Yamaha RX-V2092 A/V receiver Review

Yamaha RX-V2092
Yamaha RX-V2092

Yamaha's RX-V2092 is representative of the upper reaches of second-generation Dolby Digital receivers. The big Yamaha has all the requisite top-of-the-line attributes, beginning with serious power: 100 watts each to the five main Dolby Digital channels. It also has two additional speaker outputs for Yamaha's unique "front-effects" channels, used in the RX-V2092's proprietary Cinema-DSP-7Ch surround modes. Rated at 25 watts each, these drive a pair of small speakers positioned slightly behind and outside the front left/right pair.

The RX-V2092 is not as weighted by "extras" as some top-of-the-line A/V receivers, but then again, its price tag is considerably lower than some others. The receiver does, however, incorporate a few notable features. High on the list is dual-source, multiroom capability, which extends to audio and video sources; it even comes with a simplified, second remote for Zone-2 control. The main handset is rather futuristic, with an impressive array of controls behind a flip-up door for multicomponent, full-system command, but it still offers relatively simple, basic functionality with the door closed.

Similarly, the V2092's clean, dramatically sculpted faceplate conceals a good portion of its controls behind a flip-down door along the bottom edge. Keys for source and surround-mode selection, the tuner presets, and the master volume knob are always accessible, as is a simple, highly legible amber display. Behind the door are tucked a camcorder convenience input (Video Aux, which includes S-video connections), manual and automatic tuning and memory controls, and small knobs for bass, treble, and balance. There's also a rotary selector to choose a record-out source independently of both main and remote listening selections, a headphone jack, and Speaker A and B switches (also commanded by the main remote).

The rear panel presents the usual forest of RCA and S-video jacks. Yamaha provides both composite- and S-video connections for all A/V sources. There are five A/V inputs altogether, including the front-panel set; two of them, VCR 1 and VCR 2, are input/output loops for recording convenience. The three audio-only inputs are phono, CD, and a tape loop.

Room-2 facilities provide independently volume-controlled line-level stereo audio and composite-video outputs plus mini-jacks for infrared-sensor input and remote-repeater output that follows the de facto "Xantech-compatible" standard. Line outputs for all six Dolby Digital channels, and pre-out/main-in couplers for the front left/right channels, earn the RX-V2092 high marks for expandability. Standard multiway speaker connectors for all outputs, which accept single or dual banana plugs, heavy wire, or pins with equal aplomb, earn it equal praise for connectivity. An adjacent, rather confusingly labeled toggle switch is said to optimize the V2092's amp sections for 4- or 8-ohm loads. Previous experience with a similar Yamaha receiver led me to select the 8-ohm setting for use with my system initially, as likely to give a cleaner sounding, more dynamic output.

There are three digital connectors, two coaxial and one optical. The V2092's DVD/laserdisc input can use the optical port, or one of the coax jacks, while TV/DBS uses the other coax jack. (The receiver polls the digital inputs first, with the optical input taking precedence, and only then checks for analog signals, though this can be manually overridden.) There is no AC-3/RF input, so DD laserdiscs require an outboard demodulator.

A fairly extensive on-screen menu system with simple graphics made setup reasonably easy. The V2092 provides complete DD bass-management options, including a 20-dB range of LFE-channel attenuation by 1-dB increments (DD mode only, of course). I mated the Yamaha receiver with my standard loudspeaker suite. As with the other two receivers, I omitted the subwoofer at first to test the Yamaha's own power amps with full-bandwidth demands. I supplemented this layout with a pair of RockSolid Monitors, two-way speakers with 5-inch woofers, for the "front-effects" channels used by the Cinema-DSP-7Ch modes. (If you do not deploy an extra pair, a rear-panel switch allows you to mix the front-effects signals into the main L/R speakers.)

Yamaha's RX-V2092 proved an exceptional performer in just about all respects. While it was not the single most powerful-sounding five-channel A/V receiver ever to cross through my door, wattage was ample in both stereo and surround modes to drive my middling-sensitivity speakers to satisfyingly high levels and beyond. When the V2092 reached its limits, the system began sounding a bit harsh and "squished," and beyond that the amps clipped fairly hard. (These limits were reached audibly sooner with the receiver's speaker-load switch in the 4-ohm position.) Unsurprisingly, when I added my B&W 800ASW powered subwoofer to the mix, the V2092 had more than enough output to drive me from the room with both soundtracks and pure music.

Dolby Pro Logic performance was truly outstanding. Dialogue leakage from the center channel was extremely low (and stable), logic steering was smooth, defined, and sure-footed, and everything sounded open and detailed. When I auditioned the surround channel "naked" with top-grade Dolby Surround CDs, I heard a very smooth, clean sound that was remarkably free of the lumpiness and noise-pumping that frequently plague Dolby Surround. And the same held true in soundtrack reproduction, where the V2092 delivered detailed, transparent sound in even the subtlest, most ambience-filled scenes.

Dolby Digital performance was on the same high plane: clean, hugely dynamic, and crisp, yet listenable in terms of both intelligibility and effects localization. In fact, I only occasionally missed having recourse to THX Cinema-EQ or a similar rolloff. The V2092's DD dynamics-control feature worked well, delivering two stages of the format's "smart" compression/limiting, somewhat confusingly labeled Std and Min, while the uncompressed mode is dubbed Max.

Yamaha's two Cinema-DSP modes are called Enhanced and Movie Theater, each of which can be superimposed over either Pro Logic or Dolby Digital processing. Enhanced is a bit subtler and often lent an audibly more spacious, open quality to the ambience - usually a pleasant addition without significant penalty. I found the Movie Theater mode considerably more aggressive. Its impact on overall timbre - including, usually, speech - and the echoey colorations it added were occasionally quite audible. Truth be told, for most films I think I'd be prone to stick with "plain" DPL and DD reproduction.

Seven additional surround modes complete the V2092's 3-D offerings. All except TV Theater are four-channel settings, including the usual Hall, Disco, and Jazz Club. Several of these sounded quite natural and musical, so it was even more annoying that the receiver does not store relative surround-channel levels independently by mode, but only keeps global channel balance. If you lower the surrounds by 2 dB to get the most believable Hall effect as I did, for example, you must reset the level every time you return to DPL/ DD, and vice versa. The V2092 does store surround-delay settings separately for each mode.

Space prohibits a full discussion of the RX-V2092's elaborate, ergonomically designed main remote. In essence, it has two rather different "personalities," a simpler one when closed and a more complex but much more broadly powerful one when the full-face door is opened. (A nice touch is that the door folds all the way back and clips in place, reducing the otherwise all-too-likely chance of damage the first time someone sits on the remote.) The remote is not the most intuitive, but once you get it figured out and "teach" it your ancillary gear's codes, its operation is relatively straightforward, and it is very useful. The red back-lighting is spiffy, too, though the two dozen or so unlit keys can be hard to identify in very dim conditions.

FM performance was good. While selectivity and noise rejection were only marginally above average with weak or distant signals, sound quality with stronger signals was quite good. My local public-radio station sounded clean, dynamic, and musical. AM reception was a bit above average, with about twice as many intelligible stations (ten) as the usual abysmally bad receiver AM section can tune in. Talk-radio fans, take note.

The RX-V2092's basic performance on surround-sound discs, tapes, and broadcasts was very nearly faultless, while its power was more than adequate and its ease of use good to very good. The extra features are mostly useful, notably the Room-2 capabilities, which let you enjoy much of the receiver's A/V functionality in a second room for the cost of some wire and a couple of inexpensive infrared accessories. Overall, Yamaha's RX-V2092 is unquestionably a flag-class A/V cruiser.