Our reviewer was impressed by the RX-V1400 and described it as a "versatile, multi-purpose, value-priced receiver." The sound is "refined...warm and full," although some listeners may want a bit more power. The Dolby Digital and DTS decoding modes sounded accurate and realistic with a terrific bass presence."
It's not uncommon for reviewers, such as myself, to meet people and strike up conversations about our work. Most people I've met are generally interested about the reviewing process and even more want to know where they can sign up to play with new equipment and collect a paycheck. However, there are still a few people I've met that have yet to read an issue of DVD ETC. to reap its benefits in deciding which electronics we recommend. These people are more direct in asking for advice.
One such acquaintance of mine was in the market for a new multi-channel audio/video receiver to replace his pre-Dolby Digital dinosaur. He was searching for a good overall receiver that could deliver an accurate representation of both movies and music without blowing his entire home theater budget. As it turns out, I was able to find what he was looking for in the new Yamaha RX-V1400 receiver.
Unique Features - The RX-V1400 is a powerful THX Select certified component with seven channels of output rated at 110 watts each. Power worshipers will enjoy the stout amplifier that can drive speakers effortlessly at high volume levels. It supports the latest movie sound formats including Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS Neo:6, and DTS 96/24, plus it has Yamaha's digital sound field processing called Cinema DSP that provides enhanced multi-channel playback from almost any sound source including a stereo signal. By using the 32-bit Yamaha LSI (YSS-930) processor, the receiver has 27 surround programs with 47 variations including silent cinema and night listening modes. In addition, an automatic setup program called YPAO, the Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer, makes proper speaker adjustments automatically. This wonderful feature was first debuted on the cornpany's RX-Z9 flagship that costs more than five times the RX-V1400. The YPAO is a straight-forward calibration system that accurately checks speaker wiring, distance, size, and sound level before adjusting the frequency and levels of equalization to each speaker. It accomplishes this by using the optimizer microphone connected to the RX-V1400 placed in a normal listening position in the room and playing audible tones through the speakers to test and fine-tune the system. Manual tweaking can be made in lieu of the YPAO through use of a series of menus with the on-screen display, but with such a simple and accurate calibration system, most users will undoubtedly elect to use the automated system.
Yamaha also added an audio lip-synch delay to the RX-V1400's arsenal of features. Plasma screens sometimes have video lag time behind the audio signals, so the receiver can compensate this by programming up to 0.25 seconds of lag time to synchronize the signals. Multi-room zones 2 and 3, plus speaker AM selections, are also supported for a grand total of 11 speaker connections. For video excellence, the unit has component video up conversion from S-Video and composite signals and scores of inputs and outputs for a variety of installations.
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Installation/Setup/Ease of Use Instituting the YPAO optimizer microphone, I was able to set up the RX-V1400 very effectively with minimal fuss. The receiver was connected to a set of MB Quart Vera speakers and I mounted the microphone on a tripod placed in the listening position before letting the Yamaha work its magic. The setup routine plays a series of noise bursts, tones and beeps at different volume levels from each channel in sequence to check the wiring, distance, size, and subwoofer crossover point. Once completed, the RX-V1400 calibrates the levels and applies equalization. When testing a speaker out of phase, I received an immediate warning message advising me to correct the wiring faux paux before it could continue. The automated parametric equalization did a fine job with my MB Quart speakers, but I wouldn't be certain of the performance characteristics until I ran through my review material.
With a receiver at this price, I was pleased to find abundant connections available. It has three digital coaxial and five optical inputs, seven A/V inputs and even multi-channel external decoder inputs for DVD-Audio and Super Audio disc players. The 7.1-preamplifier outputs provide an upgrade path for those wishing to add a separate power amplifier.
Keeping in mind this unit is designed for double duty, I first listened to DVDs before switching to CDs. For action scenes, I turned to the Matrix series of movies because of their gunplay, car crashes, explosions and fight scenes. Dialogue, sound effects and soundtracks were evaluated from assorted Pixar movies and dramas. The straight Dolby Digital and DTS decoding modes sounded very accurate and realistic with a terrific bass presence. By using the various Cinema DSP selections, the stage was enlarged beyond my room's limitations for an even better pragmatic experience, with low-frequency punch. The downside to using digital sound processing is the occasional artificial echo and tinny sound in dialogue and musical scores. This did not overshadow the benefits gained by experimenting with the Yamaha DSP.
Stereo and multi-channel discs, both with and without processing, sounded warm and full. The DAC two-channel mode was airy and well represented. Lows were strong without being overbearing and the midrange fairly energetic. The DSP processing modes used with CDs, DVD-As and SACDs changed the playback significantly enough to make me hear nuances in beloved recordings I hadn't heard before. Though casual users may set and forget the DSP mode, I found experimentation was in order with each new disc to get the most out of the receiver.
Final Take - The RX-V1400 is an attractive receiver with Yamaha's unique style and ergonomic controls. Many of the buttons on faceplate remain hidden behind a flip-down door to keep the appearance uncluttered but still accessible. Weighing in at over 32 pounds, the receiver isn't the largest on the market but it is robust. It comes with a smartly designed remote with different colored, non-illuminated buttons and an illuminated LCD window that monitors such things as the selected input, DSP mode and surround process.
There is so much to like about the Yamaha RX-V1400. The proprietary YPAO setup technology replaces sound meters and countless time fine-tuning the receiver to the room. It's not the only automated setup on the market, but it is one of the most sophisticated setup and calibrations systems available at any price. Plasma owners may herald the lip-synch delay as one of the more important features, but others may feel the component video up-conversion, powerful amp and multi-room operation should be celebrated. Navigation of the menus is not very intuitive and will require most people to refer to the manual time after time. The sound is refined, but may not have enough oomph for some folks. However, clearly, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. I concluded the RX-V1400 is a versatile, multi-purpose, value-priced receiver and Yamaha should be proud.
YAMAHA RX-V1400 A/V RECEIVER THX Select Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS Neo:6 and DTS 96/24 Cinema DSP 110 watts x 7 192-kHz/24-bit D/A converter 5 Optical digital inputs 3 Coaxial digital inputs 7 AN inputs (S-Video inputs and outputs) Video signal up/down conversion YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer) Zones 2 and 3 6 or 8 channel external decoder for future formats 17 1/8"W x 6 3/4"H x 17 1/16"D Weight: 34.2 lbs. Warranty: two years MSRP: $799