Yamaha YPAO Configuration – The Right Way

Introduction

I have been around to a friend recently who just bought the latest and greatest Avantage Receiver from Yamaha and AU$5000 worth of speakers but didn’t bother to read the manual in how to set up the receiver correctly.

Good sound is dependent just as much on doing the setup correctly, than it is on buying great gear. I was shocked and horrified to learn that after spending almost AU$10K on his setup, he didn’t bother to go through the expert setup procedure, he simply placed the mic on the couch (a big no no), measured one microphone position and off he went. Then he complained to me that the system sounded like $h1t, pardon my French! Of course it did…

However, after fixing his setup, I realised many people do the same, so it’s time for showing you how to do Yamaha YPAO – and actually most other home cinema receiver – setup correctly. Some of the advice below can be applied generally to all receivers. I will highlight Yamaha YPAO only advice here.

General Setup

Before anything else, you should go into the Manual Setup section under Speaker Setup and set the amp assignment correctly, dependent on which speaker terminals you used for which speakers and whether you used external amplification. You will need to refer to your receiver’s user manual as it does differ dependent on the the make and model of your receiver, even if we only look at Yamaha Receivers.

Microphone Placement

Firstly, auto setup should be configured as follows:

  • Multi-position: this is true even if you are only using one chair in one position to listen to the system. Although manufacturers include a single placement setup procedure, it is nearly impossible to get great sound using only one sample. They will either over-correct or under-correct for variations in frequency response. ALWAYS select multi-position measurement.
  • Angle Measurement (YPAO only): this will ensure that CinemaDSP will be configured correctly and if you have an ATMOS or DTS X enabled receiver, the height information will be used to ensure sounds are steered correctly to the different speakers. I would recommend to always select this option as well.

Ok, now with regards to Microphone placement:

  • DO NOT place the microphone on a hard surface like a table or even your couch (either on the seat or head rest) by itself. This will allow it to absorb reflections from the couch or hard surface in a way that is not natural. Unless you plan on listening to your system by putting your ear where your @$$ is or by placing your head on the coffee table and resting your foot on the couch (sounds rather uncomfortable if you ask me!), do not do this.
  • DO place the microphone on a tripod. The microphone has a grove that goes into your standard camera tripod. If you don’t have one of those, elevate the microphone by taping it to an upside down glass (the kind you drink out of). I usually use a plastic cup that has a slim bottom so it doesn’t act as a hard surface for reflections. Make sure you only tape the bottom of the mic. When I do this, I elevate the glass or cup using soft pillows to ear height, and not some other hard surface like a box or – as my friend did – a metal hollow side table.
  • DO make sure that the microphone has a “line of sight” view of all the speakers in the room if possible – at all microphone positions. The only exception to this is the subwoofer which does not need to have a line of sight view from the mic. I sometimes make some exceptions to this when it is totally unavoidable. For example, I have the back surrounds on a bookshelf which the back seats don’t have a line of sight view of. When I switch to the calibration which includes all seating positions in my home cinema, there were some mic positions at the back that did not have a line of sight view. However, all the front seats did. Not a huge deal but I don’t listen with that calibration when we only sit in the front row as it’s not ideal.

Have a look at the diagram below which you can find variations of in Yamaha documentation. The below is the correct version with number 1 position being in the centre of the couch (or chair). Some versions of this diagram were incorrectly putting number 1 on the side of the couch.

i361_070815

However, this is where it ends for me. I usually do the following, which seems to work with YPAO and other receivers as well:

  • Position 1: in the centre of the couch with microphone at ear height, away from the  headrest of the couch. Basically, this is right in the centre of where your bum will be but at ear height. The reason this needs to be in the centre is that the delay / distance measurements are taken from the first position. If you were to place this first measurement off centre, some seats would get better distance measurements while others a lot worse. We want to even this out and have every seat experience the most ideal sound the room allows.
  • Position 2: Same position as number 1 but to the seat to the right of the centre seat. On a 3-seater couch, this will be the right-most seat.
  • Position 3: same as position 1 and 2 but to the left. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t matter if you go left or right.
  • Positions 4-6: Now I repeat the same measurements I did in Positions 1 to 3 but with the microphone placed much closer to the headrest where your ears would be, but at just enough height that it clears the back of the couch by a cm but also that it is getting some of the reflections off the back of the couch. Why? Because this is the position your ears will be AND there will be reflections that will muffle the sound that originate from the headrest of the couch.
  • Positions 7 and 8: I normally do these positions just between positions 1-2 and 1-3 (just a little off-centre) but in the same elevation and distance from the back of the couch as positions 1 – 3. This is to ensure we give the receiver enough variation for the room acoustics and don’t overwhelm it with having to compensate for that particular couch.

If you were configuring one seating position, a chair or arm chair, do the above exactly but divide up the chair equally or do some positions to the left and right of the chair at ear height as well as just a bit in front and above ear height.

If you have multiple couches, I recommend, doing more positions on the couch that will be your primary listening position and doing the rest on the other couch(es) following the above principles.

Angle Measurement (YPAO only)

YPAO in higher end Yamaha receivers will allow you to do something called an angle measurement. You will have to do this in Position 1 above, but use the little boomerang that came with your receiver like the one below.

YPAO mic

The positions are marked. Position 1 on the boomerang must face towards your front speakers, while 2 and 3 towards the back. The boomerang can be fixed onto a tripod as well. I really recommend this. Otherwise the taping method works here as well.

Measure each position by following the on-screen guidance. Please note that the height position is only available on Atmos and DTS X receivers.

Manual Configuration

Cabling and Crossover

Once YPAO (or other Receiver config) has finished, check the following:

  1. Speaker cabling is normal in all positions.
  2. Check what the crossover frequency was set to on your speakers.

Even though your speakers may be able to do frequencies below 80hz, it is not recommended to go below this cross over for movies as those frequencies are hard to control even from the subwoofer alone. However, your milage may vary. If you don’t have a separate subwoofer EQ, but only using the Yamaha, you may want to leave crossovers below 80Hz or leave speakers as “large” so no crossover is applied to them. As a rule of thumb, if Yamaha configured your speakers with a high crossover, you should not lower it (e.g. from 100Hz to 80hz), you can however up the crossover frequency (e.g. from 60hz to 80hz).

The reason you should not lower crossover frequencies is because the setup routine determined that anything lower than the crossover frequency doesn’t reach the seating positions without major dips (-3dB which is 1/2 of the percieved volume) in frequency response. If you lower the crossover, you may still get an uneven response or may not hear certain frequencies at all as now the subwoofer is not playing them back either.

If the crossover set is much higher than you know the speakers can reproduce, you may want to repeat the setup routine paying attention to mic placement. If they still come up short, think about aiming the speakers with the woofers pointing at the main listening positions.

Equalisation Curve

The equaliser on Yamaha receivers can be set to the following:

  • FLAT: this is the default. You should set this if you listen to a lot of TV, not just movies or you listen below reference level (around -17 volume on Yamaha receivers, 0 volume on THX and Audyssey enabled receivers) and your room has lots of soft furnishings.
  • NATURAL: this is the old CinemaEQ curve. It tames the high end to make sure that movie soundtracks don’t sound too bright if you have a normal living room with lots of hard surfaces like floors and walls without carpet or other soft coverings. Also use this if you are listening to movies LOUD as otherwise even without hard surfaces, just being much closer to the speakers than in the cinema will elevate the high frequencies beyond what was intended. Please note that some DVDs and Blu Rays had EQ applied during mastering to lower the high frequencies for playback in the home. If a movie sounds too muffled with this, you have two options: up the treble 2dB which may work or switch to the flat curve.
  • FRONT: this leaves your front left and right speakers alone and will timbre match all the other speakers to them. Unless you like how your front speakers sound because they are some ultra-expensive supersonic beasts, do not set this. Leave this alone. This is there to please a special few who spent $50K+ on their front two speakers.
  • THROUGH: no EQ is applied. Why would you do this unless you sit inside an anaphoric chamber? Seriously! Don’t!

Other settings

  1. Adaptive DSP should be switched on. It variates the DSP strength based on volume.
  2. Adaptive DRC (Dynamic Range Control) should be switched on if you’re listening at lower volume levels (below -25). Anything above -25 I would recommend switching it off as it can introduce a harshness to certain sounds on any receiver without YPAO Volume.
  3. YPAO Volume should be switched on. I am going to do a review of it in June 2017, at which point I’ll make further recommendations and check if it needs to be switched off for reference listening (anything above -25 really).

Surround and Surround Back Speakers Volume Levels

The only major issue I see with Yamaha receivers – or most receivers that don’t have Audyssey – is that they don’t variate surround speaker volume levels dependent on volume. When listening to surround programs at lower volume levels, the surround and surround back speaker volumes might need to be increased in certain setups to maintain the same surround envelopment. I have heard different views on this but it seems to me like those that have their surround speakers at ear height seem to have less trouble with this than those who have them somewhat higher than ear height or further away than the front speakers.

I believe both Audyssey and Dolby researched this and found it to be true, however. I find the same when listening in my home cinema where the surround speakers are somewhat higher than my front speakers while my presence speakers are on a third plane altogether near the ceilings. I normally increase surround and surround back channels by 1-2 dB dependent on how loud someone is listening to the system in general. You could even design a reference setting and a low volume setting turning this and other features on and off. On Yamaha you can do this using something called “Scenes”.

Give me feedback in the comments below and let me know how you go! Happy Listening!

Author: Roland Jutai

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133 thoughts on “Yamaha YPAO Configuration – The Right Way”

  1. Hi all, it is very interesting reading here. I have just move to new flat, I´d like to make new YPAO measurment there with my Yamaha RX-A3070 receiver, but I have lost a base for YPAO micropohone. Could anybody write me size of triangular base and pole for YPOA yamaha microphone, I would like to replace it. Thank you.

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  2. Need dialog improvement – thanks for the article, excellent description ! Old ears but relatively new to the tech, something like learning a foreign language. Using Yam RX-A660 in 5.1.2 system w/Elac Debut 5.2 fronts and center. Mostly HT. Movie dialog clarity is issue with my ears. Using single pt. YPAO (with long extension for mic) and cc is set up by 3-4 dB. Any suggestions to help with dialog clarity ? Working on room in parallel. Lusting for avr upgrade to get better YPAO and pre-outs but need to understand my current system better to begin with.

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    1. Hi Jim,

      Dialog clarity can be due to a few issues. I don’t have time to go into all of these but would be worth looking into the following for you. Even just a couple of these might improve things a lot!
      1. Look into getting a dedicated centre channel speaker made for dialogue!

      2. If you are sitting right in front of a wall, some treatment on the wall. You can try placing a blanket behind you. If that helps, build a sound absorbing panel using a canvas and a decorative throw. It doesn’t have to be expensive!

      3. Centre channel positioning: the centre channel should be aiming right at the listener’s ears.

      4. Ensure there are no hard surfaces that the sound is bouncing off of like a hard floor without carpeting!

      5. Move any coffee tables out of the way!

      6. Don’t use any of the DSP modes apart from Standard or Drama.

      7. Do try the Dialog Level feature if your AVR has it. Just bump it up to 1. It’s normally on the options screen.

      I hope the above helps!

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    2. Hi, thanks for taking the time to write this article up. I picked up a used rx-a 2030 last week and didn’t realize until today that the seller didn’t have the mic setup base used for multi position and angle height measurements. I have the mic though. So I was wondering, if I cant find a replacement mic base could you suggest a workaround? Can I just mount the Mic at multiple positions to get a multi point setup filter and eq profile from the av software? Or is that little 3 position boomerang base necessary? I was also thinking I could go down to my local yamaha dealer and see if I could trace the baseckn a piece of cardboard and take measurements and make one. What do you think?

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      1. I would say it is necessary! Can you buy one online? Alternatively, I’d contact your local Yamaha dealer and see what they can do for you.

        You could try the cardboard thing but it might be a little difficult unless it’s very stiff cardboard. Might as well get one on eBay if or Yamaha directly.

        However, having said all that. For now, just reset your Yamaha to its factory settings and then simply use multi point measurement without angle /height. It will still sound awesome. 😉

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      2. I purchased a used Yamaha from eBay last year for a great deal but no accessories. I just called Yamaha directly, gave them the model number and they sent me everything I needed and it was cheaper than any prices I found on amazon or anywhere else.

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    3. Sorry if I write in several articles. I thought I wrote here. Anyways when I do multipoint my subs level is set to 0db and +1db. The bass in some frequencies are loud and rumbled. Single point sets then to -2.5 and -4.5. And is actually more pleasant to listen to. I thought the level was done during the 1 sweep and position 1 so I don’t understand the huge difference

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      1. Hi Michael,

        The sub is measured at each position and corrected for as an average!

        If single point sounds better then what you could try is measure only the primary listening position in the following way:
        1. Middle of the head at ear height
        2. Left and right where your ears would be (so 10cms left and right from position one)
        3. 10cms forward and repeat above 3 points
        4. 5cms back (if the chair back isn’t in the way)

        Experiment with placement in the primary listening position and see if things improve. Please do report back.

        The only other way would be to measure the results, copy them over to the manual slot and amend them manually but you’d need a mic and a laptop!

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      2. Thanks. I have tried many different variations now, and nothing seems to be as it should. Im thinking my only solution is to buy a mini dsp hd and a umik 1 mikrofone .Since I have dual subs using an antimode will not be optimal. I will then have to do a lot of reading to figure out rew. If I learn how to eq with the mini dsp, how do I implement that with ypao? cause I would still like ypao to eq my other speakers.

        can you make a noob as in noooob guide for understanding how to calibrate subs with mini dsp and ypao :)I am very uncertain of how to interpret the graphs in rew

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      3. I replied and it errors out.

        Can you please relocate your sub to a corner opposite your current if possible before trying anything else. Also try a non-corner position.

        I wrote a guide on how to use a mic to set the filters manually. Try that next. The miniDSP will simply give you a few more filters but likely you won’t need that.

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      4. im sorry but can’t seem to find that guide. I have found : how to eq but that’s only telling that I need a dsp , rew, and run measurements. I will get a longer subwoofer cable and try to place the other sub in the opposite back corner. Thanks

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  3. Have a question regarding YPAO manual setup. Ive run autosetup and gone back into manual setup to confirm speaker parameters for my system. I have the choice of the 3 basic PEQ filters (flat,front, natural) and through (no PEQ applied). My question is what PEQ if any is applied if you leave Parametric EQ page with “manual setup” checked off instead of one of the filters. I havent copied any of the 3 PEQ filters into the manual setup.

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    1. No EQ is applied if you haven’t copied one of the curves. HOWEVER, the data might still be fed through the DSP and downsampled so you could have resolution loss for hi-res sound data compared to through. The resolution will depend on which amp you have (whether it has YPAO 32bit or 64bit)

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  4. I have 3 recliner chairs placed next to each other. Should I place 4-6 mic on tripod behind each chair with mic height just over headrest?

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  5. I Have difficult finding out where to place mic according to your description. I have 3 recliner chairs, should mic 4-6 be behind with mic just over head rest? and should 7-8 be in front between 1-3

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    1. Hi Michael,
      Yes that is fine! See how you go!
      Also what I would say is experiment and see what sounds best in your room.
      I have done calibrations recently where all measurement positions were at ear height 30cms apart around the primary listening position. It gave better imaging but maybe less ideal for the other two seats. Cheers!

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  6. I’m really stuck now. I had it setup and it sounded ok with movies but the bass was uneven when listening to music. So I tried to move around the speakers and subs and do new measurements. Now bass is almost fine in music but in movies som frequencies are so over the top and rumble/boom very loud. I have tried to get back to where it was at first but no matter what I do or how I place the speakers the loud bass is still there. It dose t help turning sub volume down since those frequencies that are “corrupt” always will peak.

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  7. G’day Roland, great information on yamah, I bought October 2019 the last yamaha rx-a 3070 on the shelves in Australia for a $1000 dollar’s below normal sale price, upgraded from my kenwood krf-v5100d-s 5.1 system, I researched the rx-a 3070 before I bought and a lot since, so I could get the best out of it, I could of bought the rx-a 3080 but settled for 3070, wasn’t to keen on AI of 3080, I also bought a matching second hand kenwood krf-v5100d-s very cheap and in good condition, I’ve used both kenwoods in my set up with yamaha rx-a 3070 being the master for a 7.4.4 set up, this 3070 the only yamaha you can assign the atmos speakers to pre outs, (3080?), so my kenwoods having 6ch/in, I used one kenwood to power my atmos fronts/rears, the other my sides/rears, the yamaha powering centre and fronts, I set kenwoods volume right up, when I ypao, it turns db feeding to atmos, side/rears down a db or 2 depending, so the power match is really good, until I read your information, that when I started reading, I thought to myself this guy knows what he’s talking about, I had been using one position ypao and also dynamic range control set maximum, this is factory set, I was getting very bright sound and trying to contend with it by turning treble down a lot, also now with the latest firmware update, you can’t turn it off, it’s now minimum/auto, so after reading your info, last night I set DRC min/auto, redid my ypao using 6 positions, I do ypao late at night, no traffic noise or ambient, I even turn my fridge off whilst running ypao, once done, I then put on The Great Wall, I was gob smacked at the difference, so glad I found your info, prior I think my Yamaha was struggling to cope with such bright sound at the volume I listen at, struggling to up the lower frequencies to match such a bright sound, the overall sound is evenly levelled now, so clear and easy on my ears, thank you so much.
    Cheers
    Stephen

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    1. Thank you for letting us know, Stephen. I’m always glad when I hear the blog helps people get better sound. 🙂

      What makes me especially happy is when I go to friend’s places and their system is set up very well without me having to adjust (they had been reading the blog). Haha 😀

      Enjoy! 🙂

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      1. That’s so cool, I’m loving my Yamaha rx-a 3070 even more so now that I did, I can’t believe the difference those couple points made, my speakers are, fronts Polk Signature Series S60’s, centre and all atmos, surrounds are bookshelf Accusound reference 8.6xd 200w 8ohm, my subwoofers are two Accusound 200w rms class a/b amps and two Emotiva 300w rms class D amps, configuration front/rears, the yamaha feeds the emotiva’s and accusounds are daisy chained to them, they sound great together, the best of both worlds, it’s been a pretty low budget set up, but with a sound that’s a worth a million dollars even more so now that I found your info, I’m very grateful for, my next learning curve is parametric EQ, just to improve things that little bit more, also a little room treatment, then I’ll be having it at all at it’s best.
        Cheers
        Stephen

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