Yamaha RX-V663 AV Receiver 
Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers
Written by Ivan Shin   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009

My home theater hobby started when buying my first independent receiver, the Sony STR-DG 810. This was a simple starter receiver for me because it would pass audio and video through HDMI. As I played around with the settings more and more, I realized I was not happy with the way everything sounded; bass was somewhat lacking and the frequency response was flat.  I really required a receiver which could bit-stream all the new High Definition Audio codecs, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, and give me greater control over the sound field.  I eventually settled on the Yamaha RX-V663 receiver.

I have always been impressed with the products Yamaha has created, specifically their musical instruments, pianos in particular.  Without intimate knowledge about their Home Theater products, I researched a few models and did from price comparisons.  I came to the conclusion that the Yamaha V663 had all the features I was looking for and was also competitively priced at the time.  I also had the option of taking this receiver home and testing it out within my own home theater setup before purchasing.    

Equipment note: I tested out the functions of the receiver using Aperion 532lr speakers as the front speakers, Aperion 432C as my center speaker, Aperion 432lr speakers as rear speakers and a HSU STF-1 as my subwoofer. Video output is going to a PanasonicAX200U projector and a 1080p Panasonic TC-32LZ800.

Setup

RemoteThe V663 is all black, with a fairly large shaped display in the front. The master volume knob is located on the far right, along with other small knobs to access different sources such as input devices (which are assignable from the setup menu). Everything is easy to see from my viewing distance, which is about 15 feet away. You can change settings to indicate how bright the display is or turn if off completely.

Setting up speakers to the receiver was a fairly straightforward process. Once I connected all my speakers using banana plugs (6.1 setup), I fired up the receiver. You have 2 options in setting up: you can either use the onscreen display settings menu from your video source such as your TV, or you can change settings using the front display on the receiver. Setting up is easier when viewing the TV. Using the remote which came with the receiver, I ended up using YPAO, which is Yamaha’s automatic speaker setup utility.

By plugging the YPAO microphone into the front of the receiver, you can access the YPAO menu and let the receiver perform an auto-setup. I received fairly accurate results; a setting which wasn’t tuned correctly was the crossover frequency, which I ended up changing manually (YPAO set my cross-over to 80Hz, which is too low for my speakers).  I also had to correct my center speaker distance. Accessing options between the menus was easy and intuitive, especially configuring input devices. I set HDMI 1 to my PS3, HDMI 2 to my HD-DVD player and Component 1 to my XBOX 360 and renamed the inputs to match the devices I use.

I have seen some reports of the V663 being a little warm after using it for a while, but my unit never felt hot to the touch, and I also kept it outside which might have helped to keep it cool. Otherwise, the receiver never felt dangerously hot during its use.

The remote control for the receiver itself isn’t terribly advanced, though it is built solidly and functioned the way it should. You can access any source by clicking on the appropriate button, and you can also rename the pre-assigned inputs i.e. I changed DVD to HD DVD and DTV/CBL to Blu-ray via accessing the customization functions within the main menu. To access the main menu, you need to press the AMP button, and from there can access each of the sub-menus. Unfortunately, the controller itself is not backlit, so it’s difficult to operate in the dark.

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.

Yamaha Back Panel

 The Downside

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.

Conclusion

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.






Like this article? Bookmark and share with any of the sites below.
Digg!Reddit!Del.icio.us!Google!StumbleUpon!Yahoo!Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!
 
Joomla SEF URLs by Artio