It was more than 40 years ago when I assembled my first
stereo speakers and 12AT7A tube-based stereo amplifier from a Knight Kit.
Ever since then, I have enjoyed working with audio, and now audio video equipment.
In all that time, I assembled many stereo and now Home Theater (HT)
systems, but never one based on a receiver, until now that is.
Recently however, we were fortunate enough to purchase a
second home for vacationing. Our A/V system there started simple, with a 9" TV from the
kitchen in our first home. However, if you are used to listening to a high-power
seven channel surround sound system with two 15” subwoofers, the single 1.5 inch
speaker in the small TV doesn't really cut it, especially when watching Sci-Fi
where sound effects are an important part of the experience. We needed a real
surround sound system, a bigger TV, and perhaps ultimately a front projection
The Yamaha 2500 is a THX Select Receiver with 130
watts/channel (seven channels), 0.04% distortion, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, into 8 Ohms. The certification by
THX implies a wide range of features and capabilities, not all of which will
be described here. To that broad set of capabilities, Yamaha adds their own
proprietary DSP technology for the creation of ambience synthesized sound
fields using a 32-bit Floating-Point processor that yields 34 DSP programs
with 58 possible variations. Yamaha’s DSP processing can be used with both
two-channel and multi-channel sources in what Yamaha calls Cinema DSP.
The back of the 2500 looks a lot like most receivers, lots of inputs and places to connect speakers.
Analog audio, composite video and S-Video inputs are provided for five A/V
sources with outputs for two VCRs or DVRs. These are complemented with four
optical digital inputs labeled CD, DVD, DTV, and CBL/SAT, and three
coaxial digital inputs again labeled CD, DVD, and DVR/VCR2. There are two optical
digital outputs for a CDR and an MD/TAPE. Component video inputs and
switching are provided for three sources, labeled DVD, DTV and CAB/SAT.
Composite video, S-Video, and Component video outputs are provided for the main
zone, and composite video, and S-Video for Zone 2.
Note, since the 2500 has seven channels of amplification, the
various HT and music modes can use either the rear surround speakers, or the
front presence speakers, but not both at the same time. The 2500 automatically
selects the appropriate speaker for the various surround sound modes, e.g.,
real surrounds for 7.1 sources, and presence speakers for ambience synthesis
with music sources. Got even more speakers? Well the 2500 also allows for A
and B main speakers, for perhaps those who wish to use different set of front
speakers for stereo listening.
The 2500 comes with a lighted programmable remote control that not only
completely controls the receiver, but will likely meet your needs for a single
remote control for the entire A/V system. I generally feel that controlling
all components with a single remote with macros for power on/of and source
selection is a key to domestic tranquility. I have considerable experience
programming both Pronto/Marantz and TheaterMaster MX universal remotes, both
of which I have used in the primary HT, but for my second system, I find that
the 2500’s remote is all I that is really needed.
One of the 2500’s best features is the YPAO Parametric
Room Acoustics Optimizer for automatic speaker set-up. The YPAO uses a supplied
microphone that is placed at the listening position (I used an average
position) and a series of test tones to do an automatic, but very thorough job
of setting up the receiver for the speakers and the room.
For front left and right speakers in my second home
setup, I used a pair of Paradigm Monitor 7 v.2s that I had previously
purchased for background music in the living room of our first home. These are
fine speakers, and I am sure they are now much happier anchoring my 2nd HT than
playing low level background music during parties. I picked up a matching
Paradigm CC 350 for a center speaker from a friend who had one to spare. For a
subwoofer, I had a Velodyne 12” that was not currently is use, and I am sure
that it too was very glad to be put back into service in an HT.
I started my listening tests by moving the Paradigm front speakers of interest into my primary HT, setting the 2500 on top of my equipment cabinet, hooking everything up, and firing the system up for a first listen in stereo. I was extremely pleased with what I heard, as it sounded very similar to my reference HT setup, with perhaps not quite as wide a soundstage, and not quite as much depth to the image as with my reference system, but still very good indeed.
Firing up the center and rear speakers
(BP2Xs) for a 5.1 comparison, the two systems sounded even more similar, with
perhaps just a bit less clarity in the dialog. However, when I thought about
the cost difference between the electronics in the two systems, I was not too
sure how pleased I should really feel about how good my 2nd system sounded.
The 2500 certainly passed the test and it was clearly worth packing things up
for the trip to the mountain home where I have my HT System 2.
I have since added more furniture as well as a three-dimensional decorative
object behind the center speaker to add some absorption as well as dispersion
to this critical spot in the room. Adding window treatments has also helped
quite a bit. I am not done with the room, but at least I know that the audio
equipment is good.
At this point, I am willing to pronounce the audio equipment portion of my mountain home home theater as “done”. The Yamaha 2500 has certainly met and exceeded my expectations for ease of setup and outstanding performance. When it comes to flexibility, the 2500 greatly exceeded my expectations. The processing power in this receiver is truly amazing, and this power can be used to make set-up simple and accurate, or to allow someone who enjoys tweaking to do their own thing.
For now, I want plug-and-play, coupled with good
performance, and that is exactly what I got with the Yamaha 2500. It is also
nice to know however, that there is more power and flexibility waiting for the
day I may feel that I need it.