If you’re familiar with monster receivers then you know that the Yamaha CR-3020 is a Monster! Well, this receiver is just shy of a monster. Maybe Beast would be appropriate? It’s the Yamaha CR-2020 and is, of course, the smaller sibling of the CR-3020. Yes, the CR-3020 put out a massive 160 watts per channel but this CR-2020 shells out a very respectable 100 watts per channel. Besides, the CR-3020 didn’t even sell all that well.
The CR-2020 is a fantastic mix of everything you want in a big, powerful receiver. Lots of power, tons of features, sharp, clean styling and a cool look when the room lights are dimmed. And, for that macho effect it weighs in at about 43 pounds and is over 21 inches wide and 16 inches deep. It was introduced in late 1977 and was priced very well since, at that time, the Japanese were able to build stereos cheaper than other US or European manufacturers.
Yamaha receivers are known to be low distortion and their circuitry was designed to affect the signal as little as possible throughout the amplification path. The CR-2020 lives up to this ideal by having a maximum of 0.05% total harmonic distortion. In fact, Yamaha’s sales literature at the time coined the term Noise-Distortion Clearance Range (NDCR). Instead of measuring noise and distortion under lab conditions they setup the receiver in a typical listening situation and then measured the noise and distortion. They also called it Real Life Rated!
Some interesting features are:
- Continuous loudness compensation (variable loudness control)
- Two turntable inputs (one being mc)
- Independent audition and recording
- Connections for three sets of speakers
- Linear differential gain IF stage
- 4-gang tuning capacitor with dual-gate MOS-FETs
- Multi-function FM/AM/Signal/Multipath/Power meters
- MPX section included into NFB loop
- High-Blend switch (FM)
- Automatic or Manual OTS tuning system
- DOLBY adapter switch
- 2 Headphone jacks for Yamaha Orthodynamic and/or normal headphones
Check out the massive transformer at the bottom right. Those who aren’t Yamaha fans usually point to the bright sound of their receivers and overall lack of warmth. That may or may not be the case but Yamaha tried to make the output signal as true to the input signal as possible. I too find the Yamaha’s a little dry sounding but I have to wonder if my ear just prefers a little more distortion which is usually what gives a receiver that ‘warm’ sound.
Two phono inputs and 3 pair of speakers connections. You can’t beat that. It even has a built in pre-amp section for moving coil cartridges. The Yamaha CR-2020 does have a weakness though. The power switch tends to fail and replacements are not that easy to find. So, if you’re contemplating buying one make sure the switch works and handle it gently when turning the power on and off.
Yamaha receivers have a fairly large following so demand is pretty high. The monster CR-3020 is, many times, out of most peoples price range at around $1500 so the CR-2020 fits the bill more often. A non-working but cosmetically clean CR-2020 will run about $300. A fully restored unit can fetch over $800 with most average condition receivers selling for around $400 to $500.