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Seemingly since the dawn of AV receivers, two brands have stood out from the others in customer's minds: Denon and Yamaha. Both have enviable reputations for great sound, and are consistently able to offer the newest, "must-have" features.
The Yamaha RX-V483 is a fine example of the manufacturer's art, boasting a useful amount of options in addition to excellent sound quality. It offers a decent amount of future-proofing with support for 4K HDR video and multiroom music.
On the other hand, it doesn't really improve much on last year's model, while its competitor, the Denon AVR-S730H has made some important gains -- namely Dolby Atmos support. However, Atmos is hardly a must-have in our book. It requires extra "height" speakers and, more importantly, isn't nearly as common as Dolby's other formats on today's movies and TV shows.
Choosing between them can be difficult as both have significant benefits. But in the end, it boils down to this: if you're willing to pay more for Dolby Atmos and better connectivity, get the Denon. But if you want slightly better sound quality and a cheaper price and can skip those extras, the Yamaha has the edge.
The Yamaha RX-V483 is available now for $450, £429 or AU$800.
There are two camps when it comes to designing the facade of modern receivers -- lots of buttons, and no buttons. Yamaha has traditionally pitched its tent in the "give them all the buttons!" camp, and the RX-483 makes its home here, too.
For whatever reason, many budget receivers have resisted going full color and 1080p with their on-screen displays. Manufacturers may argue it's a cost-cutting exercise, but look to a $30 Roku and its HD interface and we'll tell you that's a poor excuse. The V483 is somewhere between the blocky menus of old and the HD gloriousness of the competitive Sony receivers. It's functional, but we preferred the Denon AVR's full-screen art when playing back streaming tracks, which the Yamaha didn't do.
The remote control is compact, friendly and relatively easy to use though -- everything we like!
The V483 is also a 5.1-channel receiver capable of 80 watts per channel in stereo. The rear channels can be used as a Zone B if you wish, or to bi-amp your fronts. As a five-channel model, it does miss out on enhanced surround or Atmos capabilities.
The RX-V483 brings Wi-Fi music in the form of Yamaha's MusicCast which is a proprietary multiroom system. It offers streaming from a number of services including Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer. The receiver also includes AirPlay and Bluetooth in and out (primarily for listening with headphones).
Connectivity includes a frankly stingy four HDMI inputs (plus one out), but at least they include compatibility with 4K pass-through and HDR Video (Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma). Again, the Denon offers two more HDMI inputs. In addition to HDMI, the Yamaha includes two digital coaxial inputs and a single optical port.
For this review, we used the Yamaha RX-V483's YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer) auto-setup program to calibrate our 5.1-channel test system that used a pair of ELAC Debut B6 bookshelf speakers in the front left and right positions, an ELAC Debut C5 center-channel speaker, ELAC Debut B5s as surrounds, and a Klipsch R-110SW subwoofer.
We liked that the Yamaha auto setup is easier and a lot faster than the Denon AVR-S730H's Audyssey system, but the RX-V483's setup was slightly less accurate. The Yamaha misjudged the size of the ELACs, claiming the bookshelf speakers were "large" instead of "small," resulting in a 60 Hertz crossover setting and not the optimal 80Hz. That aside, we had no complaints, though we still recommend going with a full manual setup if you're up for it. If you use the auto setup, definitely check the results and feel free to modify them as you see fit. Let your ears be the judge.
The concert sequences from Roger Waters' latest, and some say "best", reboot of Pink Floyd's classic album, "The Wall" demonstrated the RX-V483's skillset. The shock and awe of "In the Flesh" and "Young Lust" fully exercised the ELAC speakers when the music's uninhibited dynamic range cut loose. This system can rock out, and the Klipsch sub's integration with the speakers was flawless. The music might be old, but Waters and his backing band kicked butt!
We continued thrashing the RX-V483 with the action sequences coursing through "Deadpool," the body blows and gunfire blasts exchanged with our hero and various baddies packed a wallop! Even when we pushed the volume way up in the small 11-by-20-foot CNET listening room, we never felt the RX-V483 was straining to keep up.
With the "Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City" Blu-ray, the RX-V483 the sound took an acoustic turn in the huge old theater. The RX-V483 may only be a 5.1-channel receiver, but the surround was effective. That said, the Sony STR-DN1080 receiver with the same speakers was even more enveloping and natural sounding. The five speakers disappeared more, and quiet details like the concert hall ambiance were better on the STR-DN1080, so it was more like being there.
Then we listened to a new high-resolution remaster of Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" album. Truth be told, "Model" was never a great-sounding album, and this new version did nothing to change our minds about that. Luckily, Costello's blisteringly raw pop doesn't need resolution to communicate his edge, but we did feel the STR-DN1080 opened up the crowded mixes more, dynamics felt better, and the band's hard-hitting rhythm section felt stronger than they did via the RX-V483.
While there was a pretty wide gap between the Sony and the Yamaha, the gulf between the Denon and the Yamaha was much easier to bridge. We listened to Villagers' "The Waves" and found both able to conjure up the track's otherwordly character -- bleeps and bloops, tinkling pianos and confessional vocals all locked in place between our Elac speakers. The Yamaha had a tinge more excitement and "air," but both were enjoyable.
When it came to home cinema though, the differences were more obvious. The Yamaha put that excitement to better use with the Hong Kong invasion scene from "Transformers Age of Extinction." As the Decepticons' giant ship pulls buses and boats into the sky, the Yamaha render the low, metallic rumble of the giant magnet and the tinkle of breaking glass in a more enthralling way than the Denon could. The Denon sounded a little sapped of energy in comparison.
We've reviewed three excellent receivers recently -- the Yamaha, the Denon and the Sony. But what is it you want for your money? Features or performance? The Yamaha hedges its bets between the two, but it's mostly a winning combination.
While the Sony STR-DN1080 is the best of the three, it's 50 percent more expensive than other two. If you don't need Dolby Atmos -- and few do yet -- pair the Yamaha with a great 5.1-speaker/sub system, and this will deliver spectacular sound for an affordable price. We only wish that the Yamaha had more HDMI ports.