For those taking their first steps in the home-theater hobby, the new Yamaha RX-V385 entry-level AV receiver might make an excellent starting point. It includes features normally found on more expensive AVRs while keeping a tight rein on the budget.

The 5.1-channel Yamaha RX-V385 is spec'd to deliver 100 watts/channel (1 kHz, 1 channel driven, 8 ohms, 0.9% THD) or, more realistically, 70 W/ch (20-20,000 Hz, 2 channels driven, 8 ohms, 0.09% THD). The front left and right channels can drive speakers down to 2 ohms (180 W/ch in that case), but the other speakers must be 6 ohms or higher.

Expanding on last year's RX-V383, the new model offers the ability to bi-amp the front LR speakers in a 2.1 or 3.1 setup. Also unlike its predecessor, the RX-V385 provides binding posts for all five speaker outputs instead of spring clips for the center and surround speakers.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the RX-V385 implements HDMI 2.1 in its four inputs and one output, making it one of the first products I know of to use the latest HDMI spec. The maximum bit rate is not specified, but the AVR is said to support 4K/60p 4:4:4 video, high dynamic range (HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG), and BT.2020 color. So, I assume the bitrate is 18 Gbps—the same as HDMI 2.0's top rate—which I will confirm as soon as possible. In addition, the RX-V385 will add eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) in a firmware update.

On the audio front, the Yamaha RX-V385 supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio with three Burr-Brown 384 kHz/32-bit DACs. Of course, it also decodes all the usual compressed audio formats. In addition, it can accept audio wirelessly via Bluetooth, and Yamaha's Compressed Audio Enhancer function is now optimized for Bluetooth.

Another useful feature is YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer). This proprietary room-correction algorithm analyzes the room's acoustics using the included microphone and adjusts several parameters to optimize the sound for that room.

According to Robert Goedken, general manager, AV division, Yamaha Corporation of America, "The RX-V385 offers budding home theater buyers cutting-edge technology at an accessible price point. When you factor in YPAO automatic acoustic technology, 4K Ultra HD support, HDR, and Dolby Vision, this receiver gives entry-level consumers uncompromising value with everything they need to get started to enjoy a full 4K sound experience at home."

The Yamaha RX-V385 will be available at the end of April for a list price of only $300. For more info, click here .

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