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Yamaha RX-Z11 User Review - Theater Digital Processor Evaluation

by John Anderson
(Abingdon, MD (USA))

I have purchased almost every Yamaha Digital Processor, since their introduction of the "DSP-1". The "RX-Z11" is their latest "Flagship" Digital Processor, with 11.1 channel capability.

It is my opinion that this unit has features that are far beyond any Audio Digital Processor on the market today.

The Yamaha "RX-Z11" is their "Flagship" processor. It contains the ability to process 11.1 channels; of which, I have all of them connected.

Among the many features available, is the ability to adjust the volume for each individual speaker; however, there is only one shortcoming: I cannot get a good compromise to allow center channel dialog clarity. The unit has a "Parametric" equalizer for each channel, that I do not know how to use; and I am not even sure that it would correct the existing "Center Channel" dialog reproduction.

If each channel, or just the Center Channel had a "Paragraphic" equalizer, it would be much easier for a novice to adjust these settings to obtain a more realistic dialog experience, without interfering with the surround channel audibility.

This unit has the capability to elevate the Main Front Speaker settings, to permit the left and right "Front Presence" speakers to reproduce the Main Speaker sound (to expand the Main speaker stadium), while also maintaining the capability of the "Front Presence" sound effects.

I am extremely disappointed with the Yamaha RX-Z11 product; because, one of their best features, included in their Product Reviews, indicated that this unit would be capable of “Firmware Upgrades”. To date, only one Firmware upgrade has been made available for this product; and, Yamaha is presently introducing much lower priced product lines that have automatic “Volume Leveling” capability, and the newer Dolby "DTX-EX" processing. I feel that Yamaha could make these features available for this unit with firmware upgrades; in fact, if these upgrades would require a major effort on the part of Yamaha, I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee to have my unit upgraded, because it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to obtain an audible balance of the dialog setting, for any of their "Movie" or "Surround Decode" settings. In addition, the "THX Cinema" setting is exquisite, except for the dialog audibility; and, what good is a nearly perfect surround set-up, if one has to constantly adjust the main volume to compensate for the low volume conversations...

Their lack of support for their "Flagship" Digital Signal Processor is irresponsible; and I would recommend that future Purchasers hold off buying this unit, until firmware is introduced, that will correct the dialog reproduction on this unit!

I suspect some of the problem may be due to poor "mixing" by the various "Sound Engineers", since consumer "Multi-channel" capability is still in its elementary stages; however, if this be the case, there is virtually no reason that this issue has not been corrected, because many articles have been presented regarding clarity of the dialog on multi-channel sources.



Hi

Sorry to hear you are having a problem with the Yamaha RX-Z11 receiver. Getting the right balance across the speakers can be difficult - and the ideal settings will vary between different rooms - and different users!

A couple of thoughts:

1. Did you run the YPAO automatic room setup? - Page 46 of the manual. This will often give you a good basic balance in the room - and you can then tweak the settings manually to suit your taste.

2. Have you tried limiting the dynamic range? - page 103 of manual. This should have a similar effect to 'volume levelling'.

3. Fixing issues with EQ is not usually the best way to go - but boosting the mid frequencies of the center speaker may help - try around 4 to 7 kHz. The parametric EQ is more flexible than a 'graphic'. The 'Q' setting sets the width either side of the frequency you are targeting. You could leave it a 'Q' of 1.0, set a target frequency of around 5 kHz, and boost about +3dB (or more).

4. If the YPAO doesn't work for you, try using a SPL meter to set your levels. This is often more accurate than the built-in system. You can buy a cheap Radio Shack SPL meter here, and follow this guide to setting your speaker system with an SPL meter.

All the best.

Paul (Site Editor)

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Comments for Yamaha RX-Z11 User Review - Theater Digital Processor Evaluation

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Thanks Paul
by: John Anderson (Ringmaster)

I did use the YAPO automatic multi-position set-up; and, after much playing with the multitude of settings, I think I have found the optimum settings. In fact, when a phone rings on a broadcast station, depending on the sound, we start to look for our telephone; when someone (in the scene) knocks on a door, we get up to see of anyone is at the door; also, our "icemaker" noise when it dumps the ice also gets our attention.

I did some adjusting of the dynamic range; but, I really am not too familiar with its effect. I'll have to play with this, to get a feel as to what settings might improve the dialog. I have adjusted the Center channel, to output in conjunction with the main Left & Right channels; also, I have adjusted the main L, R and Center channels to include the Front Presence speakers. This helped improve the dialog somewhat; but, it is still not the ideal setting.

I will try your suggestions, regarding the Parametric Equalizer; I really appreciate you giving me suggested settings. Incidentally, my main hobby is restoring vinyl records, and I use the "Diamond Cut" and "WaveLab" restoration programs. The Diamond Cut software has a 30-band Graphic Equalizer that does an amazing job with Voices and various instruments (especially String & Brass sections). It also has a Parametric Equalizer that has been a little beyond my comprehension (I guess I haven't tried too hard to figure it out). I have about 10,000 LP's and 8,000 45's in my collection of all Genre.

I'll be back in touch, to let you know how I make out...

Parametric Amplifier
by: Ringmaster

Well Paul, I did a little research, and it looks like you are correct; in that a Parametric Equalizer is better than a Paragraphic Equalizer.

I have done some searching, to find out how to use a Parametric Equalizer; and, most of the information just explains what it is.

Do you know any sites, that might explain in detail how to use it? My "Diamond Cut" manual has presets; but, it doesn't show me how to use it. I would like something that "brings it down to my level", so I can figure out how to make my own settings.

Thanks

Parametric EQ
by: Paul (Site Editor)

John

I liked this guide here:

How to Use a Parametric Equalizer

- and this video on YouTube was quite good in clearly showing you what each control does - gain, Q and frequency:

Parametric EQ in digital performer

It's not really that different from a graphic eq, except you can choose which frequency to cut/boost, and how much the frequencies either side of that frequency are affected. Use a tight 'Q' to focus on one frequency - and a wider 'Q' to boost a range of frequencies in that area (a bit like how a graphic eq works).

Often the best way is to play with it and hear what it is doing.

All the best.

Paul

RX-Z11 Adjust Parametric Equalizer Settings
by: Ringmaster

Paul,

Yesterday was the first time I have had to play with my A/V Receiver (my wife went out for the day).

Under the "Manual Set-up", I got to the final set-up, that allowed me to click on 4 blocks; one of them being "Exit", and I could not figure how to reach the point that would allow me to adjust the various frequency levels. I could not find the explicit instructions in the manual covering this part of the "set-up". The way the manual jumps from one section to the other, it's possible that I am over looking something. Do you have any advice pertaining to this final set-up screen?

Also, I wonder how the Yamaha factory was affected by the Earthquake/Tsumi catastrophe....

Thanks,

EQ
by: Paul (Site Editor)

Hi

Bit difficult to tell without having the receiver in front of me.

The manual seems to cover it step by step on page 104/105. Don't you just select 'Param' and edit the band, frequency and 'q' from there?

All the best.

Paul

Update...
by: John Anderson

I still haven't been able to get my center channel to the give me the best results that I want. I am close, but not quite there yet; I have to get the Center Channel to set the Treble a little higher, and the Bass a slight bit lower; would it be possible for you to give me a slightly different setting for the Parametric Equalizer?

EQ
by: Paul (Site Editor)

John

It's hard to give general settings that will work as every room sounds different. Also, the amplifier and speakers you have will also contribute to the sound in the room.

We all have different tastes (and ears) too!

Did you ever try the SPL meter I suggested in my first reply? You might be surprised how setting the correct levels with an SPL meter can really help getting the right balance in the room.

You may not even need any EQ once you get this right.

Also, make sure your subwoofer isn't too loud. Excessive bass from your sub can often distract from the rest of the soundtrack. Try turning off the sub for a bit and if it sounds better/worse.

Hope that helps.

Paul

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