Receivers

Yamaha RX-V665 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The first thing I noted about the 665, even before it was delivered to me, was the paltry weight. At 18.7 pounds, I actually wondered if this was a typo. I mean, my DVD player (admittedly built like a tank) weighs almost that much and my stalwart 995, not top of the line even when new, hefts in at almost twice as much. I was immediately concerned about the amplifier section and power supply. When the 665 arrived, the weight was confirmed as I was able to carry the box easily in one hand.

However, upon un-boxing, I noticed a few design features that explain at least some of the 665's svelte build: The faceplate, though a dead-ringer for a nice plate of black-anodized brushed aluminum, is actually plastic, and the overall build and design of the receiver further reflect those sort of subtle but not insignificant materials choices throughout. So while very light in weight, it does not feel, nor look, as though it's cheaply built (save for the volume knob, more on that later); but rather fairly cleverly designed. Keep in mind; this is an 18 lb $550 receiver: one shouldn't expect tank-like build quality. Given that, I was pleased with the design and build. I was however, still a little concerned about the power supply.

Aesthetically, the 665 is a very traditional black AV receiver, with a nice minimalist front panel. The only dial on the front is the main volume. There are several discreet, flush buttons for various mode selections and tuning, one set of A/V inputs and a headphone jack. The display uses a white LCD, which is a departure from older Yamahas which used gold LCDs.

I must say I wasn't very fond of the volume knob and control for a few reasons, least of which was that the knob is very light and feels cheap. Granted, tactile characteristics of a volume knob are not as important as they used to be, since we generally adjust volume with the remote. The second mark against it was that the volume knob is not backlit in any way, so it's very difficult to see how much the volume changes when adjusted via the remote. There is an attenuation value displayed on the main LCD display, but the font was too small to read from the couch. Thirdly, the volume adjusts much, much too slowly when using the remote. This may seem like a minor quibble, but after a while, it really became annoying. When I press and hold the volume button on the remote, I expect a fairly fast response, especially with commercials that are >6dB louder than the main program on TV these days.

Yamaha RX-V665 AV Receiver

Around the back side of the 665 is a pretty decent set of inputs and outputs for such an affordable receiver: In addition to nice binding post terminals for all 7 channels (the only spring clips are for Yamaha's proprietary "front effects" channels), there are four HDMI inputs and one out, two component inputs and one out, four digital audio inputs (two coax, two optical) and the standard array of analog audio/video RCA jacks. Curiously absent are any S-Video jacks at all, even though composite video jacks are included. I can't think of any contemporary A/V devices these days that have composite video outputs and not s-video outputs. One benefit of eliminating the s-video jacks, however, is that the back panel is not as crowded as it might otherwise be. For example, although I use banana plugs for my speaker wire, it looks to me like you could fit 5/16" spades in to the binding posts if you wanted to. Also missing, is a phonograph input jack.

I can't say I blame Yamaha for removing such a jack from a receiver at this price point, though. Most people still into vinyl will most likely not be in the market for a receiver like the 665. One small quibble I had with the connections on the back panel is that of the two component inputs, one has coaxial audio input, while the other has optical. These are not interchangeable and can not be re-assigned. So if you have two component video sources and both have only coax digital audio out (or both only optical), you would not be able to switch both sources with the 665. While this design simplifies setup (you have no choice where to connect your component source that has only optical digital audio out) the lack of flexibility can be frustrating.

For example, I would have preferred to connect the DVD player to AV-1, which has the optical audio jack. My DVD player has both coax and optical audio outputs, but my other component video source, my digital media center (an original Xbox) has only optical. So, I was forced to connect my DVD player to AV2, using coaxial digital audio, and my media center to AV1. I then re-named AV1 to "Game" to distinguish it from the DVD player. Again, these may seem like minor quibbles to some, but you never know when one man's minor annoyance is another's deal-breaker.

Yamaha RX-V665 AV Receiver

The remote is pretty basic. The layout seemed fairly intuitive to me: I found it fairly easy to remember where buttons were. That said, it could be a lot better. There is absolutely no dark-viewing technology (backlight, glow-in-the-dark, etc.) at all. The source buttons are much too similar and close together. Even while looking, I often pressed the HDMI#1 source button instead of the AV#1 button. The transport buttons are identical in shape, and the numeric keypad is tiny. On the other hand, the navigation section and volume buttons were easy enough to find and operate; and this is the most commonly used part of the remote. I did really like that there was a dedicated set of buttons for the TV. The remote was very sensitive to direction: In my family room the 665 was about 14 feet from the remote when watching TV and it had to be pointed pretty much straight at the receiver to work reliably.

The remote has four "scene" buttons. The scene buttons offer a one-button solution for what Yamaha deems the four most common sources for the RX-V665 (Blu-Ray/DVD, TV, CD, and Radio). You can assign the scene buttons to any input source, but the labels on the remote are permanent. I'm not sure yet what these buttons offer over the standard source selection buttons (HDMI 1 through 4, and AV 1-6) other than that the Scene buttons are hard-labeled with a device type (e.g. "TV" instead of AV-4 in my case).

The component video switching section is rated to 60 MHz @ -3dB. This is adequate for 720p and 1080i video (although barely – some softening may be visible depending on your display's and cable's quality) but this is not adequate if you have any 1080p video sources that use component cabling or if your 1080p display requires component cables. Admittedly, both of these scenarios are probably pretty rare anymore, but caveat emptor. Both the HDMI and the component video outputs are active at the same time.