Yamaha RX-V663 A/V Receiver Conclusion

On the surface, the Yamaha RX-V663 should be a terrific deal, offering support for HDMI 1.3a and the newest audio formats. At a mere $550, I wish I could give it better marks. However, the consumer-electronics industry moves quickly, and in the short time I had this particular Yamaha AVR, the landscape of what you can expect for around $600 changed dramatically.

For an additional $30, the Onkyo TX-SR606 outshined the RX-V663 on many levels in terms of both performance and features. Moreover, a week before I completed my evaluation, Denon announced a sub-$600 AVR with four HDMI inputs, a full suite of Audyssey technologies, and support for all the advanced surround codecs.

Unfortunately, Yamaha's YPAO doesn't provide the set-it, forget-it, and enjoy-it performance that you get with the Audyssey system. Those who enjoy manual setups might find the V663 preferable, but I never found the right settings.

In addition, I have to give the Onkyo TX-SR606 a better grade on power output. It is rated at only 90Wpc compared to Yamaha's 95Wpc (though testing criteria can certainly affect the significance of this specification), but I was able to crank the Onkyo as loud as I could tolerate without any audible distortion or ear fatigue. Once I got a well-balanced frequency response on the Yamaha, the amp ran out of gas at higher listening volumes.

For me, the bottom line is this: If you have $550 to burn, you're better off spending just a bit more and looking elsewhere.

Good performance of onboard Dolby TrueHD decoding
Includes DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
Easy initial setup with Yamaha's YPAO auto calibration/EQ (but see Lows)
Access to different types of media (XM, Sirius, iPod, Bluetooth)

Only two HDMI inputs
Lackluster audio performance with auto setup, required a lot of manual tweaking
Lack of video upscaling