Yamaha RX-V775WA AV Receiver Page 2
Les Misérables presented a third personality with well-defined, natural vocals and a rich but slightly diffusive approach to orchestral backing. The movie’s epic length had me shifting all over the sofa. I should point out that my sofa’s two cushions include an on-axis cushion and an off-axis cushion. The soundfield held reasonably firm regardless of which one I occupied, indicating that the YPAO auto setup and room correction had successfully optimized more than one listening position.
High-Rez Triple Play
In my ongoing public contemplation of high-rez digital audio, I probably don’t point out often enough that high-rez provides only the potential—not the certainty—of an upgraded listening experience. The 96/24 version of Nirvana’s Nevermind cut both ways. Kurt Cobain’s storming waves of guitar didn’t sound any better than they did on my old CD; the recording didn’t offer the receiver anything extra to work with. But when the guitars receded, his voice seemed more three- dimensional and human, as opposed to the CD’s plainer and more mechanized presentation. Some of the processed bass had more texture too. By now I knew the Yamaha well enough to know that it was telling me the truth, and that the differences (or lack thereof) were embedded in the content, not bottlenecked in the amplification.
I got my SACD of Monk’s Music, by the Thelonious Monk Septet, about 20 years after buying the first-generation JVC CD. Unlike most early CDs, the old Japanese issue sounds great, but the SACD peels away a few more layers, and the Yamaha delivered the extra resolution—especially in the left channel’s vibrant saxophones. The piano seems to have been recorded in mono and panned to the right channel, but the Yamaha gave it a faint hint of extra midrange complexity. An extended string-bass solo played well with or without the sub, though most of the time it was mixed on the low side and needed sub reinforcement.
My favorite album of Rossini Overtures is Claudio Abbado’s 1975 DG recording with the London Symphony Orchestra. The conductor and analog recording technology were both in their prime. I gave the LP to my mother for her birthday, and it has remained a personal talisman ever since, so imagine my joy when I recently captured a sealed vinyl copy for twenty bucks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Nothing gives me a quicker fix on a receiver’s personality than an orchestra at full throttle. This LP (I also own the CD) is an especially tough test because Rossini’s gleefully extreme dynamics require a system to combine low-level resolution with high-volume listening comfort. Essentially, the Yamaha was called upon to be two receivers: the one that kept the melody and rhythm going at a whisper and the one that maintained listening comfort at high volume. You’ve probably guessed how this chapter of the story ends. The Yamaha came through, and I was transported happily into the past.
Such is my infatuation with the Rossini album that I replayed it a couple more times. First I used the Yamaha AV Controller app, running on an iPad, to burrow through the network via DLNA into my desktop multimedia PC. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the app’s graphics looked and how well it worked. It took full advantage of the tablet-sized screen—this was not just a smartphone app blown up for a larger screen. I was also fascinated to see the receiver’s onscreen TV display tracking my actions on the iPad. When the iPad’s battery ran low and I set it aside for recharging, I was able to pick up the receiver remote and continue using DLNA to access music from the PC. Why can’t life always be that easy? The uncompressed WAV files sounded as good as the first- generation CD (if not quite as sweet as the mint LP), and when I subsequently used AirPlay to hear the Apple Lossless files, they sounded equally good.
The Yamaha RX-V775WA shows one of the most formidable receiver makers doing what it does best: producing a great-sounding amp. Getting the Wi-Fi adapter in the carton at no extra cost is another notable plus, as is the built-in AirPlay, though I wish Yamaha had also thrown in a free Bluetooth adapter (or better yet, built-in Bluetooth). With integral Bluetooth becoming a standard feature on soundbars, one wonders why it isn’t equally prevalent on receivers. Android phone and tablet users are otherwise well served by the smartphone-friendly front-panel MHL/HDMI jack and Android/Kindle control apps. But without decent sound, it’s easy to get bored with your system and walk away, no matter how many features you have. This Yamaha receiver makes it easy to stay passionately involved.