Dolby Digital Receiver
race is on as electronic manufacturers speed towards lowering the price
on Dolby Digital A/V receivers. As this continues, the era of Dolby Pro
Logic is headed for the history books. Its beyond belief that prices
can fall so quickly once the mass marketing technique is applied to an
emerging technology such as Dolby Digital, which is only two to three
years old and took some time to develop. Cest la vie, that life
in the fast lane of home electronics.
Yamaha has taken this
bold step by introducing their latest power priced receiver, yes with
Dolby Digital for $799 U.S./ $1199 Cdn! Its a fully equipped unit
with decent power output at 80 watts per channel x 5 and operates at 80
watts per side in stereo mode.
The box is somewhat
more compact than the average mid-priced receiver, standing just 6 inches
tall. The front panel is laid out logically with large function buttons
next to the volume control with surround soundfield settings just above
it. Just below the volume control are the standard RCA video and audio
input jacks with the addition an "S video" input. Most of the
receivers functions are accessible from the front panel, along with
Yamahas unmistakable amber display. All functions can also be operated
from the remote control via the TV monitor (on screen display).
One would think that
Yamaha would cut a lot of corners to introduce a receiver with the latest
in surround sound technology but they really thought things through with
the RX-V793. For instance, instead of adding fancy features such as multiroom
capabilities, Yamahas designers included RCA outputs for all channels
so that upgrading, such as adding external amplifiers, is not going to
be a problem. You don't get the zillion video inputs found on more expensive
units, but there is still enough for the average A/V user). Included are:
phono, CD, tapes loop, DVD/laserdisc, VCR loop, TV/satellite plus the
Accessing the rear
of the receiver you will find the cheaper "clip on" speaker
connectors for the center and surround channels but the more substantial
binding posts are used for the front speakers. Yamaha even included a
speaker "A" and "B" circuit, great for hooking up
another set of speakers on the patio if one wanted to.
Digital audio inputs
are confined to the DVD/laserdisc and TV/satellite settings, which of
course is an integral part of the Dolby Digital surround experience. We
should point out that the DVD input uses both co-axial (a single RCA connector
for pure digital signal transfer) and optical input (special connector
which transfers digital signals in the form of light). In turn the TV/satellite
uses only a coaxial input, once again a wise corner cutting measure from
To keep the price
from escalating, the designers also opted to leave out the S-video for
everything except for the VCR loop and the monitor output. The only shortcoming
of that is that if you wish to use the S-Video for a DVD or laserdisc
you cannot mix the video and audio signals separately from one another.
For example, if you wish to view your DVD through the S-video connection
and listen to the Dolby Digital soundtrack at the same time through the
RX-V793 you won't be able to. Yamaha could have added and extra digital
input along with an S-connector but that would have added to the cost.
A way around this is to run the S- video output from the DVD directly
to the TV monitor, assuming you have an S input. This complicates switching
a little but is not insurmountable; one could think of more difficult
situations in life.
I hooked up the RX-V793
to the PSB Stratus Silvers (main left and right speakers) and PSB Stratus
C-5 center channel speaker along with PSB ambient II rears; unfortunately
no subwoofer was available at the time. I used a Pioneer combo DVD and
laserdisc player, DVL700 and a Sony CDPC77ES CD player.
In regular stereo
mode the RX-V793 seemed feisty enough, delivering good dynamics with clean
bass. The music quality of this little receiver was quite impressive with
very little amplifier noise. All in all I could not find any real shortcomings
in its performance for general stereo listening and it seems this receiver
would be a good match to just about any speaker system.
In Dolby Digital mode
this little wonder also seemed impressive, with good detail, depth and
smoothness. The soundfield generated was stable with pans (sound travelling
from left, center, to the right speaker) and imaging kept in check. During
"Spawns" (DVD release) battle scenes, I at times had to
duck to elude the bullets flying around my living room. I know that this
may sound far-fetched but Dolby Digital opens a new realm of surround
sound experience. This would certainly indicate that this receiver is
first rate in delivering some outstanding surround sound effects.
Using the rest of
the surround modes wasn't bad, but I feel at times that these modes
are generally unnecessary since they can at times sound gimmicky. Besides,
some of these modes just dont add to the purity of the music listening
experience. Still, Yamahas modes aren't too bad - I found the "Concert"
setting useful in live music performances, which seemed to add just the
right amount of delay in the rear speakers. Again there are enough surround
settings to satisfy any taste if one likes to manipulate the original
sound from a CD or anything else.
As far as the radio
performance RX-V793 was no more than ordinary and exhibited good stereo
sound from good strong radio signals. Once the station with a weaker signal
was pulled in the stereo soundstage collapsed considerably but it kept
noise and buzzing to a minimum. The tuner has plenty of presets, a total
of forty with five group settings for different music stations. This allows
you to group, say, classical stations together making access easier. In
case you tend to doze off while listening to your favorite station you
can even activate the sleep timer, which can be set in 30-minute increments.
I found the remote
a nice touch; it's backlit for those dark home theatre rooms. The back
lighting is achieved through luminance (absorbs and emits a green glow)
that saves on battery power. The remote is relatively sophisticated
and can be programmed for up to 13 different macros, more than enough
for most cases. A flip door reveals all of the functions for tape deck,
direct access key for TV/VCR, CD player, etc. Study of the manual is needed
is one wants to get the full capabilities out of the remote, especially
if you wish to teach it other manufacturers functions. The way to
perform this is to put the other manufacturers remote head to head
and match up the functions.
In summary, the RX-V793
is relatively easy to set up, and features excellent performance for a
nice base price. As mentioned, there are some corners cut but they are
fairly minor for the type of performance and price this receiver delivers.
The surround and stereo this unit produces is well worth the tradeoffs.
At this stage of the game, this unit just cant be beat for the price.
Hats off, Yamaha,
for crossing the finish line at full speed.
-Dolby Pro Logic,
Dolby Digital and 11 other DSP programs
-Pre-outs for all
Channels with Sub out
-Four audio and four
4 to 8 ohms.
-40 station direct
access preset tuning
-80 watts per channel
-Price $799 U.S./
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