Shootout: Three Mid-Price A/V Receivers Page 6

0606_receivers_yamaha

Yamaha RX-V2600

The Short Form
$1,000 ($1,400 LIST) / 17.1 x 6.6 x 17.1 IN / 38.4 LBS / yamaha.com / 800-492-6242
Plus
•Converts and scales all video sources to HDMI •Superb proprietary surround modes for music and movies •Straightforward, legible remote
Minus
•Somewhat complex onscreen menus •No on-the-fly channel-level adjustments
Key Features
•130 watts x 7 channels + 2 presence channels •THX Select 2-certified •2 HDMI inputs •Video upconversion to S-video, component-video, and HDMI outputs •Video scaling to 480p, 720p, or 1080i from any input to component or HDMI outputs •Auto-speaker calibration and auto-EQ •XM Satellite Radio-ready •3-zone play with audio+video for Zone 2
Test Bench
The Yamaha RX-V2600 delivered near-benchmark performance on every test, and set actual benchmarks in my experience for linearity (0 error at -90 dB) and PCM signal-to-noise ratio. Power was impressive for just about any common real-world speaker load, including all-channels power, where it measured more than 100 watts per channel. Full Lab Results
The Yamaha's auto-setup routine yielded channel levels within about a decibel of those established using my own sound meter - pretty darn good. Still, the Yamaha RX-V2600 chose a 200 -Hz crossover point for my front speaker trio (way too high, by my lights) and inappropriately set my big (but hardly full-range) surrounds to "large." I recalibrated using my meter and set the crossovers to the THX-standard 80 Hz all around - my usual setup. The RX-V2600's brain also dialed in equalization for each speaker. This actually sounded none too bad, though a bit "over-corrected" to my ear. Though you can tweak the EQ settings manually from the onscreen menus, I defeated this feature for most of my listening. And speaking of the onscreen menus, the RX-V2600's are more colorful and more hierarchical than on previous Yamaha models. They're perfectly clear and pretty to look at, but I found them a bit more confusing to navigate than Yamaha's earlier, simpler, text-only menus.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE For serious music listening, especially naturally recorded material, the Yamaha RX-V2600 shone with this group's best selection of proprietary surround programs for 2-channel music-an established Yamaha trait. By tweaking the Yamaha's "Vienna" setting (one of its HiFi DSP digital-surround offerings), I was able to get sound from a new album of Beethoven string quartets by the Tokyo Quartet that was truly lifelike - occasionally, eerily so. (If it could generate rustling programs, coughing, and an occasional ringtone, the RX-V2600 would have it nailed.) There's a long list of these surround modes for music, movies, and TV, with nary a dog among them. (For the most realistic music-surround, be sure to include Yamaha's front-effects "Presence" channels in your setup. I used a pair of small and inexpensive but accurate bookshelf speakers, located high and to either side of my main-fronts.)

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