The only room for criticism is that Yamaha isn't quite as flexible as other models in the ability to assign inputs. A few of the composite video inputs do not let you assign different audio inputs; you're locked to the analog audio input that it's paired with. Practically speaking, we don't think this is a big issue since most home theater components use HDMI now.
|Optical inputs||2||Coaxial inputs||2|
|Stereo analog audio inputs||5||Multichannel analog inputs||No|
The RX-V671 certainly offers a healthy selection of both analog and digital audio inputs, although with six HDMI inputs, we can't imagine many buyers needing many additional audio-only inputs. And audiophiles take note: none of the 2011 midrange receivers we've seen offers multichannel analog inputs or a phono input. You'll need to step up to a more expensive receiver if you want those features.
The RX-V671 may lack AirPlay, but it's packed with built-in streaming services. It has most of the high-quality streaming-music services we care about, although Slacker and Spotify fans are currently out of luck. We still think AirPlay is a much better overall solution if you have an iOS device, since it's compatible with any streaming-music app (you don't need to wait for Yamaha to make a firmware update) and it's much easier to navigate streaming-music services on a phone compared with a receiver user interface.
You'll also notice there's no Wi-Fi dongle available, which is disappointing especially since the similar Onkyo TX-NR609 offers a dongle for just $40. However, there are several affordable Wi-Fi alternatives, including power-line adapters, so we don't consider this a deal breaker.
Like every other midrange receiver we've tested this year, the RX-V671 is DLNA-compliant, so you'll be able to stream music from compatible networked devices running a DLNA server. If you have an Android phone, you can use a DLNA app like Skifta to enable AirPlay-like functionality, although it's not quite as flexible. You can also play back digital music by connecting a USB drive to the front-panel USB port.
|Audio decoding features|
|Dolby TrueHD||Yes||DTS-HD Master Audio||Yes|
|Dolby ProLogic IIz||No||THX Neural Surround||No|
|Other: Adaptive DRC, Cinema DSP 3D|
Like virtually every receiver these days, the RX-V671 supports all the standard HD audio codecs. Though there isn't any support for proprietary sound-processing modes from companies like Audyssey and THX, Yamaha has its own technologies, such as Adaptive DRC and Cinema DSP, that work similarly.
|USB port||Yes||Bluetooth dongle||$70|
Many AV receivers are ditching traditional satellite radio support, but the Yamaha (and the Pioneer VSX-1021-K) still has a port for connecting an external tuner. Yamaha also sells a Bluetooth dongle, which you can use with an iOS device for AirPlay-like audio streaming. (Check out our review of the LG LSB316 to see Bluetooth/iOS device integration in action.)
Note that there are quite a few features missing from all 2011 midrange receivers that home theater enthusiasts may be interested in: pre-outs, HD Radio, and RS-232. Again, you'll need to spend more if you want those features.
|Line-level second-zone outputs||Yes||Powered second-zone outputs||Yes|
The RX-V671 supports second-zone audio via both powered and line-level outputs, so you don't need an additional amplifier in the second zone. Do note that there are some significant limitations on what sources you can use for multiroom functionality. Page 69 of the manual lays it all out, stating that you can't output audio from HDMI or digital audio inputs to a second zone. Practically, we imagine streaming-music services would be the most useful second-zone audio source.
The Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) auto setup system determines speaker sizes and volume levels, measures the distances from the speakers to the listener, sets the subwoofer-to-speaker crossover points, and confirms that all of the speaker cables are correctly hooked up. Yamaha slightly changed the YPAO's onscreen graphics for this year's models; thankfully it's still dead simple to use.
Plugging in the included microphone automatically brings up the YPAO onscreen menu. Press the "Start" button and the YPAO sends a short series of test tones to all the speakers and the subwoofer. All of the measurements are taken from just one mic position, and the YPAO takes just a few minutes to complete. It's a faster and easier to use system than Denon's or Onkyo's Audyssey setup programs that require the receiver's owner to move the mic from three to six positions in the room and run test tones in each spot to complete the setup. True, the YPAO doesn't equalize the sound or tackle room acoustics problems the way Audyssey does, but we can't say we found the YPAO setup lacking in any way.
The results were as accurate as Audyssey's, and the YPAO correctly determined that all five of our Aperion Intimus 4T Hybrid SD reference speakers were "Small." The YPAO measured the mic-to-speaker distances accurately, but the subwoofer distance was off; it claimed it was 16 feet, when it's really 13 feet away, but very few calibrations get that the number correctly. With this year's YPAO, we couldn't figure out how to check the subwoofer-to-speaker crossover settings, but the sound balances were excellent, so we didn't need to make any adjustments to the YPAO's setup.
We used "The Day the Earth Stood Still" Blu-ray to get acquainted with the RX-V671's sound quality. This movie has lots of cool sounds in it--deep bass tremors, whooshing zaps and explosions--and the RX-V671 took them all in stride. Power demands at high-volume listening levels never made the RX-V671 cry uncle.
The "Avatar" Blu-ray is another disc that sounds great, with an unusually excellent surround mix. The sounds of the jungle's little creatures, birds, and other critters were clear and distinct. In a brief comparison with the Sony STR-DN10120 receiver, we heard greater clarity and the front-to-rear surround imaging was more sharply focused with the Yamaha. The Sony developed the same 360-degree soundfield, but the clarity and details of the animal sounds were softened. We attribute some of that perception to the Sony's warmer tonal balance.
The 5.1 surround mix on Roxy Music's "Avalon" SACD sounded a little more spacious on the Denon AVR 1912 than it did over the RX-V671. That is, the sound was recessed behind the plane of our Aperion speakers with the Denon, which we liked, and the Yamaha's soundstage seemed a little forward of the speakers. Both receivers seamlessly panned the sound on the instrumental tune "India" as it moved from one speaker to the next, circling around the CNET listening room. It's a cool effect, and the big bass drum's definition and dynamics were better with RX-V671 than what we've heard from most receivers. But the AVR-1912's bass power and oomph aced the RX-V671's. All in all, we'd say the two receivers sounded excellent, but different from each other. If forced to pick, we'd give the AVR-1912 the nod.
Listening in stereo to CDs was also a pleasure; the soundstage was wide and very spacious. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "The Live Anthology" served up a little bit of rock and roll heaven, especially when we turned up the volume. The live recordings were done between 1978 and 2007, so the quality varies from tune to tune, but the RX-V671's musicality was consistent through all of it.
The RX-V671's remarkable clarity was evident throughout our music and home theater listening tests, making it a great match with today's best speaker systems.
The Yamaha RX-V671 sounds excellent and supports several high-quality streaming-music services, but it lacks built-in AirPlay support, although it does have a solid collection of built-in streaming-music apps, including Pandora, Rhapsody, and Sirius XM. And while the user interface isn't great compared with other home theater components, it's one of the best available on AV receivers.