Yamaha's new receivers, including an 11.2-channel monster

Yamaha announces three new AV receivers--the RX-V1800, RX-V3800, and RX-Z11--and CNET breaks down the differences between the models.

All those speaker binding posts are needed to accommodate the RX-Z11's 11.2-channel output.
All those speaker binding posts are needed to accommodate the RX-Z11's 11.2-channel output. Yamaha

A few days ago, Yamaha announced three new AV receivers: the RX-V1800, the RX-V3800, and the flagship RX-Z11--which is an 11.2-channel receiver. We'll get into the details on each of the new models, but overall they share many of the same new features we've been seeing on models from Onkyo, Denon, and Sony, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support, several HDMI 1.3a ports, and extensive video upconversion options. Both the RX-V3800 and the RX-Z11 also feature a graphical user interface (GUI), following the trend started by Sony with the STR-DA5200ES and now followed by Denon.

Yamaha RX-V1800 ($1,300)

Yamaha RX-V1800
Yamaha RX-V1800 Yamaha

The RX-V1800 is the least expensive of Yamaha's high-end receivers. It boasts many of the features you want to see in this price range, including four HDMI inputs, onboard Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and multiroom functionality. It compares favorably with Denon's AVR-3808CI, which offers a similar feature set for $1,600. Sony's excellent STR-DA5300ES ups the ante to six HDMI inputs, but costs $1,700.

Key features

  • 7.1 receiver, 130 watts per channel
  • 4 HDMI 1.3a inputs, with HDMI upconversion
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • XM-ready
  • Multiroom functionality for three zones

Yamaha RX-V3800 ($1,700)

The rear panel of the RX-V3800
The rear panel of the RX-V3800 Yamaha

The RX-V3800 offers a few step-ups over the RX-V1800, with the most notable upgrade being an Ethernet port, which enables playback of MP3, WMA, and WAV files from up to four networked PCs. The RX-V3800 also features a graphical user interface, which should make it easier to find your digital audio files, as well as accomplish tasks like input naming. Sony's STR-DA5300ES offers both an impressive GUI and six HDMI inputs, but it lacks any network audio capabilities. Denon's AVR-3808CI has both a GUI and network audio features and is $100 less. The Onkyo TX-SR875 is also a competitor at this price range, offering a similar feature set plus HQV video-processing, which should deliver excellent image quality on upconverted analog sources.

Key features

  • 7.1 receiver, 140 watts per channel
  • 4 HDMI 1.3a inputs, with HDMI upconversion
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Graphical user interface
  • Ethernet jack with the ability to play MP3, WMA, and WAV files from up to four PCs, plus Internet radio
  • XM-ready
  • Multiroom functionality for three zones

Yamaha RX-Z11 ($5,500, November 2007)

Yamaha RX-Z11
Yamaha RX-Z11 Yamaha

The RX-Z11 is Yamaha's flagship receiver and is an 11.2-channel receiver. The logical question with an 11.2-channel receiver is, of course, is there any 11.2-channel audio to play? Not that we're aware of, but the RX-Z11 is designed mainly to matrix existing 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks into 11.2-channel soundtracks. What that means is that the RX-Z11 has built-in sound processing that is able to mix existing soundtracks to play over 11 speakers and two subwoofers, similar to what Dolby Pro Logic processing does to play stereo audio over 5.1 systems. To be clear, there are not 11 discrete channels.

The RX-Z11 also offers several other upgrades, such five HDMI inputs and two outputs--the dual outputs could be useful for home theaters that have both a projector and a standard HDTV in the same room. There are also two USB ports capable of reading USB mass storage devices, including hard drives up to 2 terabytes. The RX-Z11 also includes a built-in HD radio tuner, and multiroom support for four zones (if you opt to scale down to a 7.1 setup and use some of the speaker outputs for multiroom instead.) In the ultra high-end tier, Denon offers the AVR-5308CI ($5,200), which has built-in HQV Realta processing and is one of the few receivers capable of upscaling video signals received via the HDMI inputs.

Key features

  • 11.2 channel receiver, 140 watts per channel for 7 channels, 50 watts per channel for additional 4 channels
  • 5 HDMI 1.3a inputs, with HDMI upconversion; 2 HDMI outputs
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Ethernet jack with the ability to play MP3, WMA, and WAV files from up to four PCs, plus Internet radio
  • 2 USB ports capable of reading USB Mass storage devices, including FAT32-formatted hard drives up to 2 terabytes
  • XM-ready
  • HD radio tuner
  • Multiroom functionality for four zones, with component video output for the second zone.
 

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