Yamaha's RX-V471 is a breath of fresh air from a company that has been curiously out of tune with the rest of the AV receiver market. Affordably priced at around £300, this 5.1-channel AV receiver combines 3D-friendly HDMI ports and USB media playback with a refreshingly approachable user interface. Finally, we have an AV receiver that the entire family can use.
The RX-V471's design is clean and contemporary, with a clear, easy-to-read LED display seamlessly integrated beneath a side-to-side transparent panel. Beneath, four buttons -- BD/DVD, TV, CD and radio -- take you directly to your input of choice, selecting any preset sound modes and input configurations en route. This removes the usual guesswork non-techies must perform when they need to use the system.
Connectivity is great for the price. The RX-V471 has four 3D-compliant HDMI inputs, plus two component inputs, four digital audio inputs (two coaxial, two optical), two phono AV inputs and an LFE subwoofer out. There are also proper binding posts for all speakers.
Conveniently, the RX-V471 also has HDMI standby pass-through. This means you can route your Sky or cable box through the AV receiver using HDMI, without any need to power it up.
The RX-V471 also offers basic CEC control, allowing you to operate HDMI-linked kit via the RX-V471's remote.
As is de rigueur, the RX-V471 comes with an auto-calibration system. A supplied microphone plugs into the front of the unit, triggering on-screen prompts that guide you through the procedure. The system used here is relatively simple, and takes only a few minutes to evaluate phase, speaker size, distance and appropriate levels. It gets a B+ for accuracy.
The system rather exaggerated the size of our room, placing the rear speakers adrift and the sub too close, but this takes just a minute or so to fix. You can then go into the equaliser menu settings and modify the results so that they're more to your taste, using 'flat', 'front' and 'natural' filters. We chose the front configuration, as it delivers the cleanest dialogue.
The RX-V471 may lack Ethernet connectivity, but it can still play back music files via its front-mounted USB port. Compatibility covers MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV files, although FLAC is conspicuous by its absence. The reader fails to display album art, unless an iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPod touch, is attached. There's also an optional Bluetooth wireless receiver, the £90 YBA-10, if you want to stream tunes directly from your mobile phone.
The audio quality is excellent for the price. The receiver is musically gifted, with a rounded mid-range and sharp, snappy surround sound. The power output of the RX-V471 is rated at 5x105W, which may be optimistic when all channels are driven, but rest assured that this receiver never sounds as though it's running low on gas. Tomoyasu Hotei's rousing instrumental Battle without Honour or Humanity on Blu-ray may lack the dynamics offered by more expensive amplification, but it's deliciously riffy all the same.
All the regular codecs are supported -- Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. These are supplemented by a raft of above-average digital-signal processing modes, now branded 'Cinema DSP 3D'.
DSP acoustic processing has long been a speciality of Yamaha's. There are 17 modes on tap here, split between treatments for movies and music. Low-rent DSP is usually just an excuse for slapping on various levels of reverb, but that's not what Yamaha offers. Some of these post-processing treatments are subtle, others quite dramatic, but none of them put a digital veil over the original source.
Running Apocalypse Now Redux via the 'spectacle' DSP movie setting definitely amps up the scale of the sound stage, raising the dialogue away from the screen. The end result is reminiscent of the sound stage in a fairly large cinema. When you remove DSP, the audio snaps back around the screen like sonic elastic.
Cinema DSP 3D processing is active on all inputs, unless you specifically opt for a 'straight' surround-sound treatment.
The Yamaha RX-V471 is a terrific-sounding, well-engineered AV receiver for the 3D generation. Features such as USB media playback, auto calibration, and HDMI standby pass-through help to nudge it ahead of much of the competition, and its DSP modes are best-in-class. Overall, it's a recommended budget buy.
Edited by Charles Kloet