My first post here! A word of thanks to all here. I was seconds away from pushing the "buy" button on a RX-V661 but thought I should check here first in case there were rumors of something new. Sure enough, here was this thread. Everything I was hesitant about on the 661 was apparently addressed with the 663. And hardly any increase in price thanks to tips here.
This AVR replaces my Yamaha RX-V870 which I bought back in ~1993 and loved a lot since. It's as good as new, has always performed well, and was probably one of the best and last ProLogic surround recievers before Dolby Digital came along. It was hard to finally decide to drop cash to modernize, especially since I was uncertain how big a gain the DD would be over the 4.0 surround. (I can lay that to rest upfront - no regrets. The improvement is amazing.) Poor trusted old friend will appear on E-Bay soon.SETUP
First impression was that this AVR is smaller and lighter than my older unit (300 watts on back plate vs 400 for the new one). The older one had a bigger transformer. Physical setup was simple and took only a few minutes. My speaker wires are terminated in banana plugs, otherwise it would have taken a while to maneuver all the binding posts, as they are cramped. One of the attractions of this AVR is the ability to use a single HDMI cable to the monitor. This allowed me to remove the component and S-video cables I had previously and leave only the HDMI cable. Eliminating the S-video path also allowed removing the cables I had from my DVD and VCR. These were redundant before, but allowed the convenience of having the video signals show up at several different places. This compensated for the complexity of having to switch all the video and audio sources around and made it more likely that the family would be able to "make it work". For instance, maybe they wouldn't take advantage of the direct component path from the DVD to the HDTV, but that same signal would show up also on the S-video path and thus be easier for them to "find". The ability of this AVR to switch the audio and video together eliminated the need for the redundant cables. Replacing audio cabling with optical cables from my HDTV tuner and from the DVD player also simplified things in the back. I also eliminated an HDMI switch that's not needed (until I get a PS3!).
Hooking up inputs was a little trickier than I expected. One obvious issue is the design putting so much distance between the video and audio inputs. My daughter's Wii 3-conductor AV cable had to be split a ways before it could be plugged in. My "regular" heavy AV cables had no problem. A more subtle issue is the small number of inputs (2) for - as in my case - sources putting a video signal over HDMI with audio over toslink or coax. The two HDMI inputs are paired to the two digital audio inputs. I was hoping to use the front panel toslink for audio from my MacBook, with the video going to the HDMI "DVD" input. (The video from my DVD actually goes into the component input, so the HDMI slot is open.) I was unable to make this work; if you choose "DVD" as the video source, you cannot choose the front aux audio. The good news is that the AVR defaults to use an audio signal on, in order: HDMI, coax, optical, analog. It also chooses an HDMI video signal over the component inputs. This means I can have leave the cables for Macbook video and audio in respectively the HDMI input and the optical input, and leave the DVD audio cable in the coax input. This way the AVR will use the MacBook as the DVD when it is present, but fall back to the DVD player when it's the source. This even worked for the Wii, which is all analog. All 3 sources, MacBook, DVD and Wii, were in the DVD inputs and the AVR just picked the source with the live signal. Cool.CONS Box
The packaging was generally great but the box is labeled "7 X 110 watts". Isn't that a bit misleading at best and fraudulent at worst? I knew what I was buying and don't really care, but this is a cruel taunt. Correction: I see now the box does have fine print explaining the 7 X 95 watts at more rigorous conditions.Speaker Impedance
There should be a sterner warning about setting this, and it shouldn't wait for page 28. I'll bet most people (male people, anyway) will set up their receiver and turn it on to listen to the radio before they sit down and read the manual for the details. It's odd that everything else is set using the OSD, but not this crucial (?) parameter.Learning Curve
Beyond the limited inputs noted in the setup issue above, this AVR has a pretty steep learning curve to sort out all the sound fields and enhancers and such. The Scene functions help a lot in getting you started with the major functions. Yamaha does provide the "quick start" hookup guide, but after that you're on your own with the manual.Remote
Oh crap, this is not a learning remote like my old one. As far as I can tell, it cannot control my Samsung tuner. Ever. It does turn my plasma on and off, and I'm still working on getting the right codes for the DVD player and the cable tuner. Otherwise it seems light, quick and well laid out.OSD
Where the hell is the OSD? It took me a while - even with the manual - to finally get something on screen. I'm really surprised the interface doesn't start with a single "Display" button for a top-level menu from which everything else could be drilled down to. There is indeed a "display" button, but it does precisely nothing when pressed by itself. That's just bad design. And when you finally do get things on screen, they're specific to whatever buttons you did press. So you can't always get there from here. And you can't always even navigate around a menu without pressing additional buttons (eg. the AMP button). But, once you're at the right menu and know the tricks, setup is easy. Another gripe about the OSD is that when you exit, the video sync always goes off. In my case the picture turns green. I have to toggle from one input to another and back again to get the picture right.Video Sync
In addition to the OSD issue above, I'm having trouble holding onto the analog cable box signal. It drops in and out. The analog signal from the VCR might be having this problem also - I'm still experimenting. No issue like this with the digital video sources (tuner and MacBook). I do have resolution switching issues with the digital sources. for instance sometimes my MacBook sees the 663 as the display rather than the Panasonic HDTV. I can fix this easily by polling the displays again on the MacBook; this makes the 663 disappear and be replaced by the Panasonic. I'm seeing aspect ratio oddities with the tuner also, but in general everything can be made to work fine with a little tinkering. It may settle down once the OSD is not being used too much.PROS
All the cons listed above are the things you uncover as obstacles in the first few hours of ownership. What? I can't do that? Wait a minute, what did the manual say again? None of the cons are anywhere near being deal-breakers. Quite the contrary. So far I'm blown away by the overall performance and happy to carry away an armful of cables I don't need anymore. I have nothing to compare it to except my old RX-V870, but that was not bad, and I can say the extra discrete channels really make a difference. I watched Live Free or Die Hard last night and the action scenes in Dolby Digital were all I needed to justify my upgrade. No regrets, great sound and great features as promised.