Face Off: Budget Receivers Yamaha RX-V495

Yamaha RX-V495
Yamaha seems to have a sort of cult following. I have run into so many people that absolutely swear by Yamaha products. They are an odd bunch—like the people who keep buying Subarus. But after testing a fair amount of Yamaha equipment, I'd be one of the last people to argue with them (especially that one guy who sent me the three-page email about how good his Yamaha receiver is).

The $399 RX-V495 from Yamaha is rated at 70-watts per channel and features Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Digital processing, but no DTS processing. All of the usual analog inputs and outputs are provided, including a 6-channel input for use with a DTS processor or a DVD-Audio machine, (which are finally available). As expected on such an inexpensive receiver, digital inputs are sparse, with only one coaxial digital input and two Toslink optical inputs. Speaker connections are made via UL-approved collars for the left and right main speakers, and the center and surround speakers are connected using spring clips. I'm a little disappointed that Yamaha chose to go with spring clips for the other channels, seeing as how Kenwood was able to put all UL-approved collars on their receiver for 50 bucks less. The remote for the Yamaha is a skinny little thing that can be set up to run other components in your system, like a DVD or CD player. Although I fumbled around with it for a bit (because of its size), I found it fully functional and not at all hard to use.

It came as no surprise to me that the Yamaha scored very well against the other receivers in this Face Off. Mike seemed to like it the best: "The bass was very tight and dynamic, and its performance on the iceberg scene from the Titanic DVD was clean, but with muted top-end dynamics." I agreed with Mike's assessment on the lack of top-end dynamics and detail. High frequencies sounded rolled off on both music and movies—almost like a re-EQ-type circuit was used. Monica liked the sound of the Yamaha in general, but thought the bass sounded "weird." "There was too much bass on the Counting Crows track, but it seemed muffled when we listened to Mel Tormé."

As expected, the RX-V495 is a very good-sounding, inexpensive receiver. I would use this receiver with speakers that tend to be a little aggressive on the top end (like NHTs) and definitely run all the speakers small with a subwoofer.

• Future--proof six-channel input
• Sounds better with brighter speakers

Yamaha RX-V495

HT Labs Measures: Yamaha RX-V495
The above measurement shows that the RX-V495's left amplifier channel, with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, began clipping at 0.009% distortion and 50.6 watts. The amp reaches 0.1% distortion at 51.1 watts and 1% distortion at 78.3 watts, as shown above. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier begins clipping at 95.6 watts and reaches 0.1% distortion at 103.9 watts and 1% distortion at 119.9 watts.

The analog frequency response was +/-0.16 dB from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. The response only dropped to -0.22 dB at 10 Hz and to -0.98 dB at 50 kHz. Crosstalk was -57.5 dB from left to right at 1 kHz and -58.4 dB from right to left at 1 kHz. THD+N from the amplifier was less than 0.028% at 1 kHz with 2.83 volts output.

From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker outputs, the left, center, and surround channels are all flat, +/-0.64 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. From the Dolby Digital input to the line-level output, the LFE channel is -0.01 dB at 20 Hz and reaches the upper 6-dB down point at 107 Hz.—AJ

Testing System
Monitor Audio Silver Silver 5s, Silver Centre, and Silver 3s; Definitive Technology ProSub 80, Sony DVP-S300 DVD player, Radio Shack MegaCable