The new Yamaha demonstrated abundant power and generous dynamic reserves for serious stereo listening when driving my moderately low-sensitivity, stand-mounted two-way fronts full-range in 2-channel “direct” mode. A track like “Walkin’ Around the ‘K’” from Compositions, by the Yoichi Murata Orchestra (an outfit I discovered on HDtracks.com’s 96/24 store), was reproduced with truly impressive dynamic integrity and transient impact. This is dense, busy music (think Tower of Power meets Return to Forever, superbly played), but the A2010’s precise, lifelike delivery allowed both the bite of horn-section “stabs” and the “bloom” of massed-brass tonality to shine brightly.
The crisp, superbly recorded Murata session also proved the ideal fodder for Yamaha’s Music DSP to strut its stuff. Even just cycling through the Live Club programs (five in all) was enough to reveal how good Yamaha’s surround-synthesis skills have become with 20 years of refinement.
With a couple of minor parameter tweaks, I found nearly all of the Live Club and Classical rosters convincing, musical, and thoroughly forgettable in the best sense of the word: As you descend into the music’s seamless, naturalistic ambience, you quickly forget they’re operating. Cinema DSP works almost as well, though it’s arrayed a bit differently, with settings named for genres rather than venues: Sci-Fi, Drama, and so on. As I’ve mentioned in previous Yamaha reviews, this works just fine, and it is impossible to deny the added impact and wow factor of a setting like Sci-Fi on a film such as Thor, whose DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is chock full of fast-moving, high-impact effects.
This new receiver from the company that makes just about everything has just about everything: three-zone A/V multiroom; broad, full-system control; iPod/ iPad/iPhone app (and direct local-network Web browser control); and a whole lot more. This makes it a complex piece of kit, but Yamaha goes to considerable pains to make it all usable.
The onscreen interface is heavily graphical, yet very easy to navigate. Just as important in my book, it’s fast: Graphics come up and down instantly, and respond with satisfying snap.
I quite like the big, well-laid-out remote controller that’s supplied with the A2010. It makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel, following generally familiar handset arrangement and patterns of operations, but its sensible layout, good graphics, and flip up door concealing secondary controls make it eminently usable. This excellent capability makes it all the more painful to report that there’s no key illumination or backlighting.
Fortunately, Yamaha’s iOS app answers that shortcoming with a highly intuitive, icon based selection of the most important functions on just three compact pages. These include direct-to-program surround-DSP selection, fast and easy zone selection, and direct input select. There’s another page for Yamaha’s Scene memory presets, and a fifth, Option page with extras like tone controls, video-processing adjustments, and dynamic range enabling. Unfortunately, the app’s functionality does not extend to the direct-access channel-level trim keys located under the handset’s flip-up door for on-the-fly channel-level tweaks, one of my personal must-haves.
The A2010’s video processing is performed by an IDT HQV DSP engine, the same as in the earlier A3000, and the results are identical, too: excellent. I found no visible artifacts with analog or digital signals. The system is also highly flexible, upscaling analog-to analog, analog-to-HDMI, and even HDMI-to-HDMI. It even downscales HDMI-to-HDMI.
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