Receivers

Yamaha RX-A2000 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The Yamaha RX-A2000 is loaded with virtually every feature one could want in a modern receiver: HDMI 1.4a switching and the concomitant support for 3D & Audio Return Channel (ARC), 1080p scaling from virtually all sources by the HQV Vida chip, HD Radio, Internet Radio, Satellite Radio, Pandora, Blue-tooth Dock (optional), iPod support (a remote control app and available docking), Web control (and thus control via almost any smart-phone or tablet PC), multi-zone, every sound format known to man and then some, up to 7 channels of amplification (up to 9.2 with outboard amps), and a full-featured room correction / auto-EQ system. Really, I can't think of a major feature that the A2000 lacks that its competition has.

On the other hand, at least one stand-out feature that is uncommon among the competition is inclusion of two full-featured 12V triggers for all channels, and/or a separate device. Many receivers, if they have 12V triggers for external amps, have them for only some of the channels (e.g. zone 2 or 3, front L/C/R only, etc.) The RX-A2000 can be configured to trigger external amps for the main amp section, zone 2, zone 3, or all of the above. This is a nice feature if you have good quality external amps, or think you might want to upgrade to external amplification in the near future, as it automatically turns external amps on or off, synchronized with the A2000's power or source status. Heck even if you only have 2 channels of external amplification, this will allow you to set up all of the total possible 9.2 channels, and have them switched by the A2000.

Aesthetically, the RX-A2000 is a nice looking receiver. Of course it's the standard brushed black box that so many receivers are, but I find the understated elegance of Yamaha's new "A" line to be quite pleasing. All front panel ports and buttons are located behind a fold-out door, which is flanked on either side by two large knobs - source & volume. The front panel door also hides an impressive set of input jacks for temporary connection of camcorders, smart-phones, your old pong console, etc.

Both volume and source knobs have a decent feel to them although most people may never even lay hands on these knobs these days. The volume level is prominently shown on the front panel display - which is nice - as well as on the TV, which is nice and not so nice. Seated about 19 feet from the receiver, I can read the volume display on the receiver. However if the TV is also on, the volume bar & attenuation (-dB) level are displayed on the TV in a huge dark grey bar that spans about ⅔ of the width of the screen. While it's great to have the volume shown on screen for those whose receivers are out of view, this volume bar is a little much. At a minimum it should be on a transparent background, rather than a dark grey bar. Ideally Yamaha would provide the ability to choose whether the volume is displayed on the TV screen or not.

On to the business side of any receiver: the rear panel:

The RX-A2000 has no fewer than seven HDMI v1.4 inputs (eight including the front panel), and two (simultaneous – not independent) HDMI monitor outputs. In addition, those of us who refuse to let go of our older equipment will be happy to see that there are four sets of analog A/V inputs, each of which includes component, s-video and composite video, as well as digital (2 coax, 2 optical) and analog (2 ch) audio. There are amplifier pre-outs for all channels, and speaker terminals for no fewer than eleven channels, even though the A2000 can only be configured for up to 9.2 channels using an outboard stereo power amplifier. This turns out to be very convenient if you use the multi-zone feature, as you can hook up all your speakers simultaneously, even though some will end up sharing amplifiers (more on that later). Regardless, the 11 terminals are Zone 2(3) L/R, Surround L/R, Surround Back L/R, Center, Main L/R, and "presence" L/R. The binding posts for speaker wire are of good quality, but users of dual-banana plugs take note: they are too far apart for the standard dual plugs. I have lots of both types on hand, so this was not an issue to me, but may be an inconvenience to some.

The remote for the RX-A2000 is, well, not excellent. (insert figure5) There are some good things about it: the tactile response of the buttons is nice, and it sits in my hand comfortably. Other than that, if falls short in my opinion. It has a tiny back-lit display, that hardly serves any purpose that I can tell. The layout of some of the most-often used buttons (e.g. sound modes, audio decoder selection, zone selection) leaves a lot to be desired. In fact the layout of some of these buttons is downright terrible, with some functions on the main surface of the remote and some associated functions under a pop-up cover. Any buttons under a cover should be only those used VERY infrequently, but that's not the case. For example, the zone selection button is under the pop-up cover, yet the power button to turn on the various zones is on the main surface. With three zones in my house, I find myself popping the cover on the remote way too often. The receiver comes with a second, smaller remote, but I don't find myself using it much, because too many of the features are on the main remote. I suppose if I had more time with the unit and really customized all the SCENE buttons to my specific tastes, I might use the secondary remote more. Then again probably not: I would just program my Harmony universal remote to handle everything.