What is it about this time of year? Everyone wants articles all at once. Well the great rush appears to have paused for the moment. The morning before last (ie. 3am) I finished my batch of reviews for the most recent Best Buys. It was the biggest number ever by me: 25 reviews, 25,000 words. Varied stuff: eleven sets of surround speakers (one with a digital decoder), two DVD players, three projectors, three home theatre receivers, two TVs (one rear projection), two stereo speakers, one projection screen, one remote control.
I’ve got some pieces to do for Sound and Image and Geare by Friday next week, including the regular five-way comparison. This time I’m doing high end receivers. This is an auspicious time for this because it’ll include Yamaha’s new $AUS11,999 RX-Z9. Seven x 170 watts, full video conversion from composite, S-Video and component video to each other using Faroudja DCDi electronics, 100MHz video bandwidth to support high definition video switching, and DSP processing (96kHz/24 bit) available for the multichannel analogue inputs. This likely means that the receiver can do bass management and time alignment on these inputs, overcoming the problems with many DVD Audio and SACD players. I’m assured, though, that there is also a bypass for these inputs so SACD purists can rest assured that their precious DSD does not have to be converted to PCM.
For a change of pace, I’ve decided to stick a photo of the back of this unit here. Ever so much more interesting than the front. Note all the component video inputs on the left: six of them instead of the regular two. One irritation: all three of the digital audio outputs are optical. I run a digital audio feed from my Marantz SR18 to my computer via two sides of the room, so the cable length is about 15 metres. Coaxial is by far the most economical (and, probably, reliable) way of doing this. I wish Yamaha would provide at least one coaxial digital output. (The sharp-eyed will notice that there is one on this unit, but this is for Zone 2. Chances are you can hijack this but you shouldn’t have to.)