Yamaha DSP-AX863SE review

An excellent amp, and a very worthy step-up over the £500 pack Tested at £600.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

An expertly tuned AV amplifier that, sonically, is a cut above the other machines in this line-up


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    Breathtaking dynamics

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    powerful, solid bass

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    natural, detailed presentation

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    excellent surround sound processing


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    Specification could be more comprehensive

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When we originally reviewed this amp in December, it had an £800 price tag, but Yamaha has shrewdly slashed the price to make it ultra-competitive.

Compared with its cheaper sibling, you get a slight increase in power, an extra HDMI input, and 1080p upscaling. You've still got Deep Colour, x.vColour support, HD audio decoding and Yamaha's YPAO auto set-up technology.

You'll also notice that the chassis carries a special ‘UK tuned' badge. This indicates that it has been specifically modified for the UK market.

How? Yamaha conducted research into how UK users want their products to sound and they came up with two aims: to make audio natural and to recreate the effects/music as the filmmaker or recording artist intended.

To achieve this, Yamaha has included special components ranging from power transformers to diodes to help promote a sound that Yamaha claims to be agile, transparent, powerful and balanced.

Bags of bang for your buck
And Yamaha has hit the nail squarely on the head. With £200 off the price, the performance-per-pound ratio has gone through the roof – and this amplifier romped to our Product of the Year Award.

It magnifies all that's good about its sibling, but adds greater detail, refinement and richness to the mix. It sweeps Iron Man's surround effects around the room with precision.

When our metal chum tries to evade the US fighter pilots, his agility is mirrored in the sound. Add transparency and detail to the mix and you're exposed to every subtle nuance in a film soundtrack.

Both in surround sound and stereo use, the Yamaha stamps its dynamic authority.

Spin a CD, turn on Pure Direct (so all unnecessary circuitry is shut down) and it exhibits a level of refinement that can give £1000 receivers a serious run for their money.

Click here to watch our video review of the Yamaha DSP-AX863SE.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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