Yamaha RX-V663 A/V Receiver Real-World Performance

Real-World Performance
Aside from 2-channel CDs such as Shaman, I wanted to check out Yamaha's Compressed Music Enhancer, which is said to restore some of the information lost during the compression process. Indeed, the MP3 songs stored on my Apple TV seemed more robust, especially in the high end. This feature should prove beneficial for users who play a lot of music directly from iPods or enable the Bluetooth audio-streaming capabilities of the V663.

To check out the Yamaha's Dolby TrueHD decoding, I used two HD DVDs—Heart Live from Seattle and The Perfect Storm. I wanted to hear the difference between a live music show and a movie soundtrack. I compared the Yamaha's decoding with Toshiba's onboard processing, which decodes the audio to multichannel PCM via HDMI.

The Yamaha did very well with the Heart disc. I played "Dog & Butterfly," a simple vocal and guitar duet between Anne and Nancy Wilson. There was a distinct brilliance, clarity, and strength to the track as decoded by the V663. Switching to the Toshiba decoder, the overall sound was flatter. Vocals were softer and blended into the guitar, making the whole track feel less powerful and pronounced.

Movie soundtracks tend to be far more complex, combining multiple elements of music, effects, and dialog. Again, the Yamaha's decoder did fairly well on The Perfect Storm, though the issue of choosing the best EQ setting remained. As with the Santana track, I was able to pull more detail and brightness out of the soundtrack using the manual graphic EQ. Both decoders smeared the sound somewhat in heavily layered sequences (of which there are plenty in this film), but the most appreciable difference was that dialog appeared more present and up-front when I let the Yamaha do the decoding.