Audio Gear: Yamaha Home Theater Receiver

Since August the wife and I have been engaged in a 100% top-down remodel while we live amongst the chaos. Tearing the family room down to studs enabled me to install a 7.1 surround sound system, with in-wall speakers and cabinets furnished by Polk Audio. The fronts are Polk LSi7 series speakers, coupled with the biggest, baddest subwoofer Polk offers, the PSW505. Well,'s the biggest and baddest for my price range, their PSW1000 being beyond my reach. (I did have to buy other gear, ya know!)

The star of the show, though, is the new Yamaha RX-V2700 A/V receiver with power to spare, full network capability built-in, and a USB port on its front panel. Slip in any flash drive or flash player loaded with MP3s (or WAVs, what-have-you), and the Yamaha plays them back in series or at random. Attach a large capacity external USB hard drive holding your entire collection, the drive formatted as FAT32, and you never have to fumble with another CD, cassette, or LP ever again! And just for you iPodders, Yamaha sells a compatible docking station.

The Rx-V2700 includes technology to enhance MP3s, "filling in" those lost bits heard in the original format of your songs. Couple that with 7.1 enhanced stereo (the thing is magic, I tell you) and you won't believe just how fantastic your MP3 collection sounds!

Even cooler is how, via DHCP, the Yamaha so easily found its home on my network and discovered the cable Internet connection. (No chocolate mess!) Using the adjacent TV as its display (HDMI), it's a pretty simple matter to navigate 'net radio stations located all over the world and of just about any genre. I was initially concerned that my favorites, Radio Paradise (RP) and KXJZ, would go missing but—lo' and behold—they're listed among the hundreds of choices. Even the wife got excited when I sampled a highly-listenable Christian channel this past Sunday, and she clearly enjoyed hearing The Mavericks (!) on RP tonight (that's just how eclectic RP can be).

The feature I haven't been able to test is the unit's ability to interface with my homebuilt, 1TB RAID5 media server where my MP3 collection resides. This is because the RX-V2700 doesn't support UPnP at this time (c'mon, Yamaha!), instead relying on Windows Media Connect to stream audio from my server. And, of course, the latter requires Windows XP to which I haven't yet migrated my big box. (The unopened OS package is somewhere out in the garage, a.k.a., storage central).

Now, if I could just get the Yamaha and the HP DLP TV to directly interface with J River's Media Center 12...