When you consider the level of technological dexterity found in today's A/V receivers, with their gee-whiz features such as automated setup and calibration, it's hard not to be amazed when you see their relatively affordable price points. That said, in a market as competitive as A/V receivers, you need a little something extra to stand out, and Yamaha's $799 (list) RX-V1500 has it. Not only does it offer automated room-tuning equalization, extra front speaker channels, THX Select certification, and a turntable input, its superflexible digital signal processing gives it that little edge. Yamaha's designers carefully balanced the RX-V1500's handsome good looks with above-average ergonomics and functionality. The front panel's elegant layout minimizes the clutter of knobs and buttons, many of which are concealed behind a flip-down door. The 34.2-pound weight is a good indication of the V1500's solid build quality.
The Yamaha RX-V1500's slender, gracefully designed remote features an illuminated LCD to keep you informed about which input has been selected. A slide switch on the right side offers three operational modes: Amp, Source, or TV, so it's easy to keep track of what the remote is controlling.This 7-by-120-watt receiver's auto setup and calibration includes Yamaha's Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) technology to analyze your room's acoustics. Just hook up the supplied microphone, navigate the menu choices, and initiate the process. Your speakers will emit a series of tones, bleeps, and clicks for around three minutes, and when it's done, you'll be ready to rock.
Surround-processing modes include Dolby Pro Logic IIx and Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, Neo:6, and DTS 96/24. The Yamaha RX-V1500 also provides THX Select processing. What's more, the receiver features the latest revision of Yamaha's proprietary Cinema DSP technology, which allows you to customize the V1500's 31 DSP programs with 55 variations, including the two THX Select programs. Dialogue Lift heightens DVD dialogue clarity, and Silent Cinema produces surroundlike sound over conventional stereo headphones.
Connectivity options are downright extensive and include component-video up-conversion, which takes any video input and passes it to the component-video monitor output. We counted five A/V inputs and two A/V outputs and two component ins (a bit skimpy as many receivers in this class offer three); a whopping total of seven digital inputs (four optical/three coaxial) and two optical outputs; a 5.1-channel SACD/DVD-Audio input; three stereo ins, plus provisions to hook up a turntable.
Since the V1500 also has 7.1-channel preamp connections, it can be used with a separate power amplifier. In addition to the seven main speaker channels, we were happy to see Yamaha also included something special: connectors for use with two Presence speakers that can add extra depth and dimension to the front soundstage. More conventionally, A/B speaker switching for the front channels is offered for those buyers who wish to have an extra set of stereo speakers in another room. Multiroom capabilities extend to Zone 2 and 3 via remote triggers, an IR port, and an RS-232C interface for compatible home automation systems.