will no longer brand it since they are only doing headphones.

If you have not done so already buy the RAAL Star8 headphone cable and the Tl-1b or Tl-1c amp interface box. The old box is left in the dust by the new box.

The person delivering the VM-1a has an incredible ear and is a former musician and now audio hardware designer. He had come over a few years back and heard my office gear when I had the KRELL i300 integrated amp (the first Duo XD amp), the CODA #8, and AHB2 monos. He hated the AHB2 and loved the KRELL. He was not that enthusiastic about the CODA after hearing the KRELL. We were listening with the SR1a and the old RAAL interface box. The AHB2 are awful with the old box, which is interesting since the Alex the designer in Serbia used the AHB2 to design the SR1a.

The KRELL was the best sounding amp I had for the SR1a until the VM-1a came out, then all 2-channel amps were left behind. The new amp interface box I mentioned can bring the 2-channel amps to almost VM-1a levels, which is an amazing achievement. I currently use a $800 Schitt Aegir Class A amp that is 20-watts. The new box allows low wattage amps to work with the SR1a unlike the old interface box that required at least 100 watts and 200-watts being my standard. The CODA #16 is also great with the new interface box, though still not VM-1a level.

I have an open offer with a dealer to trade in my CODA #16 for the new KRELL KSA i400 amp + $20k. Now that I have made peace with the AHB2 I am not going to do that.

I should add that the SR1a and the NS5000 had some similarity for me. The coherence of the 3 drivers on the NS5000 sounds very much like the SR1a. However, the NS5000 is a bass monster that allows you to physically feel the sound waves hit you. The famous Maxwell poster comes to life in my room.


Get blown away by these iconic vintage Maxell tape ads - plus see some real retro cassettes ...


I also have Audience AU24 SX cables that are only 2 feet long (again bought for the SR1a's) and they will also work lengthwise with the AHB2 monos. I am going to give them a try tomorrow. I think I paid $600 or $700 for them.


As I am happy with my 2 channel system, I had not played Sr1a for more than 2 years.

I have the  full Benchmark setup mono blocks running my Revel Studio Salon 2s and for me they work Beautifully. bought it all new this year and seems like it's hard system to beat for the money not saying it was cheap but compared to my old Krell full system W/mono blocks it was a STEAL lol 😂......You folks have a great day. 

This morning, I tried the Audience AU24 SX cables that were the prior top of the line. These cables are only 2-foot long and I needed to raise the AHB2 4 inches from the ground to make the connection work. I likely need to give the cable 100+ hours to really hear it after it settles, but I spun a few albums before I did some listening.

The drum hits that I had issue with the other cables are not a problem with the AU24 SX. However, compared to the FrontRow it seems a bit more restrained (or musical). The FrontRow are a picture-perfect clear view through a window while the AU24 SX has a bit of haze on the window. The sound is good with the AHB2 but not spectacular like the FrontRow.

I have read some people preferred the AU24 SX over the FrontRow because the FrontRow was too much of everything, that would not be me.

@zo6ak I used to have the Revel Salon 1 with the less revealing tweeter. The bass on that was great but I think the older speaker was a bit difficult to drive. Not Thiel level but harder than the Yamaha. With my amps, I would use the CODA #16 on the Revel. That has tremendous power all the way down to 2 Ohm. The AHB2 does not, especially in mono. A single stereo is actually better if your speakers dip down to the 2 Ohm region. However, there is not much power in a single AHB2.


As I am happy with my 2 channel system, I had not played Sr1a for more than 2 years.

The VM-1a that I am getting on Saturday is a $7k amp that takes the SR1a + CA-1a to incredible heights. What I suggested to you at $800 will get you close to the VM-1a, especially with the KRELL amp you are getting. Your old interface box is not at the level of what I link below. It is not a subtle improvement, but massive.

Interface Archives • RAAL-requisite (

I have 2 cables for this one, a 3-foot and 25-foot. The 25-foot allows me to listen in the backyard late at night (using a modded PeachTree GAN1). Both cables are made by RAAL.

BTW - on the video you linked, the speakers are in a small room and the driver placement is in the opposite way that I have them. In a small room I would flip the speakers around, like I am using it. The imaging is better. Even Yamaha suggests the same driver orientation as I am using.

My CODA #16 is going bye-bye so I can raise cash for this new RAAL phone that was announced today, 

Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A | Page 485 | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

I also need to pay for the RAAL VM-1a that I am buying again this Saturday. My CODA #16 is going to be looking for a new home.

Just picked up a longer Audience FrontRow speaker cable that will work for both the CODA and AHB2. Price was the same as what I paid for the used AHB2.  The shootout continues. I think the CODA comes out on top now.


Could you elaborate further on why you didn't think the Benchmark was a good match for the LRS+...and how did it compare to the Sanders...and also, at what listening volumes.

Thanks, I'd appreciate any insight you could provide.


@snapsc I will do that sometime this week (maybe tonight). I spoke to a dealer about an amp for the LRS+ and the AHB2 came up for discussion. He said that he had heard the combo, but it was just OK and could not play loud. Those comments took me back to my experience with the Thiel CS3.7 and AHB2 stereo and mono days. The CS3.7 and LRS+ are similar in amp requirements (I think).

I only got my latest AHB2 a few days ago and did not even consider putting it on the LRS+. I am sure my test with that combo will reveal what I am predicting.

With regards to the Sanders Magtech. It is a superb Class AB amp. Not heavy, does not get hot, and can play loud and also at very low volume. The 3 amps I have in the house are all great at low volume. The CODA #16 and Sanders with both the NS5000 and LRS+. The AHB2 with the NS5000.

When I say low volume great, I mean that the sound does not drop off completely at some frequencies. With these 3 amps you hear everything, it is just quieter. I think that is a great accomplishment for an amp. I think being quiet helps. though a lot of amps are quiet these days.

The Sanders has the sound exploding out of the LRS+. I tried a few amps prior, and I was disappointed in the subdued nature of the sound. The minute I put in the Sanders and listened at moderate volume I was very happy. The sound just exploded out of the speakers. I am used to it now, but the first time was a nice surprise.

The Sanders was not at all fatiguing, unlike the PeachTree GAN400 that I tried on the LRS+. The Sanders became even better when I was able to fit the short Audience FrontRow speaker cable. Actually, that was a huge upgrade.

I am so lucky I did not sell that short FrontRow cable.

I just remembered that all my DACs are in the Livingroom system for my Saturday listening session. I will update you on Sunday after I put my Office system back together.



The Sanders does not sound grainy on top as a lot of AB amps sound to me. The CODA #16 Class A sweetness is not there with the Sanders. I have zero complaints about the Sanders. I actually threw out the shipping box and the LRS+ box since I did not see myself changing from these 2 in the office.

I seem like a guy that is flipping gear, I was in the past 5 years, but I am now in the home stretch. My office system is done, the Livingroom system is done (just need to figure out a way to keep the CODA). Only shipping boxes, I have left are the CODA, AHB2, and a huge Magnum Dynalab tuner shipping box, for when I have to ship it back to Canada for recalibration.




thanks for their quick response… I’m looking forward to your Benchmark LRS+ update.

@snapsc I was curious about the AHB2 on the LRS+ so I tried with 2 of my tuners. The preamp was the Benchmark LA4. I was expecting a tamed top end because FM tends to be a little rolled off.

With my warm tuner the sound was sharper than I expected and very clean sounding. The sound did not extend outside the speakers.

With my top end tuner, a tuner that has CD like sound. The sound was fatiguing. I was getting irritation in the ears and part of my head that starts hurting with bad sound.

I should mention that I was using the same FrontRow speaker cable that worked so well on the NS5000 + AHB2.

Compared to the Sanders on the LRS+, the AHB2 is not as dynamic, it is fatiguing, the volume on the preamp needs to be set high, and it is clearer sounding. It actually sounds super clean (like the NS5000) but this time with fatigue. With my NS5000, I had fatigue with the lesser quality speaker cables.

I should also mention that I set the gain on the AHB2 to the highest level, which is supposed to be the worst measured setting. The preamp was at 65% for moderate listening levels. Normally you set the gain to the lowest level when paired with the LA4.

After I started getting the ear fatigue, I immediately went back to the Sanders to see if the sound cleared up. It definitely did and my ear fatigue immediately went away.

Unless you are planning to add some warmth with a tube or Class A preamp, I would not use the AHB2 with the LRS+. My appreciation of the Sanders and LRS+ combo went up even more today. Just a perfect combo.

This test reminded me of when I demoed the Magico A3 speaker with the AHB2. It was way too underpowered.

I should add that I listen to my top tuner almost every day with the Sanders. I am almost always amazed at how good the sound is. Like right now as I listen to KCRW at night. The sounds is dynamic, extends beyond the speakers, fatigue free, and almost as clean as the AHB2 on top.


Thanks for the update.  I have the LRS+ also.  I'm using the Schiit Kara preamp on active but 0 gain mode with both the Orchard Audio Stereo Ultra DMC 2.0 (GaN dual mono) and with the Pass XA-25.  They are very similar sounding and both sound great with the LRS+...and probably like many, I've been curious about how the AHB2 would sound.

@snapsc I also have the Schitt Mjolnir preamp sitting on top of the tuner I mentioned before. It is the new one and all Class A. I will have a listen with that preamp instead of the Benchmark LA4 and AHB2. It likely will be more palatable.



I thought about the LA4 but I went with the Kara because people described it as very similar to the Benchmark LA4 but maybe one click slightly less analytical...and because it had 2 gain settings plus passive...and because it had 3 preamp outs.

And, from a user perspective, it has zero clicks and pops through the speakers when changing inputs, hitting the mute, etc.

Yes, it has quirks like the power switch on the back and hard to see markings but it sounds really, really good at a relative bargain price as things go in the audio world.

@snapsc I switched over to my Schitt Mjonlir preamp with the AHB2 and used the same gain setting as the prior test with the LA4 preamp.

After a couple of hours of listening I can report that the Mjolnir plays louder. The sound is also not fatiguing but it is also not crystal clean as the LA4.

Now people will say that the LA4 is bright. Not from my vantage because the LA4 and CODA and Sanders on the NS5000 is great. Only reason I have the LA4 in the office and not the NS5000 is that I need some BALANCE control in my office. When I listened to the CODA and the AHB2 with the Holo Serene preamp I was thinking that the LA4 would also be great in with the NS5000.

The fatigue I am hearing on the LRS+ and the LA4 + AHB2 is from the LRS+. The veiled Schitt Mjolnir (in a nice way) is hiding that sound that was giving me fatigue with the LA4.

The Mjolnir and AHB2 is a non-offending sound. Kind of relaxing, but not something for my tastes. I use the Mjolnir and Schitt Aegir amp for my RAAL phones. Though with the dedicated RAAL headphone amp I am getting back into the house on Saturday may make the Mjolnir and Aegir gather dust.

I used to own the $7k CODA 07x preamp which is similar to the $1100 Schitt Mjolnor. My preference is for the Mjolnir since it is quieter and sounds similar to the 07x.

@snapsc I am going to make a change of my opinion on the AHB2 and Schitt Mjolnir. After a few more hours of listening at volume levels that are louder than I listen to in the office. I am finding myself growing on this combo. It is actually rather good. I think the louder volume really helps. It is a fun listen.


Thanks for the continued updates.  I've put a Wells Audio amplifier up for sale or trade and I think when that happens, I'll give the AHB2 a try.

I think you will like what you will hear on the LRS+ with the AHB2 if your preamp has some warmth. 

On a side note, a huge improvement for the LRS+ is the following.

Magna Risers

Robert Raus <>

They also provide a replacement wire to add to the LRS+. The improvement was more than the FrontRow cable on the LRS+. On the NS5000 the FrontRow was a bigger deal as I described above.

I ditched my AHB2 and haven’t looked back. I prefer both my Coda No.8 V1 amplifier and Yamaha A-S2100 integrated. I actually prefer the Yamaha integrated to the LA4/AHB2 combo. Though in past years I definitely preferred the Benchmark stack to the lesser Yamaha A-S1100. 


At these performance levels, synergy is most important as it seems you’ve realized for yourself. Sometimes the squeaky clean gear doesn’t always pair best with other squeaky clean products. 

The LA4 considered on its own is a different story. That preamp I do not foresee selling anytime soon. It’s just too good. 


The LA4 and AHB2 can be incredible but it is also hard to get right as readers can see in my posts above. Squeaky clean is a good description.

I have very high hopes that the longer Audience FrontRow cable I get on Monday ($2675) will allow me to use the AHB2 with the NS5000. The Holo Serene preamp is almost identical sonically and measurements to my LA4 in the office system. The Serene is a touch warmer.

My friend will be now coming next Friday to deliver an expensive headphone amp. We will be listening to all the permutations I described in this thread. I need to pay for the amp he is delivering, and the CODA #16 is the obvious candidate to pay for the headphone amp. He hated the AHB2 and was not impressed with my CODA #8 V1 compared to the KRELL 300i integrated. I had all 3 at the time and we did a headphone shootout.


This discussion got me curious to try a few combos that I had not tried before. I setup my Class A Schitt Mjolnir preamp with the Sanders Magtech and LRS+. I listened for over 8 hours as I worked and found it a very pleasant listen. However, when I returned the LA4 in place of the Mjolnir the missing music came back. It sounded right again.




I will be selling my No.8, but unfortunately that’s to help finance a good friend’s custody battle. Oh well, luckily I bought it pre-owned and have other amps I enjoy equally. I am actually astonished at how well the Yamaha 2100 compares to my separates, on balance. Different presentation of course. The Coda/LA4 combo is definitely more neutral and accurate in the academic sense. 


The LA4 to every other stand-alone preamp I’ve tried, tube or SS, for that reason I will hold onto it, even if to use it as a preamp into the 2100. I like the LA4 so much that I bought one subsequently to selling the first one I owned.

And please don’t take my previous post as a criticism because of the AHB2. It definitely ranks as one of the best I owned. Had I tried two as monoblocks, there’s a high probability they’d still reside in my system. 

I never take any critique of my gear personally, especially the AHB2 which is so polarizing. This thread was sort of a way see how it stacks up to gear that is generally view with esteem.

The single stereo AHB2 maybe better than the monos. I have had both. This time I am going to go a long time with the stereo AHB2 before I jump to monos (if ever). The AHB2 becomes problematic with hard to drive speakers (2 Ohm) that need power.

I have been touting the merits of the LA4 since 2012. I remember beening shooed away from the A’gon World’s Best Amp thread when I suggested the LA4. I also owned the HPA4 preamp and foolishly sold it. I later got the LA4 because I found it better than the CODA 07x preamp. I was thinking I would never need headphone output from a preamp since I only use RAAL phones, but the new RAAL stuff can use the HPA4.

@helomech curious as to what were the differences you heard between the Yamaha A-s2100 and the a-s1100? I have the 1100.


The easiest way to describe it is the 2100 does more of everything that the 1100 does well. It has higher resolution, improved refinement and better instrument separation. It’s even quieter also. Perhaps most importantly, the 2100 produces a more effortless sound. The 1100 is very good but the 2100 is a true reference-class integrated.

FWIW, I had an in-home trial of the newer 2200 last year and did not enjoy it as much as the 2100. I felt it lacked some of the 2100’s bass grip and was a bit too colored and homogenizing.

Of course, the differences you might experience between these models could be heavily dictated by your particular speakers. For reference, I currently use Philharmonic BMR Towers and modded Stirling Broadcast SB-88s (completely upgraded drivers). The BMR Towers perform at a level approximate to many commercial options in the $12K/pair range. The Stirlings perform closer to the $6K/pair range but are still good enough to reveal an appreciable difference between these amps.


Thanks for the insight. I’m currently rotating between Focal Aria 906 and Wharfedale Evo 4.4 and just wondering if I can extract even more out of them with an upgrade. I’ll be putting Spendor D7s in soon as well.

@yyzsantabarbara sorry for the detour on your thread

I got the used Audience FrontRow cable that is long enough for both the AHB2 and the #16. I do not know how many hours the cable has but I did play my tuner on it overnight at low volume.

I first tried it with the CODA #16 amp with a couple of songs and got a little worried, it sounded great. The details and clarity I felt was not there with the other cables was right there.

I switched over to the AHB2 and let it play overnight.

Now it is about 12 hours later, and I did some intense listening with the AHB2. I played the following:

  • RUSH - La Villa St...
  • RUSH - 2112
  • George Michael - Careless Whisper
  • Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
  • Led Zeppelin - 1

The sound was super detailed and clean, with surprisingly great bass. No fatigue except with the George Michael song. I always felt that song was too hot but with the AHB2 you can hear the warts prominently. It is still super enjoyable, but it could have been incredible with a better recording.

One thing that was noticeable was a little less engagement with the music. I think my Yggi+ LIM is too neutral for this AHB2 and FrontRow combo. The Playback Designs Dream that I dream about getting could be what makes this setup great.

I replaced the AHB2 with the CODA #16 and spun Led Zeppelin 1 again from the beginning. Damn, it was incredible. The details that I wanted, the clarity, the sweetness, the engagement. It is all there.

The AHB2 likely needs to be sold, since I need to raise cash for the RAAL VM-1a headphone amp I am getting tomorrow. I was planning to have a shootout with the AHB2 and CODA with my golden ears friend. However, I do not need to do that since I clearly know the answer.

Without the Audience FrontRow cable, I would have sold the CODA #16. With the FrontRow speaker cable, I have nothing to complain about.




This morning, I wanted to give the AHB2 one more listen. As I was putting the cables in place, I noticed that I had left the gain switch in the middle of 3 positions. I did that with the other cable to get a bit more volume.

I switched the gain to the lowest position, the quietest position and best measuring. What do you know, it sound rather different and much more to my liking. I listened to Zeppelin’s "In Through the Outdoor" in its entirety on this setting and it was great. Very engaging and a bit more restrained. Fantastic. I need to go back and do more listening, likely tomorrow. Got a different listening session happening today. I will also get feedback on the AHB2 + FrontRow from my friend.


I had my friend over today to listen to the NS5000. He is a very experienced audio person being both a musician, engineer, and audio hardware vender. I told him I wanted to play the remastered version of the Stones "Sympathy for the Devil" and the first thing he tells me is "oh my buddy plays on that track". Later I wanted to play the DSOTM SACD disk on my D.FAB SACD extractor (or whatever it is referred to). He then tells me that the producer of the album is a neighbor of mine. Turns out he is friends with the local guy, Alan Parsons. My point being that he knows what things SHOULD sound like, unlike myself who thinks things should sound a certain way. A perfect person to help evaluate my system.

I will summarize the points between the AHB2 and the CODA #16. I used the Serene preamp and Yggi+ LIM DAC for both amps. First thing that he said was that he thought the articulation of the bass on the AHB2 was amazing, especially on the Sympathy for the Devil. The CODA had issues playing this track cleanly on the low end. However, he preferred the CODA over the AHB2 from the midrange and twitter. This was expected since he is a tube guy, but we were both surprised at how good the bass was on the AHB2. I consider the CODA a bass monster, but in this case the AHB2 was better.

We then removed the AHB2 and only listened to the #16. In all subsequent tracks he thought the bass on the #16 was great, without any issues. He thought the #16 was great, but he actually liked the brighter Benchmark DAC3B on the #16 over the Yggi+ LIM. That is not surprising since I use the brighter DAC3B on the #16 to balance the sweetness of the Class A amp. He also said something that I also said earlier, a warmer DAC for the AHB2 maybe all that is needed to make it work great on the NS5000.

The conclusions I have reached for the gear I will use for the NS5000, is to keep both the AHB2 and the #16. I will use the DAC3B with the CODA and use the PlayBack Designs Dream DAC with either both amps or just the AHB2.


With regards to the Yamaha NS5000 speaker. It was so much fun to hear the comments. A lot of the same comments as I had.

  • The incredible coherence of the speaker.
  • speaker with both finesse and grunt.
  • Something that seems like a musical instrument.

What was interesting was to hear comments like "that was the best I ever heard a particular instrument on a track". I heard that comment several times.

We listened to a Chet Baker song and said that the microphone placement was correctly rendered on the speaker. Supposedly this is either not rendered at all or incorrectly by most speakers. A bit of technical details were mentioned to me but I forgot them now. All observations were favorable to the NS5000.

He said the NS5000 was the 3rd best speaker he had ever heard. The first being a $648k German Physics speaker he heard 17 years ago driven by a turntable. I forgot his second fav.


Thanks for that, very interesting. The NS5000 sounds like my kind of speaker and a relatively good value. I would love to compare it to an ATC SCM100P, a very similar looking 12" 3 way although the retail is $9k more. Being in the pro audio business, I'm sure your friend is familiar with a number of ATC pro products and it would be interesting to hear his opinion as well.

Here is one more quote from my friend that I received this morning. I think he means "So What" by Miles Davies.


All morning, I’ve been thinking about how beautifully your NS-5000s rendered the bass on “Kind Of Blue”. I’ve listened to that recording for 50-years and don’t remember ever hearing such clarity in that region. Everything was excellent and the bass was especially so.

I really think the greatness of this speaker lies in the Zylon drivers that are very similar to Beryllium (maybe better). Yamaha has managed to make all 3 drivers with the same material. Including that huge 12-inch woofer. That is where the coherence everyone talks about with this speaker comes from.

My friend also told me yesterday that he cannot hear the crossover. Even me with my limited knowledge realized that when I demoed the NS5000 along with some other top brands. As I mentioned in some other posts my NS5000 was maybe the worst demo I ever had for a speaker, yet I bought it.