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Yamaha HTR-6250BL review: Yamaha HTR-6250BL

Yamaha HTR-6250BL

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Matthew Moskovciak Steve Guttenberg
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Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
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Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
8 min read

OVR
6.0

Yamaha HTR-6250BL

The Good

Four HDMI inputs; onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding; upconverts analog video signals to 1080p; automatic speaker calibration system; relatively inexpensive 7.1 AV receiver.

The Bad

Competitors offer more features for the same price; cannot assign audio inputs; poor image quality on upconverted analog video signals; lacks a multichannel analog input; no multiroom functionality; onscreen display looks outdated; cluttered remote.

The Bottom Line

The Yamaha HTR-6250BL works well as part of the Yamaha YHT-791 home theater system, but it doesn't fare as well when compared with other standalone AV receivers.

Yamaha is unique among home audio manufacturers in that its prepackaged home theater systems include the same AV receivers that are offered as standalone units. We received the Yamaha YHT-791 home theater system for review and were impressed with the included HTR-6250BL AV receiver compared with other home-theater-in-a-box systems, but we also wanted to see how it compared with other standalone AV receivers.

On its own, the Yamaha HTR-6250BL wasn't as impressive. Yes, it has four HDMI inputs and plenty of analog video connections, but the HTR-6250BL lacks the ability to assign inputs, which limits its flexibility. It also has the ability to upconvert analog video signals to 1080p over its HDMI output, but the quality of the video is poor enough that you're better off running a separate cable. Finally, the HTR-6250BL's sound quality was acceptable, but we've certainly heard better at this price level. While the HTR-6250BL offers a solid value as part of the larger YHT-791BL system, the receiver doesn't stack up as well when compared with other standalone receivers in its price range.

Design
The exterior design and dimensions of the Yamaha HTR-6250BL are nearly identical to the step-up HTR-6260BL; therefore, much of this section is the same.

The HTR-6250BL has the typical boxy look of an AV receiver, but it's a bit shorter than most, measuring 17.2 inches wide by 6 inches high and 14.3 inches deep. The front panel features a large volume knob and a few additional front-panel controls, but otherwise it's relatively sparse compared with some competing models. The LCD display is a bluish white, compared with the orange of 2008's Yamaha HTR-6150, which we preferred and found a bit easier to read from far away.


Yamaha's "Scene" buttons are right on the front of the receiver, but we didn't find ourselves using that functionality often.

The four buttons across the front of the receiver control Yamaha's "Scene" functions, which allow you to pick a preferred DSP (digital-sound processing) mode for specific listening scenarios--like always using the "Hall" effect when watching DVDs. Since we generally prefer to leave the DSP modes off, we didn't find this helpful, but those who like the different sound modes may find it useful. We'd prefer if the Scene functions also let us set a default volume level for each scenario; we did appreciate that Yamaha lets you set a specific volume for each time the receiver turns on in the setup menu.

The HTR-6250BL's included remote is jam-packed full of tiny buttons, making it difficult to use, especially for home theater novices. Thankfully, important buttons like volume and the main directional pad are separated enough to be easily differentiated, but input buttons and playback controls are a confusing mess. It's definitely not as bad as the remote included on last year's midrange Denon AVR-1909, but we prefer the simpler remotes found on the Onkyo TX-SR607.

The HTR-6250BL's onscreen display is text-based, and it looks primitive compared with other receivers in this price range; it's a strictly white-text-on-black-background look that you're used to seeing on an old VCR, and it doesn't help that the entire image shakes as if the HTR-6250BL is struggling to keep it on the screen. Making matters worse, its simplicity didn't carry over to ease of use, as options such as output resolution are under the "HDMI" menu instead of "Display," which instead controls the front-panel LCD. We also spent quite a bit of time trying to find the input assignment menu, only to realize the HTR-6250BL doesn't have the capability to assign inputs (more on that later).

Setup
The HTR-6250BL receiver features Yamaha's Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) automatic speaker calibration system, that sets speaker and subwoofer volume levels, determines the speaker/subwoofer crossover point, measures the distances from the speakers to the listener, confirms that all of the speaker cables are correctly hooked up, and uses equalization to balance the frequency response of all the speakers.


Plug in the included mic, and the HTR-6250BL's autosetup prompt immediately comes up.

Plugging in the (supplied) Optimizer microphone brought up the Auto Setup menu on our display, which offers a choice of "EQ Type," of which there are three: Natural, Flat, or Front. Then we selected "Start" and the YPAO initiated a series of tones that sequenced through all seven speakers and the subwoofer. We liked that all of the measurements are taken from just one mic position, and that the calibration takes just a couple of minutes to complete.

The results of the calibration were mixed, first because the subwoofer volume was a bit too loud, and the HTR-6250BL mistakenly set the satellite/subwoofer crossover too high (200 Hertz) for the center channel and surround speakers (we would have preferred 80 or 100 Hz). That's why it's a good idea to always confirm results after running any receiver's auto calibration. In this case it's easy enough to bring up the manual speaker setup menu and correct the HTR-6250BL's errors. We experimented listening with the three "EQ Types," Natural, Flat, and Front, and heard little difference between them. Natural is the default option, so that's what we used.

Features

Key features
Dolby TrueHD + DTS-HD MA Yes Onscreen display Text-based
Analog upconversion 1080p Source renaming Yes
Selectable output resolution Yes Satellite radio None

The HTR-6250BL is a step down from the traditional midrange receiver price level, but it maintains most of the same key features as the step-up HTR-6260BL. There's onboard decoding for both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, so you'll be able to connect an older Blu-ray player and still decode high-resolution audio soundtracks. It can also upconvert your analog signals all the way up to 1080p, but don't put too much stock in that spec, as we weren't thrilled about the receiver's actual performance (more on that in the performance section). One surprise is that the HTR-6250BL lacks any built-in support for satellite radio, so you'll need a separate outboard tuner if you are a subscriber.


The HTR-6250BL has full onboard decoding for the high-resolution Blu-ray audio soundtracks.

Connectivity
HDMI inputs 4 Optical audio inputs 2
Component video inputs 2 Coaxial audio inputs 2
Max connected HD devices 6 Stereo analog audio inputs 2
Composite AV inputs 5 Analog multichannel inputs None
Max connected video devices 8 Phono input No

The strongest part of the HTR-6250BL's connectivity is its four HDMI inputs, which should be enough for most home theaters. Aside from HDMI, the HTR-6250BL starts to feel a little skimpy. There's no analog multichannel input, so anyone with some legacy gear may be out of luck; it's worth pointing out that the similarly priced Pioneer VSX-919AH-K has a 5.1 analog input.


There's no ability to assign inputs on the HTR-6250BL, so each audio input is linked with each video input--an annoying limitation.

The HTR-6250BL also lacks the capability to assign audio inputs to any video input you'd like. So, while there are two component video inputs and two optical digital audio inputs, it's not possible to use two component video sources accompanied with both optical digital audio inputs, because one of the component video inputs is permanently assigned to a coaxial-digital-audio input. In the real world, this will probably be an issue only if you have many analog video sources, but it's an annoying drawback that isn't present on other receivers in this price range.

Multiroom features
Line level 2nd zone outputs No Line level 3rd zone outputs No
Speaker-level 2nd zone outputs No Speaker-level 3rd zone outputs No
2nd zone video output No 2nd zone remote No

We were surprised to find that the HTR-6250BL lacks multizone capabilities, as competitors, such as the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K and Onkyo TX-SR507, both offer at least basic Zone 2 functionality. Of course, if you only plan to use the HTR-6250BL in a single room, this doesn't matter, but other manufacturers don't charge extra for this functionality.

Audio performance
We used our reference Aperion Intimus 4T Hybrid SD speaker/subwoofer system for all of our HTR-6250 listening tests.

The "Journey to the Center of the Earth" Blu-ray pushed the HTR-6250BL to the limit. The subterranean travels of a geologist (Brendan Fraser) and his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) were sometimes accompanied by low, feel-it-in-your-guts earth tremors. We especially liked the scenes in underground caves where there were water-dripping sounds coming from every direction. The actors' voices echoing in the caves had a nice sense of depth.

Bassist Marcus Miller, keyboard wiz George Duke, and guitarist Lee Ritenour shined on the "Legends of Jazz" Blu-ray. When Miller pops his bass strings, we felt it, and the bass was precise, clear, and clean. But when we compared the HTR-6250BL with our Denon AVR-3808CI receiver, the clarity and soundstage dimensionality jumped up a few notches. The Denon was more relaxed, and there was even greater detail and treble sparkle. Miller's bass was fleshed out, and it seemed more dynamic. But the AVR-3808CI is nearly three times as expensive as the HTR-6250BL, so sure, it was no surprise it sounded better. We also had Pioneer's VSX-1019AH-K on hand, which only costs a bit more than the HTR-6250BL, and it edged out the Yamaha in terms of transparency and overall oomph.

Video performance
In our tests, the Yamaha HTR-6250BL offered identical video performance to the step-up HTR-6260BL; therefore, this section of the review is nearly the same.

The HTR-6250BL is capable of upconverting analog signals to its HDMI output, so we put it through our video-testing suite. We connected the Oppo DV-983H via component video to the HTR-6250BL, with the DV-983H set to 480i output. The HTR-6250BL was set to output at 1080p over its HDMI output, connected to the Samsung LN52B750.

Our video testing started with Silicon Optix's HQV test suite, and the HTR-6250BL did not pass the first resolution test. Areas where we should have seen detail were instead just a solid color, and we could see image instability and strobelike effects elsewhere on the image. Next up were a couple of jaggies test patterns, and again the HTR-6250BL came up short, showing as many jaggies as some of the worst Blu-ray and DVD players to which we've administered this test. The HTR-6250BL didn't pull through on the 2:3 pull-down processing test either, as there was plenty of moire in the grandstands of a clip with a race car. From test patterns, the HTR-6250BL's performance was not promising.

We put the test patterns away and switched to actual program material, but the HTR-6250BL's performance didn't improve. The introduction to "Seabiscuit" is a torture test for video processors, and the HTR-6250BL's processor was sufficiently pained, as the image was obviously soft and, at times, jaggies marred nearly the entire screen. The opening sequence of "Star Trek: Insurrection" wasn't any better, with jaggies all over curved lines like the boat hulls and roofs of the huts. Even those not particularly sensitive to image quality will most likely notice these quality issues.

To be clear, the problems we saw were only on 480i analog signals upconverted to 1080p over the HDMI output. If you're only planning on using the HTR-6250BL for HDMI sources, you won't run into these issues at all. It's also worth pointing out that the HTR-6250BL can pass through analog signals to the HDMI output at their original resolution, leaving your HDTV to do the converting. In our experience, this produced a better image on the Samsung LN52B750, and we imagine it would on almost all HDTVs. The bottom line is: don't expect the HTR-6250 to offer pristine quality on upconverted analog signals.

OVR
6.0

Yamaha HTR-6250BL

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6
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