Receivers

Yamaha RX-A2000 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Yamaha RX-A2000 7.1 A/V Receiver In Use

The first thing I ran through the RX-A2000 was the 3D Blu-Ray "How to Train Your Dragon" from DreamWorks (a Samsung exclusive promo disc). The 3D video was passed through to my Samsung PN58C7000 3D plasma display flawlessly, and the Dolby TrueHD was stunning. If you haven't seen this movie on your system yet, it's full of great demo material. The surround channels and bass are both very active in this film, and the Yamaha delivered the lossless audio track with aplomb. From very dynamic effects like swooshing wings and immense explosions, to more subtle effects like footsteps in the forest and whispered dialog, the A2000 rocked the house. Clear, crisp, detailed, powerful, immersive. Seriously, this receiver sounds really, really good with dynamic movie soundtracks.

Next up was one of my favorite demo DVD's, "The Dark Knight." I love the scene where the Joker blows up the hospital. The bass in that explosion is really awesome, and thanks to the subwoofer EQ'ing that the A2000's YPAO did, it sounded better than normal in my HT room. There are definitely better sub EQ's out there, but for something that's built-in to a mid-range priced AVR, this version of YPAO does an excellent job. The 480i video of The Dark Knight was deinterlaced and upsampled to 1080p by the Yamaha. I've never noticed a dramatic improvement in upsampling of DVD video with any device. The RX-A2000 did a fine job of it, but as with any upsampling, don't expect blu-ray quality just because your TV detects a 1080p signal coming to it.

Then, I sampled the streaming capabilities of the RX-A2000. I have the free DLNA server software Serviio running on my Windows XP machine, which serves up all my digital media from a 1TB hard drive. The Yamaha easily detected my DLNA server and I could browse by folders, genres, albums, author/artist, etc. I have most of my music stored in high bitrate MP3, and some stored in FLAC. Both file types were recognized by the Yamaha and played fine. My FLAC rip of Bernstein's "Ode to Freedom" performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony was awesome. What a treat to be able to play my FLAC collection directly through my receiver, losslessly, with the disc sitting on the shelf. In addition to the DLNA client, the Yamaha also has a very extensive internet-radio capability. Virtually any radio station that has an online stream can be found and played on the RX-A2000 if it's connected to the Internet. Additionally, the A2000 can stream music from the online music service Rhapsody, Pandora, and Sirius Internet Radio.

I also tried plain-old FM radio. I am a FM radio junkie. I really enjoy listening to radio, be it classical, news talk, or rock'n'roll. Yamaha has a history of making excellent FM tuners. So with two older Yamaha receivers in my household that can pull in some great quality FM radio from San Francisco (50 miles away) I had high hopes. Additionally, I was looking forward to trying out HD radio, knowing that a local NPR station was broadcasting in HD. Initially, I was disappointed. The RX-A2000 found only one station. Regardless of stations 50 miles away in San Francisco, there are many local stations to be had, and the RX-A2000 could only get one. I had a $300 Yamaha receiver from 2003 or so that was grabbing about eight stations, no problem, using the same antenna.

It turns out that Yamaha was aware of the issue and had already released a firmware fix. I was able to download the firmware to a USB thumb-drive and update without issue. After the fairly easy firmware update, the tuner was able to auto-tune seven stations. It missed two that the old Yamaha had, but found one that the old receiver did not. Alas, the sole local HD radio station was not one of the stations found by the A2000. Nor was it able to get any HD stations from San Francisco. So I was unable to evaluate the HD radio performance, much to my dismay. But for those stations it did find, FM quality was very good. Interestingly, even though these were analog stations, not digital HD-radio stations, the tuner behaved like a digital tuner: it would either lock on, or totally drop out. No static or noise in-between.

As with most network-connected A/V receivers these days, the Yamaha RX-A2000 has a web-based interface available. To access the web interface, simply enter the local IP address of the receiver into any web browser on your LAN (e.g. 192.168.X.Y). The web interface allows you to control the power of each zone, the volume for each zone, and the source for each zone. You can also set the surround decoder, and select from the four main scenes.

I used this a lot, as it doubles as a smart-phone remote control app, simply by using my Android phone's built-in browser when the phone is connected to my LAN. This was very convenient, especially when I was taking advantage of the multi-zone feature of the RX-A2000. I could be out on the patio and decide to power up the receiver and pipe some FM music to the patio zone, or stream some MP3s from my server to the living room, all while my wife was listening to a CD in the main HT. The Web interface was not optimized for a smart phone, but it worked well enough. I'd like to see a purpose designed Android app for the Yamaha, but until then, this worked well. I did find a Yamaha receiver widget on the Android market, but this had very limited functionality.

The multi-zone feature in the Yamaha RX-A2000 is great. Once I got it set up, which was actually very straight forward, I was very impressed. Granted, without external amplification, the A2000 must sacrifice its surround and surround back amplifier channels to power zones 2 and 3. But for my uses, this is totally acceptable. I must say at this point though that the poorly written user manual combined with the vast number of features, options and settings finally did me in while trying to play different sources on multiple zones simultaneously. I searched the manual, and online forums, but I could not seem to get all three zones playing three separate sources simultaneously. It turns out that you cannot play more than one source from the same "category" simultaneously. For example, you could not play one FM station in one zone, while playing another FM station (or HD station) in another zone. This seems obvious, as there's only one tuner. What wasn't obvious to me at first was that Internet radio and DLNA streaming are in the same "category" of sources - they are both "network" sources. So you cannot, for example, stream MP3 music from your local server via DNLA in Zone2 while playing an Internet (or SIRIUS) radio station in Zone3 or Zone1. You can however play a CD in zone1, an FM/HD radio station in zone2 and an Internet radio station in Zone3 - all at the same time.