Yamaha RX-V2200 A/V Receiver Page 2

"Lindenkirche Berlin." Short of the multi-thousand-dollar high-enders, I haven't found a receiver yet that can reconcile this cut's remarkable diversity of sounds. With less-complex material, the RX-V2200 was expectedly more successful, offering a warm, airy sound with Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Tin Pan Alley" and a clear sense of dynamics and punch with Pink Floyd's "The Happiest Days of Our Lives." Despite the soundstage's limitations, I never got the sense that power would be a concern. The RX-V2200's 100-wpc rating won't leap out at you from the spec sheet, but it supplies all the juice you'll need to play two-channel material as loud as you can stand without running out of steam.

Next up was a diverse collection of SACD material, including Miles Davis, Jerry Goldsmith, Oscar Peterson, and Tchaikovsky. With SACD material, I focused more on the RX-V2200 as an amplifier, given that it only had to pass these signals through without processing, bass management, etc.—which it did without a hitch. With all channels driven at a more-than-healthy volume, there were times when I could hear the receiver sweating a bit, but it didn't run out of gas and noticeably, consistently compress until I pushed it well beyond the bounds of sane listening levels. Obviously, you'll want to use relatively efficient speakers, as you always should with a receiver. Like its peers, the RX-V2200 can handle lower impedances and sensitivities—it even has a switch on the rear panel to adjust for lower impedances. Even if a receiver can handle them, though, I haven't found one yet that likes inefficient speakers. Overall, the SACD material was impressive. The stage opened up nicely, and the RX-V2200 did a good job of getting out of the way and letting the music speak for itself—as a quality preamp usually does.

The bread and butter of a lower-priced receiver is its soundtrack performance, and the RX-V2200 was up to speed with the best of its class here. Again, don't expect to drive a giant room and 87-decibel-sensitive/4-ohm speakers without some issues, but those of you who are more logical about a receiver's capabilities will find that the RX-V2200 delivers an excellent sense of presence and engagement with soundtrack material in realistic rooms with realistic speakers. The Phantom Menace gave me a good ride in both Dolby Digital and Dolby EX. With EX, I normally split the rear signal between two speakers, but, with this receiver, I stuck with the single speaker and found that this approach has virtues of its own. It obviously didn't provide quite the spread that two speakers would, but there were times, such as with the circling spy droid of chapter 19, when I felt that the image's overall cohesiveness as it traveled around the back of the room was tighter, a hair quicker, and slightly more controlled. The RX-V2200 did nice work with O Brother, Where Art Thou?, as well—handling the knee-slapping, old-timey music with as much enthusiasm as it did the gunshots, explosions, and other more-raucous soundtrack elements.

The RX-V2200's peripherals are solid. The remote is comprehensive and relatively well laid out, although it does suffer from some small-buttonitis and uniformity of button shapes. There's also no backlighting, which is more excusable with a receiver than it is with a DVD player or a TV but still would have been a smart inclusion. Naturally, the remote will learn a variety of control codes for other gear, but it also offers several macro functions and other little tricks that differentiate it somewhat from the crowd. The manual is relatively complete and straightforward, and it will prove itself to be invaluable as you work your way through what may be a more-complex onscreen menu system than you're used to from a receiver.

Aesthetics are straightforward, as well: The RX-V2200 is a black box, but not an unattractive one. The faceplate is nicely mellow, and the LEDs are easy to read. The unit measures 6.75 inches high by 17.2 wide by 17 deep, with a weight of 33 pounds.

When it comes to buying a receiver in the $1,000 price range, there's good news and bad news. The good news is, there are a lot of options. The bad news is, there are a lot of options. Ultimately, more options is overwhelmingly a good thing, but more options require a lot more effort, as well. The worst thing you can do is buy one of the first receivers you hear. Put your time in, and give a shot to as many units as you can, including the RX-V2200. It's an all-around-solid unit with a nice features list, quality musical performance, and soundtrack performance that's among the best in its class. I can't tell you that it's the right receiver for you, but I can tell you that, once you're ready for the deeper end of the pool, the RX-V2200 should be on your list.

• Solid all-around performance
• 5.1-channel inputs for use with SACD/DVD-Audio
• Offers a full range of processing modes

RX-V2200 A/V Receiver
Dealer Locator Code YAM
(800) 4-YAMAHA