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.
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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About Home Cinema Guide
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.