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Christmas Gift Guide

Yamaha RX-V665BL

Front panel

Scene controls

Onboard decoding for high-resolution soundtracks

Short and light

Back panel

Second zone audio


AM and FM included

The remote

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 incapability of assigning audio inputs and poor image quality on upconverted analog video signals. The RX-V66BL 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.
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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.
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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 like it. 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.
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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.
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The RX-V665BL has the typical boxy look of an AV receiver, but is a little shorter than most, coming in at 17.2 inches wide by 6 inches high and 14.3 inches deep. 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.
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From the specs chart, the RX-V665BL's connectivity would seem to be pretty complete, but the specs don't tell the whole story. The RX-V665BL's four HDMI inputs are average at this price point, although it's worth pointing out that the Onkyo TX-SR607 has six. While the rest of the connectivity is in line with comparable models, it's not nearly as flexible some others, as the RX-V665BL lacks the capability to assign audio inputs to any video input you'd like. So, while there are two component video inputs and two optical-digital-audio inputs, it's not possible to use two component video sources accompanied with optical-digital audio, because one of the component video inputs is permanently assigned to a coaxial-digital-audio input. In the real world, this will probably be an issue only if you have many analog video sources, but it's an annoying drawback that isn't present on other receivers in this price range.
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The Yamaha RX-V665BL has a strong set of multiroom features, enabling you to send analog audio to a second room, using either speaker-level outputs or line-level outputs. It's also worth noting that, unlike most competing models, the RX-V665BL doesn't use the same speaker connections for the surround-back speakers and second zone speaker level outputs, so you can easily set up both a 7.1 system and have second zone audio running.
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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.
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Like every other AV receiver, the RX-V665BL includes AM and FM antennas for traditional terrestrial-radio reception.
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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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET