The numbers game
The $499 RX-V620's frill-free appearance won't garner many oohs and aahs, but the extra set of front-panel-mounted inputs (S-Video, composite video, audio, and digital audio) might come in handy if you use a game console or video camera. If you're really serious about video quality, the RX-V620 has you covered, with two sets of component video connectors and five sets of audio and S-Video/composite video inputs. We counted four stereo inputs, including a phono jack. The digital tally reached five assignable inputs (four optical and one coaxial) and one optical output. The 5.1-channel input for a DVD-Audio/Super Audio CD (SACD) player rounds out the audio connections.
Using the onscreen menus to set up your speakers for the first time is far from intuitive. However, it's not so much worse than other brands' setup that you should steer clear of the Yamaha for that reason alone. Speaking of speakers, the speaker Impedance Selector switch on the back definitely affects the sound. We started off with it in the 8-ohm position on our 6-ohm Dynaudio Contour speakers, but the sound was too lean. Flipping the switch to the 4-ohm position filled out the bass somewhat. You should experiment to determine which position yields the best sound from your speakers.
Our listening session
The sound quality is good, but it's hardly stellar. Bottom-end punch and drive are lacking. As a result we weren't fully wowed by the frenetic mix on the Requiem for a Dream DVD; the bass was a tad flabby, and the surround effects weren't as expansive as we like. But then we sampled the V620's digital-signal-processing (DSP) prowess. Beyond the de rigueur Concert Hall and Jazz Club settings, the RX-V620 allows the user to individually adjust some parameters--for example, room size, delay, and so on--for each DSP setting. Yes, you'll have to work your way through more than a few menus to access these settings, but technically inclined owners will have hours of fun. If you don't want to go through the motions, though, no problem; the 26 factory-supplied settings are pretty good on their own. Those DSP modes proved especially useful for older, spatially restricted films, such as Dune and Carrie. You can tweak the effects to suit your taste.
We have a few gripes with the RX-V620: it inhibited some of the more explosive DVDs' dynamic impacts; the sound muted for a fraction of a second when skipping chapters on DVDs; and the slender universal remote is a little too skinny and awkward to use. But on the plus side, Yamaha's Silent Cinema processing delivers something beyond the usual inside-your-head effect for headphone listeners; the sound is much more open and spacious--more like surround sound from speakers.
Yamaha packs a ton of good stuff into the RX-V620, including a one-year warranty. Oh, and don't forget: the 5.1-surround flexibility works equally well on movies and music. But if you just want a great-sounding, easy-to-use receiver for a little less money, check out the .