Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver


The Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver In Use

I'll start with FM radio performance, which is the first thing I listened to anyway. I admit I am an FM radio junkie. I don't know why I am, since the quality is nowhere near that of CD, let alone SACD or DVD-A. But I really enjoy the variety of radio, the local DJs, news & events and commentary. I recently reviewed a Yamaha RX-A2000 that initially had some problems with the FM tuner (fixed via firmware update). So, I was a bit tentative as I hooked up the antenna and attempted to tune in some FM stations for the first time. I needn't have worried: the R-S700 pulled in all of my favorite stations quite well, and sounded great. KDFC out of San Francisco is my favorite classical station. The first sounds to come out of the R-S700 seemed at first to be an advertisement for United Airlines, but then I remembered that KDFC was listener supported. What I was hearing was a real performance of Gershwin's fabulous "Rhapsody in Blue" as clear and noise-free as one could expect from an FM signal. The FM tuner in the R-S700 passed muster. This was a good start to my review.

Next up was one of my all-time favorite classical recordings, Telarc's "Copland: The Music of America." The DVP-S7700 DVD player, while a little long in the tooth, is actually quite a good CD player. The Yamaha R-S700 really shined when fed an analog signal from the Sony DACs. I turned on the CD Direct Amp switch for "Fanfare for the Common Man," which sounded open and clean on the Yamaha. If anything can be said for what the R-S700 does to the sound, it's "nothing". The music was unadulterated and neutral in the best way. I then re-listened with the CD Direct Amp switch off. There seemed to be a small difference. I think it did sound a little better with the switch on. It was subtle, and this was by no means a double-blind test, but it did seem to clean up the signal, for a more pure, natural sound. I would be interested to try a double-blind test with this though, and see if I really preferred the sound with it off. I think I would be able to tell that there is a difference, but I don't know that I would correctly identify which one is better. Turning on the CD Direct Amp mode sounded better to me, but it could have been bias on my part. Regardless I chose to leave it on for the rest of my testing.

To mix it up a little, I threw on "Test for Echo" by prog-rock stalwarts Rush. I cranked the volume and rocked out to Driven. This is a powerful, fast, driving song heavy on guitars and bass. The R-S700 delivered the goods, with ample power and dynamics. Not for a moment did I think about the Yamaha, which is a good thing. I was totally absorbed by the driving riffs of Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee. This receiver had plenty of juice to rock out, all the while maintaining its composure. There was no noticeable distortion or noise, even when I cranked the volume to uncomfortable levels, at which I would never actually listen to anything. Again, the Yamaha was, to my ear, transparent.

Finally, I put on a bit of Norah Jones to test the Yamaha on vocals (and to please the wife). Ms. Jones' voice is by now, well known. She has a soft mezzo timbre, very little vibrato if any, with a little wispiness. I find her singing on her "Come Away With Me" album to be ideal for teasing out nuances of audio equipment. Again, the R-S700 was totally neutral. We sat back and just enjoyed the pure sound, and smooth melodies of Don't Know Why, Come Away With Me, Lonestar, and Nightingale. I don't think my Paradigms and Sony 7700 have sounded better than they did with the R-S700.