Pros: Slim design, Easy setup, 5 HDMI inputs, DSP Cinema, YPAO, class A/B amplifier, Bi-amp & Party modes, Powered Zone 2
Cons: No video up/cross conversion, only one HDMI output, lack of front HDMI, HML input located at the back panel, no Backlight on remote
- is unable to fit most of standard height receivers
- does not intend going beyond 5.1 speaker system
- and appreciate Yamaha Cinema DSP functionality
If all three apply, then you should read the rest. Because the receiver has typical commonly known audio and video features, in my review I will focus mostly on features and functions which I have found helpful during configuration of HT setup as well as those expected to be there but sadly not found.
I have been looking for slim receiver for a while once i realized I won't be able to fit my excessive source setup in my family room media wall which contain: 3D BD player, HD Cable STB, HD DVR, 3D HD, Media,player and PS3 all being able to display its content on either Samsung 55inch LCD TV or Optoma HD8300 projector with 3.1 + 2 (in Zone 2) speaker setup. The Yamaha RX-S600 seemed like a natural choice which would fit all of that. With less than 4.5 inch height it saves almost two inches on medium size receivers and 3 inches of shelving space comparing to some monster models like Pioneer SC-7x series.
Connecting peripherals is typical including solid, averagely spaced speaker connectors accepting bare stripped wire as well as banana plugs. One thing that needs to be considered is the fact that receiver does not upconvert various video signals, meaning that the HDMI source will be outputted only through HDMI output, Component through component, etc. So if five HDMI inputs aren't enough and you think about using one of two YPbPr inputs, you have to ensure your display is connected using both HDMI and YPbPr links. This was sort of disappointing to me as I found myself in exactly same position when trying to connect additional DVD player. Since connecting display through Component cable was not an option, the DVD had to be put away. For $600 receiver I would expect up conversion from Component to HDMI at least to be present. This would allow some users to connect up to 7 high definition video sources while using single HDMI output which like in my case has been used to connect remote display like projector for example. In my case, as I had two displays to be connected: a HDTV and projector, I had to use spare HDMI splitter which took care of single receiver HDMI output. Another interesting feature included with this receiver is HML compatible HDMI input which some users may find helpful when controlling mobile device from receiver remote while playing a/v files. Too bad, the MHL input is located at the back panel while it should be on the front. But, if you do not care - as I don't - for MHL, this should not be deal breaker.
The receiver allows to connect up to 7 additional audio sources: 2 optical, 2 coaxial and 3 analog. Some of these input are part of audio and analog video inputs but for those who solely use just HDMI video path, seven audio inputs can be defined as plenty. The RX-S600 has also RCA stereo analog audio output. In my case, I thought about using it to connect secondary stereo amplifier located in adjacent room to create pseudo "zone 3" which would play whatever main zone does. Later I learned that this audio output passes through only analog audio inputs, so passing through HDMI audio sources to this output is not possible. Having said that and knowing about lack of video up conversion, this makes Yamaha receiver missing A/D on video and D/A on audio conversion functionality which I find surprising given the price of this unit.
Let's move to some really helpful functions, which I found necessary to overcome some limitations of my A/V setup. First is ability to select any audio input including analog inputs when playing a/v through HDMI. As some old players does not support audio through HDMI output or allow only PCM audio through HDMI leaving multichannel audio available only on toslink or coaxial jacks (like my Fios STB Motorola QIP 7100 P2), selecting alternate audio source in this scenario is essential.
As being not interested in full surround speakers setup (front + center only) I have found extremely useful to be able to use my surround speaker output to connect additional pair of speakers for use in Zone 2. However, the functionality is limited to output Zone 2 analog audio input sources only. Therefore no listening of HDMI sources in Zone 2 is possible ... unless Party Mode is selected when Zone 2 speakers are engaged to play whatever user selects for main listening zone. Some users may find usefull receiver ability to assign surround speaker outputs to work in bi-amp mode.
Once receiver is wired with speakers and all audio and video sources, the user has a choice to perform speaker adjustments manually or using included YPAO microphone based setup procedure. This last option is very easy and require placing microphone in the right spot and connecting it to jack located on the front panel of the receiver. Upon this receiver will automatically ask user to perform the speaker calibration.
My first impression of the included remote control was that it is slick and logically organized. However, after short while I found tiny and dense packed buttons as well as the lack of backlight annoying especially during projector based sessions in completely dark room. Thank God, Yamaha delivers excellent alternative to control and operate all receiver functions. With Yamaha A/V Controller application, owners of iPod and Android devices can put crippled remote away and rely solely on fantastic controlling app. For those who had not owned receiver with such app - like myself, this was a true "jaw dropper". I installed the controlling app on my smartphone which not only allowed me to control receiver functions but also immediately enabled my entire mp3 collection to be browsed and played instantly on Yamaha receiver wirelesly (receiver LAN connection required). I found this feature to be absolutely fantastic, as in the past I have struggled in pairing my smartphone with my previous receiver through Bluetooth which was just another annoying step to play my favorite songs whenever I want. With Yamaha A/V controller available for free on Google Play store for Android as well as included CD-ROM, such annoyance is became a history.
Another great addition to Yamaha controlling app is ability to control supported Pandora and all other internet radios. Although some of you may find Pandora service suiting your needs, I myself for example find Internet radio to be absolutely great, allowing user to select favorite station out of thousands available on-line by Name, Genre, Location, Popular, New and Podcasts with the touch of the screen of your smartphone. With user friendly and intuitive app navigation panels, selection is easy and works every time. The app allows to setup your receiver as well, releasing you from viewing ugly two color receiver OSD menu displayed during setup or network based input sources. Overall, I find internet based sources capability along with Yamaha A/V Controller app to be absolutely fantastic features which opened a door to fast and easy navigation through internet based audio sources including radio stations around the world. Yamaha RX-S600 deserves a big plus for this feature. Being a MacBook pro user I look forward to check the AirPlay functionality as well. The review will get updated once I find time to do so.
In summary, the receiver is definitely worth considering when looking for low profile 5.1 surround solid system base. The lack of video up-conversion present in competing products like Marantz NR1604 ($649) is however rewarded by Yamaha Cinema DSP presence which for some - especially those dedicated Yamaha users - may be enough to make decision about RX-S600 purchase. The receiver offers more than enough sound to entirely fill medium size family room having volume knob between 12 and 3 o'clock. A lot depends on speaker type and its sensitivity, so choose carefully. In my setup, I use: Polk Audio RTi series: RTiA3 for main front and CSiA4 as center speaker. I decided to leave dedicated for surround RTiA1 pair used with another amplifier while connecting large JBL L90 speakers to feed separate stereo only listening Zone 2. All speakers perform excellent with S600 Yamaha receiver producing rich and deep sound. As being "spoiled" by previously owned older but much more powerful Yamaha receivers like DSP-A2 and RX-V2500, I have not noticed difference in audio reproduction quality with RX-S600 model comparing to previously owned full size receivers, with exception of the maximum output power of course which in this case have not been taken in the benchmark, as RX-S600 based HT setup is downsized by design. The subwoofer is something I might consider in nearest future however, bookshelf RTiA3 speakers produce enough bass for my taste throwing family picture off the shelf, near which speaker was placed in "Oblivion" scene when Jack takes off the landing platform sitting in his bubble ship.
Overall, the RX-S600 receiver is a great choice for all Yamaha fans seeking low profile powerful for its size network/internet enabled receiver. Some functionality limitations may however point some users to competitive products if budget permits. However, Yamaha with its smartphone control apps brings functionality to a new level which makes RX-S600 receiver a solid candidate to find its permanent place in my secondary HT setup.