Going For gold
By Jamie Gemming
Yamaha RX-V750 AV receiver, $1799
I got home from hockey just in time to catch the Evers-Swindell twins initially stroke away from the field and then tease the nation with their nerve-wracking finish. You’re probably thinking “I saw this too and it was an awesome achievement but what does this have to with a hi-fi review?” Well not a lot really, but I can draw comparisons between the two. Just like the twins, I’ve always liked Yamaha receivers - they’re all good looking, have plenty of power and just like Caroline and Georgina, I can’t tell the different models apart just by looking at them.
With specs like 7 x 100 watts RMS, video up conversion, a microphone controlled automated setup, zone two preouts, the latest decoding formats, learning remote and a selectable subwoofer crossover, the RX-V750 comes stacked with an abundance of features and tonnes of power.
The automated set up is a brilliant thing. Just plug the microphone into the front panel, tap a couple of buttons on the remote and within a couple of minutes, Bob’s your uncle, its rearing to go. It magically figures out all the parameters like distance, room speaker size and time delays. Simply brilliant.
Blue light disco
The usual problem with home theatre receivers is while all those smart internals make movies great, those same internals pollute music. Yamaha tries to mitigate this with their “Pure Direct” mode. Pure Direct bypasses the receiver’s processors, decoders and video circuitry to produce a much cleaner unmolested sound.
While it sounds like a bit of gimmick, in reality the effect is staggering. I was going to say the change is like someone has removed the sleeping bags that must have been cocooning my floorstanders but that would be a little too extreme. It’s more like some big guys have moved away from standing directly in front of each speaker. Music has sharp detailed treble and good solid bass response, which really suits driving rock and dance genres.
Warmth is one thing that the RX-V750 doesn’t radiate. It’s with female vocalists such as Norah Jones that this is most notable. While my floor standers and I enjoyed the music in this mode, those relying on the sub for their entire bottom end will not be as impressed because Pure Direct sends no signal to the sub pre out.
To further enhance the sound quality, the receiver goes into an almost “stealth mode”, shutting down the display to reduce any interference. I say almost “stealth mode” because while the black receiver sits there staunchly with its blacked-out display, there’s a searing blue LED beaming out from the front panel.
Dim the lights
While the warmth may be missed with some music as soon as a DVD is run through the receiver, any issues you may have had will quickly be blown away. Not many movies feature action scenes like the Omaha Beach invasion in Saving Private Ryan. It begins with a tense but relatively quiet boat ride that erupts into 10 minutes of utter carnage as soon as the beach is made. There’s the staccato thump of the German heavy machine guns strafing the beach, mortar shells raining down and exploding, soldiers yelling and screaming, rifle shots ringing out, flame throwers roaring and grenades detonating. I’ve seen this movie a few times now and it’s always a very moving and bloody story of courage and honour but this time it was quite distressing!
The Yamaha almost made this movie like I was seeing it for the first time. The sound was far more engaging and dynamic and the bullets suddenly whizzed by as if they were now aimed at me. Every movie sounded better than I remembered it, XXX’s stunts sounded more extreme than ever and the car chases in The Transporter were more spine-tingling than my memory serves me.
The $1,799 RX-V750 fits about two thirds of the way up Yahama’s RX-V range sitting directly below the RX-V1400 which Tony Davey raved about in the August issue. If you’re looking for a bang-for-bucks receiver that’ll crank sounds as well make your lounge a better theatre than the local cinema, then look no further.