Feed the RX-V371 a movie on Blu-ray – in this case Star Wars – and it conjures up a fast, exciting sound that’s sure to satisfy home cinema newcomers, although it lacks the majesty and smoothness of rivals like the Onkyo TX-NR609.
There’s plenty of stuff to admire though. The RX-V371 excavates lots of sonic detail from the disc’s stunning DTS HD Master Audio mix, presenting subtle noises and background ambience in a clear, audible manner and not allowing the other sonic elements to interfere. That goes for the centre channel too, which lends voices surprising texture and clarity.
It’s also adept at steering effects between speakers, meaning that Star Wars's Star Destroyer moves from back to front in a smooth, seamless manner. It’s equally breathtaking when faster Tie Fighters whizz between channels – the speed and timing is impeccable.
Also impressive is the balance and cohesion the Yamaha brings to the table. Bass crossover between our speakers and sub was expertly managed, fusing everything together in a unified whole, but without sounding cluttered or confused.
On the downside, there is a slight edge to high-frequencies when pushed that hints at the unit’s budget nature. Clashing lightsabers and exploding spaceships weren’t as smooth or tightly controlled as we’d like, resulting in an occasionally uncomfortable listen.
And musically the RX-V371 is good rather than great. Songs are nicely balanced, with healthy mids and clean highs, plus individual elements well separated and allowed to shine within the mix, yet there isn’t enough detail to really sparkle in the way the best receivers do. But that’s hardly likely to deter or surprise listeners who have only splashed out £200 or so for their AV receiver.
With its unspectacular spec sheet, the RX-V371 is a budget offering through and through, unlikely to attract the attention of home cinema enthusiasts. It lacks bells and whistles like USB ports, onscreen setup, networking and Dolby Pro Logic IIz – if that’s what you’re after, look higher up the range or check out Onkyo TX-NR609. The springclip terminals on the back are also disappointing.
However, what the Yamaha RX-V371 does offer is a generous array of connections, 3D support, auto calibration and a wealth of sound processing tech – all of which should be more than enough to satisfy beginners. It masterfully decodes HD audio tracks too, providing loud, engaging sound quality despite being hamstrung in places by its budget origins. But if a few jarring high frequencies are an acceptable sacrifice at this price, then file the RX-V371 under ‘bargain’.