Yamaha offers a greater variety of A/V receiver models than any company we can think of. It has two distinct receiver lines--the RX and HTR models--and there are at least 11 receivers in just the HTR lineup! The subject of this review, the Yamaha HTR-5950 ($450) is in the middle of that group.
The HTR-5950 is available in black or silver. Its front panel is uncluttered and has a well-organized array of buttons and controls. The receiver measures 17.1 inches wide, 6.3 high, and 15.4 deep; it weighs 23.1 pounds. The partially backlit remote is also a model of straightforward design. We were a little surprised that the HTR-5950 lacks any form of autosetup, but the manual onscreen setup menus and navigation are easy enough to follow.
While most receivers in the HTR-5950's price class are 7.1-channel designs, the Yamaha has six 110-watt channels as well as the usual assortment of surround processing modes from Dolby and DTS. If you want to go beyond everyday surround, you can experiment with Yamaha's proprietary Cinema DSP user-customizable surround field programs for movies and music.
Connectivity options are about average for a receiver in this price class. The receiver has a total of three rear-panel A/V inputs, which can accommodate composite, S-Video, or component-video connections. There are no HDMI connections onboard, but the receiver performs component-video format conversion for your composite and S-Video sources, so you'll need only a single component-video connection from the receiver to your TV. You get four digital inputs (three optical, one coaxial) and one optical output. Owners of the ubiquitous Apple iPod can take advantage of the optional YDS-10 iPod dock ($100), which offers a single cable audio and video connection to the receiver. The 5.1-channel analog inputs are useful for connecting to the corresponding outputs on SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, and HD-DVD players. The speaker outputs for all channels accept banana plugs or bare wires, and there's a set of B stereo speaker outputs. On the front panel, there's a composite-only A/V connection, plus a minijack input for portable audio players.