Receivers

Yamaha RX-V665 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

For daily use, I was very pleased with the 665. I was very happy to have some of the more modern codecs for 2 channel decoding, like Dolby Pro Logic II, when watching standard TV programming and casual music listening. Action HDTV programs like 24, CSI and NUMB3RS were well served. Each of these programs often makes good use of the surround channels in the DD5.1 sound track and the Yamaha delivered with aplomb. I was anxious though to really put the 665 through its paces, with some reference movie and music discs from my collection.

First up was my standard reference DVD for audio, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. There are other discs out there equally deserving of reference status for surround sound action, but I've been listening to and using the pod-race scene from this movie for so long, that it's easy to make comparisons. Again, for "normal" listening levels, the Yamaha did great. For me, "normal" means don't make a spectacle of your house with the sounds emanating from it, be able to have a limited conversation somewhere in the house, and maybe even let the kids sleep. The next volume level for me, is what I would consider enjoyable for a movie, but not optimal. This is the loudest my wife is comfortable with, which is still several clicks less than what I consider "loud." At this level, the 665 continued to impress.

The surround channels were immersive, and I never felt like the sound system was drawing attention to itself. One thing I really liked was the balance that the YPAO speaker setup achieved for my system. I felt like the sound field was noticeably smoother and more contiguous that what I was able to achieve with my older 995 receiver, which lacks EQ of any sort. Normally my bass is a bit "boomy" for my taste, and the 665 with the YPAO configuration smoothed out some of that boomy-ness.

At THX home reference levels (i.e. the receiver volume where THX test tones read 75dB on my SPL meter), I felt like the 665 was being pushed just a little beyond its comfort zone. Keep in mind too, that I had the 665 set up in a 5.1 configuration; only 5 of the 7 amplified channels were ever driven simultaneously and with very efficient satellite speakers. However, I want to stress that most people, including myself, never really listen to movies or music at reference levels – it is very loud. That said, I could certainly tell a difference between my 32lb RX-V995, and the 19lb RX-V665 when the volume was up and the surrounds were active.

I did not have a source that allowed me to test the latest high-definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio. However, I did listen extensively to both Dolby and DTS 5.1 formats, and as described earlier, the decoding performance of these codecs was very good.

My Telarc CD of "Aaron Copland: The Music of America" served as a music test for the RX-V665. This CD has all of the American composer's "greatest hits" with plenty of dynamic range – from pianissimo string and brass dances to full trumpets and tympani – to test any system. If you want dynamic transients, just try listening to "Buckaroo Holiday" from Copland's ballet score, "Rodeo". The challenging transitions from the cowgirl theme into the rodeo itself are a great test of any system. On lesser systems you'll find yourself turning up the volume to get the detail of the quiet cowgirl theme, and then turning it down again as the tympani and horns blast with the thunderous onset of the rodeo.

Again, I listened at two different levels as I evaluated the 665's performance: first at a "normal" listening level, what I might have while reading or studying, for example. Then there's my critical listening level, where I really push the system. At normal levels the 665 came through with great detail. The processing abilities of this receiver are quite impressive. At louder volumes, I felt that the big transients were not supported by enough dynamic headroom from the amplifiers in the 665: sections of forte tympani, bass, and brass felt just slightly weak, compared to what I am used to with the 995.

The RX-V665 is capable of video up-conversion through the HDMI output. All inputs are converted to whatever resolution you choose to be output on the HDMI monitor out. In my setup, I have two component sources: a Sony DVP-S7700 DVD player and a classic Microsoft Xbox setup as a media center with XBMC software. The DVD player is SD (480i) resolution, and the Xbox is set to 720p resolution. I normally have both sources run directly to my 50" 720p Samsung plasma TV, since my 995 can not switch component video. With the 665, I was able to hook both sources up to the receiver and choose either HDMI out to the TV or HD component out to the TV. Regardless of the configuration, I could not tell any differences in video quality, which is a good thing. If I had both sources up-converted to 720p and output to the plasma via HDMI, or if I used the component outputs of the 665, and let the plasma do the up-conversion, there was no visible difference in the picture quality. There was, however, a ~5 second delay when switching from component out to HDMI out on the receiver.