Yamaha RX-V1065 A/V Receiver Page 2
Detailed and Crisp
State of Play stars Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, and Rachel McAdams in a scenario that mixes Washington intrigue of a loosely topical sort with big-league journalism. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack got a typical Yamaha treatment—detailed, crisp, and strongly outlined, but not notably warm or laid back. Vocals were intelligible and discernibly fixed in space. The soundfield filled impressively with thunder. Some of the brash and prolonged effects were fatiguing enough to require volume adjustment, but the short, sharp shocks were easier to take. The receiver’s penchant for detail paid dividends in certain tense moments. For instance, when the orchestral string players began striking their instruments with their bows.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button offers some beautiful demonstrations for anyone who’s wondering why surround, especially lossless surround, is better for movies than stereo. The boats hooting and hollering in the harbor of New Orleans never failed to stir me. A jazzy brothel ushered me into a crowded subterranean world full of local color. Popping fireworks and a World War II naval scene offered brief moments of high-volume drama. Yet it was the musical score, gently ruminating in the background, that kept me planted in one place for two and a half hours. Without this receiver’s low-level resolution, it might not have been as communicative. I didn’t mind that Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett kept slipping into and out of their Southern drawls. They acted with their faces, eliciting emotional responses that the soundtrack cushioned like a colorful velvet pillow.
Wayne’s World’s Dolby TrueHD soundtrack has ideal dynamic range for a comedy—it’s wide enough to make the music pop but not loud enough to be oppressive. The receiver showed decent mid and upper bass response in the rhythm sections, and dialogue was spot on.
I’d intended this movie to be the guinea pig for my experiments with Cinema DSP 3D height mode. However, when I pressed the Movie button to access that mode, I got a “not available” error message. I had the same problem with The Chronicles of Riddick, in DTS-HD Master Audio. I confirmed with test tones that the two presence speakers, placed above the front left and right speakers, were operating. Yamaha explained: “When you play back the Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS Express, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio sources, or audio signals with sampling frequency of higher than 96 kilohertz, the straight decode mode is automatically selected. (This means that none of the DSP modes can be used.) This does not include PCM or regular Dolby Digital and DTS signals. All Yamaha sound modes can be used with these signal types.” On a practical level, this means that the Yamaha modes will always work with DVDs, but not invariably with Blu-ray Discs in lossless surround. This includes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD support sampling rates up to 192 kHz.
A/B-ing Presence and Dynamic Range
To simplify my task, I hauled out an old DVD: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I selected the Dolby Digital soundtrack and skipped to one of the movie’s rich assortment of mayhem-at-sea episodes. This time the Movie button struck gold (of a sort), and the presence speakers were activated. However, in the Standard mode—the one designed to minimize DSP sweetening—the presence speaker’s level was so soft that I couldn’t sense any difference from the listening position. Even when I put my ear to the speaker, it was pretty faint. I could increase the presence level, and change its sound, by switching to other DSP modes, such as Spectacle. With my ear to the speaker, this produced varied effects. But none of them was audible from my seating position. In my prior explorations of height—with Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX—the effects have often been subtle. But they haven’t been this subtle. (Let me note that when I manually set up the receiver, I used a meter to balance all of the channels, including the height channels.)
I then moved on to the dynamic range control. Actually, the receiver has two of them. Under the Function Setup menu, and the Volume submenu, is an Adaptive DRC control with two settings: Off and Auto. Under Sound Setup, the Yamaha has a second mode called Dynamic Range, with three settings: Min/Auto, STD, and Max. Min minimizes dynamic range. According to the manual, Auto adjusts Dolby TrueHD material “based on signal input information.” STD is “the standard dynamic range recommended for home use.” Max maximizes dynamic range.