Five new Yamaha receivers for 2008

Yamaha has announced five new receivers for 2008, ranging from the budget $230 RX-V363 to the $1,000 RX-V863, which features HD Radio and three HDMI inputs.

Yamaha's $1,000 RX-V863 comes with HD Radio and three HDMI inputs, but it still feels underfeatured for the price.
Yamaha's $1,000 RX-V863 comes with HD Radio and three HDMI inputs, but it still feels underfeatured for the price. Yamaha

Yamaha has announced five new receivers for 2008, ranging from the budget $230 RX-V363 to the $1,000 RX-V863, which features HD Radio and three HDMI inputs. As is usual, Yamaha's receivers certainly don't impress from the spec sheet, as they offer fewer features than Sony's new budget receivers and even last year's Onkyo receivers. On the other hand, Yamaha loyalists are quick to chime in that spec sheets aren't everything, and that Yamaha offers more refined sound at these price points. We can't comment on that until we have get them in for review, but with that in mind, let's check out specs.

Yamaha RX-V363

RX-V363
Yamaha

Key features of the Yamaha RX-V363:

  • 5.1 channels, 100 watts per channel
  • Two HDMI inputs, 1080p-compatible
  • Three component video inputs
  • Three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial)
  • Yamaha's SCENE feature (explained below)
  • Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, with purchase of accessories (the YBA-10 for Bluetooth and the YDS-10SL for iPod)
  • $230 list price

Yamaha RX-V463

RX-V463
Yamaha

Step-up features on the Yamaha RX-V463:

  • 105 watts per channel
  • XM-ready with Neural Surround
  • Sirius-ready
  • Automatic speaker calibration
  • On-screen display
  • $350 list price
  • See full comparison with RX-V363

Yamaha RX-V563

RX-V563
Yamaha

Step-up features on the Yamaha RX-V563:


Yamaha RX-V663

RX-V663
Yamaha

Step-up features on the Yamaha RX-V663:

  • 95 watts per channel
  • Two HDMI 1.3 inputs
  • HDMI video upconversion, deinterlaces analog sources to 480p
  • Four digital audio inputs (two optical, two coaxial)
  • Five S-Video inputs
  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
  • $550 list price
  • See full comparison with RX-V563

Yamaha RX-V863

RX-V863
Yamaha

Step-up features on the RX-V863:

  • 105 watts per channel
  • Three HDMI 1.3 inputs
  • 1080p upscaling
  • HD Radio
  • Five digital audio inputs (three optical, two coaxial)
  • $1,000 list price
  • See full comparison with RX-V663

First, let's tackle Yamaha's SCENE functionality, which is present on all five of the receivers. The concept behind the SCENE function is similar to macros on universal remotes; by pressing a SCENE button, the receiver automatically configures itself for a specific scenario, such as DVD viewing. When we tested last year's RX-V661, we found SCENE somewhat limited, though, as the only parameters that could be set for each Scene are which input should be selected, which DSP mode should be used, and whether a Night mode (which is designed to improve audio at low volume levels) should be used. We would have liked the ability to configure a default volume level for each SCENE type. Hopefully this is improved upon in the new models.

Out of the five models, the RX-V663 looks like the sweet spot. You get most of the future-proof features you want, such as HDMI upconversion, high resolution audio decoding, and a bunch of analog inputs, for a reasonable $550. Two HDMI inputs seems a little stingy--especially when Sony offers four on its $400 STR-DG820--but you can always add an HDMI switcher for more connectivity. On the other hand, 2007's Onkyo TX-SR605 offer most of the same functionality for less, as well.

The step-up RX-V863 doesn't seem worth the extra money. The major upgrades are HD Radio (which really isn't that exciting in our opinion), 1080p upscaling and an additional HDMI input, yet it costs almost twice as much. Most buyers will be better off sticking with the RX-V663, adding an HDMI switcher and skipping HD Radio altogether. And any HDTV will scale lower resolutions to 1080p, so unless the RX-V863's video processing it better than your HDTV's, you won't get any benefit from that feature.

Yamaha's high-end receivers --the RX-V1800, RX-V3800, and RX-Z11--still remain in the product line, with prices ranging from $1,300 up to $5,500. If you're looking to spend less money, Yamaha has also announced a new line of home-theater-in-a-box systems , ranging from $400 to $850 for a full home theater system.

 

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