Yamaha RX-A2000 7.1 A/V Receiver


Setup of the Yamaha RX-A2000 7.1 A/V Receiver

Not to put it too briefly, but initial setup was a snap. These days though, that's to be expected. All mid- to high-end major brand receivers these days have some sort of automatic room calibration/correction/equalization system, and Yamaha's latest version of the YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Audio Optimization) system is very good. It nailed my speaker distances (including the sub - which is uncommon) and levels. I have a small sat/sub system running right now, and YPAO chose a slightly high 160Hz for the cutoff for each speaker. I prefer the cutoff at around 100Hz with these speakers. I've found this over-estimation of small speaker cutoff frequency to be quite common with automatic calibration systems, and the crossover adjustment was easy enough to fix.

YPAO also creates three equalization patterns (flat, front, and natural), and a fourth customizable pattern, called "manual". Each of the three YPAO patterns is created for your specific room, and can then be used as a template for the "manual" pattern if you wish to tinker with further customization. This user-customizable feature is a stand out feature for Yamaha's YPAO. MCAAC allows similar (but different) adjustment of the EQ patterns. Audyssey offers no adjustment unless you purchase their kit which comes with a calibrated mic, special software, and a hefty price tag (somewhere north of $2000 for the pro cal kit only). If you are an EQ tweaker and can't afford the Audyssey pro system, YPAO may be for you. If on the other hand you prefer a more "set it and forget it" system, then YPAO doesn't offer much more than any of the other auto-EQ systems out there. Each is slightly different and each claims to be the best. I haven't found much consensus on room correction systems among my peers: different people tend to like the sonic results of each for different reasons. So in the end it comes down to features and personal preference. I was very impressed with the sonic results of YPAO in the RX-A2000, but more on that later. Here I'll focus on features.

If you plan on customizing the "Manual" EQ pattern, you'd better take notes to keep track of what you're doing, as there are many parameters to tweak. For each speaker, there are 7 "bands". These are not like traditional EQ bands though, as each band can be customized via three adjustable parameters: frequency, gain, and q-factor. Each band is like a bell-shaped curve. "Frequency" adjusts where the center of the bell-curve lies in the frequency range. "Gain" adjusts how much power (dB, really) each band has (i.e. height of the bell curve). "Q-factor" adjusts how wide each band (bell curve) is. "Frequency" for the 4 lowest bands can be adjusted from 31.25Hz to 16kHz in ⅓ octave steps, for 28 steps. Bands 5-7 have the same step size, but their range is limited to 500Hz-16kHz. Gain is adjustable from -20 dB to +6 dB in 0.5dB steps, and Q factor is adjustable from 0.5 to 10.0 in ⅓ octave steps. The subs have only 4 bands each to adjust. Yes, the RX-A2000 can accommodate two discrete subs, and each can be EQ'd. Each sub band's center frequency can be set from 31.5 to 250Hz in ten ⅓ octave steps.

You can really tweak the frequency response EQ curve for each speaker a lot with these parameters. The Q-factor is key, as it adjusts the width of the band from very broad to very narrow (less than ⅓ octave depending on the frequency). A very narrow band (high q-factor) with a strong negative gain, is effectively a notch filter. All of this customization of your EQ pattern can really get out of hand quickly if you don't know what you're doing, and let's face it, many people don't know how to tweak each band to get the overall EQ curve they want. Not without a lot of frustrating trial and error. However, YPAO combined with a good free EQ software package like Room EQ Wizard would allow you to really fine-tune your system to your ear's delight.

As noted above, the RX-A2000 has 7 channels of amplification built-in. It is configurable up to 9.2 channels, and up to 3 zones, but you would need to add some external amplification to achieve 9.2. Whatever speaker configuration you use, you'll need to configure the amplifiers appropriately. Yamaha has designed a very nice, intuitive amplifier configuration utility. From the amplifier configuration screen in the on-screen GUI, you can choose from ten different pre-determined amplifier/speaker configurations. They are 7ch Normal, 7ch + 1Zone, 7ch + 2Zone, 7ch +Front, 7ch + FPR, 7ch + FPR + 1Zone, 5chBi-amp, 5chBi-amp +FPR, 5chBi-amp + SB, and 5chBi-amp + SB + FPR. For brevity I'll just describe two of these configurations. The "5chBi-amp + SB + FPR" setup is interesting. Here, four of the seven internal amps go to bi-amping the front L/R speakers. The remaining three internal amps are assigned to the center and the surround channels, and external amps are used for the surround-back channels and the front "presence" channels

The set up I used is "7ch + 2ZONE."  This means my main room is set up for standard 7 channel audio (front L/R, center, surround L/R, surround-back L/R) and two additional zones with two speakers each.

Yes, that adds up to 11 speaker channels. This is accommodated by the fact that Zone2 and the surround-back channels share amplifiers, and Zone3 and the surround channels share amplifiers. So, when Zone3 is active, I lose the surround speakers in the main room, and when Zone2 is active, the surround back speakers shut off. This is acceptable to me, since rarely will anyone be watching a surround-sound movie while someone else is listening in a different zone. However, this gets to one of my complaints with the RX-A2000 Aventage receiver. Yamaha seemingly provides a great interface for assigning the amplifiers to your appropriate speaker configuration, but then they lock you in to pre-defined configurations. For example, in my experience, if one has external amplifiers in one's HT arsenal, they are usually of much higher quality than those found in most if not all A/V Receivers. Thus, you'd want to use those high quality external amps on your main channels first, and use the internal amplifiers on "less important" channels like the "Presence", surround-back and surround channels. However, Yamaha does not provide an amplifier configuration like this in the RX-A2000. Instead it seems like they chose to prioritize the internal amps over any external amps, even to the point of providing the user the ability to use the internal amps to "bi-amp" your front speakers. This just seems like an implausible set-up to me.

The only configuration that comes close to what I would have expected to be the base-normal for external amplification is the "7ch + FRONT" set up. With this configuration the front L & R speakers are assigned to external amplification and the resulting extra internal amplification is then assigned to the front "presence" channels. There's no ability to choose where the extra two internal amps are applied. For example, what if I would like them to be shared with a second zone? What if I don't want or have "front presence" speakers? Yamaha came so close to greatness here, but ultimately missed the mark in my opinion. That said, all of the pre-amp outputs on the RX-A2000 are "hot" regardless of which amplifier configuration you choose. So you can always use external amplification for any of the channels, and that will unload the power supply and result in more dynamic power to the remaining internally amplified channels. But depending on your set up, you may have some internal amplifiers that go unused.

Setup of other features like video, network, and HDMI was all fairly straightforward. While the RX-A2000 has very good video processing, there are very few available adjustments. Network setup was completely automatic - I did nothing and it worked fine as soon as I connected the receiver to my router. I will note though, since it seems to be a fairly common oversight by owners on the various discussion groups, to take care in the HDMI setup if you expect to have full HDMI 1.4 functionality (e.g. ARC, pass-through). Make sure you set "HDMI Control" to on, and that you set "control select" in the HDMI settings to the appropriate HDMI output (HDMI out1 or out2) to match where your TV is connected to the receiver.