"Great economy choice for audiophiles"4.5 starson by Razzl
Pros: Sublime clear sound, straightforward controls, lotsa connections, solid build quality, "direct" button
Cons: inscrutable manual (and on cd), no ethernet connector, quirky eurostyle speaker wire clamps, old-school size and styling
Summary: This is a fabulous unit for the price--no, this is just a fabulous unit, period. I'm sure this is true of the whole line of these Yamaha AV receivers from top to bottom, but I fell in at this price point, and I'm very satisfied. If the quality of your musical sound is at the top of the list, you need to check this one out. The clarity and accuracy of the sound is stunning, and the "direct" button on the front of the unit shuts down all filtering to let you hear your source exactly the way it was recorded with no interpolation, a great feature. I hooked up an Ion turntable to listen to an old collection of vinyl and am blown away by the quality of the sound--no pops or hiss, you could swear you were listening to digital CD.
With all the connectors on the back I had no problem getting my blu-ray, tv, and cd units set up, but the manual can be a little inscrutable on some topics (like how to program the remote for other devices), and being on CD meant shuttling to the pc or printing out copy, not a fun task. I would have loved an ethernet connection for web media, but maybe that's on the pricier models. I'm not a fan of the old-school big black box design for all stand-alone receivers, but at least this one is tastefully done with a sleek shiny black metallic front. The eurostyle speaker wire clamps were actually a bit of a pain to use, unless you already have the intended banana plugs clipped on (but who uses those in the U S of A)? Once the technophile in the house figures out how to customize the input names and buttons there should be peace in the house with the technophobes who just want to push buttons to "make it go"...
I find no indication in the manual of any needed firmware upgrade, and haven't found anything not working yet, so I don't know what that's all about or how it would be done...