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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
|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.