Yamaha is unique among home audio manufacturers in that its prepackaged home theater systems include the same AV receivers that are offered as standalone units. We received the Yamaha YHT-791 home theater for review and were impressed with the included HTR-6250BL AV receiver compared to other home-theater-in-a-box systems, but we also wanted to see how it compared to other standalone AV receivers.
On its own, the Yamaha HTR-6250BL wasn't as impressive. Yes, it has four HDMI inputs and plenty of analog video connections, but the HTR-6250BL lacks the ability to assign inputs, which limits its flexibility. It also has the ability to upconvert analog video signals to 1080p over its HDMI output, but the quality of the video is poor enough that you're better off running a separate cable. Finally, the HTR-6250BL's sound quality was acceptable, but we've certainly heard better at this price level. While the HTR-6250BL offers a solid value as part of the larger YHT-791 system, the receiver doesn't stack up as well when compared to other standalone receivers in its price range.
The HTR-6250BL has the typical boxy look of an AV receiver, but it's a little shorter than most, coming in at 17.2 inches wide by 6 inches high and 14.3 inches deep. The front panel features a large volume knob and a few additional front-panel controls, but otherwise it's relatively sparse compared with some competing models. The LCD display is a bluish white, compared with the orange of 2008's Yamaha HTR-6150, which we preferred and found a little easier to read from far away.
The four buttons across the front of the receiver control Yamaha's "Scene" functions, which allow you to pick a preferred DSP (digital-sound processing) mode for specific listening scenarios--like always using the "Hall" effect when watching DVDs. Since we generally prefer to leave the DSP modes off, we didn't find this helpful, but those who like the different sound modes may find it useful. We'd prefer if the Scene functions also let us set a default volume level for each scenario; we did appreciate that Yamaha lets you set a specific volume for each time the receiver turns on in the setup menu.
The strongest part of the HTR-6250BL's connectivity is its four HDMI inputs, which should be enough for most home theaters. Aside from HDMI, the HTR-6250BL starts to feel a little skimpy. There's no analog multichannel input, so anyone with some legacy gear may be out of luck; it's worth pointing out that the similarly-priced Pioneer VSX-919AH-K has a 5.1 analog input.
The HTR-6250BL lacks the capability to assign audio inputs to any video input you'd like. So, while there are two component video inputs and two optical digital audio inputs, it's not possible to use two component video sources accompanied with both optical digital audio inputs, because one of the component video inputs is permanently assigned to a coaxial-digital-audio input. In the real world, this will probably be an issue only if you have many analog video sources, but it's an annoying drawback that isn't present on other receivers in this price range.
The HTR-6250 receiver features Yamaha's Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) automatic speaker calibration system, that sets speaker and subwoofer volume levels, determines the speaker/subwoofer crossover point, measures the distances from the speakers to the listener, confirms that all of the speaker cables are correctly hooked up, and uses equalization to balance the frequency response of all the speakers.
The HTR-6250BL's included remote is jam-packed full of tiny buttons, making it difficult to use, especially for home theater novices. Thankfully, important buttons like volume and the main directional pad are separated enough to be easily differentiated, but input buttons and playback controls are a confusing mess. It's definitely not as bad as the remote included on last year's midrange Denon AVR-1909, but we prefer the simpler remotes found on the Onkyo TX-SR607.