Yamaha RX-Z9 Specifications

review
02.21.08
Yamaha RX-Z11
A/V Receiver Review
11.2 Network A/V Receiver
with iPod Connectivity,
XM HD^3 Surround, & YPAO
Review by Gene DellaSala of Audioholics.com
www.audioholics.coM
Introduction
Ever wonder why some special events
seem to happen once every four years?
Every four years we get an extra day, we have
a presidential election, we have an Olympic
game, and, incidentally, Yamaha seems to
release a new flagship receiver. I can’t tell
you how thrilling it is to be at the tail end
of the 4 year cycle and it’s also pretty cool
that Yamaha finally has a replacement to
their venerable RX-Z9 which still sounds
fabulous but has gotten a bit long in the
tooth over the past couple of years.
There are too many changes to note
between the RX-Z9 and Z11 but a few key
ones include:
• HDMI 1.3a support and switching
including audio and 1080p deep color
• HDMI upconversion with OSD
• Dolby Digital Plus / TrueHD and DTS
HD Decoding
• iPod & XM radio connectivity and
Network audio support
• 11.2 channel HD^3 DSP processing
with amplification on all channels
• The industries first THX Ultra2 Plus
receiver with THX listening modes to
optimize sound at low listening levels
The question that now remains: Do all
of these features justify the long waiting
process for diehard Yamaha and home
theater aficionados? Keep reading to find
out…
Build Quality
Just as in the tradition of all past Yamaha
flagship products, the RX-Z11 uses state
of the art construction and parts. I was
relieved to see the old modular design
and horizontally mounted heat sinks of the
RX-Z9 not find its way into this unit. The
RX-Z11 utilizes about the largest E-core
power transformer that I’ve seen, instead
of the more space efficient toroidal found
on its predecessor flagship receiver. The
RX-Z11 screams flagship with its hefty
and rigid chassis, huge power supply and
ample heat sink area. E-core and Toroid
transformer designs can be equally good
provided they are used within their limits
but an E-core typically takes up more real
estate which Yamaha managed to cleverly
tuck neatly into this hulking chassis. The
heat sink is tapered to minimize resonance
and also provide for optimal heat dissipation
and the bottom of the chassis has two
relatively large fans to keep the unit cool
during high sustained output levels. The
input fuse to the power transformer is
rated at 15A / 250V and the power supply
consists of two 27000uF/75V capacitors for
the seven main power amplifiers and two
8200uF/50V caps for the presence channels.
The audio pre-amp section, utilizes a bulk of
capacitors that sum to about 30000uF. The
amplifier is a wide bandwidth design utilizing
current mode feedback with virtually no
phase shift to keep phase compensation
to a minimum. This contributes to the
RX-Z11’s excellent transient response
allowing frequency response to remain
unchanged even when the gain changes (as
you will see in my test data), to help create
a warmer, texture-rich sound. With such
a large power supply, plenty of heat sink
area and ample cooling, and THX Ultra2
RX-Z11 Home Theater Receiver
Manufacturer: Yamaha
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
Value Rating: 4/5 Stars
MSRP: $5499
http://www.yamaha.com/yec/
Pros
• Benchmark performance
• Unparalleled multi channel experience
for music and movies
• One box solution for whole home
audio and video distribution
Cons
Plus certification, the amplifier section in
this receiver is ready to pump out some
serious wattage when called upon but also
handle the most delicate musical passages
with finesse to appease the heart of a true
audiophile.
System Setup & Configuration
Setting up a full scale 11.2 theater was
no easy task and I had to get creative on
mounting the front and rear height channels
as well as connecting up 4 subwoofers. I
used a pair of Onix x-ls as stands on top
of my RBH Sound T-30LSE main speakers
to place my RBH Sound MC-6C speakers
as height channels. I configured my RBH
Sound SI-740 SE/R back channels as the
rear presence channels and used my Axiom
Algonquin speakers on stands for the
surround back channels.
• Complex setup
• Erroneous YPAO results
• Mediocre remote
Specifications
RX-Z11 Home Theater Receiver
• 140 watts x 7 + 50 watts x 4 into 8 ohms
(20-20,000 Hz) at 0.04% THD
• THX® Ultra2 Plus certification with
THX listening modes
• Dolby® True HD, DTS-HD™ Master Audio,
Dolby® Digital Plus, DTS-HD™ High
Resolution Audio, Dolby® Digital EX, DTS-ES™,
Pro Logic® IIx, and DTS Neo:6 decoding
• 11.2-channel surround sound capability
• Latest HDMI 1.3a specification supports Deep
Color (30/36 bit) transmission, xvYCC color
space, 120Hz and 24Hz Refresh Rates and Auto
Lip-Sync compensation
• Analog and HDMI digital video signal
upscaling to Full HD 1080p and downscaling
to 480p format
• Analog video to HDMI digital video
upconversion capability
www.audioholics.coM
• Home PC networking capability
2
• Control your iPod with the receiver’s remote
• Improved Compressed Music Enhancer
for MP3s and other digital music files
• Four-room/four-source capability
• Powered and line-level stereo audio output
for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rooms
• Coax digital audio output for 2nd room
• Component video output with HD
pass-through and 480i to 480p conversion
of composite/S-video signals for 2nd room
• Composite video output for 3rd and 4th room
• Digital ToP-ART design high-current,
low-impedance amplifier construction
• 192kHz/24-bit Burr-Brown DACs for
all channels
• Pure Direct mode for better sound from
stereo sources and lossless audio formats
transmitted via HDMI
• YPAO 8-point sound optimization with
Quick Start for automatic speaker setup
(mic included)
• Silent Cinema for simulated surround sound
via standard stereo headphones
• Cinema DSP HD3 processing for enhanced
surround soundfields
• 40 AM/FM/XM presets
• XM Satellite Radio Ready and built in
HD Radio tuner
• On-screen GUI (Graphic User Interface)
• Learning/multibrand remote with illuminated
buttons
• Neural-THX Surround decoder for
XM’s HD Surround channels
• Basic remote for 2nd listening room (requires
remote control extender system for second
room operation, not included)
• iPod integration (requires optional Yamaha
YDS-10)
• 17-1/8"W x 8-5/16"H x 20-5/16"D
• Music, video, and photo playback with
on-screen menu
• Warranty: 2 years
• Weight: 73lbs (88lbs shipped)
I decided to really torture the RX-Z11 by
powering the integrated subs of my T-30LSE
system off the main channels (speaker B) of
the RX-Z11. These speakers dip down to 2
ohms so if the RX-Z11 can deliver enough
oomph in my nearly 6,000ft^3 listening
space while powering all 11 speakers and 2
of my 4 subs, then it will earn my respect as
a “Flagship” product.
Choosing the Speaker Impedance
I tested the RX-Z11 in the “8 ohm or
more” and “6 ohm” settings and for the first
time in my experience of reviewing Yamaha
receivers, the setting made NO difference
in output power. It’s almost as if the option
is there to reassure customers that their
receiver is safe with speaker impedances
lower than 8 ohms. I was quite surprised
as I usually advise folks to keep it in the
“8 ohm or more” setting regardless of
Baby Got Back
The RX-Z11 has a nice rear end for a speaker impedance. Feel free to do what
receiver as far as I am concerned. There are you like here as it doesn’t make a difference
a plethora of connections on the back of whatsoever.
this receiver, some of which are unfamiliar
to most home theater folk, including the Auto Setup Via YPAO
iPod and Ethernet connector. Of course
Just like in past Yamaha receivers, the
on this receiver HDMI is endowed with RX-Z11 incorporates their YPAO auto
5 inputs and 2 output capable of 1080p setup system only this time around they
resolution with upscaling up to 1080p implemented a multi point (up to 8
powered by Anchor Bay Technologies. Four positions) calibration scheme. Note that
component video inputs and two outputs it takes roughly 3 minutes to calibrate
ensure all of your video needs can be met 1 mic position so if you wish to do all 8
for even the largest scale installations.
points, plan on a good half hour of nail
The Yamaha RX-Z11 sports the most biting quietness and patience. Note that I
speaker level connections I’ve ever seen had to redo my entire test suite as I had an
in a receiver. At any given time, you interruption from my eldest daughter on
can connect up to 13 speakers (2 pairs the last of the 8 measurements and YPAO
on main channels) to this receiver all doesn’t allow you to redo or pause during
powered internally! I was pleased to the measurement process.
actually utilize every speaker connection for
my installation. With 10 memory settings YPAO automatically checks
for this receiver and 4 memory settings for and/or configures:
each of the 3 other zones, the sky is the
• Wiring
limit with configurability not just for where
• Distance
you assign the speaker groups but how you
• Size
customize and configure any parameter in
• Equalization (manual, flat, front, natural,
the receiver.
“through” which means bypass)
• Level
• Angle
In this latest iteration of YPAO, Yamaha
has incorporated a new feature – called
“standing wave” which uses a three legged
boomerang looking object. The boomerang
allows the placemnt of the mic on end
point of each leg at the primary listening
position in attempts to do angle calculations
for standing wave compensation for the
main, surround and presence channels for
multi point calibrations. When not in use,
I found the boomerang served quite well
as a frisbee and is an item I am seriously
considering to add to my beach bag.
YPAO also does some low frequency
equalization down to 32 Hz for all channels
with roughly 1/6th octave resolution.
It offers a manual adjustment mode with
a variable Q of .5 to 10.08 and Gain: +6
to -20dB with up to up to 3 bands per
channel.
Back Panel View of the Yamaha RX-Z11
As I found with past generations of
Yamaha’s YPAO, it didn’t setup my system
optimally. While it identified all of my
speakers were correctly wired and even
chose similar crossover points for all of my
speaker groups each time I ran it, it had some
issues. This includes, incorrectly identifying
my surrounds as large (likely due to their
close proximity to back walls.) Oddly I had
www.audioholics.coM
YPAO Calibration Results
3
Manual Calibration
After YPAO was completed, I manually
adjusted speaker size, subwoofer distance,
PEQ, and crossover frequency for greater
accuracy. I also went into the bass
management menu and engaged “Bass Out”
for the main channels + the subwoofers. I even used the manual EQ mode to help
smooth out the bass response of my system
for the sub and main channels. Even though
YPAO doesn’t quite have enough resolution,
more issues with multi point calibration it’s still good enough to fine tune low
than I did with the single point calibration Q problem areas such as bumps or to a
in that the former set my front speaker minor extent suckouts.
distances excessively high and produced a
subwoofer level error message. That being YPAO Measured Results
YPAO definitely smoothed out the
said, when I used YPAO for a single point
frequency response region from 50Hz to
calibration, it did a pretty good job of setting
150Hz with a level reduction of about 5dB. speaker size (except for the surrounds), The “Flat” setting did almost nothing above
levels (within 1dB) and speaker distances the transition region of 300Hz which is a
(except the subwoofers). I stored the tribute to my speaker systems very linear
calibrations into the memory banks of the output and well behaved room acoustics.
Z11 and after listening to the EQ modes for The “Natural” setting rolled off about 5dB
both calibrations. Upon directly comparing of output above 5kHz which may be an
them, I found the EQ sound quality was
better for single point calibration though
neither calibration resulted in the fidelity
improvements I’ve previously heard through
the Audyssey room correction system found
in other receivers. My advice with YPAO is
to use either single point calibration or do
multi point measurements with the mic
positions in relatively close proximity to
each other centered around the primary
money seat.
www.audioholics.coM
Editorial Note
About Subwoofer Distance
4
It’s understandable that auto setup
systems such as YPAO often struggle
with the correct subwoofer distance
as it is usually a combination of group
delay inherent in subwoofers sporting
digital amps and DSP processing such
as my Axiom Audio EP500 and the
complex structure of small room
acoustics below 300Hz. I always
recommend using common sense
and verify audibly and empirically (if
possible) if the distance the auto setup
system selected is correct.
Editorial Note
for PEQ Editing
• Select freq/gain to choose the
center frequency
• Select band/gain to set the Q and
gain as needed
How to Calculating Q:
To calculate Q, use fc / BW where fc = center frequency and
BW - bandwidth
appropriate setting for bright program
material or lively rooms.
By tweaking the phase response of 2 of
my subwoofers, and by utilizing the Yamaha
manual PEQ, I was able to further smooth
out bass response for the listening area. As
you can see in the purple trace, the low end
response below 40Hz was greatly improved
with only a slight penalty in the 50-70Hz
region which wasn’t as prevalent at the
other theater seats.
Mains + Sub Frequency Sweep (1/3rd Octave Smoothed)
Yellow – No EQ, Red – Flat, Blue – Natural
Mains + Subs Tweaked Frequency Sweep (1/3rd Octave Smoothed)
Red – NO EQ, Purple – manual EQ and phase correction
Bass Management
In the great tradition of excellent bass
management, Yamaha offers a variable
crossover point from 40Hz to 200 Hz and
+- phase adjustment for the subwoofer(s) so
you can determine the best setting without
having to go behind your subwoofer(s)
to change it. Yamaha also provisions for
subwoofer output in 2CH mode if the
speakers are set to “Large” via the LFE/
Bass Out set to “Both”. Please note
however that “Pure Direct” and “Stereo
Direct” modes bypass the bass management
altogether and will NOT send signal to the
subwoofer for 2CH sources regardless of
speaker settings. In this case, either don’t
use “Pure Direct” or disable the “auto”
setting for stereo direct mode in the OSD
to engage the DSP and bass management.
Video Set-Up
Yamaha made some significant upgrades
on the video side of the equation with this
receiver. For one, the HDMI inputs now
accommodate up to 1080p resolution with
OSD support. The RX-Z11 is powered by
Anchor Bay Technologies’ ABT1018 10-bit
precision video scaler engine for advanced
analog video up-scaling. The scaler engine
will take 480i or 480p analog video and scale
it up to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p HDMI video
(up-scaled video is only available from the
HDMI output). The ABT1010 scaler engine
independently scales images horizontally
and vertically to improve high resolution
picture quality. It’s important to note that
you cannot convert HDMI signals to any
other type of output other than HDMI. The
RX-Z11’s i/p converter features a 10-bit
processing Motion Adaptive Deinterlacing
Engine with Enhanced Motion Detection
Filter, Diagonal Processing and 2:2/2: PullDown Detection. You can convert 480i
analog video signals input as composite
video, S-video, and component video to
480p signals output as component video.
For most of my testing of the RX-Z11,
I defaulted HDMI to the “through” setting
which allowed my source components to
do the upconversion and scaling as needed.
I did however set my Toshiba HD-A2 HD
DVD player to 480i to see just how well the
RX-Z11 could do.
“The RX-Z11 displayed excellent frequency response
uniformity with a ruler flat response at every power level
which is a design tribute that Yamaha boasts and lives up to!”
Gene DellaSala
www.audioholics.coM
Yamaha took bass management up
a notch by allowing variable crossover
settings per speaker group (IE. Mains, Center,
Surrounds but didn’t give you a choice for
the subwoofer crossover which I found
through my testing to be dependent on
the main channel crossover setting. Thus I
highly recommend you keep each speaker
groups crossover setting within 20Hz else
the bass in the channels crossed over higher
than the mains will NOT be recombined
into the subwoofer channel.
Yamaha offers dual subwoofer outputs on
the RX-Z11 just like they did in previous
flagships. This time however, they allow you
to assign them as (stereo, mono, or front/
back). Do NOT use the “front/back” setting
as they made the classic mistake Denon
did on the AVR-5805 where the back
subwoofer gets LFE info and the front sub
gets the bass from all the other channels
set to “small”. Ideally in a multi subwoofer
system, you want all subs playing identical
signals or at least split between Left/Right
with LFE going to all subwoofers so you can
take full advantage of modal averaging to
achieve the smoothest bass response across
all of the theater seats.
If you are connecting only one subwoofer,
select “mono” and be sure to use the “left”
sub output since that is the only one with
level control in that particular configuration.
Strangely the RX-Z11 still outputs signal
via the “Right” subwoofer output but its
referenced to a 0dB trim setting so you
don’t have independent level control over it
other than master volume. I also noted that
if you set the main channels to “small”, the
RX-Z11 still allows you to set the center
and surround channels to “large”. I would
have preferred Yamaha to automatically set
all speakers to “small” if the mains were set
“small”. But, since they didn’t, pay extra
attention to this when configuring your bass
management settings.
The crossovers worked as expected
for a THX Ultra2 certified receiver as
indicated by the 12dB/oct High Pass Filter
(HPF) slopes on speakers set small and
24dB/oct Low Pass Filter (LPF) slopes on
the subwoofer output which I measured
with my Audio Precision SYS 2722 Audio
Analyzer.
5
Audioholics/HQV Bench Testing Summary of Test Results
Perfect Score is 130
Yamaha RX-Z11 Benchmark Score: 90
(Average compared to many displays and source components. In comparison,
my Silicon Optix enabled Denon DVD-5910CI scored a 130.)
Test
Max Points
RX-Z11
Pass/Fail
HD-A2
Color Bar
10
10
Pass
10
Jaggies #1
5
5
Pass
0
Jaggies #2
5
5
Pass
0
Flag
10
10
Pass
5
Detail
10
10
Pass
10
Noise
10
0
Fail
0
Motion adaptive Noise Reduction
10
0
Fail
0
Film Detail
10
5
Pass
10
Cadence 2:2 Video
5
0
Fail
0
Cadence 2:2:2:4 DV Cam
5
0
Fail
0
Cadence 2:3:3:2 DV Cam
5
0
Fail
0
Cadence 3:2:3:2:2 Vari-speed
5
5
Pass
0
Cadence 5:5 Animation
5
5
Pass
5
Cadence 6:4 Animation
5
5
Pass
0
Cadence 8:7 animation
5
5
Pass
5
Cadence 3:2 24fps film
5
5
Pass
5
Scrolling Horizontal
10
10
Pass
10
Scrolling Rolling
10
10
Pass
10
Total Points
130
90
70
www.audioholics.coM
*Source component was the Toshiba HD-A2 upscaled to 720p via the RX-Z11 and fed to
Yamaha LPX-510 LCD Projector. For the HD-A2 tests, the HD-A2 was set to 720p.
6
Overall I found the scaling features of
the RX-Z11 to be better than what’s found
in most A/V receivers these days, with
the exception of it handling some of the
cadences on these specific HQV tests which
was a bit puzzling to me. The RX-Z11
bested my Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player
on standard definition DVD playback, so
unless you are using an exceptionally good
source component for upconversion (IE. a
DVD player or display with a Silicon Optix
chipset) you may want to consider using the
RX-Z11 for your scaling needs. Of course
if you are running a true HD signal such as
the output of an HD DVD or Blu-ray player,
you would want the player to be set to the
native resolution of the disc or the highest
supported resolution of your display.
Multi-Zone / Multi-Source
Audio & Power Amp
Assignability
Yamaha has really outdone themselves
with all of the power amplifier options on the
RX-Z11. The RX-Z11 comes equipped with
a “preamp mode”
which essentially
shuts down the
amplifiers not being
used and will allow
you to reassign
all 11 channels to
zones 2, 3 and 4.
So basically if you
desire to add a high
quality 7-channel
amplifier for the main zone, this receiver
can support simultaneous 4 zones, 4 source
audio. Alternatively you can connect
external power amplifiers to each of the
additional zones to power them. This is an
extremely thoughtful and useful feature for
those integrating a multi zone distributed
whole house audio solution with their
primary home theater room.There is even a
bi-amp mode which takes the surround back
channels and duplicates the signal from the
main channels for those wanting to biamp
their main speakers. I don’t understand why
Yamaha forces you to enter the advanced
setup menu as opposed to provisioning that
option on the main power amp assignability
page. Keep in mind however if you bi-amp
you sacrifice the back channels.
The RX-Z11 doesn’t just stop with all
these cool amplifier assignability options
for the additional zones. Zone 2 also
features a coaxial digital output so you can
play back any of your digital audio sources
to remote zones. A prime example here
would be someone connecting a YSP-4000
in another room wanting to pass through
the audio from their main zone DVD player
and Cable box. Please note however that
when you connect the external amplifiers
in Zone 2, Zone 3, and/or Zone 4 to the
ZONE OUT jacks of this unit, the RX-Z11
can only transmit the analog audio signals.
In this setting, this unit cannot play back the
digital audio sources input at the Digital In
jacks and HDMI In jacks in Zone 2, Zone
3, and/or Zone 4. When this unit is in the
“Party mode”, it can output the audio
signals input at the HDMI In jacks or Digital
In jacks at the analog Zone Out jacks. When
you connect an external amplifier in Zone 2
to the Zone Digital Out (Coaxial) jack, you
can play back the digital and analog audio
sources in Zone 2.
The
RX-Z11
also comes fully
armed with video
support allowing
component video
upconversion in one
of the zones and
composite video
for the additional
two zones. So not
Listening Tests
only can you distribute audio all around the
house, but you can do video as well. The
DSP “Party” mode is a must have feature
for those hosting social events. It allows
you to play the same source through all
of the speakers in the main zone and any
or all of the other zones simultaneously.
The RX-Z11 offers some of the most
comprehensive multi zone / multi source
options in a receiver that I haven’t seen
the likes of since the Denon AVR-5805. It
truly is a one box solution for distributed
whole home audio and video especially
when paired with a Yamaha MusicCAST
MCX-2000 music server.
Network Streaming,
XM Radio, iPod
The Yamaha RX-Z11 is packed with all
of the same great features found on the
RX-V2700 such as network streaming from
MusicCAST, USB devices or internet radio,
XM radio, HD radio and iPod connectivity
with music enhancer mode that is said to be
an enhancement over their prior generation
receivers that employed this feature. Rather
than rehashing the details, I encourage you
to read my RX-V2700 review that discusses
the functionality and setup of these features
in great detail. I will note however that the
RX-Z11 adds web browser control and
the ability to use your iPhone as a remote
control which is pretty cool. I am surprised
Yamaha didn’t arm this receiver with WiFi
capability so for now you will have to
settle using Ethernet for all of your music
streaming needs. Most people installing a
sophisticated home theater system have
an Ethernet connection near their rack
for their gaming system or cable box so it
shouldn’t be much of a concern.
Reference Equipment
Remote Control(s)
The RX-Z11 comes with two remote
controls: one that operates the main zone
(RAV380), and the other (RAV33) for multi
zone control. These remotes score no
points with me, especially the main zone
remote which I feel is the poorest design
they’ve offered in a flagship product since the
DSP-A3090. It’s basically a glorified version
of the remote found on the RX-V2700
only its silver and looks nicer. The RAV380
isn’t fully backlight and the buttons are so
numerous and so closely spaced together
that it makes it a quite a painful chore
figuring out what function you want to
control. During my review, I was almost
tempted to spring for a new Apple iPhone
just so I could have a better control system
to operate this unit. I suspect (and strongly
encourage) most people will be using a
universal type of remote or their iPhone to
operate this complex beast of a receiver. I
suppose it’s a good measure on Yamaha’s
part to not offer a more elaborate and
hence expensive remote solution to keep
the product cost down but I really wished
they would have met half way and offered a
remote that was half push button and half
touch screen to simply it just a bit. The
little RAV33 is actually not a terrible multi
zone remote as it allows you to select input,
basic source control, memory settings, and
volume level and on/off. Overall it’s a handy
little remote but the experienced installer
would likely integrate an RF remote or
touch pad at the zone location(s) where
audio is being fed.
I installed the Yamaha RX-Z11 into the
premier theater room of the Audioholics
Showcase home consisting of RBH Sound
SE/R Signature and Axiom Audio Algonquin
speakers, dual Velodyne DD-15 subwoofers,
Denon DVD-5910CI and Toshiba HD-A2
HD DVD players and Yamaha’s own LPX-510
LCD projector. All of the cables were
Sonicwave furnished by Impact Acoustics. Two Channel Music Listening
(Bi-amp Mode)
I selected highly dynamic and bass
intensive musical content to ensure I was
giving the amp section of the Z11 a good
workout. I started out with Dianne Reeves
Never Too Far and ended with The Best of
Fourplay CD.
CD: Dianne Reeves
Never Too Far
The bass track in
Track #2 “Never Too
Far” will sound muddy
on an improperly set
up or mediocre system.
With the RX-Z11 in
bi-amp mode powering
my T-30LSE system, I was pleasantly surprised
by how snappy and articulate the upper
bass response was. Overall, I found it well
controlled and retained excellent the decay
properties I heard with my reference amp.
The tonal balance was warm and inviting
and regardless of how loudly I listened, I
never heard the RX-Z11 amps run out of
gas. Stereo separation was about as good as
I’ve ever heard, portraying Dianne’s powerful
www.audioholics.coM
“The Yamaha RX-Z11
represents the pinnacle
of technology in a flagship
receiver and is a worthy
successor to the venerable
RX-Z9.”
Gene DellaSala
We covered a great deal of the feature
set on the new Yamaha RX-Z11, but its
all worthless if the audio portion of this
receiver doesn’t live up to the hype. Thus I
decided to do exhaustive listening tests of
the RX-Z11 via two channel bi-amp mode
and a full scale 11.2 surround spectacle for
music and movies. The bi-amp mode really
tests the amplifier section of this receiver
since I am using full range tower speakers
that dip down to two ohms and are not an
easy load to drive.
7
www.audioholics.coM
vocals dead center as they should be with
plenty of width and depth to the soundstage.
The drums had a the requisite pop to them
while the saxophones exhibited a nice bite
giving you that “live” feeling.
Next up was Fourplay’s “Chant” track
which is slams with a dynamic kick drum
sending wimpy woofers to oblivion and
lesser designed amps into hard clipping.
As I listened, I found myself cranking the
volume up, intoxicated watching the dual
10” aluminum woofers flex in and out as the
Yamaha pumped pure unadulterated power
into them. Yamaha was convincing me of
the flagship status of this receiver as it was
able to power my large full range tower
speakers without any complaints.
8
“The RX-Z11 is truly the
ultimate multi channel /
multi zone A/V receiver
capable of whole house
entertainment.”
Gene DellaSala
“11 Channel Stereo” mode. After I tweaked
it so the surrounds and center channel
were reduced output with respect to the
main channels, I found it to offer a more
direct in your face sound to the music. If
you want to really feel the music, use this
mode, but if you want a more natural
envelopment that is also more expansive,
11.2 Multi Channel
Music and Movies
I’d highly recommend Yamaha’s excellent
I wanted to see just how well the RX-Z11 “Music Video Mode”. could handle a full gamut of speakers so I got
out of bi-amp mode, connected my T-30LSEs CD: Dave Matthews Band
to the main channels and the rest of the Crash
speakers for a full 11.2 surround experience
It’s been awhile
using the stereo L/R subwoofer outputs for since I played any Dave
my dual Velodyne DD-15 subwoofers. Folks, Matthews and I recalled
we are talking 11 speakers and 4 subs. This these recordings did
is about as exciting as home theater can exceedingly well with
get.
Yamaha DSP processing
in my previous reviews.
CD: Genesis
Yamaha DSP Jazz modes (namely Village
Live Over Europe 2007
Gate) really shined on this CD. Track #1
Nothing put a bigger
“So Much To Say” exhibited a very natural
smile on my face
openness with good reverb in the guitars
when the legendary
and Dave Matthews voice. I felt as if I was
progressive rock band
experiencing a live performance in an old
Genesis got back
brick constructed NY jazz club. For Track
together for one last
#3 “Crash Into Me” I toggled between
tour to remind the
the various Jazz DSP modes, “11 Channel
world of their musical genius. In two Stereo” and “Music Video”. I discovered
channel stereo, the sound of this double disc a strong enveloping feeling of the guitars
concert CD is a bit flat and sterile, but the to the left and right sides of me with very
experience is far more enjoyable once you powerful and tight bass response when
engage Prologic IIx Music Mode. I started listening in “11 Channel Stereo” mode. I
out with track #3 “Land of Confusion” and had to actually trim down the surround and
switched through the gamut of Yamaha’s height channels to 70% and 30%, respectively,
music DSP modes until I settled on what I as it seemed a bit overpowering. I didn’t like
thought sounded best “Music Video”. Doing the way this CD sounded in “Music Video”
a direct A/B comparison between this mode mode and ultimately settled on “Jazz Cellar”
and PLIIx, I found the former to be more for this portion of my listening tests. Its
open and thus enhancing the surround important to note that many of the DSP
envelopment. The front soundstage in track modes do NOT utilize the back channels
#4 “In the Cage” seemed much larger in and “Music Video” mode is one of the few
“Music Video” mode. I also tried out the DSP’s that send signal to all 11 speakers. CD: Scofield
A Go Go
John Scofield has got
some good skill on jazz
guitar and this CD is a
great recording when
you’re in the mode for
something funky. I started with “Music
Video” DSP mode for Track #1 “A Go
Go” and found the sound to be too
concentrated towards the center channel.
Once I switched over to the Jazz DSP modes,
the width or spaciousness greatly increased
and I again felt like I was in a genuine Jazz
club sipping a Martini and enjoying a fine
Cuban. “Village Gate” sounded most open,
while “Warehouse” was too lively. “Village
Gate” and “Jazz Cellar” were my favorites
with a slight preference towards the latter.
Granted you could go in and tweak any of
the DSP modes to your liking but I mostly
evaluate the default settings as I figured if I
grew to like the processing features on this
receiver too much, it would be too difficult
to part with when I have to send it back.
Needless to say, I had a great time listening
to this CD with the variety of DSP music
enhance modes and integrated front and
back height channels.
DVD-Audio:
Beatles Love
Track #1 “Because”
has become one of my
favorite Beatles tunes as
it really exemplifies the
uncanny melodic nature
of the Beatles that few if any bands today can
match. I was immersed in their wonderful
voices when I engaged “Music Video” DSP
mode. The experience was almost surreal
and I was literally transported center stage
with the Fab4 all around me. Lennon’s voice
sounded more “real” in track #5 “I am the
Walrus” when engaged in this DSP mode. I found Prologic IIx Music Mode offered a
bit more focus to the music but it wasn’t
as expansive or bold as I heard it in “Music
Video” mode which was clearly evident to
me in track #10 “The Benefit of Mr. Kite”. After experimenting with “Music Video”
mode with a variety of music I found it
to really excel with discrete multi channel
music and to be hit or miss with two
channel program material.
Concert DVD’s
This is where I really
enjoy Yamaha receiver
products the most. The
ability to transform a
concert event into a
lifelike experience is
something only Yamaha
DSP processing can
convey to its fullest realism. I got a kick out
of listening to Pat Metheny’s - The Way Up
HD DVD and Eric Claptons Crossroads DVD
in “Music Video” and “Village Gate” DSP
modes. “Village Gate” really opened up the
soundstage for the Pat Metheny concert
and added a sense of dimensional space that
was missing in ordinary PLIIX Music Mode. I was so caught up listening to the Jeff
Beck portion of the Eric Clapton concert
in “Music Video” mode that I almost didn’t
notice the super sexy bass player he had in
his band.
I caution NOT to use 11 CH Stereo mode
for any discrete multi channel program
material as it down mixes the content into
two channel before sending it to all of the
speakers. I tried this mode for these discs
and it sounded terribly compressed and
unsatisfying to say the least.
Movie Watching
HD DVD:
The Transformers
Yes I did get the
memo
about
the
death of HD DVD, but
I haven’t yet had the
opportunity to pick up
a Blu-ray player and
make the transition to
the “winning” High Def format. Although
I am not overly impressed with the sound
quality of this HD DVD as I found the
soundtrack to be quite compressed, it does
have some great rumble effects and is pure
eye candy making it a good demo disc to
keep on hand to impress your friends and
family. I started this demo in PLIIX Movie
Mode which of course sounded excellent
as usual. I switched over to “Music Video”
mode which collapsed the soundstage and
really ruined the experience. Thus I moved
on to “Adventure” mode which I found to
be excellent overall. It really opened up
the soundstage vertically while keeping the
center channel dialogue anchored. “Sci Fi”
mode was a tad more expansive but I also
heard a bit too much reverb in the vocals. I
suppose this could have been turned down
via the edit parameters of the mode but I
was so enamored with “Adventure” mode
that I continued watching the movie in that
DSP program. The helicopter fly by effect
was most impressive and I felt such a sense
of spaciousness that I pretty much forgot I
was listening to speakers and just drowned
Suggestions for Improvement
Although the RX-Z11 is jam packed with
features and has it where it counts sonically,
there are some operational things (mostly
with YPAO) I’d like to see improvement
upon to make the next generation receiver
even better:
• Single button toggle ability via remote
to engage/disengage PEQ globally for
all channels
• More accurate and consistent auto
speaker size, crossover configuration
and equalization, especially for multi
point calibrations
• Full range calibration down to 20Hz
with at least 1/12th octave resolution
• YPAO status indicator light (perhaps a
different color) if some parameters are
changed but the PEQ is still engaged
• Offer the option of pausing and
redoing a YPAO test in progress
during multi point calibrations
• Fix the Front/Back subwoofer
assignment so both subs get LFE
content and bass from all speakers
set small
& Analysis
Yamaha RX-Z11 Preamp Frequency Response
www.audioholics.coM
The Yamaha RX-Z11 is as equally armed
for music as it is for movie watching. Not
only are there specific DSP modes for
movie viewing as Yamaha has always offered
in the past, but the RX-Z11 sports some of
the newest technologies from THX, hence
the Ultra2 Plus certification. For those Measurements
listening below reference level, the RX-Z11 Preamp Section
incorporates THX’s Loudness Plus which is
said to maintain the integrity of soundtracks
when listening below Reference Level. THX
Loudness Plus compensates for the tonal and
spatial shifts that occur when the volume
level is reduced. I toggled this mode on
at low listening levels and indeed get a
fuller sound with an improved surround
envelopment. The benefits seemed less
obvious as the volume level increased and
thus it appeared this feature was working
as claimed.
in the experience. My only complaint was
the occasional compressive artifacts I was
hearing during loud explosions which was
a function of the source material and NOT
the RX-Z11. Too bad they used so much
compression in this disc.
9
I measured a ruler flat frequency response
with a -3dB point around 173kHz in “Pure
Direct” mode. Once the DSP was engaged,
I noticed a +1.8dB bump centered around
80Hz in DSP mode which puzzled me for
a moment until I realized I was the one
that caused that bump when I manual
edited the PEQ on the main channels. It’s reassuring that I confirmed Yamaha’s
manual PEQ adjustments work exactly as
expected.
With 200mVin, I set the master volume
until I reached 1Vrms out of the preamp.
The output was so pristine that I couldn’t
measure any appreciable harmonics. I had
to run the preamp up to 2Vrms out and
400Mv in to start measuring something
appreciable but beyond the limits of audibility.
Low distortion hardly qualifies for what I
measured (7.161+103.303)dBv = 110.5dBV
or 100*alog^-1(-110.5/20) = .0003% THD
+ N which is among the lowest distortion
I’ve ever measured in a preamp regardless
of price.
Yamaha RX-Z11 Preamp FFT Distortion Analysis
www.audioholics.coM
SNR
10
With 200mVin and 1Vout, SNR = 87.6dB
Yamaha RX-Z11 Frequency Response at 1 watt & Full Power
(unweighted) in pure direct mode. This
is an excellent measurement, and with its
ample drive capability proves the RX-Z11
can hold its own with the very finest home
theater preamps on the market.
The RX-Z11 can accept a signal up to
3.6Vrms and output 4.7Vrms under .01%
THD +N. This is more than enough gain
to drive virtually any power amplifier to
maximum gain (THX amps require about
2Vrms). In the past I measured lower
end Yamaha receivers that couldn’t output
Yamaha RX-Z11 Power vs Distortion
more than 1.5Vrms without the onset of
hard clipping. This is NOT one of those
receivers.
Keep in mind most review publications
in my Audio Precision to automatically
adjust input level until the maximum power don’t do continuous power measurements
output is achieved at < 0.1% THD + N. The and they usually publish power
Power Amp Section
RX-Z11 was plugged directly into an APC measurements into clipping at 1% THD + N.
Power Bandwidth & Distortion
The RX-Z11 displayed excellent S-15 Power Conditioner with regulation Our measurements are very conservative
frequency response uniformity with a ruler to ensure the line never dropped below and it is clear that the 140wpc power rating
of this receiver is greatly understated as
flat response in the audio passband and an 118Vrms.
Yamaha is delivering MUCH more than
Power output: <0.1% THD + N
unwavering -3dB point of 136kHz at every
specified.
1CH,
8
ohms:
190wpc
power level. This is a design tribute that
For more info on amplifier measurements,
2CH, 8 ohms: 172wpc
Yamaha boasts and lives up to!
see: The All Channels Driven (ACD) Test
1CH, 4 ohms: 300wpc
I measured continuous power vs
2CH, 4 ohms: 256wpc
distortion by setting up a regulated sweep
With two channels driven at full load,
I measured about 55% efficiency which is
quite good for a linear Class A/B amplifier. When the unit was idling with all amplifiers
turned on, it consumed about 126 watts. When I engaged “preamp mode” which
shuts off the amps in the main zone, the idle
power dropped to about 90 watts.
FFT Distortion Analysis
At 1 watt into 8 ohms,the RX-Z11 displayed
excellent results (+9.056 + 82.271)dBv =
91.3dBv or 100*alog^-1(-91.3/20) = .003%
THD + N. At full rated power (140wpc, 8
ohms) the RX-Z11 again exhibited excellent
distortion measurements (30.39 + 53.14)
dBv =83.5dBv or 100*alog^-1(-83.5 /20) =
.007 THD + N. These results weren’t quite
as low as I measured on the RX-V2700
but I suspect Yamaha is employing a higher
amount of negative feedback in this amplifier
design as you will see in the amplifier output
impedance measurements to follow.
Yamaha RX-Z11 FFT Analysis @ Full Rated Power
Amplifier Output Impedance
& Damping Factor
Yamaha RX-Z11 Amplifier Output Impedance under various loading conditions
Yamaha RX-Z11 Amplifier Damping Factor under various loading conditions
Crosstalk
Running a full range frequency sweep
from the preamp all the way through the
power amp at full rated power (140wpc
@ 8 ohms), I measured channel to channel
Yamaha RX-Z11 Crosstalk Measurement at Full Rated Power vs Frequency
www.audioholics.coM
The RX-Z11 exhibited one of the lowest
output impedance profiles I’ve ever measured
in an amplifier which indicates to me they
are employing a lot of negative feedback but
also using quality output devices and a large
enough power supply to be stable at full
power into 4 ohm loads. It fell well below
our desired 100 mohm or less mark for the
entire audible bandwidth up to 20kHz and
maintained itself even when driving at max
sustained power levels into 8 ohm and 4
ohm loads. This proves that the RX-Z11 will
sound consistently good no matter what
loudspeaker load it is driving.
The amplifier damping factor is about what
I expected based on the measured output
impedance. It is uniformly good across
the entire audio frequency range at around
the 100 mark (50 is a minimum we like
to see in all amplifiers of uncompromising
design) when driving an 8 ohm loads. Into
4 ohm loads the Damping factor is exactly
as expected, ½ the 8 ohm value and
demonstrates that the Z11 is happy to drive
low impedance loads at full power.
11
crosstalk on two adjacent channels where
one channel was the disturber and the
other was the DUT. The Audio Precision
plotted crosstalk of both channels over
frequency by varying the Distruber/DUT
channels.You can see the RX-Z11 produced
great crosstalk measurements (90dB at
1kHz) with only a slight increase up at
the frequency extremes (low frequency
because of magnetic coupling and high
frequency because of capacitive coupling).
This test really exemplifies the careful board
and magnetics layout of this 11 channel
receiver.
experience wasn’t quite as dramatic as I
have heard it in prior demos at Yamaha’s
2007 CEDIA booth which incidentally had
higher ceilings.
There seems to be an almost endless
array of configurability and usability of this
product to the buyer willing to spend the
time to learn how to properly use and
configure it. The RX-Z11 is a very complex
sophisticated piece of A/V hardware and is
NOT a product for someone looking for
simplicity and ease of setup but instead
looking for state of the art performance that
The scoring below is based on each speaker doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers
are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating equal to:
Performance x Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com Note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective
testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better
performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value
factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate speakers solely based on performance,
and each reviewer has their own system for ratings.
Audioholics Ratings Scale:
Outstanding (reserved for features or areas that exceed market norms)
Above Average
Average
Below average
Very poor
www.audioholics.coM
Conclusions and
Overall Perceptions
12
The Yamaha RX-Z11 represents the
pinnacle of technology in a flagship receiver.
It’s ability to transform your listening space
into a concert venue or mega Cineplex is
unrivaled thanks to the powerful arsenal
of DSP processing and multi speaker
configuration capabilities and robust well
designed amplifier section. With its very
clever power amp assignability and music
mode distribution, it proved to be the
ultimate multi channel / multi zone receiver
capable of whole house entertainment.
I found the DSP mode sound quality to
vary depending on source material so don’t
expect any particular mode to excel all of
the time. It’s important to take the time
and experiment with your music and movie
collection to determine what sounds best
to you. To really take full advantage of the
RX-Z11’s 11.2 surround sound capability,
I highly recommend this product to be
installed into a large listening space (at least
500 ft^2 or larger) with a minimum of 10ft
ceilings. Unfortunately my theater room is
limited to 8 foot ceilings, so I was unable
to get the height channels up high enough
to reach their full potential. While 11.2
was certainly impressive in my room, the
Non-exclusive reprint rights have been provided to Yamaha
Electronics Corporation to reprint and freely distribute this
review. Any other uses or instances of this review by other
parties or by Yamaha Electronics Corporation are prohibited
without prior approvals from Audioholics. The original review
can be viewed online at www.audioholics.com
Score Card
SNR Measurement
With 200mV in, 8 ohms I measured an
SNR of 75.5dB (un-weighted) at 1 watt
power level in pure direct and stereo modes
which again is a very good measurement. I
did note however that once the DSP is
engaged or stereo mode set to non-direct
to allow sub out, noise jumps up about 10dB. This is audible only if your head is in close
proximity to any particular loudspeaker
with the volume turned up and no program
material is playing.
does all of the latest in HD audio and video
decoding and treats music, multi-channel
music and movies with equal measure. The
RX-Z11 has earned the crown of flagship
status and is a worthy successor to the
venerable RX-Z9.
By Gene DellaSala
Email - gds@audioholics.com
Performance
Evaluation Metric
Frequency Response Linearity
(20-20k +/- 0.25dB)
Build Quality
SNR
Ergonomics/User
Interface
Output Impedance (<100mohms
20-20k)
Features
Measured
Power Performance
Into 8-ohms Television
MeasuredVideo
Power
Into 4-ohms Performance
Subjective Overall
Evaluation Multi-channel
Audio
Value
2 CH Audio
Practical Considerations Video Processing
Build Quality
Fit and Finish
Ergonomics & Usability
Features
Remote Control
Overall
Value
Yamaha Electronics Corporation
6660 Orangethorpe Avenue
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 522-9105
http://www.yamaha.com/yec/
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