Yamaha Adopts AirPlay, Cuts Networked AVR Prices
By Joseph Palenchar -- TWICE, 4/2/2012
Buena Park, Calif. - Yamaha is bringing Apple's AirPlay and iPad charging to its A/V receiver (AVR) lineup for the first time and bringing down the opening price of networked AVRs to an everyday $399 from $549.
The changes come with the shipment of the latest two AVRs in Yamaha's RX series. They are the 7.1-channel RX-V573, retailing for a suggested $549 and expected everyday $499, and the 5.1-channel RX-V473, retailing for a suggested $449 and expected everyday $399.
Yamaha's RX-V473, at a suggested $449 and expected everyday $399, features Apple AirPlay, vTuner Internet radio and DLNA certification.
Announcements about at least two more RX-V series AVRs are expected later this month.
The two new models follow the shipment in March of the 5.1-channel $299-suggested RX-V373, which brought multiple new features to the RX-V series' opening-price AVR, including an iPod/iPhone-compatible front-panel USB port, YPAO automatic calibration and room correction, subwoofer-level adjustment, and high-speed HDMI switching, which reduces the time it normally takes for an AVR to adjust to each switched source by remembering the settings of all connected sources, the company said.
The RX-V373 also brought the company's Scene feature to the RX-V series' opening-price AVR for the first time. Four programmable Scene buttons (BD/DVD, TV, CD and radio) activate the receiver's appropriate inputs and other settings, including surround modes, for the selected source.
The opening-price V373 and the two new models are also the company's first AVRs with 4K2K video passthrough over HDMI. Yamaha hasn't said whether it will offer AVRs this year with 4K2K up-scaling over HDMI.
All 2012 RX-V models are the company's first with a new Eco mode to reduce power consumption when the AVRs are playing, not just when they are in standby.
At an everyday $399, the 5.1-channel RX-V473 steps up from the opening-price RX-V373 to add discrete amps versus chip amps and add networking capabilities such as Apple AirPlay, DLNA 1.5 networking certification, Windows 7 certification, and ability to stream Internet radio stations via vTuner. Internet music services such as Pandora aren't included.
With AirPlay, users not only stream iPod/iPhone/iPad-stored music and AirPlay-enabled music-streaming apps to the AVR, but via an iPhone or iPad, users can also remotely turn on the AVR and adjust AVR volume, the company said. AirPlay also streams music from a networked PC's iTunes application.
The AVR features an Ethernet port, but a wireless Wi-Fi adapter is in the works to add wireless network connectivity to this AVR and all other networked AVRs in this year's line and past years' lines.
The $399 price point also starts the price at which Yamaha AVRs become compatible with the company's free AV Controller app, which turns Apple and Android devices into a Wi-Fi remote that controls such A/V receiver functions as source switching, AM/FM tuning, accessing networked content, engaging DSP and modes, adjusting volume and on/off. The app also enables users to distribute music to multiple rooms.
The app's remote-control feature will encourage consumers to use many AVR functions more often than before because users no longer have to turn a TV on to see the AVR's many menu settings, the company said.
The updated AV Controller app adds native support for the iPad, Android tablets and the Kindle Fire tablet.
Also at $399, AVRs get Made for iPad certification, enabling them to charge an iPad in about an hour vs. anywhere from six to eight hours, the company said.
At an everyday $499, the RX-V573 adds 7x110-watt capability and a Zone B capability, which Yamaha hasn't offered for years. With it, consumers can use a pair of second-room speakers to play back the same audio content when the receiver is operating in stereo or 5.1-channel mode. The AVR will also biamp front main speakers in a 5.1-channel system, and it adds a Virtual Presence Speaker function that simulates a pair of front-height channels without adding separate front-height speakers.
The RX-V573 and RX-V473 also feature multi-language onscreen displays that overlay onto HD and 3D video programs.
Data such as song titles from connected iPods, iPhones, iPods or USB drives is displayed on the receivers' onscreen displays.
All RX-V series AVRs in the 2012 line will offer Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio surround decoding. All will also offer 3D-capable HDMI 1.4a inputs, 1.4a outputs, optional stereo Bluetooth module, Cinema DSP with multiple DPS modes, Silent Cinema to play back surround sound through ordinary headphones, and proprietary Compressed Music Enhancer technology, which restores lost detail and high-frequency sounds in compressed music files.
All RX-V AVRs also feature Virtual Cinema DSP technology, which delivers surround sound without setting up surround speakers.
Just my $0.02..