Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
This is a rarity for me. I consider it my duty to find something anything – wrong with every product I review. Nothing can be perfect. But look across and you will see no points at all under our Cons section. For now, today, the Yamaha RX-V3800 receiver is perfect.
I have a bit over five hundred words for this review. To fully go through and explain all the features on this receiver would take double that. So take it as a given that all the stuff you’ve come to expect from a home theatre receiver is provided, and well provided, and we’ll concentrate on the cutting edge stuff.
That stuff involves several things, including the four HDMI inputs. These are rated at the latest version 1.3a standard, which means that they support the forthcoming ‘Deep Color’ standard which broadens the colour palette of HD DVDs and Blu-ray, and all the new audio standards provided on these formats. Indeed, the receiver has decoders for all four of these new standards built-in.
But, of course, that’s not all. The receiver also has an Ethernet network socket on the back. Wire it into your home computer network and it can deliver internet radio stations, or play back the music files on your computer.
It also has a USB socket conveniently located on the front, so you plug a thumb drive into the unit and play back MP3 and Windows Media Audio files from there. That’s useful for those without a home computer network, or with one lacking the wires going to the right places.
The receiver also has Yamaha’s iPod docking connection, and with this model you get the Yamaha dock for free. So all those music files on your iPod can be played back in moments just by slipping the iPod into the dock and navigating through its menus on your big screen.
But how did it sound? Well, this receiver is not just about features. It is also about performance. With 140 watts from each of its seven channels, it proved plenty powerful enough to deliver ridiculously high sound levels in my largish listening space. But it also proved up to the task of delivering fine and delicate stereo from my CDs.
Just at the last moment before my deadline closed, I was able to obtain a Blu-ray player capable of delivering the new audio formats to the receiver via its HDMI inputs. And the Yamaha receiver proved perfectly reliable on this function also.
And that’s the point. I had a look through Yamaha’s specification sheet, examined what the receiver claims to deliver, and discovered that it met all its claims. Without qualification.
In particular, the HDMI reliability was brilliant. I had a couple of high definition source devices that simply wouldn’t work with a couple of different displays. All seemed to be touchy on their HDMI connectivity for some reason.
But when I plugged them all into the Yamaha, all problems disappeared. The broad compatibility of this receiver is, perhaps, its most compelling virtue.
Perhaps next year or the year after a new similarly priced home theatre receiver will appear with features or performance that beat the Yamaha RX-V3800. Perhaps. But right now, you simply cannot do better than this receiver at the price.
What more can you say?