In recent years, Yamaha's AV receivers have disappointed us, with fewer features than competitors and some confusing design choices. The Yamaha RX-V667 is a return to form for the company. There can be no complaints about HDMI connectivity, with the RX-V667 packing six ports, including a front-panel input. The Yamaha also comes packed with all kinds of niche audio connectivity features that others have left out, including pre-outs and 7.1 analog audio inputs. We were also really impressed with the new graphical user interface, which has leapfrogged the competition and is the best we've seen so far. And unlike the disappointing sound of last year's RX-V665BL, the RX-V667 is the upper tier of sound quality in the midrange price level, although keen ears will note that it's still a step behind the Denon AVR-1911.
The lack of out-of-the-box iPod/iPhone connectivity and its relative high price keep the Yamaha from being our top value pick this year--that honor goes to the Pioneer VSX-1020-K ($450 street price)--but the RX-V667 is an excellent choice if you need all the niche functionality it offers.
The RX-V667 has a two-tone look, with the top half getting the glossy black treatment and the bottom getting brushed-metal styling. There's an LCD screen in the center of the top half, with a row of buttons underneath. There are also several buttons on the bottom half of the receiver, and overall it's a more cluttered look than we like. Front-panel connectivity includes an HDMI port and a standard AV input. It's not a stylish receiver, like the Marantz NR1601 or even the Denon AVR-1911, but at least it's not quite as bulky as the Onkyo HT-RC260.
The included remote is packed with buttons. Though we appreciate that Yamaha provided direct access to each input up top, the buttons are similarly sized and aligned in uneven grids; it can be confusing, especially for tech novices. The rest of the remote is completely filled with buttons, too, including a number pad and playback controls for controlling, say, a Blu-ray player. We prefer the simpler remote offered on Onkyo's receivers. Of course, if you're going with a component-based home theater, it's probably a good idea to invest in a universal remote anyway.
Yamaha's new graphical user interface (GUI) is the best we've seen on a midrange AV receiver this year. Press the "On Screen" button and the color menus pop up on the left-hand side of the screen. You'll also notice that it's capable of overlaying over whatever video signal you're currently watching, which no competitors offer. We were really impressed with how logically the menus were arranged and how responsive they were to remote commands. Unfortunately, we didn't have a YDS-12 dock on hand to try out the GUI with a connected iPod, but the manual does indicate that you're able to browse your iPod using the onscreen display.
|Channels||7.2||Analog video upconversion||Yes|
|Graphical user interface||Yes||Automatic speaker calibration||Yes|
The RX-V667 has an excellent set of key features. Though features like a two-year warranty and analog video upconversion are relatively standard, its fast and colorful graphical user interface really make it stand out from the competition.
|HDMI version||1.4a||3D pass-through||Yes|
|Audio return channel||Yes||Standby pass-through||Yes|
Like most midrange receivers this year, the RX-V667 comes with a full suite of the new HDMI features offered. It supports 3D pass-through, which means it can pass a 3D video signal from a 3D video source to a 3D HDTV. The Yamaha also supports audio return channel functionality, as well as standby pass-through. Those features give it the edge over the Pioneer VSX-1020-K in that department.
|Dolby TrueHD||Yes||DTS-HD Master Audio||Yes|
|Dolby ProLogic IIz||No|
Like every other receiver in this price range, the RX-V667 offers decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. It does not, however, offer decoding for the Dolby Pro Logic IIz format, which uses "height" channels, rather than additional back surrounds. That's not a major loss in our book, as we weren't that impressed with Pro Logic IIz when we tested it last year. Additionally, Yamaha offers a very similar effect using the company's optional "presence" speakers. Similarly, some competitors, such as the Denon AVR-1911, the Marantz NR1601, and the Onkyo HT-RC260, feature Audyssey's suite of sound-processing modes, but instead the RX-V667 sticks with proprietary technology such as Adaptive Dynamic Range Control and Adaptive DSP Level.
|HDMI inputs||6||Component video inputs||2|
|Composite video inputs||5||Max connected HD devices||8|
Video connectivity is excellent, with the RX-V667 featuring six total HDMI inputs. There's also enough analog video connectivity for any legacy devices you have laying around. In all, you can connect eight total HD devices at once, which is the most we've seen at this price range.
It's worth pointing out here exactly how the Yamaha treats inputs and input assigning. We've knocked some previous Yamaha receivers for lacking true input assignment capabilities, and though the RX-V667 isn't quite as flexible as some competitors, we really can't complain. Every video input is linked to a specific input label--so "AV1" will also refer to that specific component video input--but each video connection can have any audio input assigned to it. That's good enough in our book, and Yamaha's excellent user interface makes it a cinch to setup your home theater.
|Optical inputs||2||Coaxial inputs||2|
|Stereo analog audio inputs||6||Multichannel analog inputs||7.1|
Audio connectivity is excellent on the RXV667. There are four total digital audio inputs, which is standard, along with six stereo analog audio inputs. The standout here is the RX-V667's 7.1 multichannel analog inputs. Though multichannel analog inputs used to be a standard feature on midrange AV receivers, this year the RX-V667 is the only receiver we're testing with the feature. If you have equipment that requires it, it's pretty much your only choice in this price range.
|iPod connectivity||$100 dock||Satellite radio||Sirius|
|USB port||No||IR input/output||Yes|
The most disappointing part of the RX-V667's feature set is that it doesn't offer iPod connectivity out of the box. Instead, you'll have to pony up for the $100 YDS-12 accessory, which feels stingy when the receiver already costs $550 and competitors offer iPod playback over USB. The RX-V667 does, however, offer some niche features that many of its competitors are dropping, such as pre-outs and IR inputs/outputs.
|Line-level second-zone outputs||Yes||Powered second-zone outputs||Yes|
Like most midrange receivers, the RX-V667 has second-zone functionality, using either line-level RCA audio outputs or powered, speaker-level outputs. It's a step up over the Sony STR-DN1010 and Marantz NR1601, which don't have traditional second-zone functionality. (The STR-DN1010 does support a second zone using Sony's proprietary S-Air products.)
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, sets the ideal subwoofer to speaker crossover point, and confirms that all of the speaker cables are correctly hooked up.
That's pretty standard stuff for receivers, but we think Yamaha's YPAO is one of the easiest auto setups to use. Plug in the (supplied) Optimizer microphone and make your way through the RX-V667's great-looking and nicely organized GUI menus. Once you're on the Auto Setup menu, just press the "Start" button and the YPAO will send a short series of test tones to all the speakers and subwoofer. We liked that all of the measurements are taken from just one mic position, and the YPAO takes just a few minutes to complete. Yamaha's auto setup system is faster and easier to use than Denon's, Marantz's, or Onkyo's Audyssey setup programs. True, the YPAO isn't as ambitious and doesn't equalize the sound, or attempt to fine-tune the sound to the degree we see in Audyssey's systems, but we can't say we found the YPAO lacking in any way.
The results were about as accurate as Audyssey's, and YPAO correctly determined that all five of our Aperion Intimus 4T Hybrid SD reference speakers were "Small." The YPAO didn't get the subwoofer distance to the calibration mic measurement correctly--it claimed it was 13 feet, when it's really 10 feet away--but Audyssey systems frequently get that number wrong as well. We did feel that the YPAO made the subwoofer a little louder than we would have set it ourselves.
The RX-V667 was richer and sounded fuller than what we remember from last year's RX-V665 receiver.
We listened to King Crimson's high-resolution "Red" DVD-Audio disc to get a more complete handle on the RX-V667's sound. This disc has a surprisingly well conceived surround mix, and on the tune called "Providence" we loved the way David Cross' violin floated from the front channels to the right surround speaker, and Robert Fripp's electric guitar held center stage in the front channels. "Providence" is a fairly quiet tune, and we heard a nice sense of space surrounding each of the instruments. On the louder, more rock-oriented tunes like "Red," the RX-V667 clarified the sound of Fripp's violently distorted guitar and Bill Bruford's frantic drumming. This music can sound harsh on lesser systems, but it opened up and sounded beautiful over the RX-V667.
We compared the RX-V667 with a Denon AVR-1911 receiver while listening to the "Goldberg Variation Acoustica," a 96kHz/24-bit Dolby TrueHD encoded Blu-ray. Both receivers sounded great, but the RX-V667's bigger and fuller sound was the most obvious difference. Even so, the AVR-1911 let us hear a wee bit more dynamic contrast from the drums; the cymbals' shimmer was clearer; and the soundstage depth gave the instruments more of a three-dimensional solidity. The AVR-1911's front-to-rear soundstage was more precisely focused and sounded more spacious than the RX-V667.
Continuing the comparisons with the "Black Hawk Down" Blu-ray, the AVR-1911 communicated the violence of the movie's battle scenes in a more visceral way. The differences between the two receivers weren't great, but we'd give the edge to the AVR-1911.
One thing we noticed right away when we played "The Last Station" DVD was how natural the RX-V667's sound was. The film life is hardly a special-effects bonanza, but it unfailingly sounded natural. We could hear the actors' voices filling the rooms of the old houses, and the outdoor scenes with horses and birds sounded perfect.
Listening to CDs, mostly in stereo, we were impressed with the RX-V667's broad soundstage width. Our Aperion 4T tower speakers all but disappeared as sound sources when we played Belle & Sebastian's "The Boy with the Arab Strap" album. Switching to Pure Direct mode bypassed the RX-V667's bass management and shut down our Aperion Bravus 8D subwoofer, leaving the Aperion 4T speakers to produce all of the music's bass on their own. The 4Ts 4-inch woofers tried valiantly, but they didn't come close to generating as much bass as the sub. Turning off Pure Direct and continuing with the RX-V667's "Straight" mode restored the subwoofer and the sound quality.