For us, the sound is the thing, but we're also suckers for a good-looking component. So yes, we were taken with Yamaha's gorgeous new $599 receiver, the RX-V740, positioned at the top of the company's mainstream line. It offers a healthy dose of features and jacks, but people with vast spaces may balk at the thrifty power rating. Numbers aside, we were really impressed with this receiver's ability to maximize performance with difficult-to-drive, low-impedance speakers.
There's no doubt about it--the deeply extruded aluminum faceplate and volume knob give the V740 a dramatic high-end flair. This 28.6-pound component is really built.
Home-theater beginners will appreciate the logical menus. Also nicely organized is the button contingent on the remote, which features an illuminated LCD.
Oh, there's something the V740 doesn't have: a cooling fan. The unit instead relies on an internal finned heat sink. We like that design decision because we never got distracted by fan noise.
The V740's conservative 90-watt-per-channel power rating deserves a closer look. Most competing models' power ratings are based on the use of speakers with the most-benign load: 8 ohms of electrical resistance. Some receiver user manuals even recommend steering clear of 4-ohm speakers. The problem is that in real life, no speaker--not even one rated at 8 ohms--offers steady resistance. It dips and rises. The V740 addresses that reality by producing higher-than-average current output. So the V740 isn't afraid of drops to 6 ohms or even 4 ohms--it can deliver short-term 190-watt peaks into 4-ohm speakers. That's impressive performance for a $599 receiver.
A 15-band center-channel equalizer, uncommon among receivers, can help the main and center speakers blend more seamlessly. The front panel also has bass and treble controls for the main speakers.
The usual surround formats--Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, and DTS Neo:6--are augmented with 24 proprietary synthesized-surround programs.