We've been critical of some Yamaha receivers in the past for not offering as many features as the competition, but we've always been impressed by their sound quality. That's why when we previewed the Yamaha RX-V665BL, we were a little worried that the weight was substantially lower than last year's RX-V663; was Yamaha cutting back on some of the internal components that made the RX-V663 sound great? While we don't know exactly why the RX-V665BL weighs less, our extensive listening tests found that the RX-V665BL didn't have the sonic prowess we usually find on Yamaha receivers. And while the RX-V665BL made some significant improvements, such as including four HDMI inputs and an improved rear-panel design, there were still some significant missteps, such as the inability to assign audio inputs and poor image quality on upconverted analog video signals. The RX-V665BL has some unique features, like presence speaker outputs and dual subwoofer outputs, that still might make it a choice for budget audiophiles who like those nontraditional arrangements, but most buyers will get more bang for their bucks from competing models such as the Onkyo TX-SR607, Sony STR-DN1000, or Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K.
Editors' note: Yamaha has released a firmware update for the RX-V665BL that enables the ability to assign audio inputs. We have left our criticisms as-is, because we have not been able to test this functionality and its unorthodox updating procedure.
The RX-V665BL has the typical boxy look of an AV receiver, but it's a little shorter than most, coming in at 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 last year's RX-V663, which we preferred and found a little easier to read from far away. When you pull the RX-V665BL out of the box, you'll notice that it's significantly lighter than the RX-V663, coming in at only 18.7 pounds.
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 RX-V665BL's included remote is jam-packed full of tiny buttons, making it difficult to use, especially for home theater novices. Luckily, 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 mass. 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 RX-V665BL'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 RX-V665BL 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 RX-V665BL doesn't have the capability to assign inputs (more on that later).
Yamaha's Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) automatic speaker calibration system determines speaker sizes and volume levels, 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. That's what most autosetup systems do; it's just that Yamaha's YPAO is one of the easiest autosetups to use. Plug in the supplied microphone and the RX-V665BL automatically brings up the autosetup menu. Press the menu's "Start" button and YPAO will send a series of test tones to all the speakers and subwoofer. It takes just a few minutes to complete and all of the measurements are taken from just one mic position. Yamaha's autosetup routine is much faster and easier than Denon's or Onkyo's.
After the measurements were completed, we tried all three available EQ Types and didn't hear big differences between them; we settled on Flat. Even so, we felt the subwoofer volume was much too loud, so we brought up the RX-V665BL's manual setup menu and lowered the sub's volume.
|Dolby TrueHD + DTS-HD MA||Yes||Onscreen display||Text-based|
|Analog upconversion||1080p||Source renaming||Yes|
|Selectable output resolution||Yes||Satellite radio||XM + Sirius|
The RX-V665BL hits all the major features we expect at this price level, including onboard decoding for both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. 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). There's support for both XM and Sirius radio--many receivers only support one of the services--although that's less of a plus now that the two companies have merged.