Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Unique construction • YPAO auto setup and room correction • Bluetooth compatible with optional adapter
It must have been a dream. Suddenly, I found myself living in a world where young people were rediscovering vinyl, jazzing
up their iPods with audiophile earbuds, and even experimenting with tube amps. LP sections in record stores came back from the dead, steadily enlarging and proliferating. The once ridiculously overpriced CD suddenly became a bargain in wallet-box anthologies and affordable reissues. High-performance, high-value speakers became available over the Internet. I never wanted to wake up—until I realized I hadn’t really been asleep in the first place. All of this stuff is actually happening. We’re living in a new golden age of audiophilia, vibrant with lovingly excavated ideas and manic energy. An increasing number of people care about good sound again.
Price: $1,500 At A Glance: Vibration-killing fifth foot and other refinements • HQV Vida video processing, DLNA certification • Proprietary YPAO auto setup and room correction
On the Right Foot
Surround aficionados often look at the front and back panels of an A/V receiver under consideration. But how often do we flip over the AVR and look at its bottom? If you do that with the Yamaha Aventage RX-A2000, you’ll see a total of five feet. The fifth foot, Yamaha’s press release explains, is there “to improve structural rigidity, reduce vibration, and improve sound.” Some Aventage models also include double-bottom construction and other improved parts. With all these changes, Yamaha is confident enough to add an extra year to the warranty, now three years for Aventage AVRs.
Yamaha probably doesn't get enough credit as a speaker manufacturer, so let's start with the new NS-700 line with their gleaming black gloss enclosures. I especially like the truncated-pyramid shape of the 300-watt NS-SW700 sub ($800). Other models include a tower ($800/each), monitor ($400/each), and center ($500/each). All have aluminum tweeters and PMD woofers. Sometime I'll have to get Yamaha to tell me what PMD is. Of course Yamaha is also a major power in receivers. New ones include the second from top-line RX-Z7, with 140 watts times seven, Anchor Bay video processing, and web browser for $2700. There's an RX-V3900 with the same power spec and fewer features ($1900), though like its higher-priced sibling, it is Sirius/XM-ready, and boasts both internet radio and free digital over-the-air HD Radio reception. Another notable feature is a new HD-savvy GUI that I'd really like to have a look at -- Yamaha has been stuck in 1980s-style monochrome graphics for too long. There's an RX-V1900 with 130 watts times seven ($1400) and more modest feature set. Yamaha also showed the YAS-71, a 2.1-channel soundbar with 70 watts times two plus a further 70 watts for the sub channel.
Five new sound-bar products from Yamaha include the YSP-4000 ($1800), with 5.1 channels in one convenient box. It does XM, FM, and iPod with optional dock. And it offers a greater range of surround adjustments from the remote than previous products. Whizzing race cars illustrated how well it works.
Yamaha's neoHD media controllers creatively reinvent the audio/video receiver for the new media age. The YMC-700 ($800) adds wi-fi, Rhapsody, internet radio, and iTunes/AAC compatibility to the less full-featured YMC-500 ($600). Notice the distinctive look. These media controllers are designed to make it as easy to pull music or photos off a PC as it is to play a disc. Review of the YMC-700 forthcoming.