Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000 A/V Receiver Page 2

Associated gear for this review included five Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.4 speakers with the Paradigm Seismic 110 sub, operating without its internal EQ. My digital signal source is a beloved Oppo BDP-83SE universal disc player. My analog rig is a Rega Planar 25 turntable with a Shure M97xE cartridge and, for this occasion, a Bellari VP530 tube phono preamp.

I ran Yamaha’s proprietary YPAO auto setup and room correction scheme. The process was uneventful. In my last review, I did a lot of mode switching during the movie demos. In this case, I stuck with the Straight mode, which delivers movie soundtracks with YPAO and bass management but without any other enhancement.

Bank Robbers, Mirrors, Exorcists
Takers is a cut above the average bank-robber movie, with a large and charismatic cast navigating multiple plot lines. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Paradigms? Reunited with them after a long series of speaker reviews, I was pleasantly shocked at how good they sounded with this Yamaha Aventage AVR. The Blu-ray Disc’s DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is full of layering, which this combination of AVR and speakers brought into high relief. An explosion was nice and solid down to the 80-hertz crossover I’d set between the speakers and the sub. Toward the end of the film, as its emotional intensity ramps up, a solo cello bursts out of the soundtrack, carrying an emotional catharsis that lesser equipment might have downplayed or fumbled.

The Blu-ray edition of Mirrors 2 is packaged with a two-sided DVD that contains both a standard-definition version of the movie and the original Korean film on which it was based. The latter, Into the Mirror, gave the Yamaha a Dolby Digital challenge. While the lossy soundtrack had a little of that old Dolby Digital edginess, it was still well balanced and listenable—the AVR didn’t push it into grating territory. Standard horror effects, such as low synthetic swooshes and thuds, played well in the Yamaha’s upper bass range. The Aventage made the most of the string orchestra’s low bowing and the eerie entrance of a celesta. When a character walked away from the microphone while continuing to talk, the Yamaha delivered the reflections off a succession of hard surfaces with suitable complexity.

I returned to Blu-ray and DTS-HD Master Audio with The Last Exorcism, a supernatural thriller that treads on the same ground as The Blair Witch Project but with more spring in its step. The plot concerns a preacher who has lost his faith and performs mock-exorcisms as a means of demonstrating how fakery feeds super- stition. Not until the first half-hour has elapsed do the queasy strings enter a landscape hitherto dominated by dialogue recorded in a vérité style. Beau- tifully rendered by the AVR, the strings triggered a paradox that I didn’t so much hear as feel: They sounded more real than the dialogue—with more high-frequency extension—but they peeled away that top layer of comfortable reality to access something more sinister beneath.

High Res, Low Res, High Res
Dedicated to the Victims of War and Terror includes Dmitri Shostakovich’s Chamber Sym- phony Op. 110a and Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings, both of which word- lessly but passionately address the victims of Stalin’s purges and of institutionalized violence in general. This 2000 Delos release with Constantine Orbelian and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra is possibly the best SACD I’ve ever heard—no surprise, considering it’s a John Eargle production. The CD layer includes Dolby Surround encoding, which non- SACD-player owners can access with any CD or DVD player using the Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode, though of course it was the 5.1-channel SACD layer that I played. In the brooding then turbulent Shostakovich chamber symphony, the strings resisted the front- or back-of- the-hall metaphor I often use. They were close up, definitely a front-row sound, yet so enriched with inner detail and ambience that the net result felt like all the best attributes of all the best seats in the house. In the Schnittke piano concerto, the piano was just right. The recording put me near the instrument, not inside it or too distant from it. Both of the pianist’s hands were in correct balance, which speaks well of the AVR’s performance down to 80 Hz, its YPAO room correction, and my excellent Paradigm Seismic subwoofer. This was best-case performance with best-case material.

Jan Akkerman pieced together his new CD, Minor Details, with his current band using e-mailed MIDI files and home studios. “It was one of the most difficult things I ever did,” the ace guitarist admits in the liner notes, and I’d be lying if I said the result was an audiophile-quality recording. However, the master’s guitar sails serenely over the mixes with his typical eloquence, and that was the element that the Yamaha and Paradigms grabbed and ran with (he said, almost but not quite ending a sentence with a preposition).

Esperanza Spalding’s Cham- ber Music Society was the first unsolicited vinyl review copy I’ve received since maybe 1985. Thank you, Heads Up International. The two-disc set showcases the singing acoustic bass player in an eclectic set of jazz-inflected songs, accompanied by violin, viola, cello, keyboards, drums, per- cussion, the occasional guitar, and a couple of guest vocalists. The highlight was “Apple Blossom,” a duet with guest vocalist Milton Nascimento. I pondered my choice of phono preamps—built-in solid state or external vacuum tube?—and went with the tubed Bellari. As I shifted among the listening modes, the two leading contenders were Straight, which uses YPAO room correction and bass management but no other sweeteners; and Pure Direct, which delivered the LP’s two- channel signal without any embellishment. The difference was dramatic. Pure Direct had a lot more high-frequency exten- sion, more air, and a wider soundstage. Straight was warmer, with a more laid-back midrange and slightly rolled-off highs, plus a narrower but denser sound- stage that imaged Spalding’s honeyed soprano more effectively. Though quite different, both were listenable.

In general, the RX-A1000 is a lower-powered and less costly version of the RX-A2000, an A/V receiver I loved. They both did a great job of driving my Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.4s with room to spare. These have a rated sensitivity of 87 decibels and impedance that ranges from 4 to 8 ohms (we measured a minimum of 4.18 at 174 Hz when we reviewed them). Please note that your mileage may vary. For more demanding speakers, the higher-end model may be more suitable.

Driving the right speakers, the Yamaha RX-A1000 is a sterling performer. In quality of audio reproduction, this is an excellent mid-priced A/V receiver. In terms of features, Yamaha’s reliance on homegrown technology may be limiting—I longed to hear what Audyssey room correction could do for this AVR. But room cor- rection isn’t for everyone. If the fundamentals of performance are what matter to you, the Aventage line is compelling.

(800) 4-YAMAHA

techguy378's picture

Of course, this receiver can't hold a candle to one with Audyssey. Then no receiver without Audyssey can. I'm curious about one thing. It's my understanding that Yamaha's Aventage receivers can measure room acoustics from eight positions in the listening room. Do Yamaha's receivers simply average out the frequency response of the room?

MrSatyre's picture

I submit this for your consideration: Audyssey---as far as I am aware---is not, nor has it ever been, involved in the recording or mastering stages of any CD, game or movie reproduced by any of the systems which use it. How, then, can the engineers who developed it possibly know if their processes are recreating those sounds correctly? Simply put, they can't; they amount only to hypothesis. To my knowledge, only Pioneer's home-brewed MCACC (co-developed with and approved by AIR Studios), and Sherwood Newcastle's Trinnov (developed by Trinnov and approved by the French national TV and film studios, the BBC, Fox and others) can make such a claim. Furthermore, (again: as far as I am aware) Audyssey is only used "professionally" in IMAX theaters, and only AFTER all the audio has been recorded, mixed and mastered, and is used in IMAX theaters only as a global EQ. There is certainly a world of difference in sound (, speakers, frequency, direction, phasing, etc. between an IMAX theater and a home theater). They don't sound anything alike, even when an Audyssey system is being used in both.

Lastly, I would recommend this article on averaging of listening positions during room calibration: http://avroomservice.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-why-frequency-avera... (or "10 Reasons Why Frequency Averaging is NOT a Good Idea"). You will note the author has nothing to do with any of the auto-room calibration systems mentioned. I have not heard any system or room he has calibrated, so I can't make any comments pro or con; his points against averaging are valid, but I have not read any which can explain why averaging would be beneficial in the first place.

While I would gladly recommend ANY type of room calibration over none at all, I would expect everyone would prefer systems which have post-calibration results which can actually be verified by the content creators as being accurate and therefore beneficial.

Stephen Trask's picture

I myself have problems with the notion of any blanket settings determined by a computer program unless they are simply adjusting unless it's just adjusting decibel levels and, in a large space, the timing of the surrounds. That said, I'm not sure that it matters whether Audessey has been involved in mastering or the mixing. As someone who has mixed in surround many times, I can say that that doesn't really matter much. in fact, the fact that they are involved in theater set-up is a much higher recommendation for their product.

techguy378's picture

Audyssey's website says they don't do averaging like other technologies do. It's also my understanding that YPAO does do averaging meaning that if one seat has a dip at 200Hz and another has a peak at 200Hz then these two measurements will average each other out and no correction will be made. Audyssey can make corrections in the time domain at every single seat in the listening room. It's the only technology that can. It doesn't just smooth out acoustical problems like other technologies do. It fixes them. Has Pioneer finally upgraded their MCACC software to measure at multiple points in the listening room? If not then it will not improve the sound at all. If MCACC still uses a parametric equalizer with 10 bands or less it also will not improve the sound at all.

Stephen Trask's picture

I always enjoy your reviews but this one seems to leave some information out. There is, for instance, no comparison of this product with similarly priced offerings. But mostly I am confused by the 4 star feature rating and the four star value rating. Is their any other feature missing besides Audessey? If so, there is no mention of it. And the ergo rating at 5 stars seems to be a big enough deal that the overall should have been higher. I am not attached to this product in any way. I just am confused by ratings and the decision making.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Techguy378: Your question has been submitted to Yamaha.

Stephen Trask: If you are confused, blame the rating system, not yourself. I spend 99 percent of my time on the text and the other 1 percent on ratings. So I encourage readers to look for answers and perspectives in the text. My definitive statement on ratings is here.

Having said that, I thought the Yamaha had good ergonomics due to the colorful and easy user interface, the spiffy cosmetics, and the smart combining of various functions under the Scene control. Yamaha also offers an excellent iPhone/iPod touch remote control app and a web browser control though they went unmentioned in this review. But another reviewer could have bestowed a different number for different reasons: what's easy or hard to use is pretty subjective and impossible to convey or even sum up in a numerical rating.

You were right that I knocked features and value down due to the lack of Audyssey or a convincing equivalent. In my experience Audyssey works better than Yamaha's YPAO. Audyssey isn't the only game in town -- I have also gotten great results from Pioneer's MCACC many times. Also Trinnov, admittedly only once. Apart from MCACC, non-licensed modes usually produce scattershot results.

Stephen Trask's picture

Thanks for responding. Your answer is probably the most definitive statement I've read on both the importance of room correction and the relative effectiveness of the different proprietary and licensed room correction systems. Can I take it from your list that you haven't used Anthem's ARC or does it fall into the scattershot category? Or can't you say. Room correction is probably the one feature that it is impossible for consumers to comparison shop so, again, your comments are quite helpful here.

Irrivirsible's picture

Many people on forums complain that the Yamaha receivers below the A2000 and A3000 do not allow multiple crossovers for speakers. If your fronts and backs play down to different levels you would have to find one crossover setting to work for all speakers instead of being able to use different crossover settings based on the speakers. Also, the receivers below the A2000 and A3000 do not EQ the sub and even the top 2 supposedly do it to a lesser degree than competitors. To some these are deal breakers. I would ask, what are your thoughts on the crossover and sub eq as described above?

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Stephen: Thanks for the encouragement. I've tried Anthem's ARC in a receiver exactly once. It worked well but I don't know it as well as I know some others. To get a handle on a room correction scheme, you've got to go through multiple setups over a long period of time. That's how I've gotten to trust Audyssey and Pioneer MCACC. I am a big fan of Paradigm's Perfect Bass Kit which works with certain PBK-compatible subs, having used it more than once and always liked the results.

Irrivirsible: I use (and alway recommend to readers) matched speakers, or at least matching driver sizes, so one x-over size fits all as far as I'm concerned. I'd say that a receiver that doesn't EQ the sub isn't doing the most important a room EQ scheme should be doing!

Stephen Trask's picture

It would be cool to do a side by side comparison of various room correction technologies. I also wonder how much the correction changes day to day or situation to situation. A living room full of people on a humid day sounds very different than that same room with one person on a dry day. I noticed that the new Rotel has a 10 band parametric EQ. That, combined with a good iPad app might be a really excellent tool for room cx. in many ways, I would much rather pay for an Audessey app and USB microphone combined with an onboard EQ than to simply have the technology built in. Then you could make easy, on-going adjustments and update the software or upgrade it as you desire.

Edit: I went to the Audyssey website today and found that they have been selling a recording studio version of Multi EQ through plug-in developer IK Multimedia, who make some great products. The product is essentially the same except that it's goal is to help music producers adjust EQ their mixes so as to correct for sound problems in their mix environments. The reviews by users are off the charts positive. I have been thinking of late, in general, that many of the advancements being made in home theater are simply about bringing to living rooms the sorts of hardware and software that recording studios have been employing for sometime. Dynamic Volume is just a mastering limiter/compressor. I wonder how long before some of the leading plug-in developers begin to market their products for home use, including DACs, limiters, EQ's etc. A company like Waves has spent well over a decade developing incredibly transparent and easy to use plug-ins that could easily be licensed as packages to AVR manufacturers. Avid and Apogee both have industry leading DACs that could easily be adapted for home theater use. Avid's Pro Tools also makes extraordinary plug-ins. I would not be surprised to see either of these companies partner with a manufacturer to produce some killer high end products at reasonable prices.

Stephen Trask's picture

I noticed, when looking at the new Aventage line-up for fall 2011 (yes, the product number is now rx-a1010) that YPAO comes in two varieties. The top two models in this series have something called RSC or Reflected Sound Control, which addresses early reflections. These are mostly high end clutter that can interfere with the crispness of a sound and possibly muddle dialogue and make violins and other high end score elements a bit cloudy. I wonder why this feature isn't included across the Aventage line. Is it a DSP or other processing issue or is it just to differentiate products. If it's the latter, then that is a mistake. RSC would probably bring YPAO in line with Audyssey in terms of effectiveness and, in the case of this review, may have resulted in a 5 star review down the line. Which, in turn, could sell a lot of AVRs.

Tobin's picture

Can anyone explain the difference between the Yamaha "Aventage" line (the RX - A810 for example) and the RX-V871? Why the two lines of product? What is the distinction between the two lines? The Yamaha website says the RX-V871 is "New" just like the Aventage line is "New".

Sebastiao Falcao Jr's picture

Please help me:
I sent this receiver for repair and it was returned without the remote control and the power cord.
I would very much appreciate your telling me where can I buy such parts in the US. Pls also give me the site address.
I thank you very much for yr help.