Multiroom music promises the ability to listen to all of your music anywhere in the house, or the same song in all rooms at the same time, party-style. Until now there has only been one manufacturer able to crack the collective multiroom consciousness -- Sonos -- and it's taken the company ten years.
Although late to the party, Yamaha's MusicCast is one of the most fully formed Sonos alternatives yet. Like every other system it streams and plays music from your phone, but Yamaha has also integrated the system in other products, including receivers, soundbars and powered speakers. The AV receiver serves as the hub of a the system, making it the ideal component to offer multiroom streaming.
The RX-V479 is the least expensive Yamaha receiver to feature MusicCast, just one of several useful features. Throw in Bluetooth wireless audio and 4K video compatibility and you have a reasonably future-proof receiver for not too much money. Of course it misses out on Atmos playback found on more expensive units, but it's still too early to see if that state-of-the-art surround technology is worth the investment.
With excellent home theater sound, a gaggle of intriguing features, and enough power for most living room setups, the RX-V479 is worth the extra investment over the entry-level RX-V379. The RX-V479 is available now for $399, £299 and AU$799.
It's a well-worn truth that all receivers pretty much look the same, and this is especially salient when talking about receivers from a single brand. Often the only way to tell the products apart is to scan the bottom right corner for the model number. This holds for Yamaha's RX-V479, which, apart from a couple of extra logos, looks identical to the entry-level RX-V379.
While the front panel might look a little complicated, its direct input buttons are so much more usable than the dials on most receivers. The panel also includes Yamaha's blue LED display, which not only looks better than the old orange version but is easier to read from across the room.
Yamaha receivers have been guilty in the past of scientific calculator-like remotes brimming with buttons that were hard to use. This year's clickers scale down the number of buttons a bit and add color, making them slightly simpler to operate. If you want more functionality -- like numbered buttons or universal functionality -- you can always trade up to a dedicated universal remote.
The RX-V479's menu system is nothing to shout about. There's no fancy visuals, just a straightforward text menu. It's functional, but takes some learning.
For 100 bucks or so more than the entry-level RX-V379, the RXV-479 gives you a generous amount of additional features. There's a 15 percent bump in power to 115W for each of the five channels, and they all feature high-quality binding posts, not just the fronts. While it lacks Atmos -- all of Yamaha's RX series does -- there is the expected Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio decoding. That's more than enough for most real-world 5.1 surround soundtracks.
Connectivity bumps up to six HDMI inputs (from the cheaper model's four) with one of these plus the output featuring HDCP 2.2. Then there's one optical and two coaxial digital inputs; two stereo analog RCA jacks and three composite video inputs.
As we mentioned at the top, the RX-V479 features the company's new MusicCast multiroom system. It promises playback for Pandora, Spotify and Rhapsody as well as Internet radio and music stored on your phone and your network.
Unlike some other systems -- namely Sonos and Denon's HEOS -- the Yamaha MusicCast system is able to play high-res files up to 24-bit/96kHz, which is handy even if just from a compatibility standpoint. And just like those others it's proprietary, so you'll need to buy other MusicCast gear -- sound bars, monitors, dedicated speakers or other receivers -- to take full advantage of it. The cheapest such device is the base MusicCast speaker at $250.