Yamaha RX-V3000 Receiver 
Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers
Written by Tim Hart   
Wednesday, 01 August 2001

It wasn’t long ago that the advent of Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES in movie theaters gave us hardcore movie buffs another reason to make the pilgrimage to the local cineplex to hear the best in movie sound reproduction. These new audio formats for movie soundtracks improved the realism of the sounds that went along with the action, drawing us ever deeper into the sensory experience and adding another dimension that took the moviegoing audience to the next level. For those who want the ability to enjoy this experience in their own homes, it is possible to create that environment and not break the bank with Yamaha’s happening $1,999.00 RX-V3000 AV receiver.

The RX-V3000 is an eight-channel receiver that has so many features, it may be easier to say what it doesn’t have than what it does. Although at first glance, the RX-V3000 looks fairly simple, that is a deception. It is second down from the top of the line RX-V1 (see Brian Kahn’s review), and offers many of the same technologies at a lower price. The RX-V3000 has a simple yet elegant look that belies its abilities as a state of the art A/V receiver. The eight channels of the RV-X3000 include left and right mains, center, left and right rears (surround), left and right front effects and a rear center. Six of these channels run at 100 watts, and the two effects channels supply 25 watts. 6.1 uses the sixth channel for Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES.

With Dolby Digital, Matrix Dolby Surround EX, DTS and Matrix DTS-ES, there’s not much left out of this system, other than perhaps the newest martixed surround format, Dolby Pro Logic II. Yamaha does offer proprietary CINEMA-DSP and Digital Soundfield Processing modes and you’ll experience some pretty realistic-sounding playback for non-discrete surround sources like DSS, VHS and more. You also have the ability to change some the DSP parameters to better suit your room, so in the hands of a capable installer, your room can be all it can be.

The back panel of the RX-V3000 is well populated, with connections for six video and four audio source components. The video source inputs include component video and an AC-3 RF input which eliminates the need for an outboard demodulator for Laserdisc owners. The RX-V3000 has a phono input, which you don’t see very often. And to give you a secure feeling about upgrade ability, you’ll have at your disposal a six-channel input for future flexibility, plus second zone outputs, a RS232 jack, and remote in and out for external remote emitters and receivers.

The RV-X3000 remote utilizes on-screen menus for set-up, freeing up the remote face for all of the functions the RX-V3000 gives you. The buttons were a bit small for my taste, but they were laid out in a fairly logical manner once I became familiar with the operation of the unit. There is a small display that tells you what source is in current use. A button on the side of the remote lights up this display, along with the function keys that will operate the source that is displayed. Unfortunately, that is the only portion of the remote that does light up. You’ll have to turn the lights on to find out which button changes the DSP settings.

Along the top of the remote are the functions that allow you to program macros for your personal system automation. Using the pre-programmed manufacturer’s codes to run other components was simple and straightforward, as was teaching the remote how to use components not listed. The manual is well written and made it easy to successfully program all of the features I wanted to use.

When setting up the speaker configuration and levels, the onscreen menus guide you through each channel to ensure the proper speaker setting. Then you can use the test tones provided to match the low frequency of the subwoofer to the volume of the other speakers. If necessary, you can also use the center channel graphic on-screen equalizer to adjust the tone to match the main channels. I didn’t find the need for too much virtual EQ knob-turning, as the tonality of my Monitor Audio Gold Reference system matched up superbly with this Yamaha receiver. Setting up the delays for the rear speakers was described clearly in the manual. In case you can’t accommodate a completely symmetrical loudspeaker position in your room, you can make it sound pretty close to perfect with the use of the delay settings.

I started off in two-channel mode using my Audio Research CD2 and Dunlavy SCIV’s. The hookup of my AudioTruth Forest/Crystal speaker cables ended up being harder than it should be. There is not enough room for standard one-quarter-inch spade lugs to attach properly to the terminals on the RX-V3000. I had to improvise by adding banana plugs, which ultimately worked fine.

I chose to use the Processor Direct function, as it bypasses all of the tone controls and processing, so I know that the signal is as unadulterated as possible. Once that was accomplished, I popped in Geddy Lee’s solo effort, My Favorite Headache (Anthem Records). The first impression I had about the RX-V3000 is that it sounded smooth and solid. On the title track, "My Favorite Headache," the bass riffs were taut and well-defined. The soundstage was wide, with well-placed images that were a little forward without being in your face. The highs were rolled off a bit, but not at the expense of enjoying the music. Next, I listened to Flim & The BB’s’ This Is A Recording, to see how well the RX-V3000 decoded complex musical passages. "According To Anthony" has a series of sax, bass and guitar runs that I like to use to test a component’s ability to delineate the large amount of information being thrown at them. The RX-V3000 did a credible job of sorting out the interplay of the instruments and presenting them in a manner that was defined and enjoyable.

Next, I hooked up the RX-V3000 into my multi-channel system, which consists of the Toshiba SD9100 progressive scan DVD player and the Monitor Audio Gold Reference 5.1 theater sound system which includes two GR20 main loudspeakers, two GR10 rear surround loudspeakers, the Gold Reference center channel and two ASW210 subwoofers.

To get a feel for female vocals, I listened to the DTS DVD-Audio release of The Globe Sessions by Sheryl Crow (A&M – DTS Entertainment). This disc is recorded in 6.1 DTS ES extended surround format. I was not able to take complete advantage of the RX-V3000’s ability to decode this format, as this reviewer had loudspeaker deficit syndrome. I’m not sure how many people are ready to add more speakers to their system. Room and budget may exact a toll on most consumers’ ability to utilize this capability. Regardless, the RX-V3000 will decode these new formats to a sexy 5.1 format so that you get most of what is offered on DVD-Audio and special surround music CDs. Keep in mind that the recording engineers also take into consideration that very few listeners have all 6.1 speakers and therefore they tend to not mix vital musical elements into the sixth and seventh speakers. The recording puts most of the information in the front three speakers and adds ambience to the rear channels, which I prefer. The resolution is nicely detailed, warm and inviting. The instruments maintained their placement within the area of the front three speakers.

For movies, I started off with Titan A.E. (20TH Century Fox). During space battles with the Drej fighter ships, the soundtrack has the sound traveling through every speaker, actually making me turn my head to look for the source. It is very enjoyable to watch and hear how well action on the screen matched the audio cues, and vice-versa. It is also definitely a good tool to use when auditioning A/V gear.

Next, I watched The Rock, a special Criterion Collection edition (Hollywood Pictures) mastered in DTS 5.1. In the scene in which the Navy Seals are entering the shower room on Alcatraz in hopes of surprising the terrorists, the gun battle that ensues makes it feel like you are in the middle of the fight. Bullets are ricocheting all around you and shell casings are hitting the floor with a dynamic metal clang as they bounce on the tiles. The RV-X3000 decoded this detail with surprising agility.

The Downside
My biggest issue is with the remote. The source display is small and backlit in orange. There is not enough contrast in colors to easily read what source you would want to select. Also, there is no back lighting to all of the keys. You’ll have to turn on the lights or learn your key function location by feel.

I wanted to see just how far to push the RX-V3000. I did find its limit. At high volume levels, the soundstage collapsed a bit and brought out some glare that wasn’t easily noticeable at lower volumes. I should add that I had it at volumes that the neighbors could hear almost as well as I could.

Another small but annoying omission is the lack of coaxial digital inputs for each source. There are only two provided. You can assign which source you want to utilize for the available connection, but there are some folks, myself included, who prefer digital coaxial connections for all of their source components.

Yamaha’s RV-X3000 has the ability to offer anyone who wants state-of-the-art A/V processing power in their home, and at a good price. Although you could get better sound with separates, you can not get all of the technology that the RV-X3000 has to offer anywhere near this price range. It has future-prepared itself by having Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES decoding and six-channel analog inputs for DVD-Audio discs, as well as component video inputs perfect for HDTV and progressive video sources. This receiver has enough power to run all but the most difficult and hard to drive speakers. Sum that up in its entirety, and you have a powerhouse of a centerpiece for your theater.
Manufacturer Yamaha
Model RX-V3000 Receiver
Reviewer Tim Hart

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