Andrew Robinson began his career as an art director in entertainment advertising in 2003, after graduating from Art Center College of Design. In 2006, he became a creative director at Crew Creative Advertising, and oversaw the agency's Television Division, where he worked for clients such as TNT, TBS, History, FX, and Bravo to name a few. He now has one of the most popular AV-related channels on YouTube.
Early last year, I reviewed my first-ever Yamaha receiver for AVRev.com. Truth be told, I wasn't expecting much, for I've always viewed Yamaha as somewhat cheap. I couldn't have been more wrong. My review of the now-discontinued Yamaha V861 was a revelation, not only for me but for consumers in the sub-$1,000 price bracket. I was so smitten that I purchased the V861 for my own use and utilize it to this very day. Wanting to step up in the Yamaha receiver line, I chose the RX-V1900, reviewed here, for a multitude of reasons, one being its price, $1,400 retail. I've been looking long and hard at receivers in and around the $2,000 price point as of late. While the RX-V1900 is nowhere near the $2,000 mark, I consider it a contender.
The RX-V1900 is more attractive than the V861 ever hoped to be. It looks more like Pioneer's Elite offerings than a traditional Yamaha receiver and this is a good thing. The façade is clean, elegant and the manual interface is much easier to use day to day than of past Yamaha receivers. The numerous logos and third-party peripherals, whose logos adorn the trapdoor, let you know this baby's loaded with goodies.
For starters, the RX-V1900 features four HDMI 1.3a inputs mated to a single HDMI monitor out. The RX-V1900 can upsample all signals to 1080p, whether analog or digital, and pass them through the single HDMI monitor out. It supports deep color and 120Hz/24Hz refresh rates, which is important, given the number of 120Hz displays that are coming out these days. The RX-V1900 has video processing by way of Anchor Bay and their VRS chipset, which is far superior (in my opinion) to Faroudja's DCDi chips. There are numerous legacy connection options, all of which can be upscaled, though with four HDMI inputs on tap, you should be good for the time being. The RX-V1900 is satellite- and Internet radio-ready and even has Bluetooth compatibility.
The RX-V1900 boasts 130 watts across all seven of its channels and features Yamaha's own Digital ToP-ART high-current amplification. Surround sound processing, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, comes standard, as do the numerous and often helpful proprietary DSPs from Yamaha. One DSP worth noting is Yamaha's Compressed Music Enhancer, which is designed to boost the perceived quality of low bit-rate MP3s like the ones found on iTunes. Speaking of iPods, the RX-V1900 lets you browse your iPod contents on its front panel display via an optional iPod dock from Yamaha. Getting back to overall surround sound performance, the RX-V1900 has Yamaha's version of auto room EQ, called YPAO. YPAO works much in the same way as the competition in theory, but my listening test showed it to be far more thorough and less apt to suck all the bass from your room.
Competition and Comparison
Compare the Yamaha RX-V1900 against its competition by reading our reviews for the Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver and the Sony STR-DA3300ES receiver. A great deal of information can be found by visiting our All Things AV Receiver section, as well as out Yamaha brand page.
• Yamaha's signature sound has always been a bit livelier and in your face, compared to say Onkyo, Denon or Marantz, which is the case with the RX-V1900. While it can be tamed with DSP or manual EQ adjustments, I personally like it and find it more involving and dynamic, especially with uncompressed audio codecs, which is where the RX-V1900 truly shines.
• The RX-V1900 has surround sound performance that rivals separates with enough quality power on tap to power large speakers to concert levels. The RX-V1900's overall soundstage and spatial separation is to die for, giving you one of the best multi-channel receivers in the game today, regardless of price.
• The RX-V1900's do-it-all video upconversion/processing is nice, given that so many other manufacturers proclaim their products to be all-powerful, only to stumble in the fine print. This is a HD-content lover's dream receiver.
• Clean, sophisticated good looks with easy to use daily controls (once setup) make this a long-term lover, rather than an upgrade junky fling.
• The RX-V1900 YPAO auto EQ is far superior-sounding to anything you'll get from Audyssey.
• Normally I despise tricky DSPs like "Hall" or "Rock Concert," though with the RX-V1900, they all sort of work. The Compressed Music Enhancer is a sheer work of genius.
• Yamaha still can't streamline their set-up procedures and onscreen menus and the RX-V1900's system is no different.
• The remote is okay but a bit cheap and mismanaged. I would recommend a third-party universal for long-term use with the RX-V1900. The smaller second remote is for those who truly are set-and-forget-type personalities.
• All of these receivers, whether the RX-V1900 or its competition, speak about iPod connectivity and interface, yet don't include the dock to make it so. Stop it. Put it in the damn box. How much can it cost? 15 cents.
The $2,000 club of receivers is as hot as ever, with seemingly every manufacturer offering an option or two. Some are good, others are great, but none can touch the Yamaha RX-V1900, for it plays in the category but costs much less. This is probably why it's not mentioned in the same sentences as the competition. The Yamaha's rivals view performance from a price standpoint, whereas the RX-V1900 views performance from a performance standpoint. The RX-V1900 is a beautifully conceived and implemented receiver, albeit with a few minor shortcomings, all of which can be dealt with and ultimately won't spoil day-to-day enjoyment or performance. I was blown away by the V861 over a year ago and am absolutely smitten with the RX-V1900. It's that good. I highly recommend checking it out; you may walk out of the store with some money left in your wallet and a new toy under your arm. In this economy, how can that be a bad thing?