Archive for category AV Receivers
The CX-A5200 is another great example of Yamaha’s multichannel expertise. The AI embellishment feels less like a gimmick and more of a genuine feature that can enhance your enjoyment of surround soundtracks. I’m not so enamoured of all the DSP settings, which do feel like a gimmick to me, but I know they have their fans.
If you already own the CX-A5100, Surround:AI might not be a compelling reason to upgrade; the predecessor is still a cracking processor. But if you’re thinking of going the separates route and building a multichannel system, the CX-A5200 is a serious contender. It looks great and sounds even better, has a host of features and the build quality of a Rolls Royce, and a price that is highly competitive. Best of all, it can make your surround sound smarter…
“The 13-channel decoding in the AVR-X8500H can be configured in either 9.1.4 or 7.1.6 layouts. The 9.1.4 option returns use of Front Wide speakers, which Denon had stopped supporting for a couple years to some owners’ dismay. Be advised that, in Dolby Atmos, only sounds specifically encoded as objects will pass through the Front Wide channels, and the Dolby Surround Upmixer ignores them altogether. DTS:X and the DTS Neural:X up-mixer may put those speakers to more use.
If Front Wides are not of interest to you, the two additional channels can be used for height speakers instead. Previous mass-market receivers were limited to four height channels of sound, the most typical arrangement for which was Top Front and Top Rear designations. In most rooms, that should be enough to provide strong height effects with separation and directionality. When an airplane or helicopter is supposed to fly overhead, you can hear it move from the front to the back of the room or vice versa. On the other hand, four channels may not be enough for particularly large rooms or those with challenging physical limitations. My own home theater has a low ceiling which, when combined with the distance between Top Front and Top Rear speakers, left me with an auditory hole above my head. Adding two more speakers in Top Middle positions helps to anchor sounds where they did not image adequately before.
“To demo the receiver’s audio performance, I played back a wide variety of Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS:X, DTS-HD MA, and PCM content, including several Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and streaming titles from various sources like VUDU, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix. For the majority of my testing, I opted to keep the device in its “Direct” listening mode, which minimizes processing while still engaging the unit’s MCACC speaker calibration.
In general, I typically find that most home theater receivers offer very similar sound when compared to one another using the same speakers. With that in mind, I was actually a bit surprised to notice a warmer tonal quality through the VSX-933 compared to my Onkyo TX-NR555 after swapping the units out.
This distinction in sound mostly applied to playback using each receiver’s auto calibration EQ, but even in their pure modes, there seemed to be slightly more emphasis on the lower mid-range through the Pioneer. While mostly pleasing, this warmer profile also resulted in a comparatively boomy quality in dialogue and bass response at times versus the Onkyo’s brighter yet crisper output. In the end, which approach is superior mostly comes down to a matter of personal preference, and after finishing my evaluation of the VSX-933, I actually found that the Onkyo sounded a little too thin when I swapped it back in. ”