The not-so-humble A/V receiver should be a mainstay of any home-theatre set-up, yet it is often forgotten. While not exactly cheap, the Yamaha RX-V673 is an affordable, feature-rich receiver that would be welcome in any lounge room.
The RX-V673 sits in the middle of Yamaha's RX range, and at AU$1099 is well priced for a 7.2-channel receiver. The rear of the device is almost awe inspiring, with five HDMI-in ports (plus a sixth one on the front of the unit) as well enough assorted inputs and ports to accommodate a very wide range of devices, including some older ones. Airplay is built in, although non-Apple users can still play music from a device via the front USB port or via the excellent Yamaha control app.
The RX-V673 has 4K pass-through and upscaling, access to Zone 2 control to get different music streams in different areas of the house, 3D signal processing capabilities and single-touch "scene-select" buttons, which allow you to turn on presets, such as Blu-ray playback or standard TV watching, at a single touch.
The sound is excellent, both for music, video playback and even gaming. The sound is big and rich, but not at the expense of the subtleties — especially when watching a Blu-ray, we were as impressed by the clarity of the smaller sounds such as footsteps, rain and incidental Foley work as we were by the explosions and high-action sequences.
Even when just listening to an audio CD, the RXC-V673 was a pleasure, with broad and spacious sound across a wide array of music styles. In both video and music playback, the receiver maintained quality and clarity even at a high volume. Even when we tested the playback via headphones (admittedly using a quality pair, the Philips Fidelio L1s) we were happy; this is a receiver worthy of use with a good pair of home-cinema cans.
The DLNA certification makes the receiver great for network play across video and audio, and the Ethernet port lets you take advantage of some of the streaming-music services available in Australia.
The on-screen interface is clean and surprisingly attractive, but the depth of it may intimidate newcomers to home-entertainment set-ups. That said, the Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimiser (YPAO) auto set-up system determines speaker sizes and volume levels, measures the distances from the speakers to the listener, sets the subwoofer-to-speaker crossover points and confirms that all of the speaker cables are correctly hooked up. It's simple to use and very helpful.
We can't say that we were overly impressed by the remote, however; the buttons are small, and there are a lot of them. It felt overcrowded, poorly spaced and a little confusing. That said, the control was great (as mentioned above), and a good universal remote should be a must-have for anyone progressing to an A/V receiver level of home entertainment.
In terms of pricing, features (especially Airplay) and overall design, the Yamaha RX-V673 is an absolute winner, and one that we're very happy to recommend. If you're looking for a way to wrangle all of your multiple HDMI gadgets, networked files and mobile devices into shape, look no further.