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First Look: Yamaha RX-V475: A lightly featured, great-sounding receiver

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First Look: Yamaha RX-V475: A lightly featured, great-sounding receiver

3:15 /

Yamaha's RX-V475 edges out competing AV receivers in our listening tests, but trails when it comes to features and design.

-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET and we're gonna take a look at the Yamaha RX-V475. This is a 5.1 AV receiver in the middle of Yamaha's line and is currently selling for $400. Like most multi-channel AV receivers, the Yamaha has a big metal chassis that will take up a lot of space in your TV cabinet. The two-tone finish on the front has a sleek look especially the matte black on the bottom, although the front is cluttered with buttons that you likely never used. It's kinda tough to say that any of these big boxy receivers looked nice, so if you're looking for more attractive options, check out Marantz slimline NR 1403 that's available for the same price. The included remote is needlessly complicated even for an AV receiver. There are all kinds of confusing design choices including two power buttons at the top, a grid of small numbered buttons for selecting inputs and mysterious star buttons on the side that don't have any obvious function. Unless you have a lot of patience, you'll be better off replacing it with a quality universal remote. For $400 receiver, the RX-V475 offers a decent set of features, although most competing models offer a little more. There are 5 total HDMI inputs, which should cover most home theaters, although Onkyo, Pioneer Marantz offer 6 at this price. The Yamaha does have an Ethernet jack on the back but it doesn't have Wi-Fi, so you'll need to connect via Ethernet to use these networking features, which include built-in airplay, Pandora, Internet Radio and DLNA compatibility. That's not quite as many services as other receivers offer, but if you're a heavy streamer, you'll likely want a dedicated device anyway. Yamaha does offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth add-ons for the RX-V475, although they're pretty expensive, so you're better off using 3rd party accessories anyway. Unlike Denon, Yamaha doesn't offer a guide that set up right out of the box, although plugging in the setup microphone does bring up some on-screen instructions for its automatic speaker calibration. The RX-V475 has a very basic, text-based menu system which looks about 10 years out of date, although that's surprisingly common on receivers at this price. Once we got the speakers' calibrated, the sound quality on the Yamaha was excellent. We had resident audio file Steve Guttenberg give a listen to the Yamaha and he compared it to the Pioneer VSX 823-K and the Denon AVR E400. And the Yamaha came out on top with a powerful sound that easily filled our listening room. Movies and music were handled equally well with plenty of detail and overall a balanced natural sound. And that sound quality is ultimately the strongest reason to buy the RX-V475 over its competitors. It doesn't have the most features and its design is a little underwhelming but it did edge-out its competitors in our listening test. Ultimately, it wouldn't be my first choice at this price level as I find the sound quality differences to be pretty minor between these mid-range AV receivers, but this is still a good value especially if you're a fan of Yamaha sound. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and this is the Yamaha RX-V475.

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