Those entering the world of home cinema for the first time might prefer to dip their toes into the budget market before jumping in at the deep end.
With its strong combination of features and performance, Yamaha does this part of the market better than most.
The Yamaha RX-V379 would seem like a good place to start. It’s the company’s entry-level amp and the successor to last year’s Award-winner at this price (which was the successor to the Award-winner the year before).
It’s a straightforward receiver, keeping the spec list simple without leaving it lacking. And while it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of pricier amps, it still comes with a few tricks up its sleeve.
There’s still no wi-fi or networking – you’ll have to go for one of Yamaha’s pricier models to get that – but there is built-in Bluetooth for the first time at this level.
Yamaha has paid particular attention to ensure the circuitry performs as strongly as ever with the new tech on board.
4K passthrough also sees a boost, offering up to 60fps with support for HDCP 2.2 copy protection on board for playing back future 4K Blu-rays.
Elsewhere it’s business as usual. The RX-V379 is a 5.1 channel amp with four HDMI inputs and one output, enough for handling most entry-level systems.
You’ll also get one optical, one USB and two coaxial inputs, plus three analogue inputs for older kit. Component connections have been dropped this year – worth noting if you have an older system.
What we’d prefer Yamaha to drop are the spring clip speaker terminals for the centre and surround channels (the front channels get proper binding posts).
They limit you with the speaker wires you can use, which will be a consideration for those with thicker cables. It’s a small niggle, but we’d like to see binding posts for all channels in future.
When it comes to set-up, Yamaha’s YPAO auto calibration is simple but effective. It isn’t as visually pleasing or in depth as some options in pricier amps, but it does the job, and we were happy with the results.
With the setup complete, we delve into a Blu-ray of Edge Of Tomorrow and the powerful beach invasion scene. Despite its entry-level standing, the V379 retains the powerful character of amps further up the series, and with 70w per channel (6 Ohms, 2ch driven), it delivers a sound much larger than its price tag would suggest.
Explosions sound huge and are delivered with a solidity and impact, while gunfire zings around the room with precision to create an immersive and energetic environment.
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It’s a character we know well, and Yamaha has pushed things even further this year, with a touch more agility giving added excitement to soundtracks.
There’s plenty of space to its presentation too, so dynamics have a chance to shine, plus the detail on offer is superb, with a level of expression and insight that we applaud at this level.
This character continues with its musical performance, which is delivered with both punch and insight. We listen to a CD of Eminem’s Recovery and the venom in his voice is punctuated with solid drum hits, deep bass lines and a decent handle on timing.
Ease of use
We find Yamaha’s ‘Straight’ mode works particularly well with music, tightening things up a touch and adding a bit of extra clarity to the presentation.
Bluetooth pairing is slightly unintuitive but once set up, it’s reliable enough, however it does suffer from an expected drop in scale, detail and dynamics compared with a CD or Blu-ray performance.
There’s also a slight background hiss, which you can hear on quieter tracks.
It’s not too distracting for the most part, but we would recommend turning off Yamaha’s compressed music enhancer (which is on by default) for the softer tracks, as despite adding some size and weight to the performance, it also emphasises the hissing sound.
All things considered, the RX-V379 is a superb entry-level receiver that sees Yamaha putting all of its previous experience at this price to good use.
Yes, you can get more features and a more refined musical performance at a higher price, but for under £300, the RX-V379 is a superb amp and one of the best ways to enter the home cinema market on a budget.
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