Yamaha has most certainly made its presence felt in the home theater receiver market and that might sound hard to believe considering all the big brands that are currently dominating the category. But don’t forget that there is a category of highly affordable AV receivers too for people that don’t need the high-wattage and large number of connections but still need the sound enhancements. Yamaha makes some fine midrange and high-end receivers but their main strength has always been the entry-level ones. This 2014, the lineup begins with the Yamaha RX-V377 model which has an attractive price of $299 but isn’t the best pick for someone looking for networking capabilities without the need to own any additional components that may have that functionality. This is where the Yamaha RX-V477 comes in and comes with a fairly meaty $150 premium. But on a broader perspective, the RX-V477 is still quite cheap and might be a more sensible buy for a lot of people.
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The Yamaha RX-V477 is designed like most other home theater receivers in terms of materials but it is Yamaha’s preferred layout that gives this receiver a bit of a unique identity. It isn’t very new as it follows the layout of its previous generation receivers but it does leave a good impression for people looking for a simple receiver. The front panel is divided into two sections with the top portion showing off the info display and a single row of circular buttons that represent common receiver functions. You can also find the power button on the left along with a jack for the calibration microphone.
Below this black section is more of a brushed aluminum finish with a set of 4 SCENE buttons taking the center stage. These buttons symbolize an iconic feature of the Yamaha receiver lineup and is even present in the high-end models. Each button has a label (BD/DVD, TV, NET and Radio) to make source selection simple although you can actually customize each button to the source you want. In addition to that, you can also assign a DSP mode to each button so switching to a source via a SCENE button also applies the appropriate sound optimizations. Moving down further is more common AV receiver controls including the input selection buttons. Next to this row of buttons is a 3.5-inch audio jack and a USB port. The only knob available controls the master volume.
Those that did not go for last year’s Yamaha RX-V475 model or plan on upgrading from a much cheaper AV receiver will be in for a pleasant surprise – the RX-V477 features an additional HDMI port bringing the total to 6 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output. There is only 1 optical digital audio input while the rest of the common ports remain present in a slightly different arrangement.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Yamaha RX-V477 along with its other 2014 siblings provides an interesting new feature called Virtual CINEMA FRONT for people that want to save space. Generally, setting up a 5.1-channel speaker system requires 2 speakers and a center speaker to be placed on the front while the other 2 speakers get placed on the back with the listener area remains in the center to get that true surround sound effect. The Virtual CINEMA FRONT eliminates that requirement while closely preserving the same results. This enables you to position all the speakers on the front so you get the space and setup advantages of a sound bar. In fact, some of Yamaha’s sound bars have this technology as well.
No matter what the speaker arrangement is, you can easily optimize the quality of each speaker through the use of Yamaha’s YPAO Sound Optimization feature. Like other receiver calibration methods, you just place the included microphone on the preferred listening area and plug it in. The calibration process only takes a few minutes and you won’t have to do it again until you need to change the arrangement.
Just like the previous model, the RX-V477 offers a Subwoofer Trim Control to enhance the lower frequencies without affecting the performance of the front speakers. But the Yamaha RX-V477 exclusively takes this a step further by equipping the receiver with a low-range enhancement technology as well. This further enhances the bass of the subwoofer and the low range of the rest of the speakers.
The Yamaha RX-V477 is Yamaha’s cheapest 2014 receiver model that offers networking functionality. AirPlay support is the best part as it allows most iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to wirelessly stream music from iTunes or any app that supports AirPlay with ease without affecting the audio quality. HTC smartphone users can use the HTC Connect feature instead. Any iOS or Android-powered smartphone and tablet can download the AV Controller App so it can remotely control various other aspects of the RX-V477. This includes a fresh new feature that fine tunes the DSP parameters. It comes in Basic and Advanced modes so you have a great deal of control over the sound field. The receiver also has some built-in apps including Pandora and Spotify so you can enjoy Internet streaming without relying on a portable device. The only requirement to enjoy these networking features is to connect the receiver to a wireless router using an Ethernet cable. There is no onboard Wi-Fi or even Bluetooth. It does support the YBA-11 Bluetooth accessory if you need this feature.
Ultra 4K displays and other home theater components that utilize the 4K standard can hook up to the Yamaha RX-V477 without any issues. It isn’t much of a big deal right now but it is good to have once more 4K content rolls out.
While the lack of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is a bit disappointing given the similarly priced competitors offering these features, the RX-V477 is one of the best sub-$500 receivers to get. It makes any simple 5.1-channel sound system sound great and it is easy to configure and set up. Plus, Yamaha managed to add new features without making the receiver more expensive than the previous model when it first launched.