Product Review - Yamaha RX-V2095 Seven Channel Surround Sound Receiver - January, 1999
J.E. Johnson, Jr.
Following the introduction of the DSP-A1, which was incredibly successful, it was only natural that Yamaha would introduce other receivers that have some, but not all, of the DSP-A1's features and performance. Not everyone can afford the DSP-A1, but all Yamaha fans would like to have something like it. The RX-V2095 is the next best thing to a DSP-A1. It has seven channels, 100 watts per channel into five of the channels, and 25 watts per channel into the effects channels (two channels that sit near the front left/right main channels). It has 36 DSP sound fields, pre-ins and pre-outs for six channels (5.1 channels). Unlike the DSP-A1, the 2095 has an AM/FM tuner (five groups of 8 presets each) and multi-room capability (Zone 2, two channel stereo). Plus, the 2095 has Yamaha's new YSS-918 chip which decodes Dolby Digital (DD), DTS, Pro Logic, and has the DSP mode logic. So, in some ways, it actually has more features than the DSP-A1, although the DSP-A1 remains Yamaha's flagship in features and high performance surround sound.
The front panel of the 2095 sports Yamaha's new look, which first emerged with the DSP-A1. With the lower panel up, only the On/Off button, LED Readout, Input Selector (continuous rotary knob), and Volume Control (rotary knob) are visible. Most of the controls are hidden by the lower panel door, which flips open to reveal numerous other buttons and knobs including speaker selector (A/B), Program (DSP modes), Headphone jack, Bass Extension, Tone Control Bypass, Effect On/Off (switches receiver to two channel stereo instead of surround sound), Bass, Treble, External Decoder (for use with the six pre-in jacks), Tuner Presets, Balance, Tuning Preset Selector, Recording Output, and one set of S-Video-Composite Video-Audio Input Jacks. Like the DSP-A1, the 2095 input selector is a continuously turning knob. When it is turned, the input is registered on the right side of the LED display. The left side shows the input mode, whether it is DD or DTS or Pro Logic. The middle of the display shows the DSP mode, such as DGTL Spectacle (for use with DD). The LFE level can be set individually for DD and DTS, which is a nice feature since the LFE mix can be different.
The rear panel is filled with input and output jacks. There are four digital inputs, and two of them (DVD/LD and CD) have both optical and coaxial connectors. Optical digital has priority over coaxial digital, and both of these have priority over coaxial analog, so you can have, say, an optical digital cable from a DVD player and a coaxial cable from an LD player connected to the DVD/LD input, and the receiver will automatically use the optical digital signal when the DVD player is on, and the coaxial digital signal when the LD player is on. If you had them both on for one reason or another, you could switch the inputs manually, to overide the auto input selector. However, if you wanted to compare DVD and LD video quality, it would be better to use two different inputs so that you could switch between them more quickly. After completing that interesting little test, then move the two sources back to the same input, using optical digital for one and coaxial digital for the other.
There is no AC-3 RF demodulator built-into the 2095, so if you want to use a laserdisc player with DD laserdiscs, you would need the external RF demodulator sold by Yamaha ($100). RF demodulators sold by other companies will work fine too, but the Yamaha unit is the best buy (least expensive). The move towards not having demodulators in the receivers is due to the evident replacement of LDs by DVDs. (One of the local video stores in my area is selling their LD inventory because no one is renting them anymore. Their DVD rental display now takes up almost the entire center of the store.) There are six sets of analog inputs, including one for a phono cartridge if you still have any LPs, and four sets of S-Video/composite video. A full set of pre-in jacks and pre-out jacks allows for any future 5.1 mode, and connecting a five channel outboard power amplifier. One subwoofer line-level jack connects to your powered subwoofer. Zone 2 jacks will let you play CDs and other sources in a second room, and using the second remote control, let you stay in the second room while you change sources or CD tracks. This requires additional sensors and emitters, but they are easy to connect.
Five-way speaker binding posts are there for all channels, including the front effects. There are two sets each for the front left/right (A/B switchable from the front panel). The AC power cord is non grounded and non detachable. There are three switched two prong AC outlets for other components such as CD player, DVD player, LD player, etc. The main remote control is very complex, as most remote controls are these days. It has buttons for just about everything one could imagine, and has full macro and alternate component control capability, so you can program it to control all of your components. The only objection I have to the latest versions of these remotes is that volume control of the various channels is buried in a lower layer menu. The main control button is on the remote, but you have to go into the menu to change the center, rear, and effects channel volume. One change with the 2095 is the ability to change the volume in the two rear surround channels individually. With the increased capabilities of modern remotes, some features obviously have to go into menus, but volume control is the item I change most often, so I would prefer that each channel's volume have a button on the remote, as they did on their remotes of two years ago. Notwithstanding that particular criticism, the Yamaha remote is very powerful and very flexible. Maybe they should have yet another remote with just a few functions on it: power on/off, volume for each channel, dynamic range selection, and mute.
Each of the functions activated by front panel or remote are displayed on the TV as part of the On-Screen Display functions (OSD). These come in handy when using the setup functions, such as surround sound test levels and speaker sizes, but I prefer to connect my video sources (DVD, LD, and DSS) directly to the TV, bypassing switches and jacks in receivers, and since the receiver must have its video output jack connected to the TV in order to use OSD, I depend on the receiver display for confirming function activation. However, a full OSD is there if you like to use it. You can select how complex the OSD is too, either full or short.
The remote control for Zone 2 is much simpler, with buttons for selecting the input, volume, tuner channels, and DVD/LD/VCR functions.
The 2095 is relatively easy to use, if you are familiar with the complex array of features that receivers have these days. Computer chips have made available functions that would have taken a refrigerator sized chassis when I was young. More and more features are incorporated each year, especially DSP sound fields. Each of the sound fields on the 2095 may be changed from their factory setting, if you want to fine tune them according to initial delay, room size, liveness, reverberation, etc. The advantages of all this flexibility is not so much that you will be changing the DSP mode all the time, but that it is very likely you will find a mode among all the choices that you will really like. I was not a fan of DSP until the DSP-A1, where I found one mode I really enjoy and use it with all movies. The dynamic range is selectable among three values: no compression, slightly compressed, and very compressed. These come in handy when viewing late at night, or if you just don't like sudden explosions knocking you from your chair.
Although the 2095 has almost as much amplifier power as the DSP-A1, its design is much different. I found the 2095 to have a nice smooth sound until I cranked it up to high volume. This is characteristic of receivers in general, and represents mass consumer tastes in having enormous arrays of features rather than high performance amplifiers, so this is where Yamaha has put its efforts and manufacturing costs. Now that I have tested two of their seven-channel products, I am sold on this feature (seven channels), in particular for use when the front left/right main speakers are not very far apart (as in close to the TV). The effects speakers add just enough ambience to widen the soundstage. The beauty is that very small speakers work very well for the front effects, and they can be placed on a shelf.
The auto selection of input signal worked flawlessly, and I really appreciate the technology that went into this. We now have so many formats, it is very convenient to have the receiver detect what is coming in, and automatically decode it. I went from DD to DTS to Pro Logic, all at the same input, and the 2095 didn't miss a beat. The sound was crisp, clear, and dynamic, a good meld of processor, amplifier, and digital surround sound technology.
The 10 kHz ±10V square wave response of the 2095 shows no ringing or overshoot. The measured bandwidth was 77 kHz (down 3 dB from the sinewave measurement at 10 kHz). This illustrates a difference from the much wider bandwidth of the DSP-A1, even though the power ratings are not all that much different. (There is more to amplifier performance than just power ratings.) However, the DSP-A1 is $1,000 more in price, and also, a bandwidth of 77 kHz is still pretty good.
The Yamaha RX-V2095 occupies an interesting position, sitting in between their statement piece, the DSP-A1, and their top mass market model, the RX-V995. For those of you who want high performance without spending the ultimate dollar, the RX-V2095 is just the ticket.
John E. Johnson, Jr.
© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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