Yamaha RX-V1 Digital Surround Receiver Review

At 61 pounds plus, Yamaha’s flagship RX-V1 easily qualifies as the new A/V-receiver size and weight champ also the A/V-connection champ. The RX-V1 presents the most awesome array of audio and video jacks I’ve seen on the back panel of any receiver. The “key features” box tells the whole story, but the total of 11 digital inputs (including a laserdisc-ready AC-3/RF jack) and eight analog A/V entryways is mighty impressive.

Among the forest of connectors is an output for a back surround speaker – the RX-V1 includes a matrix decoder for deriving a centered rear surround channel from any 5.1-channel recording. That gives you 6.1-channel reproduction, but you could have as many as 8.1 channels since there are also outputs for two front-effects speakers, a proprietary Yamaha feature.

And there’s plenty more: three component-video inputs that can be assigned among the eight A/V sources, a six-channel analog input for DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD, remote-zone A/V line outputs, preamp outputs for the five primary channels plus front L/R amp inputs, and even an RS-232 serial port for connection to a home-automation system. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, if it won’t connect to the RX-V1, you can probably get along without it.

The RX-V1 is exceptionally well finished, with metalwork and graphics that approach esoteric audiophile standards. The result is handsome, but it’s hardly understated (a black version is also available). The amber display is relatively simple, however, and since all the controls except two buttons (power and input mode) and two knobs (volume and source selection) are concealed behind a hinged panel, the visual impact is not overwhelming.

I had no particular problems setting up the big Yamaha, though the process did require three more speakers than with most surround receivers. Speaker connections are multiway binding posts all around. The RX-V1 has one of those attorney-approved 8/4-ohm impedance switches (and Yamaha recommends 8 ohms only for the front-effects speakers). I treated the switch as I usually do these things: I ignored it. (For the record, the RX-V1 worked fine driving my mixed-impedance suite of speakers, and it never got disturbingly warm even when I tested its clipping-level power output into 4-ohm dummy loads.) For the front-effects channels, I used two-way mini monitors perched on shelves, about 6 feet up and 3 feet to either side of the main front L/R pair. For the back surround channel I used a two-way speaker similar in performance to my front speakers.