as I get more hands-on time with the CX-A5000 I have been trying to get an understanding of some of the Yamaha technologies for which the operating manual's description is wholly inadequate or requires further research. This is my first time with Yamaha technology so I am going to start by putting my explanation/definition for some of these technologies here unless someone can point me to a FAQ.
Analog multi-channel inputs: As there is no multi-channel only setting in the CX-A5000 for applying a boost to the LFE/subwoofer channel to account for the -10dB (large speaker setting) or -15dB (small speaker setting) when using the analog RCA inputs the user must do this themselves. The subwoofer level setting allows the user to adjust to a maximum of +10dB which would mean that it would be okay to have that level stored with that input mode only. This assumes that all other speaker trims are set at 0dB which wouldn't be the case if YPAO is ran and/or manual channel levels are set. This is okay for the signal being fed in from an external device where all the bass management is being done using the large speaker settings. If, however, you have your external device (e.g. an Oppo Blu-ray player) setup with small speakers then you need to account for another 5dB somewhere else. This can be done in a couple of different way: 1) add a boost of 5dB to the Oppo's subwoofer channel or 2) decrease the other channels by 5dB. Please note that I haven't tried this yet but I believe it would work fine with a Scene or with a Setting Pattern where you can store the levels and then switch between them for when you are using analog multi-channel (i.e. 5.1 or 7.1 inputs from DVD/SACD/Blu-ray/external players).
Caveat emptor: look closely at whether or not you truly believe that the external player's DACs and its bass management is superior to that of the Yamaha before thinking that this is a good thing to do. For example, the Oppo BDP-105, which I own and love, has better DACs (not by much) than the CX-A5000 BUT is has inferior bass management in terms of the crossover slope. The Oppo's crossover slope is only 12dB/octave for the Low Pass Filter (LPF) (THX recommendation is 24dB/octave) which means it is down 3dB at 80Hz vice 6dB. As well the Oppo only permits the crossover settings to be at 20Hz intervals below 80Hz (i.e. 40, 60 or 80Hz) and then 10Hz between 80-120Hz (i.e. 90, 100, 110, 120Hz). The Yamaha has a 24dB/octave LPF.
- Straight playback: this is similar to direct playback on other AVRs and preamps/processors. Bass management and equalization settings are still in place however no DSP options are available. I.e. you can't use Straight mode with the Roxy Theatre DSP.
- Adaptive DRC (Dynamic Range Control): this is the equivalent to Dolby Volume or Audyssey Dynamic EQ. It is a feature to improve the sound at lower volume levels when our ears lose sensitivity. Good for maintaining a nice balanced sound at night or with headphone listening.
- Adaptive DSP (Digital Sound Field Processing in this instance): this is the same feature as Adaptive DRC but it is for use when using one of the Yamaha's DSP options, e.g. Cinema DSP.
- Dynamic Range (not to be confused with Adaptive DRC above): this applies to Bitstream signals only in either Dolby Digital or DTS or TrueHD formats. If you want this to be untouched then leave it at the default Maximum. If you want it to have some type of dynamic range processing "for regular home use", whatever that means, then set it to Standard. If you want to use the embedded metadata within the DTS or TrueHD signals then set it to Minimum/Auto. H/W a good breakdown of this from the Dolby - All About Audio Metadata
document. Page 3 explains Dynamic Range Control technology.
Dynamic range control
Dynamic range control (sometimes referred to as dynamic range compression or midnight mode) gives the consumer the flexibility to listen to program audio with a reduced dynamic range. Compression of the dynamic range lets viewers watch television without disturbing the neighbors. This control is optional and can be turned off in most Dolby Digital decoders.
Dynamic range control within the Dolby Digital data stream consists of two parameters or “profiles”: RF Mode and Line Mode. These two parameters do not change the content of the encoded audio within the bitstream. They are used to adjust the extremes of the program material within the listening environment to account for those instances where it is preferable or necessary to listen to the program at a reduced dynamic range.
RF Mode is designed for peak limiting situations where the decoded program is intended for delivery through an RF input on a television, such as through the antenna output of a set-top box. The RF Mode Profile is also used for the common “midnight mode” feature on consumer decoders, which provides dynamic range compression to ensure that an action movie won’t wake up the neighbors.
Line Mode provides a lighter type of compression, and also allows user adjustment of the low-level boost and high-level cut parameters within a home decoder. This adjustment or “scaling” of the boost and cut areas allows the consumer to customize the audio reproduction for their specific listening environment.
At lower volumes, the softer portions of a program (whispers and soft-spoken dialogue) are more difficult to hear. If the viewer increases the volume, however, the louder portions (explosions, onscreen arguments, unshots, etc.) become too loud for comfortable listening. Alternatively, in an environment with a high level of background noise, quieter portions of the program will be drowned out by the ambient noise.
When dynamic range profiles are asserted within the decoder, the decoder raises the level if the softer portions of the program while lowering the level of the louder portions, allowing the user to enjoy the movie without having to continually reach for the volume control. Once again, this ability to scale the amount of compression only applies to the Line Mode Profile and is dependent on the feature set available in the consumer’s home decoder.
Because of the relationship between dialogue level and dynamic range control, it is necessary to select the appropriate dialnorm value prior to previewing dynamic range profiles. As the amount of dynamic range compression will be ultimately selected by the consumer for their own specific listening needs, it is important to preview the source mix through each preset before selecting one to include in the metadata stream.
- DAC Digital Filter: this is a neat feature that the top-of-the-line ESS DACs have in that the user can configure the roll-off of the DAC's digital filter. I tried to get the technical documents to examine them in detail but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. I did, however, find a nice SoundStage! Hi-Fi review of the Resonessence Labs Invicta DAC
which provides some subjective analysis of two of the filter types using the ES9018 DAC (the Yamaha has dual ES9016 DACs per channel with similar features). Please note that Yamaha refers to them as Sharp Roll-off and Slow Roll-off which would equate to Fast and Slow in the review.
The Invicta’s two digital reconstruction filters -- switchable with a single button push on the remote -- offered markedly different sounds. Miles Davis’s Harmon-muted trumpet in the title track of his ’Round About Midnight (CD, Columbia CK 40610) had more bite with the Fast-rolloff filter setting, and was a bit darker, with more of the fundamental pitch of each note, when set to Slow rolloff. Similarly, I heard a bit more body in the tone of Itzhak Perlman’s violin -- on his live performance of sonatas by Beethoven and Franck, with pianist Martha Argerich, from the Saratoga Music Festival (CD, EMI 5 56815 2) -- when I selected Slow, and a little more emphasis on the strings with the filter set to Fast. Since these filters should affect frequencies only near the top of the passband, I was curious whether I would hear any difference with high-resolution recordings. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s Ella and Louis (24/96 FLAC, Verve/HDtracks) has only very little frequency content above 20kHz, so I didn’t expect a Fast or Slow rolloff to make any difference in the timbre of Armstrong’s trumpet. But not only did his instrument gain a little weight, his voice was also a shade deeper with Slow. The slightly deeper, darker sound of the Slow filter setting was consistent in both direction and degree across all of the music I played through the Invicta.
I was surprised to find that filter selection also changed the character of the bass. The Fast filter was a little drier, tighter, and leaner, while Slow was broader, with seemingly greater extension. Ray Brown’s double bass on the Oscar Peterson Trio’s Night Train (24/96 FLAC, Verve/HDtracks) had a more articulated attack with the Fast setting, and seemed a little larger with Slow. The kick drum in “Run like Hell,” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall (CD, EMI 8 81243 2), exhibited a bit more punch with Fast, and more weight with Slow. With jazz and rock, either filter resulted in perfectly acceptable sound; I didn’t have a strong preference. With orchestral music, on the other hand, I appreciated the grander sound the Slow filter gave to timpani -- as in the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5 under the baton of Osmo Vänskä (24/96 FLAC, BIS/e classical). Whichever filter I selected, the bass was always tuneful and firmly in control.
As great as the Invicta sounded with high-quality recordings, it still made less-than-stellar recordings sound good. The Slow filter removed some of the sheen from overly hot modern rock, such as David Gilmour’s On an Island (CD, Columbia 80280), and the harsh grating from bad digital transfers of analog recordings -- such as Sade’s Diamond Life (CD, Epic EK 85240). It also reduced the stridency of the brass and violins in some older orchestral recordings. Here, I’m not talking about the rolloff of some soft-dome tweeters or the warmth characteristic of a single-ended tube amplifier. The effect of the Invicta’s Slow filter was much more subtle. Instrumental and vocal timbres were entirely believable, but the sound was more relaxed than that of many other high-end DACs.
The Invicta’s Slow rolloff filter took a step back, smoothing out the rough edges present on a great many recordings. Even the wider-bandwidth Fast filter managed to avoid the edginess that many listeners have come to accept as “digital sound” over the past several decades. But my descriptors smooth and relaxed shouldn’t be taken to mean sloppy or imprecise. The Invicta’s sound was anything but. Notes started and stopped in perfect time, and transients were quick and clean.
The Invicta’s precision was best exemplified in its presentation of spatial information. Both filters produced tightly focused images -- instruments and singers were placed precisely and unwaveringly from left to right across the soundstage with the Fast filter, those images beginning just behind the speaker plane but varying only moderately in depth. With Slow, the front of the soundstage was only slightly farther back than with Fast, but the depth was greatly expanded -- I could more easily discriminate each sound source’s position from front to back. The reverberant field around each instrument was better defined, and with recordings made in natural environments, those reverberant fields blended seamlessly into each other to create a coherent whole.
For example, on Bucky Pizzarelli’s Swing Live (24/96 FLAC, Chesky/HDtracks), the space between and just to the sides of my speakers was transformed into the slightly dry acoustic of a small jazz club. In this setting, the distance between performers isn’t huge, but I still heard the vibraphone upfront and left, the guitar on the right, the clarinet centered and slightly farther back, and the drums and bass behind all three. The Norwegian Armed Forces Staff Band required a much larger concert hall for their recording of Eugène Bozza’s Children’s Overture (24/176.4 FLAC, 2L/SoundStageRecordings.com), and the Invicta made the difference obvious. The trumpets were far back, and the sound of the French horns reverberated off walls that were still farther off, yet clearly defined.
the other option in the DAC Digital Filter setting is the default, Short Latency Type. I haven't yet tried anything but the default but I intend to when I get a chance. Interesting that the reviewer found such notable differences.
I am still incredibly impressed by the sound quality from this device and its operation. Well done Yamaha.
Hope this helps.
TonyEdited by TKO1 - 10/16/13 at 1:51pm