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Music and Movies
Using my PS3, I started to test out the receiver by testing some music, using a 2.1 setup; some 320 Bit-rate MP3s I had, and CDs. I tested out using some bands which I am very familiar with: Metallica and Trivium’s new album Shogun. I tested out the MP3 versions first, and upon listening to a few songs, I was immediately impressed by the bass and vocals coming out of my system: During Metallica’s One, the drums and bass sounded very realistic and non-boomy. James Hetfield’s growls and vocals came out crystal-clear in songs such as Master of Puppets and Unforgiven. Frequency response was a bit warm, which is the way I like it. You can also improve the depth of MP3s by clicking on Enhancer on the remote (Compressed Music Enhancer). Clicking on this option seems to do a good job, as I found that it makes MP3s sound a bit more natural than with it off.
I then chose to listen to CDs of the same aforementioned bands, and everything just sounded even better. Without compression, the same songs I listened had even more warmth and detail in them, in particular Trivium’s Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis. Bass and guitar sounded even clearer than their MP3 counterparts; Vocals were also crisp and clear, and clean sounding. Overall, the music experience was extremely satisfying.
For movie testing purposes, I chose a DVD and a Blu-ray: War of the Worlds (2005) and The Dark Knight. As anyone who appreciates bass knows, the War of the Worlds has some pulse-pounding scenes which will really give your subwoofer a workout.
During the first scene with the lightning storm in War of the Worlds, bass was tight and frightening at the same time, the ground shook every time lightning hit! When the Pods first started to emerge, the bass that came out of subwoofer was such low frequency, that it started to shake the walls in my room. Dialog was crisp and clear, and at no point did I feel the receiver was being drained. Picture quality was also excellent, as the DVD was being up-scaled to 1080i resolution.
As for the Dark Knight, the IMAX scenes in particular, looked stunning. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack sounded excellent, especially during the helicopter chase sequence. The part when the truck flipped over still gives me chills, as the crashing resonated throughout my room. Gunshots were loud and clear, as was dialog. I also tested to see if there were any difference in being connected to the receiver, or just straight to my TV, and there were no visible differences.
Well, you might consider that because of my glowing praise for the V663, there is nothing negative to say about this receiver. Not exactly true. One of my biggest caveats about the V663 is the lack of HDMI inputs. With only 2 HDMI inputs, I can only plug in my PS3 and HD-DVD player. My Xbox 360 has to be plugged into one of the component slots, but if I choose to get another HDMI device in the future, my only choice is to either purchase an HDMI splitter, or unplug and re-plug my devices as I use them (which is not the most convenient option).
A few other noteworthy problems include, not being able to change individual cross-over settings for each speaker, and the receiver itself does not pass Blacker than Black tests. “Blacker than black” refers to test patterns featured on many DVD/Blu-ray calibration discs that you can use to calibrate your display. For many users, such as those who are using this receiver with their HDTVs, this should not pose an issue with calibrating your display to show all colors that it should be able to display. If your display is a computer monitor or HTPC, your calibration results might be shortened or inaccurate. You should first have your display test out blacker than black patterns before doing any calibration on your display)
In general, blacker than black issues should only pose a problem for those using this receiver in a HTPC setup. Otherwise, this shouldn’t be an issue with most users. It has been noted in some forums, that newer models of this receiver don’t exhibit the BTB issue.
If you are looking for an entry level receiver which gives you high quality sound, that is easy to setup and customize, and overall excellent image and audio performance, this is the receiver for you. With support for 7.1 audio and audio decoding of all the HD Audio formats, it’s geared toward those looking to combine it with a Blu-ray player.
However, if you are using more than 2 HDMI devices, you might want to look for another model which has more HDMI inputs or purchase an additional HDMI switch with the receiver. Overall, the performance of the V663 should satisfy most entry level home theater fans in the market for a dependable starter receiver.