Yamaha RX-V3800 AV Receiver Page 3
While I was less than thrilled with some of the video functionality of this AVR, I can wholeheartedly state that it sounds absolutely wonderful. Regardless of the source, the audio quality from the V3800 was first class.
For example, I popped in the SACD of Norah Jones' Come Away With Me and listened to both the two-channel and 5.1-channel mixes on the disc using the multichannel analog inputs of the Yamaha. This is one of my favorite SACDs and I am intimately familiar with the nuances of each mix. Each had excellent depth and clarity, and this may very well be the best I have heard this disc sound. The two-channel mix had excellent separation and the Yamaha made it extremely difficult to localize where my speakers were in the room; it was more like my entire front wall was alive with sound. The piano sounded very smooth and lifelike, without any harshness on the high end. On the lower end of the spectrum, the strums of the bass strings were extremely well defined and very tight. This is as good as I have heard this SACD sound and this is comparing it to my current Denon 4806CI AVR, which retailed for more than twice the asking price of the Yamaha.
Testing the CD playback over SPDIF, I particularly enjoyed listening to All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001 by Barenaked Ladies. I started with Track 4, One Week, and was immediately impressed by the tightness of the bass that the Yamaha was able to reproduce. Next I backtracked to Track 3, Brian Wilson, which is a live concert recording. The vocals sounded very rich and lifelike with the crowd noise coming through as very open and expansive.
On the DVD-A front, I used my Oppo 970HD as the transport over HDMI to the Yamaha with Luther Vandross's Dance With My Father DVD-A disc with the title track (#7). This song has an excellent bass track to test the receiver's low end, and the keyboard plays a very prominent role in the song as well, giving the midrange and upper frequencies a workout. The bass was nice and tight with a very crisp "thump," and when the keyboard kicks in the Yamaha definitely delivers the "being there" feeling.
As good as the amp sounded for music, what I was really curious about was how well it would sound with the new advanced audio codecs from Blu-ray and HD DVD. Unfortunately, the promised upgrade from my Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player to allow a bitstream output with Dolby TrueHD hadn't been released in time for this review. So my listening with TrueHD from my HD DVD was "limited" to the PCM stream being supplied by the XA2.
One of the first HD DVDs that I tested was We Were Soldiers, which is one of my favorite soundtracks from any HD DVD movie. Listening to the 1.5Mbps Dolby Digital Plus mix was amazing. This soundtrack has the ability to place sounds all throughout the room and the Yamaha was able to handle all of them without breaking a sweat. Even at reference level, the Yamaha never sounded strained and was able to push my M&K speakers to their fullest.
I watched over 20 HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs with the Yamaha in my system and has luck would have it, the last title to be tested was Paramount's much anticipated HD DVD release of Transformers. As much as I love the aforementioned We Were Soldiers soundtrack, this particular movie takes it to another level. Much has been said about this title not having a lossless TrueHD mix, but frankly, I can't imagine it sounding any better than it does on this Dolby Digital Plus track at 1.5 Mbps. Again, the Yamaha was able to handle this very active and robust soundtrack without any issues whatsoever.
On the Blu-ray side, I tested a variety of uncompressed PCM soundtracks being supplied by my PS3 over HDMI, most notably Sony's Black Hawk Down. As I expected, the sonic impact and clarity of this amplifier provided a very detailed audio performance. This particular sound mix uses discrete sounds from every speaker in the room and as I expected, the Yamaha was up to the challenge and equaled the experience that my much more expensive Denon 4806CI has given me.
When dealing with an AVR in this price class, you go in with very high expectations. The Yamaha RX-V3800 has the specs to please most any enthusiast with excellent power, ample HDMI inputs, and internal decoding of the new HD audio codecs. The only personal letdown for me was the AVR's inability to process certain video signals to 1080p; instead it simply passes them through. Even with this shortcoming, this is an excellent product and is worthy of your consideration when looking for an AVR in this price class.
Four HDMI Inputs
Onboard Decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, & DTS-HD Master Audio
Clean and Dynamic sound from all channels
Video section only upconverts analog signals
YPAO setup set monitor speakers to "Large" when they should be set to "Small"
User manual poorly written