Yamaha RX-Z11 A/V Receiver Real-World Performance
During my time with the Z11, I was doing a remodel project in my home and wanted some background music. Placing the unit into 2-channel mode provided a warm and inviting sound. In fact, I was tempted to forget the remodel, take a seat on the couch, and relax to the smooth audio.
I began more critical listening with Norah Jones' CD Come Away With Me, which sounded phenomenal. Her silky voice was firmly rooted at the center of the soundstage, and the subtle sounds of the acoustic instruments never became overbearing. Switching to the SACD of the same album revealed very similar results in both stereo and 5.1-channel mode.
I am a big fan of The Beatles, and listening to their 1962-1966 compilation was a moving experience. Although the recordings on the 2-CD set would never be considered anywhere close to reference-quality today, the Yamaha was able to put some life back into the tinny recordings. The midrange had more depth and detail, and even turning the volume up to insane levels produced amazing results with no strain whatsoever.
Movie soundtracks were just as impressive. I have reviewed a variety of Blu-ray releases using the Z11, and one of the most impressive soundtracks I heard was the DTS-HD Master Audio track from The Orphanage. My PS3 decoded the DTS-HD MA mix and output PCM to the Yamaha with superlative results. The sounds of characters walking through the orphanage were reproduced with remarkable clarity and imaging, creating a full 360-degree soundfield with superb dynamics.
I played some scenes at different volume levels to test the THX Loudness Plus function, and I was surprised at how good it sounded even at lower volume levels. The LFE channel had less impact, of course, but lower volumes retained the dimensionality of the soundfield, even with the surround channels at levels that wouldn't wake the kids. Very impressive indeed!
DVD-Audio discs were just as stirring. Using an Oppo DV-970HD as a transport over HDMI, I popped my favorite disc, Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father, into the player and immediately went to the title track. The bass on this track tests the low-frequency capability of any system, and the keyboard plays to the high-end. As I expected, the bass was nice and tight, and the keyboard was crystal clear. Once again, the Yamaha showed its musical prowess.