Since those early days of digital surround sound, technology has certainly moved on at a frightening pace, some may even say it has only gotten faster over the last few years, making products almost obsolete as soon as they hit the shop shelves. You could be mistaken for believing that the AV Industry has now gone the way of the PC world with so many new formats and technologies coming along almost on a monthly basis. This means that any new product hitting the market has to have the future in mind and offer the very latest in technology. Indeed this receiver could be argued as being old hat already as it doesn’t have the latest HD audio codecs on board, but as there aren’t any players capable of outputting the bitstreams as I write this, it may be a moot point.
What does the RX-V2700 offer in terms of future home cinema? Well unpacking from the box it becomes obvious that this receiver is heavy with a solid build quality. This is certainly reassuring and points to the unit possessing the required high performance amplifier stages as well as a hefty power supply. The titanium finish is also welcomed; the old hat gold finish has certainly managed to make products look cheap these days. The back of the unit is feature packed with every inch of space used for inputs and outputs and round the front is a sleek centre positioned display panel and a pressure held flap hiding even more connections and controls. Also included in the box are not one, but two remote controls; one main unit and a second zone slave.
Next are the RCA analogue inputs which number ten for everything from your VCR to tape deck, with four offering recording outputs.
Video inputs are available with s-video as well as composite connections for five inputs, with two sporting recording outputs, as well as one monitor output for each connection. Next up the food chain are three component and HDMI v1.2a inputs with one Monitor out for each. For digital audio inputs we are also given three coaxial and six optical slots (two offering digital out) and remember you can also input digital audio through the HDMI ports. Also included round back are a five channel RCA input, seven channel pre-outs and RCA for zone two and three, plus there is an Ethernet port and iPod dock as well as the control 232 plus two switches and the receiver Ariel connectors – phew!
Moving to the front panel and on the left we have a master power and stand by power buttons as well as an input knob and on the right we have the volume knob and the pure direct button. Next we have the display panel and the oiled flap panel which hides even more controls and inputs. These include a USB port, headphone Jack, EQ Mic jack, composite and s-video jacks, multi zone buttons, a program dial as well as other control option buttons. So as you can see there is nearly every kind of input and output any discerning AV fan would need.
Setting up the unit is pretty intuitive using the set up menus with excellent graphics and you can either do this manually or choose to use the YPO set up mic. I tried the auto set up route first and although the software does its best to set everything up correctly, I found the final result quite disappointing. The distances apart from the subwoofer where pretty bang on, however everything was set to large with the sub crossover at 110hz, so I decided to set everything manually. There are some programs out there such as Audyssey which do a good job, sadly the Yamaha version pales in comparison. Setting up manually with a sound meter in hand, it took about half an hour to get the receiver running with our Reference M&K passive speakers. There are numerous options hidden within the menus for video assign and scaling to speaker size and distance and this shouldn’t take too long to get used too. One thing I will say here is that the main remote control is an absolute nightmare! The company have tried to squeeze as many buttons and switches as possible onto the remote and this means that it takes a long time to get used to the layout. In fact I have had the unit about 4 months now and I still get lost when looking for the button or feature I want.
With everything plugged in and set up what options do we have to play with? Well first of all are the audio settings and if you have ever owned a Yamaha you will know that there are a myriad of DSP options to choose from. In all there are 23 DSP program settings possible, everything from the Roxy Theatre to DTS 96/24. As with most amplifiers many of the DSP programs can be seen as a gimmick to use once and never re-visit, however some are very effective and will benefit from repeated use. Things that I found useful where the enhanced settings for playing back poorly encoded MP3 files as well as some of the more expansive surround decoding such as SciFi and Adventure. Whatever you may think about DSP it certainly has it uses with the correct material and as far as I am concerned there are more good than bad on this receiver.
Other audio modes which you may be inclined to use are the straight and pure direct buttons. These switch off other components within the unit to improve your two channel music, straight switching off the DSP and pure switching everything off apart from the amplifier stage (including your subwoofer channel). I have to say I preferred the straight option over Pure as I enjoy using my subwoofers with music, but if you want it pure, you can have it no problem. The Yamaha certainly uses high grade audio components such as Burr Brown 192/24bit Dacs and the companies Topart technology. The YPO EQ also features a manual mode which will allow you to tailor the sound as you wish, with 9 Parametric bands to help your subwoofer set up as well as rolling off the high end frequencies for those harsher movie soundtracks. The old RX-V2600 was THX select certified but for some reason Yamaha has decided to drop this with the 2700, however if you prefer the THX roll off this can be manually input via the YPO EQ.
Moving onto video and you have nearly every possible connection you could possibly want in today’s home cinema environments. The main inputs for me are the HDMI v.2a connectors which allow the video to be upscaled to 1080i or the option to feed through the by-pass. The receiver does not accept 1080/24 as standard, you have to force 24 from your player and have it set as pass through. You can upscale and output everything from composite to component via the HDMI jack and this makes things easy to use and is a very welcome feature indeed. The HDMI jack also accept uncompressed PCM and Dolby Digital True HD which is decoded within your BD or HD DVD player and the results are very pleasing indeed. The actual scaling performance is provided by the Anchor bay technologies chip set and the results are fairly pleasing when using HQV benchmark material on DVD and in HD.
Also included with the RX-V2700 is the ability to connect your iPod via the optional YP-10 add on which allows full control over the iPod and will even output your video via the receiver. And finally we have the Ethernet port which allows networking via the Yamaha so you can stream Internet radio or look up your music and video files via your PC and play these back through the receiver, which also supports DLNA. Compatibility may be an issue for some people so make sure you visit the forums so you can see how other users have solved these, or not. I managed to get the unit to see my PC and I was able to listen to my music quite easily, but with all things that surround computers, it’s never straight forward! However once running it played most audio compression files with on screen folders and track listings. And of course you can also use the USB connection to play back photos and music as well.
Next I moved onto the straight option which has become my favourite automatic mode of preference on the RX-V2700. In this mode the DSP programs can be switched off yet full use is made of the sub channel. Listening to Annie Lennox “Cold” the sonic soundstage is a joy to behold for what is classed as a home cinema product; it certainly dispels the myth that AV amps are poor at music reproduction.
Vocals were strong and well positioned within the sound stage with each instrument clearly audible and stereo placement bang on the money. The dynamic performance provides a rich high end with a subtle yet powerful bottom end presence which provides an enjoyable and relaxing listening experience with 2 channel material from CD. Switching over to MP3 (yes I know I should be shot for suggesting such a thing), the Yamaha has a unique enhancer mode which claims to fill in the blanks with low encode rate material to give it a fuller and richer sound. What looks like a gimmick and which will be dismissed by many is actually a very effective DSP effect which certainly tries to make MP3 files sound that little bit more dynamic and full bodied. The effect was a surprise to me and although the bottom end became a little bit boomy on some material, if you have to endure poorly encoded music files, this mode is well worth trying out.
To wrap up with the stereo music performance are the DSP settings to transport your artists into some of the world’s most famous live performance arenas. When you choose a suitable track and engage the right DSP mode the effect can be stunning. Take Fairground Attractions "Perfect" and engage the loft club setting and suddenly Eddie Reader is singing to you while you are immersed within the Jazz club surroundings, you can almost smell the cigar smoke ( obviously my Jazz club still allows smoking). With such a brilliant experience you could be forgiven for thinking that you will get this effect each and every time you switch the DSP modes on. Sadly it is more a case of hit and miss in terms of the material used and the settings you want to explore. For the majority of the time all you get is a feeling of reverbs being added to a track you know inside out. However when it does click and comes together, it can be a very convincing experience.
Performance Movies and Video Processing
Normal standard definition DVD playback in Dolby Digital or DTS is powerful and compelling. The processing in the RX-V2700 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. Star Wars ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was afforded the type of sound stage that simply pulls you into the action, offering an expansive and detailed experience which envelops the listener with ease. Even pushing the receiver to reference level with our 4ohm load M&K’s proved to be a positive experience with no sign that it was struggling at all with the volume requirements. Only when you really start to push matters well beyond the reference point does the sound become harder and more brittle in nature.
As you would expect moving up to Uncompressed PCM from Blu-ray on the PS3 or Dolby TrueHD from our Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player, the experience just kept getting better. With full dynamic playback being resolved and proper bass management engaged within the RX-V2700 the movie experience just keeps getting better. Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’ via PCM was a joy of deep forest surroundings and bass sweeps of enormous power and slam. Dialogue was precise and intelligible at all times with the Yammy feeling like it was doing the deeds it was made to fulfill in style. Even the rather dire 'Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' on HD DVD, sounded sublime with a breath of power you simply don’t feel with the compressed DD and DTS tracks. That’s the beauty with the uncompressed formats, that so called placebo effect is actually very real world indeed with an air of quality present in the soundtrack, it is the subtleness and power combined that make the formats shine and the RX-V2700 a master with multi channel. I have never tired with the sound quality on offer with this receiver, from the quietest dialogue passage, to full blown Armageddon scenes of destruction, the quality and finesse of the Yamaha is a joy to behold.
It would have been nice if Yamaha had included Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio decoding onboard the RX-V2700, but with no players yet able to pass the bit stream to allow this yet, maybe that’s a mute point to make. The Yammy does everything available now and it does it in absolute grandiose style.
The Yamaha certainly performed very well when subjected to the horrors of the HQV test material with every area assessed in full. There were only a few niggles and that was with the Cadence sequences, for whatever reason the RX-V2700 failed to lock on correctly and failed these tests. However every other area of video performance was between average and excellent and if you can live with the unit taking a little longer than normal to lock onto the correct video or film cadence then you have nothing to worry about.
- Excellent audio quality and amplifier power
- Ethernet & USB connections
- Build Quality
- Feature packed
- Good quality video processing
- Accepts PCM multi channel sound from your HD player via HDMI 1.2a
- No 1080p scaling, you have to force 1080/24 in pass-though
- Remote control is too busy and complicated to use
- YPAO EQ is not as accurate as other systems available
Yamaha RX-V2700 Receiver Review
In rounding up my thoughts on the RX-V2700 I cannot help but feel this model may have been a stop gap while the HD audio codec’s take their time to come to market. It is the only part of the Receiver that is lacking, support for Hd audio. Other than this I can wholeheartedly state that the 2700 keeps up the tradition of Yamahas high end performance for sensible money. It is worth every penny of the £1300 asking price, and is probably available for less as the newer models get closer to market, keep your eyes peeled.
The RX-V2700 offers a powerful yet subtle sound for whatever material you throw at it, from sublime 2 channel separation, to full on uncompressed TrueHD and PCM from HD DVD and Blu-ray which bring the weight, power and dynamics of the future to home now. They may have been here from the beginning but there is no sign of Yamaha losing it’s crown as a high performance, value for money contender in today’s Home Cinema receiver market - this is a Best Buy.
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