Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Yamaha enjoys an enviable reputation for its home theatre receivers, with a new $10,000-ish flagship model being rolled out each year. But it is among the fastest to trickle down high-end features into its more affordable models.
One such is the RXV559B. It differs from the more expensive Yamaha models primarily by lacking the network connectivity they sport. But it is highly competent in its own right. In fact, it gives top performance for every aspect of DVD playback except for two things: it lacks HDMI connections, and it only has 6.1 rather than 7.1 channels.
Still, those six main channels are each fed with 95 watts of true high fidelity power, and they in turn benefit from the built-in decoding for Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1 audio. It is also worth experimenting with Yamaha’s own digital signal processor modes, such as ‘Hall in Vienna’, which can produce quite gripping surround experiences from CDs.
And if you’re an iPod fan, Yamaha has a socket on the back for its own special iPod dock, the YDS-10S ($149).
All the features to properly tune your system are provided, including lip sync adjustment and a variable subwoofer crossover frequency. There is no automatic setup, but this receiver comes with an attractively styled and well organised onscreen display. That makes this nicely easy to use.
There are no HDMI inputs, unfortunately. But you do get three sets of component video inputs, plus both composite and S-Video can be unconverted to component video for one convenient connection to your display. Another convenience is a 3.5 mm mini-jack input on the front panel, so you can easily plug in any MP3 player or iPod without having to purchase the dock.
Finally, this receiver also offers a high level feature rarely seen at this level: a Zone 2 output so you can listen to its connected sources in another room.