● Codecs: DD, DD-EX, DPL-II, DPL-IIx,
● Power: 130 Watts into 8 Ohms x 7
● 24/192 DACs on All Channels
● MFR: 10 Hz - 100 kHz ± 3 dB
● THD: 0.04%
● Zone 2
● Video Bandwidth: 60 MHz
● Dimensions: 6.75" H x 17.2" W x 17.1"
● Weight: 34 Pounds
● MSRP: $1,099.95 USA
Yamaha Corporation of America
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.
As Secret's readers may remember, I have a home theater setup, based on a front projector, the audio of which is based on a Theta Dreadnaught II amplifier, a B&K Ref 30 preamp, and now an Anthem D1 preamp/processor.
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 first stage in the upgrade process involved purchasing a 27" Sony TV as an interim solution for video, but we wanted to do the surround sound system properly, and that is where the receiver comes into the scene. I wanted something of reasonable performance, versatile, simple, easy to use and set up, and at a reasonable price. For me, the Yamaha RX-V2500 perfectly met these requirements.
The first time I heard surround sound, many years ago now, was at a local audio store where they were using a Yamaha preamp to synthesize ambience based on the attributes of a concert hall stored in the processor, and send that information to a variety of speakers. I was impressed with Yamaha's surround sound prowess even then. More recently, I have been particularly impressed with the Yamaha's surround sound demonstrations at Consumer Electronics Shows. So when it came time to buy a receiver for my second home, up in the mountains near Tahoe, I looked carefully at the various models Yamaha was offering and picked the model that I felt best met my requirements and budget, the newly introduced Yamaha RX-V2500.
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.
Up-conversion of all video sources to S-Video or component video is another feature of the 2500 that I very much appreciated, as it potentially reduces the number of connections from the sources and receiver to the TV, and more importantly, simplifies operation by alleviating the need for a macro to switch TV inputs when switching sources. The 2500 can switch video sources in synchronization with the audio regardless of the video format and output all sources in a single high-resolution format. With the 2500, I simply leave my TV on Video 4, the TV's component video input, and the Yamaha 2500 takes care of the rest. (The higher-end Yamaha receivers can also down convert video, e.g., from 720p to composite video, a feature I wish I had in my primary HT. The 2500 boasts 60 MHz bandwidth for component video switching, which is pretty good.
Add to the above Yahama's YPAO Parametric Room Acoustics Optimizer for automatic speaker set-up technology and you have a truly outstanding receiver. Although I am very experienced setting up, measuring, equalizing and programming audio and Home Theater systems, in my second home, I wanted something plug-and-play, and this is where the 2500 really came through for me. I had it up and running with minimal effort. The YPAO also taught me a few things along the way – it is a pretty smart system that works very well.
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.
The 2500 supports four audio only sources with inputs for CD and Phono, and audio inputs and outputs for MD/TAPE and CD-R. There are also eight inputs for use with external sources of surround sound, such as DVD-Audio or SACD players.
The 2500 also has a complete set of pre-outs for those wishing to use external amplifiers for speakers in the main zone and simply use the 2500 as a preamplifier. Most people however will use the 2500 as a receiver, with the 2500's internal amplifiers powering their speakers, at least in the main zone.
The 2500 will support up to nine (or more) speakers with seven channels of amplification. Perhaps the most common usage of the seven channels will be for use in a 7.1 setup for 5.1 and 7.1 encoded materials, e.g., DVDs, with center, left and right speakers up front, two surround speakers at the sides of the listening area, and two rear surround speakers. The 2500 also supports two presence speakers, typically mounted above and outside of the left and right speakers for use with Yamaha's ambience synthesis modes.
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.
Have even more speakers and perhaps a TV in another room that you wish to integrate into the 2500? Perhaps the only problem is that there are so many ways of handling multi-zone with the 2500 that even the manual sort of bails out here and suggests you consult a professional installer! Basically, however the 2500 will support Zone 2 with either an internal amplifier and use of the Presence/Zone2 speaker terminals, the B speaker terminals (with the perhaps obvious limitations), or with an external amplifier using stereo analog line outputs. Zone 3 is analog audio only. (Note that all inputs you wish to listen to in other zones must have analog audio connections to the 2500 for their sound to appear in the other zones. Also note that the 2500's multi-zone capability is not available on models sold in some countries.)
The 2500 has a door on the front which when lowered provides access to the YPAO microphone jack, a set of A/V inputs, including S-Video, for hooking up temporary sources such as a video camera, and controls for Zone 2/Record out for the occasions when one needs to change the Zone 2 source without going through the menu system.
The above describes a lot of connections on the back on one component, but Yamaha has done a good job of laying out the back of the receiver in a logical and well-spaced manner, and I had no trouble connecting all my other components. I cannot image anyone buying a receiver needing more inputs or outputs than provided by the 2500.
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.
A switch on the side of the remote control can be used to select one of three modes, Source, Amp (the 2500), or TV. As is the custom, one can program the remote to control a range of sources as well as the TV, by trying 3-digit codes for devices that are preprogrammed into the 2500's remote control. There is also a learn mode, where individual buttons can be programmed to perform more unusual functions. You can also program macros for the various source select buttons as well as the power buttons.
Yamaha's Graphical User Interface (GUI)
I first saw Yamaha's Graphical User Interface at a trade show on their top of the line receiver, the Z9, and thought it looked really cool and dynamic. The Yamaha GUI takes advantage of the fact that the receiver will almost always be connected to a high quality display device, and therefore uses that device for its principle user interface. While today it is common to use a connected display device for on-screen menus, what sets Yamaha apart is that their GUI looks like computer graphics, rather than something that looks like it was designed with a typewriter, or for a very low resolution display.
Today, that same GUI is available on the 2500. The menu structure is very hierarchical, but it is logically constructed, and using the cursor buttons on the remote, one can easily navigate to and set any desired parameter without much effort. Once set up, you will rarely need to access the menu system, as the remote control allows full control of the receiver. One can also have changes during operation, e.g., volume, show up on the on-screen display, but I chose to turn that function off as I find such things distracting, and I can see the 2500's front panel display from my normal viewing/listening position, where volume changes are also displayed. This same front panel display can also be used to navigate the entire menu structure if another display device is not available or connected.
YPAO Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustics Optimizer
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.
The YPAO uses a series of test tones and a fully automatic analysis routine to check what speakers are present, i.e., the speakers are connected, their polarity, i.e. are the speakers wired in phase, their frequency response, and their apparent distance. It then sets speaker size, Large or Small, for each of the speakers involved, the subwoofer crossover frequency, the delay timing for surround speakers, and equalization so that all speakers have similar frequency responses at the listening position. All this is done in about a minute.
Automatic YPAO-based equalization can be performed using one of three strategies: Natural, Flat, or Front. The goal of the Flat setting is perhaps obvious – a flat frequency response, although the manual suggest that it “averages the frequency response of all the speakers”, and is recommended by Yamaha if all the speakers are of equal quality. Natural is recommended if the Flat setting sounds too harsh, and the Front mode uses the front speakers as a reference and equalizes the surround speakers to match their frequency response.
The actual equalization is accomplished via a 7-band parametric equalizer (PEQ) for each channel, and each band can be adjusted for frequency, gain, and Q-factor. Equalization can be set up automatically via the YPAO or manually adjusted. The YPAO seems to do a very complete and accurate job of setting up for a wide range of speaker configurations, and I find it hard to believe I could do much better manually.
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.
For surround speakers, I bought a pair of Cambridge Soundworks surround speakers via e-Bay. I was a bit surprised when they arrived and I saw how small they were, but decided to try them anyway. Unfortunately with the Cambridge surround speakers in place, no matter what equalization strategy, Flat, Front, etc., I tried, the YPAO insisted on a subwoofer crossover point of 160 Hz or above, based on its measured frequency response of the small Cambridge surround speakers. Of course driving the Paradigm speakers with a 160 Hz crossover would be a real waste, and while I could have overridden the YPAO setting for the crossover frequency, it was wisely advising me that with a lower setting I would be losing much the low bass information that was being sent to my rear speakers. I could not argue with the YPAO here – it was right!
So I next tried a pair of Definitive Technologies BP2Xs for surround speakers, and now the YPAO chose 80 Hz for the subwoofer crossover – a much more appropriate setting for all the speakers involved, and these BP2Xs are the speakers I am currently using for surrounds in this setup.
At the end of a calibration, the YPAO gives a nice multi-page summary of what it found along with the adjustments it has made, and gives you a chance to accept or reject its results. On the whole, I was very impressed with how quickly and accurately the YPAO was performing a fairly advanced setup of the receiver/speaker/room combination. For instance it was very reassuring to see conformation that all the speakers were indeed wired in phase (or not).
I did choose to quibble with the YPAO on one thing: it tended to set the size of my left and right front Monitor 7s to Large, and the center channel speaker to Small. My preference was to set all three front speakers to Small and let the subwoofer handle the low bass. This may be another case where the YPAO knows best, but the point is that you can change individual settings to your own tastes, using the Manual Set-up mode, if desired.
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.
Once the system was installed there, my experience was quite different, the same electronics and same speakers didn't sound nearly as good or as clean as with my first listening experience. The difference, of course was the room. My primary HT has substantial acoustical treatments with a heavily acoustically treated ceiling and front wall, and sound absorbing materials, curtains and tapestries, on the front half of the sidewalls. My primary HT also has sofits and columns to help break up some of the standing waves in the room.
The room I was using in our mountain home the HT, however, had bare walls, bare ceilings, and not even any curtains or window treatments at that point. There were also openings to other rooms, and echoes from all these hard surfaces were clearly smearing and confusing the sonic image. This experience was a very clear reminder that the room is just as important as any electronic component is defining the sound a given system will produce. Had I not listened to this same equipment in a properly acoustically treated room, I might have drawn a very wrong conclusion about the equipment involved.
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.
In use, I find I typically use THX processing for TV and movie viewing, as it does a nice job of bringing down the treble just a bit with the speakers YPAO equalized with either the Flat or Front setting. The Sci Fi Cinema DSP processing mode also seems to work well in this setup. For music, the 2500's Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode works very well, and is the mode I generally prefer for casual music listening. It can be entertaining and educational to try some of Yamaha's synthesized Hall or Club modes, although I find that one needs to select the appropriate mode for a given type of music, and selecting Pro Logic II Music mode is much simpler.
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.
- Steve Smallcombe -
© Copyright 2005 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity