Yamaha TT-S303 Review: Fresh, bright and incredible dynamics

All TechWeek writers are indepentent and from many different countries. Some english misspelling and grammar mistakes may occur. Want to contribute? Join the team

Experience a whole new listening experience. The Yamaha TT-S303 has been rigorously tested to deliver the most accurate sound reproduction so you can hear your music exactly as it was intended. Dizzying simplicity. The device is equipped with a built-in equalization amplifier, so it can be connected to the line input of an amplifier without a phono stage, or even directly to an active speaker system!

Yamaha TT-S303 1.jpg

If you want to use an amplifier’s phono stage, switch the Yamaha TT-S303 to phono stage mode for the perfect match with your favorite amplifier. The nostalgic sound of a vinyl record, like nothing else, helps you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of music. Yamaha has an impressive track record in the audio industry and a vast portfolio of hi-fi products that have shaped the way we listen to music in the past. Certain products have earned iconic and even legendary status in hi-fi circles, acclaimed for quality, innovation and Yamaha’s signature sound. The design of the Yamaha TT-S303 is based on the looks and aesthetics of classic Hi-Fi equipment. Connect the player to a stereo amplifier or AV receiver,

In the box near the Yamaha TT-S303 you find a table with a tonearm installed on it, the platter and the plexiglass dust cover are packed separately. Unpacking, assembling and installing the turntable takes less than ten minutes. In fact, you need to find a flat surface on which the turntable will be located, put the platter on the spindle, put the belt on the motor pulley, attach the shell with the head to the tonearm and set the downforce and anti-skating. All.

The most difficult part, concerning the alignment of the needle according to the pattern in all planes, was carried out at the factory. In fact, in this case, we can say that the installation and preparation for operation of an analog player is often faster than if it were an advanced digital streamer.

Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at the design. The support disc is made of aluminum by stamping; the traditionally black felt mat that comes with the kit covers almost its entire surface. Switching speeds of rotation here is electronic, carried out by pressing the silver key on the top panel of the player.

Next to it is a button to start and stop the disc. A curious detail – on the bottom, there is access to trimming resistors for fine adjustment of the rotation speed. Not the most convenient location, but the fact that this function is available pleases.

Yamaha TT-S303 2.jpg

The turntable is equipped with a short straight arm on a gimbal with a removable pickup plate. The shell is equipped with an Audio-Technica MM-head, which in appearance resembles the very popular AT-3600L model. It features a composite tapered needle, CFRP needle holder and a sensitivity of 2.5 mV. Height adjustment of the arm base is not provided, however, in the case of using a standard head, this is not required.

The effective arm length is 223 mm and the stylus overhang is 19 mm. Despite the fact that the counterweight is tared, it will not be superfluous to use the scale for a final check when setting the downforce. In our case, the error of the method with preliminary balancing of the tonearm and subsequent setting of the pressure level using a counterweight turned out to be negligible, which speaks of competent calibration and potentially high quality of bearings. The wheel at the base of the tonearm adjusts the level of anti-skating force compensation.

The electronic part of the player includes, in addition to a motor with a controller, a built-in MM phono stage, which, if desired, can be excluded from the signal circuit using a corresponding switch on the rear panel. A pair of RCA connectors is provided for connection to an amplifier (or external phono amplifier). The anti-vibration plastic feet, on which the turntable rests, do not provide for height adjustment, therefore, to install the turntable, choose a surface that is as flat and parallel to the floor as possible.

Yamaha TT-S303 4.jpg

The joy of getting to know Yamaha’s new turntable was great. It was only slightly overshadowed by the fact that structurally the younger turntable turned out to be very similar to similar turntables from other manufacturers that we have heard in recent months. There is nothing shameful in this, however, in order to meet truly original technical solutions of a Japanese company, you will have to wait until you get to know the middle and senior models – there really is something to marvel at!

At the same time, the Yamaha TT-S303 itself is a very good turntable, all the necessary attributes of a modern Hi-Fi player are in place. Austere design, ease of customization and operation, excellent workmanship – everything is with it. As for the sound quality, it turned out to be very decent.

Every time I never cease to be amazed at how great and exciting even inexpensive turntables can sound when set up correctly and especially when loaded with the right turntables. Often I have to deal with a situation where people judge the sound quality of one or another turntable based on the fact that someone in some salon put under the needle a publication of unknown origin and quality, most often a modern digital release made in a hurry in the desire to quickly make money from the vinyl renaissance.

Yamaha TT-S303 3.jpg

So – when submitting the right records to the Yamaha TT-S303, whether they were old original editions or made today with love and understanding, the sound was wonderful as good. The turntable delivers all genres in the Yamaha corporate style – fresh, bright, with good dynamics and drive.

Well, the model with a black lacquered case looks just stunning! Of course, all the restrictions imposed by the use of an inexpensive cartridge and a built-in phono recorder can be heard if desired, but this desire does not arise. It is not necessary to wish for more to familiarize with the world of analogue, especially since you always have the opportunity to improve the base model with the help of another pickup head or an external phono stage.