We started picture testing with the Silicon Optix HQV disc and the BD-S667 stumbles over some of the tricky test patterns. The Video and Film Resolution Loss SMPTE patterns are devoid of any strobing, but the latter test’s camera pan across Raymond James stadium is horribly juddery whether the output is set to 50Hz or 24Hz. The movement of the rotating bars also suffers from significant judder, but on the plus side there’s no stepping on the edges.
Thankfully the Yamaha masks any such objective shortcomings with movie playback, turning in a top-drawer performance with The Dark Knight. As the camera moves towards the skyscraper in the movie’s opening shot, the detail on the surrounding rooftops is as crisp as we’ve seen it, and as the bank robbery scene continues you’re bombarded with loads more of this emphatically defined detail – everything from the Joker’s jacket material to strands of hair looks scalpel sharp.
Also impressive is the deck’s black depth and shadow detailing, both of which are essential during a film this gloomy, while the natural colour palette ensures that skin tones and other subtle shades look exactly as they should. We couldn’t spot any noise or other glitches in the picture, a sign that the all-digital HDMI output is doing its job well.
Upscaled DVD playback is fine, although the Silicon Optix HQV disc shows up some artefacts. There are some visible jaggies on the stripes of the flapping flag, but the detail test is stable and it passes the jaggies tests with no trouble. Movies look good too, although noise levels are higher than Blu-ray pictures.
With such an esteemed audio background, it would be a big surprise if Yamaha slipped up in the sound department. Thankfully it doesn’t, delivering amazingly forthright and dynamic PCM sound over the HDMI connection and smooth, well-balanced music playback over the analogue stereo outputs.
The BD-S667 isn’t a spectacular Blu-ray player by any stretch of the imagination, but is certainly a big improvement on previous Yamaha decks. The inclusion of DLNA networking, wider format support and faster disc loading makes it a much more likely candidate for your cash, while the typically sleek Yamaha looks and tweaked operating system are also welcome. People who want a Blu-ray player to match their Yamaha receiver can add this deck to their system with confidence.
But with a price tag creeping dangerously close to £300, we still think you can get better value for money elsewhere. Players like the LG BD570, Sony BDP-S570 and Samsung BD-C6900 offer even more features than the BD-S667 – as well as faster disc loading, prettier looks and equally sharp pictures – for a much lower price. We’d therefore recommend investigating these first before taking the Yamaha to the checkout.