Yamaha RX-V1800 AV Receiver Page 2

Whereas the room correction circuitry built into some other companies' AVRs is designed to compensate for multiple seating positions, YPAO takes its readings of the room (using the included microphone) from a single position. Not surprisingly, the entire process takes about a third of the time as it does with other systems. If you so choose, you can do three independent calibrations of the room: one each for "Flat", "Front", or "Natural", and each will have different crossover and equalization settings. As an added bonus, the RX-V1800 can memorize up to four system configurations including changes made to room calibrations and soundfield parameters. This means you can have Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear configurations or maybe Movie, XM, and iPod variations.

I know a lot of people who dislike automatic room correction because, in theory, you can manually set up a home theater system that will perform better than the one the AVR's built-in computer can configure – and I agree. But I also believe that there a lot of people who aren't as good at setting up systems as us finicky folk are. Actually, I thought that the YPAO in the RX-V1800 did a nice job of correcting the output of the system when the speakers were set up in generally unsuitable locations, which is what will happen in lots of homes.

For my money, the "Front" YPAO configuration did the best job. It equalized the output of the center and rears to match my front left and right Definitive Technology Mythos Four speakers. Even when I placed one of the rear channel Mythos Twos in a corner and the other up against a flat wall, the RX-V1800 was able to compensate by removing the boom in the back channel and adjusting the volume between the two rear speakers. Depending on the source material, the "Front" configuration was sometimes a little dry, though. In comparison, the "Natural" setup was more warm and full but lacked a bit of clarity. Both configurations benefited from a little tweaking of individual settings, proving that the human element isn't ready to be replaced just yet.

From a processing standpoint, the RX-V1800 lives up to Yamaha's tradition for including nearly every surround decoding algorithm in the known universe – and then some. In addition to all the usual flavors of Dolby and DTS, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, Yamaha provides a complete suite of Yamaha-specific digital soundfields, many of which were developed to enhance two-channel music by simulating playback in specific live environments (the Village Vanguard for jazz and several concert halls in Europe for classical music are just a few examples) These can be really fun and entertaining with the right source, or they can be disastrous. For example, when my daughter was playing her new Animusic 2 DVD (the Animusic DVDs, if you're not familiar with them, are kind of like a mix of Mannheim Steamroller and the Blue Man Group with some cool computer animation for kids), sounded great in the classical hall in Munich but totally awful in the church in Freiburg. One thing is certain, if you want to, you can spend days adjusting all the parameters – such as room size, liveness, reverb time, reverb delay, and etc. – for all the soundfields and decoder modes. It's a tremendous tool if you really get into it.

What's on the menu?
For all of Yamaha's advanced technology, I'm surprised at how the RX-V1800's on-screen menus, with their basic layouts and blocky lettering, are so uninspiring and dull. I mean, I've seen clock-radios with more glitz than this. On the other hand, the menus are straightforward and relatively easy to navigate. But it's definitely an area where Yamaha should invest some design time, if nothing else than to avoid its AVRs from appearing to be something left over from the 1990s.

There's nothing dull about the unit's video prowess, however. First there's the abundance of HDMI 1.3a inputs. More impressive, though, is the caliber of the built-in video deinterlacer. The RX-V1800 deinterlaces composite and S-video inputs and outputs a maximum of 480p over component. The resulting image is excellent in terms of both color and detail. Those same source inputs can be upconverted to 480p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p when using the HDMI output, but there's a greater amount of jaggies when you choose 720p or 1080i as the output resolution. The result is a small loss of visible detail. On The Fifth Element DVD, for example, early in the movie when Leeloo jumps from the skyscraper down into the layers of flying car traffic, the RX-V1800's 480p output – over both component and HDMI – looked smooth with plenty of detail and depth. 720p and 1080i upconverted video, on the other hand, had a slightly dirtier, less three-dimensional look.

As I mentioned earlier, I suspect this is the reason why it's possible to stand watching video from an iPod on a big screen. For grins, I downloaded and watched parts of an episode of "Monk" and an old black-and-white episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". I'm not ready to throw out my Sony PS3 and the various Blu-ray discs I have accumulated already, but the RX-V1800 did a surprisingly good job of making an image meant to be played on a tiny screen look good on a much larger one.

Conclusion
When you take everything into account, Yamaha's RX-V1800 is certainly worth the $1,299 price tag, especially when you match the number of inputs with the quality of the video processing, the multi-zone flexibility, and the wide variety of audio processing modes. Of course, you may not need all those options, in which case you could easily find an equally satisfactory choice in the sub-$1,000 category of AVRs. But if you're looking for something that's a little more full-featured, the RX-V1800 is definitely worthy of consideration.

Highlights
Plenty of ins and outs, including HDMI 1.3
Very flexible multi-zone configuration
Excellent deinterlacing and video quality
Warm, laid back sound

COMPANY INFO
Yamaha Electronics Corporation, USA
(714) 522-9105
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