Yamaha RX-V377 AV Receiver Page 2

In addition to bearing my favorite movie title of all time, The Demented (Dolby TrueHD) offers a predictable plot about teens coping with a zombie apocalypse. Here, dialogue improved a bit and was accompanied by plenty of screaming. All-channel helicopter sonics gave the finale some excitement. This basic effect was an easy lift for the receiver, and it reminded me of the inherent genius of bringing 5.1-channel sound into the home.

Interrogated with the 2013 DTS Demo Disc (DTS-HD Master Audio), the receiver showed both strengths and weaknesses, especially with noisy chase scenes. It stepped up to the plate and delivered the thudding mid-bass content of The Hunger Games and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, emphasizing quantity over quality as protagonists were chased through forests by flames and guns. This was not the kind of bass response that exerts an iron grip on the woofers, but at this price point, I was amazed there was much bass at all above the sub’s crossover point. In Safe House, the car chase roared through my listening room, filling all channels with motorized mayhem, and the top-end reticence kept things paradoxically civilized. As I moved from chases to battles, the storming of the castle in Snow White & the Huntsman—a deafening scene that often irritates me—was helpfully toned down. The brute force of Battleship showed the receiver’s dynamic limitations, though: It clipped with heavy bass above the 80 Hz crossover, while my subwoofer did its usual fine job with bass below the crossover. But this was an especially assaultive scene, and the receiver still exceeded my minimal expectations.

By the Numbers
In anticipation of the deluxe reissues of Led Zeppelin I, II, and III, I played through the U.S. LPs. Usually I’d expect a steady increase in resolution as the soft-edged mix of the first album gives way to the more fine-tuned balance of the second album and the still more detailed, acoustic-guitar-oriented mix of the third. While the Yamaha made the first two sound subjectively good, the distinction between I and II eluded it, and its top end wasn’t transparent enough to do justice to the finer flavors of III.

Remain in Light, Talking Heads’ most thoroughly Brian Eno-enhanced LP, has a complex, busy, multilayered mix. While this receiver’s treatment was by no means unpleasant, it certainly was oversimplified, with much high-frequency detail and layering simply lost. Some elements, such as Adrian Belew’s bombastic guitar solo in “The Great Curve,” retained their quirky charm. But as a whole, the album couldn’t fulfill its potential as an out-of-body experience. However, in Eno’s LP with Jon Hassell—Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics—the Yamaha had no trouble reproducing the electronically processed trumpet sound at the background level at which the album was designed to be played.

Janos Starker’s Mercury Living Presence recordings are high-resolution treasures on three-channel SACD. He recorded Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor (and shorter works of Bruch and Tchaikovsky) with Antal Dorati conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. It all sounded excellent, and Yamaha deserved some of the credit. Rather than mangle the treble-rich recording into an excruciating blare, it just discreetly omitted the high-frequency details it couldn’t reproduce, leaving a pleasantly warm sound that correctly balanced the cello soloist with the orchestra’s string section.

The Yamaha RX-V377 is voiced to make its inexpensive underpinnings as listenable as possible, and in that regard it manages to succeed; despite the sonic flaws noted above, this receiver was actually more listenable than a few $600 models I’ve heard over the past few years. Use it with high-sensitivity speakers, and it will fill a modest-sized room with sound. Certainly, a full set of binding posts is one upgrade this product could use. But if you consider the price, then the omissions of wireless connectivity, 5.1+ modes, and other step-up features are forgivable; why pay for things you don’t need? This is a good entry-level receiver.

Audio editor Mark Fleischmann is also the author of the annually updated book Practical Home Theater (quietriverpress.com).

(800) 292-2982