Yamaha RX-V471 AV-receiver

There has been something of a dry spell for new AVRs of late. Months have passed without seeing one subsequently, like buses, Yamaha launches the five-model powerful RX-Vx71 line all at once. To celebrate the 25 years since the launching of its own Cinema DSP technology, Yamaha's fledglings get some cutting edge features and obligatory eco friendly credentials, too. One suspect this was a ruse just to tease us, since the RX-V471 turns out to be an absolute corker while the flagship RX-V771 appears spectacular on paper.

To start are the symmetrical cosmetic from the 1987-AVR Designer's Handbook. They have been replaced with a slick and thoroughly contemporary, component-shine fascia. Having dissed the brand's AVR aesthetics in print for nearly a quarter of a century, this can be a revelation to me.

And it is equally slick around the back where there are merely enough vital connections, such as 4-in 1-out v1.4 HDMIs, a choice of digital connections, component video as well as a Yamaha accessory interface. There is no longer a dedicated dock for porting an iPod/iPhone, unless you want a radio connection, for when both Bluetooth and wi fi docks are available. Instead all five versions in the range extract raw digital audio, play lists and also show album artwork from a regular USB input.

For me, this more than makes up for a lack of network connectivity, producing high-quality music-server functionality for the cost of an iPod. My advice will be to buy your iPod enormous and go VBR or lossless for best sound quality, although a Compressed Music Enhancer is in the DSP modes.

It's also clear that more than several months of research and development have already been lavished on the user interface, too. The RX-V471 boots up fast using a colourful high- definition picture of a Yamaha piano on screen.

One press of the remote has the full-colour GUI overlay skidding upward in the bottom of the screen offering a raft of simple- to-follow alternatives. Once the supplied set-up mic is installed (in the proper port and not, as one did, in the fascia-mounted 3.5mm input jack) the receiver automatically pulls up the auto setup menus.

The YPAO room EQ system is a fairly basic personification of the technology while offering no manual adaptation beyond three presets. The GUI overlay lets you play flick and content between each mode easily to choose whichever you prefer. Paradoxically, in a blind test, one ended up plumping for the 'EQ off' but in a standard living room which has less than ideal loudspeaker positioning I guess the YPAO will come into its own.

The attributes list isn't too shoddy for a GBP300 receiver and concentrates on the ones that will actually get used rather than specification trumps. There is no video upscaling, but you need to do get HDMI input signal switching in the frugal 1.2W standby mode for those days when you would like to see and listen to the TV.

At all other times performance is delivered by the RX-V471 to set your socks on fire. Sounding agile, potent and incredibly detailed, this little receiver would give a run for their cash in pure functionality to last year's GBP800 models. Within seconds of spinning up Iron Man on Blu-ray I was hearing small details that older versions at twice the price would gloss over.

The LFE handling is sharp and visceral as Stark appears in the cave that is imprisoning. This really is no slow-burn performer that you could heat also; this is an immediate wow-factor machine that punches out a holographic surround soundstage with preciseness that I've not heard the affordable side.

I considered it will be the preceding dry- spell of amps that let the Yamaha get my affections, therefore i garnered a second opinion. Mrs S. has been exposed to lots of AVRs over the years, so I played two scenes from different discs and requested her to guess the price of the Yamaha. She plumped for 'GBP600-GBP800'. Ok, so it is not only me then.

The winning quality of the RX-V471 is certainly its exceptional equilibrium, which appears to let action, effects and the dialogue shine through. This pulls you into the movie, letting you simply benefit from the storyline and just forget about speakers and the electronics. It is caused by a really clean sound through the mid range; free, huge and open from any blockage. Effects for example the spent bullet cases dropping to the floor have an excellent metallic quality along with the RX-V471 places each one with individual preciseness. Bass effects are robust and punchy without being overbearing as well as the top end provide plenty of sparkle.

On one hand the sound is fruitier in relation to the rivalry and quite a bit firmer feed the AVR a diet of drama plus it offers unrivalled clarity only at that price, too. The King's Speech is provided with gravitas and intensity, underpinning Colin Firth's King George's anguish with brilliant reality.

This rare combination of precision and power makes the RX-V471 something of an all-rounder, equally at home with family-friendly Disney fun since it is 18-cert action mayhem.

To check the point, one slipped on Blu-ray in the initial Ice Age and another completely entertaining 90 minutes slipped by.

Even nudging the volume skyward ends in an exceedingly enjoyable surprise. While most budget receivers start to fight and harden up when the volume gets considerably beyond -5dB, untapped reserves are found by the Yamaha, simply powering into severely 'neighbour-unfriendly' territory. With 0 dB revealing on the clock, the sound keeps its fine balance and clarity with all the bass guitar effects threatening to bring down the light fittings. Great enjoyment? You bet.

The iPod/iPhone hookup is simplicity itself, using no more in relation to the Apple supplied USB lead. The RX-V471 immediately lists artists and all the tracks. When you hit Play, the GUI pulls the cover art work up from the device several seconds later - all controlled by the Yamaha's straightforward remote. Further up the version range you get Program management also, but I think at this price point you can't have everything.

I can't remember a time when me impressed so much while more affluent recipients offer greater resolution, more power and extra attributes. It is stylish on the shelf, astonishingly simple to use, provides a helpful set of features and tops it all away with comfortably class-leading sound at the price. Certainly Yamaha is celebrating the 25th anniversary leaving the competition a whole lot to do to better the RX-V471.

Yamaha RX-V471 AV-receiver photo