Yamaha RX-V757 review: Yamaha RX-V757

The XM satellite radio hookup is simply a matter of plugging the Connect-and-Play antenna's single wire into the USB-style connection on the receiver's backside and activating XM service. The downside to the arrangement is that the V757 can display merely one line of XM's normal three-line display at a time. Otherwise, the tuner's operations aren't so different than the V757's AM and FM functions.

If the V757's price tag is a bit too steep for you, consider the step-down models in Yamaha's line: the less expensive RX-V657, RX-V557, and RX-V457 are also XM ready.

We thought we had a handle on the Yamaha sound, but the RX-V757 was a little different than past models: It had a richer, bigger tone, and the receiver made the most of Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea DVD. The Bobby Darin bio flick is a soggy film, but its swinging music buoyed our spirits. It really helped that Spacey did all the vocals himself, which we used to demonstrate the intimacy and realism of the V757's sound. In the opening scene, Spacey/Darin sings "Mack the Knife," and when we played it over an identically priced Marantz SR5500 receiver, the sound was a little less vivid. Returning to the RX-V757 brought out more of the live ambience of the concert setting.

CD sound quality was pure and clean, and we took advantage of Yamaha's customizable digital signal processing to create our own surround effects. Unlike with typical Hall or Arena pseudosurround modes that can sound overblown, you can tune the V757's surround effects to your taste. We selected Pop/Rock mode for Ella Fitzgerald's classic album Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie and adjusted the level of the effect, the reverberation time, and the apparent room size; we quickly came up with the sound that we found more pleasing than Dolby Pro Logic IIx. Properly adjusted, the Presence speakers' contributions are subtle, but they certainly add to the creation of a larger, more spacious surround effect. For the ultimate in purity, we engaged the V757's Straight effect, which bypasses all internal processing and shuts down the display. For us at least, listening in stereo was hardly a letdown, and the beauty of Ms. Fitzgerald's voice was just as gorgeous over a pair of speakers.

We also compared the RX-V757's FM radio sound with XM satellite radio. Good old analog, earthbound radio had more background hiss, while the XM was always dead quiet. But FM sounded clearer, with a little more treble detail and livelier overall. We'd call it a sonic draw, but XM's vastly wider channel selection and commercial-free music programming makes it worthwhile.

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