SSPs

Yamaha CX-A5000 11.1 SSP (Surround Sound Processor)

ARTICLE INDEX

The Yamaha CX-A5000 SSP In Use

Since its release the SACD version of Wish You Were Here has been one of my reference recordings. The difference through the CX-A5000 is immediately obvious. There is a level of detail and clarity that I had not heard before. The opening guitar chords of the titular track hung in the air with more clarity and a darker background than before. There is no slight different from my Marantz AV7005 but a massive one that took me by surprise.

Feeding the CX-A5000 more digital sources continued to reveal more detail. Using the integrated Ethernet and iOS software I can easily stream my favorite audio tracks from my NAS. "So What" from Kind of Blue reveals a saxophone with more air and detail around it than before. The pinpoint locations of Beck and his band on Sea Change are easy to determine. The DSD release of Take Five offers spaciousness and details well beyond my prior CD copies of it through the Yamaha.

What doesn't seem to affect the sound quality much is the room correction on the CX-A5000. Switching between Stereo and Pure Direct modes, the latter of which offers no room correction, present almost no difference in sound quality. Very small differences are there but only after extensive comparison. Most room correction systems offer up far more aggressive changes to my listening room than the CX-A5000 does. The small difference I hear surprises me, but I also do not hear the usual flaws in imaging and detail that I do with it enabled. I prefer the light-touch approach to being too heavy-handed here.

With Blu-ray sources the CX-A5000 continues to excel. The aggressive surround mix in Man of Steel comes across loud and clear. While Superman and Zod level Manhattan to the ground you hear the impact of the buildings all around you. Dialogue is very clear despite everything going on around you and the pans across speakers are seamless.

Switching between analog and digital in Pure Direct using the Oppo BDP-105 as a source, I find virtually no difference. The Blu-ray Audio of Beck's Sea Change sounds wonderful through both inputs. Through HDMI I might have a bit more detail in the decay of instruments while the RCA inputs shows a little tighter bass. The differences are so small that I'm just as likely imagining these differences as I am hearing them.

Yamaha has also improved the usability of their products since I last used one. The on-screen menus and iOS app are easy to use and provide all the information you need. The one improvement I would like to see on higher-end processors is using RF or Wi-Fi for the remote. A good number of people are going to use universal remotes with their system but for those that do not it makes control much easier. I also prefer just using a remote for volume changes to using an iOS app if I have the unit hidden away.