Yamaha RX-V1900 Receiver Review

After a long term test, can this Yamaha offer Home Cinema perfection?

by Phil Hinton
Home AV Review

6

Recommended
Yamaha RX-V1900 Receiver Review
SRP: £900.00

Introduction

With a deluge of TVs for review lately, this Yamaha Receiver has found itself on a long term test as my main audio source in our flat panel review room. And it hasn’t found itself forgotten about either, as it has provided some full on soundtracks to accompany many of the test sequences we use for product evaluation. So what exactly are we getting with the RX-V1900?

Design

When I initially unpacked the unit almost three months ago now, I actually though it was an RX-V2700, a unit I was swapping out of the rack for the 1900. Looking at the chassis layout and design of the RX-V1900 and comparing it with our out going receiver, I was initially hard pushed to see any differences. It certainly looks like this new product for 2009 is designed on a past award winner and the only functions that look like they have been left out are the Ethernet connection and networking capabilities. So, Yamaha have produced a new product for a new price point, but firmly designed it as a continuation of a successful former Best Buy.

Set up and Features

Looking at the design and we have the now familiar Yamaha quality build and looks. Put this Receiver in a room full of AV fans and take away the company badge and model numbers, and every one of those present will be able to tell you it’s a Yamaha. It seems like the design of the company’s products have that timeless feel where everything that has come before the RX-V1900 has been a slow evolution of the same look. How many products can boast the easy recognisable lines in today’s design heavy market, where products change every six months? Yamaha have been producing some of the finest AV receivers since the beginnings of time - well home cinema time anyway. So have they hit gold again with the RX-V1900?

Yamaha RX-V1900

The front panel is sleek and unassuming on its familiar design. The main display is centrally mounted above a drop down flap hiding video and audio connections, with a volume knob to the right and input selection knob to the left. And apart from a direct source button and the small power option buttons to the left side, that’s all there is to see. The black finish and heavy silver absorption feet complete the industrial look (and a silver finish is also available). Moving around the back and you’re met with enough video inputs to keep you happy whatever video and audio products you might want to connect. I am willing to bet that very few owners will ever use more than 50% of those available. So what exactly do we have?

Well, this list is going to be long. First up there are 4 HDMI inputs and one output. Three Component inputs and one output are accompanied by seven s-video and composite video inputs with parallel stereo jacks and one video output for each. Audio source wise, there are inputs for a turntable, CD player and two recordable loops along with three coax digital and 4 optical inputs with one digital recording loop. Add to all these connection an RS232 port, remote jacks and full nine channel amplified speaker connections and the rear side of the RX-V1900 is certainly busy! Moving to the front connections and controls we have an s-video and composite input, a USB input and stereo audio inputs. There are also controls fro selecting audio program settings and the YPAO auto EQ system. All of the front panel controls are housed under a flap when not in use.

Yamaha RX-V1900

This Receiver is also heavy with a weight coming in at approximately 18kg along with excellent build quality. Inside are Burr-brown 192kHz/24 bit DACs for all the channels and decoding for the latest HD codecs including DTS Master Audio. The Amplifiers are also assignable (as are the various inputs) and can be used to bi-amp the front main channels. The rated power of each channel is 140w into 8ohm which should be plenty for most rooms in the UK. There are a number of configurations possible with the assignable amplifiers including using them for extra zones. Whilst the RX-V1900 doesn’t have the latest Dolby Height (Pro logic IIz) decoding on board; it does have the Yamaha presence channels for two front speakers to be positioned above the main pair. This technology uses the Cinema DSP engine to matrix out information to be sent to these added speakers. It might not be exactly the same as the Dolby tech, but then again Yamaha have been doing this for at least 10 years now. However, I think you would need a very accommodating partner to get 9 speakers into a living room!

As I have mentioned, this Yamaha has been my main living room workhorse for the past three months and has yet to miss a beat. It is obvious that this unit has missed out on some areas to meet its seriously tempting price point against the bigger receiver it is based on. The first thing that I really did notice was the menu system which is no longer a fancy GUI. Instead we have a very basic text only menu, but there are still plenty of options for correct set up and calibration of the sound. Indeed, it incorporates Yamaha’s YPAO auto set up and room EQ software which unlike some similar competing systems is intuitive to set up. However, I did find that I had to make additional manual inputs to the EQ system to get it working in an optimum manner in my room (aided by use of the XTZ analyser).

For video signals the RX-V1900 also has full 1080 scaling on board which can be configured over all input signals and output using 100hz or 24hz. Overall, the general quality of the scaling of video signal is adequate with no obvious cadence issues when tested with the HQV suite of clips.

I did notice that there was a red push and image tear problem with some material, and although I have tried hard to work out why this is happening, it is also intermittent and hard to isolate. It may just be an issue that is only apparent within my set up or with this particular hard worked review sample. But overall, the video processing manages to do its job well.

Yamaha RX-V1900

For those who want some kind of networking there is an iPod dock available as a separate purchase for this unit as well as a USB port for use with MP.3 audio files on the front panel. However, there is sadly no DNLA or home networking technology here, but at this price point and with the rest of the quality build, something had to give and I suppose this is no real loss, if ultimate audio quality is your goal.

In terms of advanced sound control we have Yamaha’s now famous Cinema DSP engine on board, offering effects like arenas and opera halls, to jazz clubs and 70mm cinemas. These modes are certainly a case of suck it and see with most material, and whilst it usually fails to really enthral, if you get the right material with the best DSP mode, it can be a pleasant experience. However, most of the time, I find myself in using the RX-V1900 in standard surround modes, or straight for music.

Sound Quality

The biggest plus point of this receiver is where it matters, sound quality. It is certainly not under powered and can quite happily drive our reference XTZ 99.38 floorstanders, 99.25 centre and 99.26 surrounds with ease. (The XTZ’s are certainly not the most sensitive speakers).

Starting with 2 channel playback, the Yamaha manages to handle itself with plenty of dignity and poise. Metallica are probably not the most subtle of bands to test out a review sample, but as I am using this as I would any normal AV receiver, it is certainly valid. The S&M recording of ‘Hero of the Day’ is one of my all time favourite rock tracks, with its slow and subtle start to full blown head banging chorus, the Yamaha managed to handle this with power and without adding in any audible distortion at reference levels. The sound stage is wide and detailed with vocals sounding rich and layered. Whilst an AV receiver will never really compare against a well designed 2 channel amplifier, as an all rounder this Yamaha does itself proud without breaking into a sweat.

Yamaha RX-V1900

The main material that has been played through this receiver in every day use in my room, has been TV material and test clips when reviewing TVs. As a home cinema performer, the Yamaha really excels and offers a convincing soundstage for any kind of movie material you care to throw at it. From quiet vocal passages, to full on mayhem in Die Hard 4.0 on Blu-ray, I never once felt that the RX-V1900 was about to struggle to keep up. The processing allows accurate placement of effects and surround panning with each discrete channel never showing signs of crosstalk interference. The Yamaha drips of quality in multi-channel playback with rich dynamics and a powerful yet tight bottom end. The on board decoding of the latest HD codecs is as expected with rich and full dynamic range on offer. It manages to cruise through material at reference volumes when required and only really starts to lose it’s composure when pushed over that limit. However, I never once felt the need to push things. The surround performance is subtle, in your face and composed all in the same scene, if required. And the auto set up and Room EQ works well with slight tweaks for my room. I really am struggling to find anything negative about this receiver.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Excellent and refined audio quality for 2 channel and surround playback
  • Good Build Quality
  • Above average video processing and switching
  • Good quality amplification
  • Handles all HD codecs
  • Good connectivity
  • Excellent Value for Money

The Bad

  • Limited menu system
  • No networking or DNLA connectivity
  • YPAO auto set up and room EQ not as accurate as competing systems

Yamaha RX-V1900 Receiver Review

Whilst I have not gone into page after page of technical details and long paragraphs of expressive sound discussion in this review, I have refrained from doing so as the RX-V1900 offers the kind of performance that can be summed up nicely without wearing out my keyboard. It has been used as an every day workhorse as it would in any AVForums members’ living room and I haven’t found anything overly negative to say about it. It is well built, offers some good features and is well powered. It has coped easily with our reference XTZ speaker system and has offered exactly the type of performance I would expect from a mid level Yamaha product. It does lack the nice GUI menu screens and networking capabilities that some competitors have as standard. However, the RX-V1900 doesn’t pretend to be anything but a great AV receiver in terms of sound quality and power – it ticks all the right boxes for those who just want a refined, yet powerful and dynamic performer. Recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
.
.
7

Connectivity

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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