Spring has always been the season for home theater receiver manufacturers to pour out some exciting product launches. Yamaha is one of the big names that is launching a new set of entry-level and mid-range receivers. The Yamaha RX-V375 is the least improved out of the bunch since it is the least expensive but other models like the Yamaha RX-V475 and pricier models put more of the new additions on the spotlight. In fact, the RX-V475 is looking to be the best-valued receiver out of the bunch if you are hoping to own a modern 2013 AV receiver without spending a fortune.
Home theater receiver manufacturers don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to physical design so if you used a home theater receiver before, you will be greeted with familiarity. Unlike other manufacturers, you won’t find any thin buttons on the front of the Yamaha RX-V475. Instead, the RX-V475 features more accessible circular buttons with the 4 SCENE buttons being the biggest. This buttons make it easy to switch to the desired source. Long pressing the button also allows you to customize the source. A DSP mode can be assigned to a SCENE button as well. The usual video aux inputs are found on the front as well as a USB port. Unfortunately, there is no HDMI input on the front.
But if you look at the back side of the receiver, you will notice a key improvement that the Yamaha RX-V475 has over its predecessor. Not only will you find a 5th HDMI input but that particular input is a bit different from the rest. It is MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) enabled so you can connect a compatible smartphone using the MHL cable to output audio and video while charging the device. It would have been better if this HDMI port was placed on the front for easy smartphone connectivity. On a slight upside, you could take advantage of the rear MHL HDMI port since there are some MHL devices such as the Roku Streaming Stick that would look better if connected to the back of the receiver. There is also a new DC-out connection port on the back which is reserved for the optional YWA-10 adapter which adds Wi-Fi capabilities or the YBA-11 adapter if you prefer Bluetooth functionality.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The RX-V475 features a similar spec sheet to the older RX-V473 so you get the same 115 watts per channel which is good enough for a 5.1-channel system with a discrete amp configuration, low jitter PLL circuitry and HD Audio format decoding. Even if you are not familiar with all this jargon, it is safe to say that Blu-ray content sound wonderful once the 5-channel surround sound system is up and running. One notable improvement is the support for 192 kHz/24-bit uncompressed audio playback so you can go ahead and throw in your collection of FLAC and WAV files to truly maximize the audio performance. But that isn’t to say that compressed formats are significantly inferior because MP3 files still sound very good thanks to the help of Yamaha’s special Compressed Music Enhancer technology.
Proper speaker calibration will bring out the best of your surround sound setup and the YPAO Sound Optimization feature makes speaker setup a walk in the park. Set up the included microphone and the receiver does the rest in optimizing settings relative to the room’s acoustics. You can boost the performance even more through other enhancements like the Subwoofer Trim Control which prevents the subwoofer frequencies from interfering with the sound stage. This will result to more defined bass sounds while retaining the rest of the frequencies. The Adaptive Dynamic Range Control also provides additional balance by normalizing the volume levels constantly so all aspects of the sound remain clear across different sources. If you don’t have any presence speakers, you can still create a 3-D sound effect using the Virtual Presence Speaker feature.
The Yamaha RX-V475 is the most affordable out of the new 2013 Yamaha receivers that comes with network functions. The neat thing with the RX-V475 is that you don’t get anything less than a high-end product when it comes to network functionality. So you can access services like Pandora and vTuner the same way you would use them in a pricier Yamaha home theater receiver. Apple’s proprietary AirPlay wireless technology is also supported making it extremely simple to send music and metadata to the receiver over the air from an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone.
Both iOS and Android users can also download a free app called the Yamaha AV Controller App which adds a special touch remote control interface is you can remotely operate the receiver more efficiently than the standard remote control. But if the receiver is hooked up to a CEC compatible TV display through HDMI, you may find the TV’s remote to be enjoyable to use since it could be used to control the receiver as well.
The eco-friendly features of the RX-V475 are worth mentioning because Yamaha crammed in quite a bit to reduce power consumption. The eco mode is a nice power saving feature which works by limiting the maximum volume and output power resulting to 20 percent energy savings. The receiver can also be set to power down after a specified number of hours just in case you forget to switch the receiver off. There is also a low standby power consumption mode which can bring down the power consumption to 2 watts while still retaining the network connectivity. HDMI Standby Through mode even consumes less and you can still switch sources. The most efficient standby mode only keeps IR enabled but consumes 0.1 watts.
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users may not find the new MHL connectivity to be useful but people that haven’t bought an AV receiver yet will find that there is plenty of value in the RX-V475. It delivers good audio performance for any 5.1-speaker setup with minimal power consumption and decent networking support for a price under $500.