The Yamaha RX-V671 covers the core functionality of an AV receiver well: it sounds great and has plenty of connectivity. Its six HDMI inputs will be enough for nearly every home theater, and one of those inputs is on the front panel, which is great for making a quick connection to a laptop or digital camera. Yamaha is also the only manufacturer that offers a colorful and responsive user interface, although the RX-V671's interface would still be considered archaic on any other home theater device.
Its main failing is the lack of AirPlay support, which we think is the one AV receiver streaming feature worth paying for. If you don't care about AirPlay (or would rather add that functionality by purchasing an Apple TV), the Yamaha RX-V671 is one of the best choices available, sounding better than the competing Onkyo TX-NR609, although the Yamaha does cost almost $100 more.
Gadgets like cell phones and laptops keep getting smaller, but with few exceptions, AV receivers are still bulky black boxes. Aesthetically, the RX-V671 looks pretty much like any other AV receiver, with the exception of its divided front panel: top-half glossy finish, bottom-half matte finish. Altogether, we'd rate the Yamaha's looks as average, with the Denon AVR-1912's more contoured chassis being our favorite of 2011 so far.
If the looks are just average, Yamaha did make the savvy design choice of putting an HDMI input on the front panel. That makes it easy to connect a laptop, digital camcorder, or camera without having to reach around the back of the receiver. The otherwise excellent Denon AVR-1912 and Pioneer VSX-1021-K only have HDMI inputs on the back panel.
Remote and remote apps
AV receiver remotes are notoriously indecipherable, and the RX-V671's clicker is no different. The remote is packed with tiny buttons, with little spacing between them and a confusing overall layout.
For example, toward the top of the remote there are two sections of numbered buttons, separated only by tiny type that indicates one section is HDMI inputs and the other is AV inputs. Why not write "HDMI 1" on the buttons, like other remotes do? There are even two identical power buttons at the top, one for turning off the receiver and the other for turning off sources. Do yourself a favor and spring for a $65 Logitech Harmony 650 or other quality universal remote.
Like every other midrange receiver this year, the RX-V671 can also be controlled by Yamaha's avControl iPhone app. It's a decent app for basic functions, like choosing inputs and adjusting the volume. It also displays cover art and track information when using streaming-music services, such as Pandora, and it can also be used to search on Rhapsody and Napster. It wasn't quite as intuitive as Onkyo's remote app, though.
The RX-V671's user interface is considerably different than all its competitors. It's much more visually oriented, from its colorful background to its icon-based menu system. Compared with the utilitarian interfaces included with competitors, the RX-V671 is at least trying to pretty-up the AV receiver experience, even if it still lags considerably behind other types of home theater components, like Blu-ray players, game consoles, and streaming-video boxes.
The Yamaha's interface is also impressive in how responsive it is. You can speedily choose inputs from the menus and make changes to the settings without it feeling like a chore. (Unfortunately, tediously inputting passwords and usernames for streaming-media services is as chorelike as ever.)
When accessing streaming-music services, such as Pandora, you'll get cover art and track information on the screen. It's one of the better-looking media playback screens on a receiver, but again, it looks archaic compared with the Pandora interface on, say, a Blu-ray player.
|Key AV receiver features|
|Channels||7.1||Analog video upconversion||1080p|
|Graphical user interface||Yes||Automatic speaker calibration||Yes|
The Yamaha RX-V671 has all the key features we expect at this price level, including a two-year warranty, which is a year longer then Pioneer offers for the competing VSX-1021-K.
|iPod/iPhone features chart|
|AirPlay||No||Connect iPod/iPhone via USB||Yes|
|iOS remote app||Yes||Proprietary iPod dock||$100|
The main missing feature here is AirPlay, which is available on the competing Denon AVR-1912 and Pioneer VSX-1021-K. While we generally think
Yamaha's other iPod/iPhone features are standard these days, including the ability to connect an iPod/iPhone directly to the USB input. Yamaha also offers a $100 iPod dock, but we don't see much of a reason to buy that since you can connect directly.
|HDMI version||1.4||3D pass-through||Yes|
|Audio return channel||Yes||Standby pass-through||Yes|
This year, all of the midrange receivers we've tested support the major new HDMI features, including the handy standby pass-through mode, which allows the receiver to pass audio and video signal to a TV even when the receiver is off. No midrange receiver that we've seen so far supports HDMI Ethernet Channel.
|HDMI inputs||6||Component video inputs||2|
|Composite video inputs||5||Max connected HD devices||8|
Strictly by the numbers, Yamaha's video connectivity is excellent. Six HDMI inputs is the most that's available at this price, and it's one of the only midrange models (along with the Onkyo TX-NR609) that includes a front-panel input. Two component video inputs is standard, and its five composite video inputs are plenty.
The only room for criticism is that Yamaha isn't quite as flexible as other models in the ability to assign inputs. A few of the composite video inputs do not let you assign different audio inputs; you're locked to the analog audio input that it's paired with. Practically speaking, we don't think this is a big issue since most home theater components use HDMI now.