The new models in Yamaha’s RX-V series of AV receivers continue in the company’s high performance/price ratio tradition, and offer at least one surprising feature I did not expect to see so early in the development of their main new technology. Most importantly, they serve up the major new features of the HDMI 1.4 specification — Blu-ray 3D support and the Audio Return Channel.
The RX-V667 is around the middle of the RX range (the Aventage range is above these, see news), and it sells for just under $1100. Despite this it is fully featured when it comes to audio and home theatre performance and features. But unlike the Denon and Pioneer receivers at this price, it has neither Ethernet networking nor even a USB socket.
One might almost call it “traditional”, were it not for a port for Yamaha’s proprietary iPod dock, and its Bluetooth receiver. In addition, it natively supports Yamaha’s nifty YID-W10 wireless iPod dock, using the company’s ‘AirWired’ wireless technology which leaves the iPod/iPhone in your hand for control. It is the entry-level model for this last function.
The RX-V667 offers the core set of features you expect in a 2010 model AV receiver — full decoding for all the current digital audio standards (e.g. DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD), with support all the way up to 192kHz for PCM and those high definition formats. It also decodes the Direct Stream Digital 1-bit format used by Super Audio CD.
Yamaha does not include Dolby Pro Logic IIz in its receivers, but for years it has had ‘presence’ channels which, with its DSPs, do pretty much the same thing.
On the back panel, in addition to the seven binding posts for the usual seven channels, the unit has four spring clips. The surround back amplifiers can be redirected to these outputs and they can in turn be set to drive the presence speakers, or Zone 2 speakers.
The receiver’s seven channels are specified at 90W per channel at full audio bandwidth into eight ohms at just 0.08% THD. By default the receiver is limited to using eight-ohm speakers. A set-up switch allows this to be changed to six ohms (such switches typically reduce the rail voltage to the power amplifier, protecting them from supplying excessive currents). With this setting, Yamaha says that you can use four-ohm speakers for the front left and right pair.
HDMI is generously supported with six inputs, one of them on the front panel. These support Blu-ray 3D signals, plus all the more conventional formats. There are also inputs for composite video and component, but not S-Video. The HDMI output supports the return audio channel from suitably-equipped TVs, allowing the sound of TV stations being watched on the TV to be fed back down the HDMI cable to the receiver, where it can be amplified through your loudspeakers. You also get (unlike the other two) a phono input suitable for turntables equipped with moving magnet cartridges.
Another feature available only on this receiver is the 7.1-channel preamplifier outputs. As far as audio processing goes, a receiver such as this lacks little. But what if you want to upgrade to esoteric speakers which make demands upon a power amplifier of the kind that would make mid-priced receiver manufacturers blanche? With this receiver you can retire its power amplifiers — or just some of them — while keeping the front end in operation. For example, you can get high-end amplification for just the left and right front speakers, and thereby unleash some additional capacity for the remaining channels from the now unstressed transformer.
The remote control is pre-programmed to control lots of other equipment, but can’t learn new codes.