If you have designs on 3D, the Yamaha RX-V371's HDMI ports will allow you to pass full HD pictures from a Blu-ray deck to your 3D TV, decoding HD audio along the way. As mentioned, the RX-V371 is capable of decoding Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks piped in from a Blu-ray deck, as well as DTS HD and Dolby Digital Plus – although it’s a five-channel receiver so obviously 7.1 material is off the agenda.
Power-wise, there’s 5 x 100W under the bonnet, which is plenty powerful enough for modestly-sized living rooms. Digital-to-analogue audio conversion is handled by 192kHz/24-bit Burr Brown chips and true to form Yamaha has provided more sound processing modes than you’ll probably ever need (17 in all) under the CINEMA DSP umbrella.
Modes in the Movie category have exciting sounding names like Spectacle, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Drama and Action Game, while a group of music-oriented modes transport you to such salubrious (and oddly specific) surroundings as a Hall in Munich, LA’s Roxy Theatre rock venue and New York’s The Bottom Line jazz club.
There’s a Compressed Music Enhancer too, which spruces up sounds from MP3 players and iPods, while Virtual CINEMA DSP and SILENT CINEMA are the obligatory pseudo surround modes, the latter offering a surround effect through headphones. You can playback music from Bluetooth devices with the optional YBA-10 receiver, or from iPods/iPhones with the YDS-12 dock.
When it comes to setup, all of the adjustments have to be made using the front display panel. But the lack of a GUI doesn’t impact on the RX-V371’s ease of use as greatly as you might expect – weirdly, operation is still a hassle-free experience.
Sure, the front display panel is harder to see than an onscreen display, but that it’s big enough to display full words means you don’t have to decipher cryptic abbreviations the whole time, while the logical submenu sequences and fast reactions provide a level of intuitiveness that even some onscreen menus can’t match.
The Speaker Setup section offers level and distance settings, as well as an equaliser and test tone. But you can steer clear of all manual settings if you prefer thanks to the built-in YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) technology, which does all the hard work for you.
With a microphone plugged into the front panel, YPAO plays test tones, measures the results and uses the information to set the appropriate size, distance and volume level for each speaker. It’s an increasingly common feature among AV receivers but always pleasing to find it at this price, particularly as most of its target audience won’t have a clue about sound calibration. What’s more it’s fairly quick and we couldn’t really argue with the settings it came up with.
The supplied remote won’t set your coffee table alight with its dreary black design, and in an ideal world the buttons and lettering would be bigger. But its convenient placement of the menu and volume controls is a bonus, and the Scene buttons are an intelligent touch – these act like macros, turning on the power and switching to a particular input with a single press.