As I have stepped in to oversee the direction of this magazine, I find myself tempted to play with the gear again. We have an incredible team of qualified veteran editors putting the latest entries in our industry to the test, but the temptation to participate is overwhelming. So I hired myself to grab one of this issue's gems.
Now as a thirty-five-year audiophile who built tube amp kits back in the late '60s, you would think I would challenge Manoj and tackle one of the latest tweaky toys. One thing that I have found over these many years is the older I get, the less complicated I want my gear. I haven't owned a receiver in about twenty years now. From receiver to integrated amplifier to separates is the path of most addicted geeks like me. What has happened to most of us is that we own multiple systems: our high-end sound system, our theater or multi-purpose entertainment room and some other office, den or game room system. Today, there are smart home systems that do it all, but me, I have different desires for each listening experience. Today the family needs to be able to operate the home theater, and that is where an all-purpose, quality receiver dominates.
This was an easy assignment, since I already have a small theater set up in my den and own a Yamaha relic, the A780 integrated amplifier. Don't get me wrong, this has been a workhorse for over 10 years. It has entertained us in three different homes, and today drives my gameroom theater. So, let's get the new RX-V457 out of this box and swap pieces! The RX series consists of eleven powerful, versatile 5-, 6- and 7-channel home theater receivers. RX-V series receivers range from affordable units starting with 85 watts per channel (our unit today), to units with 130 watts per channel, and feature Digital ToP-ART Technology to assure the purest circuits and transmission.
This full-function, high power 510-watt (85W x 6) 6.1-channel receiver with special features and multiple Surround Realism is a steal at an entry price point in this RX lineup. Every surround mode known to man, like Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, Dolby Pro Logic IIx and DTS 96/24 Compatibility Quad-Field CINEMA DSP Programs, 14 Surround Programs Night Listening Enhancer (Cinema/Music), and SILENT CINEMA Audio Delay for Adjusting Lip-Sync (0-160 ms) complement this unit, and it is XM Satellite Radio ready, too. Now, I don't know if you have had any experience with satellite radio (XM or Sirius) but I am having a blast and will cover these technologies next issue. The selectable nine-band subwoofer crossover/phase select, HDTV-compatible component video out, two component video inputs and three digital inputs, plus three S-Video inputs, are just a few of the luxury items on an entry-level receiver - not common on many brands. What my wife likes about it already is the uncomplicated front panel. I didn't have to give her training on operation. The remote control, now that's another story, but it has everything and more. I could sit here and copy all the features from the owner's manual, but go to www.yamaha.com and check out this excellent web site. How did we ever exist before the Internet?
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
I'm sure you and I (men) are no different. I popped open the carton and began to hook up this beauty without reading the owner's manual. I also assemble things that way and end up with leftover parts. Thankfully, this thing came assembled. Within 30 minutes, I had the A780 integrated out and the new RX-V457 hooked up and running. Now was a good time to peruse the manual and check out the cool stuff it does while enjoying the music. (I am using a V, Inc. HD 42-inch plasma, a Sony CX-985V, multi-function CD/DVD player and my trusty M&K MX 150 subwoofer with a Monitor Audio surround system for fronts, center and rears.) The back panel is excellent. It wasn't cluttered or with connectors so close to one another you couldn't get your fingers in to install cables. The binding posts were of good quality for a receiver at this price, allowing me to use high-end cables and speaker wire.
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Like anything else, we go out shopping for a home entertainment system and soon move ourselves well beyond the price point we set out to stay within. Entry receiver, no separates, larger speakers, yeah that's it, bigger woofer? Look, if you are looking to build a quality home theater that can take care of your music, theater and all-around entertainment needs, match this baby up with a good home theater in-a-box speaker system from Definitive Technology, Energy, Monitor Audio, KEF or others and sit back and enjoy the show! Match it up with a Yamaha DV-C6760 Five-Disc Progressive Scan DVD-Video/SACD Changer at $229, and for under $2,000 (including quality cables and speaker system), you're there!
Hats off to Yamaha, who for the last gazillion years have delivered quality performance. The RX-V457 now allows more to enjoy the digital age at near-iPod dollars. WOW!