It was London Audio’s Rick Ho who commented to me, in a phone conversation, what a good value and innovative receiver the RX-V1400 is. Its main claim to fame is automatic self-calibrating of all main functions for 7 channels of audio. This system is called “Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer for Automatic Speaker Setup”, otherwise acronymed as YPAO.
Features include all the Dolby surround formats, DTS ES, NEO 6, and 96/24, along with Yamaha’s own DSPmodes, using 192-kHz/24-bit D/A conversion. There is also an up-to-8-channel analog input set for DVDA/ SACD or other future audio formats. There are more digital, analog, and video inputs than anyone will probably ever need, including 2 component video ins and one out. There are also outputs to control Zone 2 and 3, as well as speaker terminals that can be used with the associated amplifiers for either Zone 2 or for “Presence” channels that receive matrixed audio derived from the discrete surround formats. Power output is rated at 110 wpc rms for all 8 channels.
Acquired for a limited time between Yamaha dealer shows, our RX-V1400 review sample was evaluated in a little less leisurely fashion than is our custom. These complex components do require considerable orientation even for reviewers familiar with all the features and functions encountered. However, the YPAO system was of sufficient interest to make me want to play with it, bringing this flexibility of setup to a new price point. It (or its equivalent) have previously been seen only in such expensive receivers as the Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX (Summer/Fall 2002, Vol. 21 #2). YPAO does a full checkout of all speakers, starting with how many are being used, and their relative polarity, using pulse tones for the latter calibration. It then sets the correct distance for each speaker with the appropriate delays, following this with a check of each speaker’s frequency response to set it as Large or Small, and then equalizes the speakers for proper timbral balance. Finally, it sets proper speaker levels for all channels being employed, including the subwoofer. All this is accomplished through a single omnidirectional calibrated microphone placed at the prime listening position.
One of the interesting aspects of the equalization process is that it matches even dissimilar speakers to at least a useable tonal similarity, and to test this, I gathered what speakers I had around at the time to make up the surround system. These included a pair of Aperion Audio 512D DiAural compact speakers as left and right, a Dahlquist DQ6 as centre, the Aperion SW12 subwoofer, and Paradigm ADP-150 dipoles for surround. In my 14 x 16’ home theatre room more than 5 speakers are superflous clutter, and I assumed that if the process worked with 5 speakers, it would also deal with 7 or 8.
The screen photos show the steps in the calibration process, as the system whoops, bloops, and (tone) bursts its way along; the subwoofer calibration alone caused rattles which I’d never heard in the room before. By the way, the dimpled foam sheets on either side of the Elite PRO-710HD monitor are the ribbon equivalents of our Audio Ideas Imagers, in that they absorb and/or disperse inward sideways radiation from the Newform R645 ribbons rather than allowing it to be reflected and delayed off the shiny Urushi wood finish of the TV to muddy front speaker imaging. Interestingly enough, the YPAO (I’m tempted to call it the “Yippy-Yi- Yo”) system, detected that one of the dipole Paradigms was set up in reverse polarity, so I quickly turned it around, and began the process again.
The ultimate result was excellent surround sound, with good balance, presence and bass impact in the system as a whole. Though the EQ could not completely match all these speakers tonally, it went a long way toward making them work together seamlessly.
In other respects, the RX-V1400 showed itself to be an excellent and versatile receiver. Its tuner was one of the hottest ever, getting 51 stations cleanly on our outdoor Lindsay double dipole antenna. It had, in addition to high sensitivity, very good selectivity, separating close together stations, and getting good stereo from most signals. We didn’t try the Phono input, but it’s also there for the audiophile with what are now considered “retro” tastes. A more currently useful feature is the video format conversion process, that allows a composite or S input to be viewed in component mode on the monitor, and I was quite impressed by the non-progressive (at least at the receiver’s component output) picture as line-doubled by the monitor. It was a little oversaturated in colour but this was easily fixed.
In general, this is an excellent sounding receiver that delivers a lot for its price, and makes setup very simple for purchaser or dealer/installer. I don’t see much else out there under $2000 that offers this kind of operational intelligence and value for money.
Related Reviews:AIG Back Issues: Fall 2004
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