Pros: Dynamic Sound, YPAO Automatic Setup, Cinema DSP programs, Front USB port, Compressed Music Enhancer, Adaptive Dynamic Range Control
Cons: Only a graphic EQ for manual adjustments, No individual speaker crossover settings, No Sub EQ, No AirPlay or Bluetooth, No Networking
The RX-V373 is Yamaha's entry level receiver with basic features for modern AVR's including 5.1 surround sound and basic automatic speaker setup via their proprietary YPAO Sound Optimization. This receiver offers everything a new home theater enthusiast needs. Expected features such as all modern HD audio format decoding including TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The receiver is internally amplified rated at 85 watts per channel (2 channels driven @ 1khz 8 ohms, .9% THD) including individual 192k/24bit Burr-Brown DAC's for each channel. The HDMI features near future proof technology allowing 3D, ARC, and 4k pass through. There is no on board video processing which would be considered an unnecessary feature at this price point. This receiver also caters to the green movement with an ECO setting which reduces power consumption by 20%, though most enthusiasts will not enjoy the sacrifices made for this reduction.
The audio quality of this receiver is superb mostly thanks to the YPAO Sound Optimization. My purchase was an upgrade from an Onkyo hand me down purchased back in 1995, so needless to say it did not offer automatic speaker setup or hardly any equalization. For me this is my first experience with time delay and equalization of speakers which is a huge eye opener. I probably would never have even messed with these settings had the YPAO not done this for me on initial setup. When running YPAO calibration for the first time I did mount the microphone on a tripod and removed all background noise. The results were astonishing! Distance measurements were quite accurate for all speakers except for the subwoofer (of course). If you have not experienced proper time delay settings you will not believe the difference. The soundstage is instantly wider and imaging far more precise. At the time I was using a set of Bose 301 speakers for fronts and some Bose acoustimass speakers as surrounds. This was the first time I realized how horrible they must really be. After equalization they sounded so much better that I knew something fundamentally essential was missing. This was confirmed when "upgrading" to a Jamo entry level speaker system. Thanks YPAO for spending a whole lot more of my money and setting me on the never ending quest for better sound. The improvement in sound for the Bose speakers also urged me to learn more about equalization and eventually I found myself quite disappointed that Yamaha's higher lines offered parametric equalization of each speaker and the version I purchased was limited to a 6 band graphic equalizer. I also found myself wishing I could adjust the crossover for my surrounds higher than 80hz but the only way I could do that would significantly limit my front speakers capabilities. Also unfortunate is the lack of subwoofer equalization, of course these negatives are fully expected at this price point. Finding independent speaker crossover adjustment and subwoofer equalization requires upgrading to Yamaha's RX-A2020 line or higher.
I also found the front USB port to be a key new feature for me. Now I have used a stereo jack to play music through my car stereo in the past and the quality suffers. The option of bypassing any on board processing of an iPod has huge effects on the clarity of music and allows use of the remote to navigate your music library. The V373 also features a Compressed Music Enhancer which simulates restoration of details in the highs and lows of compressed MP3 files, I also utilize this feature when listening to Pandora or watching a movie on Netflix. Unfortunately at this price point features like AirPlay or Bluetooth are lost on the chopping block at Yamaha's product development center.
Most of the time DSP programs are overlooked or decidedly destructive to sound reproduction. However Yamaha's Cinema DSP offers 17 different programs from Sports to Spectacle on the movie settings and 2 channel stereo to full 5 channel processing simulating different music venues such as The Roxy Theater in Hollywood. I have found most of the movie settings to be especially useful during different types of TV usage. During action movies, where large dynamic variance is expected, I usually select Spectacle to enhance low frequency effects. If watching sports such as NFL or NASCAR I always select the Sport DSP which grounds the announcers voice strictly to the center channel and seems to increase dialogue intelligibility. It also sends all other ambient sounds to the surround channels with very realistic results. This is particularly noticeable during a NASCAR race when they allow radio transmissions which come from the surround speakers and sound like someone is literally talking into YOUR ear. I strongly urge any Yamaha AVR owner to experiment with these features.
Overall perception is that the sound from this receiver will astonish you if upgrading from an ancient relic of what one may call a surround sound receiver. For those entering the field for the first time I expect most will be quite satisfied with their purchase and the value they received. I have found the overall sound of the receiver to seem more full of life and have more overall energy than some of the Denon or other Audyssey calibrated receivers I have experimented with since this initial purchase. The highs are more pronounced and I never feel like I'm missing any details yet the sound never becomes overwhelming or fatiguing. I found that purchasing this receiver only opened the door for the audiophile within and has started the upgrade fever for myself. Proceed with caution, you may enjoy this purchase more than you had hoped and likely more than you expected.