February 16, 2009
When Yamaha announced a new RX-Z receiver was coming, I was a bit perplexed that they were planning on replacing their current Z-11 flagship halfway into its four year production run. To my surprise this was not the case. Instead, Yamaha was introducing a second model in their RX-Z line known as the RX-Z7. While it could be considered a scaled down sibling to the RX-Z11, I actually found that not to be the case in some key areas of performance. At nearly 30 lbs lighter, half the retail price of its big brother, could the RX-Z7 live up to Z name traditionally donned by the Yamaha flagship model?
The common question I was seeing on the forums well before I received my sample of the RX-Z7 for review was “how does the Z7 compare to the Z11 and RX-V3900?”
Although the power ratings look the same on paper, how these receivers actually deliver the power is another story. Due to the enormous power supply of the RX-Z11, it really shows its brute when driving 4 ohm loads. While the RX-V3900 and RX-Z7 seem similar in size and ratings, the RX-Z7 is 2.2 lbs heavier and slightly bigger. Yamaha has been known in the past to offer slightly bigger power supplies on the more expensive of the two models with similar ratings. Make no mistake, this is the case here as well and although a modest difference, the RX-Z7 has more juice available under the hood than the less expensive RX-V3900. This can translate to improved fidelity depending on your listening habits and the type of speakers you are running.
Unlike other Yamaha flagships, this is their first Z series receiver to be manufactured at their Malaysian facility. Had it not been for the markings on the back panel that indicated this, I would have never known. The chassis seems rigid, partly thanks to the horizontal support beam underneath the hood which took me 22 screws to get to.
Inside, the RX-Z7 sports many of the attributes that defines their Z heritage, big meaty power supplies (large E-core and 2 x 18,000uF 71V capacitors), a big finned and tapered heatsink towards the front of the receiver to house all of the power devices. Past Z receivers have two rows of heatsinks but they were also rated at higher power and had additional amplifiers for presence channels. Although very compact, the layout of this receiver is clean and methodical, something I’ve grown accustomed to with Yamaha.
Click here to read the complete review at Audioholics.com.