Yamaha RX-V663 A/V Receiver User Interface

User Interface
The basic onscreen menu structure is no better or worse than most AVRs I've seen. For the most part, navigation is straightforward though hardly inspiring or interesting. A new graphical interface would be welcome, and the low-tech quality of most manufacturers' onscreen interfaces is even more evident since my review of the Sony STR-DA4300ES in our sister publication, hometheatermag.com.

Yamaha made a strong effort to improve ease of operation with four Scene buttons, which are found on the front panel and remote control. These are essentially macro buttons that are pre-programmed for DVD Viewing, Disc Listening, TV Viewing, and Radio Listening.

Macros, or in this case Scenes, are sequences of commands performed automatically at the press of a single button. This is a common feature on universal remote controls, but it’s rare on manufacturer-supplied remotes. Yamaha's Scenes are fairly simple, selecting inputs and automatically assigning selected soundfield modes to them. There are 18 preset Scene templates, including iPod Listening, XM Listening, TV Sports Viewing, and Action Game Playing. Scenes can be selected for one-time use, or they can replace the original default settings. Scene names can also be changed at your discretion.

The remote is a universal type that can control up to 13 devices other than the V663. Yamaha provides an extensive list of manufacturer remote codes (five pages worth!) to configure the remote to be your one and only system controller.

Considering its ability to control so many devices, I was impressed that the remote is so small and relatively uncomplicated compared with other universal remotes (both third-party and manufacturer-supplied). The button layout is fairly well-organized, but many of the keys have double functions—for example, the number buttons also select the listening mode. Since the remote is not backlit, it's impossible to see the labels in the dark, so you'll have to memorize the buttons you use most.