It’s been a case of close but no cigar for Yamaha’s AV receivers at this price over the past few years. Despite glowing five star reviews from our testing rooms for the V675 and V677 amps, there’s always been an ‘if’ or a ‘but’ that has ultimately cost it its place at the very top.
But Yamaha has dusted itself down and come back this year with one of the best amps we’ve heard at this price for a while. That’s not to say there are no buts – it’s pricier than before at £600 and there’s still no sign of Atmos. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little disappointed.
Still, we get the ball rolling with Fast and Furious 7, and right from the start the RX-V679 lets us know what it’s all about. This is a big, muscular amp that throws itself behind the action-packed soundtrack without second thought.
During the fight between Agent Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, the RX-V679 embraces every punch landed and delivers each one with solidity and impact. Glass partitions shatter cleanly and crisply, and the soundtrack has the right amount of bite to keep tension and excitement high.
The explosion that allows Shaw to escape engulfs our full seven channels with huge weight and scale. And it’s not just size that the Yamaha has in its favour, it’s space too, which gives the soundfield depth and effects space to breathe.
Although its beefy character is a large part of its charm, the RX-V679 is a little lighter on its feet than the model it replaces in terms of fluidity. It is better balanced, with a clean, clear treble and a considered midrange that tie together much better.
This is especially true with dialogue, which sounds natural and direct, and is able to cut through even the busiest scenes with expression and clarity.
There’s plenty of detail elsewhere too. The low-end could tell us a bit more than just serving up pure power, but the treble is open, delivering tyre screeches and metal-on-metal impact with bite and texture
There could be a touch more precision with effects placement, but the spread is smooth enough and largely accurate. There’s more subtlety here than last year, but it could still benefit from a little more delicacy to balance out the muscle.
This is reflected in the Yamaha’s way with music. Play a Blu-ray of Beyonce’s I Am… Yours, and the RX-V679 delivers a rich, energetic and well-balanced performance. It doesn't time quite as well as some rivals, and lacks a level of subtlety, but it is an easier listen than some.
Despite its wide soundfield, the Yamaha doesn’t manage the same dynamic differentiation between lead vocals and backing vocals as the Denon AVR-X2200W, and doesn’t capture the essence of Beyonce’s live performance in the same way.
It falls somewhere in between the two, and ultimately if you choose the Yamaha for your home cinema needs, you’ll get a very listenable musical performance out of it too.
When it comes to setup, the Yamaha is pretty straight forward, offering the brand’s own YPAO auto calibration. We find it delivers largely accurate results and only takes a few minutes to get it ready to go.
You will be asked during setup whether you want to enable YPAO Volume but we keep it off – it’s a form of dynamic compression that we’d rather not interfere with the sound.
The RX-V679 is a 7.2ch amp offering 90W per channel into 8 Ohms, 2ch driven. There are six HDMI inputs (one on the front panel) but just one output, unlike many of its competitors. This will only be an issue if you’d hoped to set up a second screen, but it is worth noting all the same.
All six inputs are HDMI 2.0a, meaning they support HDR content and 4K up to 60fps. Three are also HDCP 2.2 compliant to support forthcoming 4K Blu-ray players and set top boxes.
Yamaha also supports the 4:4:4 video signal to ensure the best possible colour for your 4K content.
Legacy connections are covered off by four analogue ins and one out, two component video and one out, four composite video and one out with two each of coaxial and optical. On the front panel you’ll find a 6.3mm headphone output and a USB port.
The RX-V679 can also work as part of Yamaha's recently announced MusicCast multi-room solution. This means you can make the V679 the main audio source in your system and stream audio to other MusicCast devices on your network.
Ease of use
The user interface isn’t quite as nice as some rivals, but it’s clear enough to navigate around, despite the accompanying remote still being as cluttered as ever. The Yamaha AV Controller app is well worth downloading for clearer, quicker tweaks to inputs and EQ settings, as well as easier access to music streaming.
Once connected to a wi-fi network, the RX-V679 is ready to stream music using AirPlay, Spotify Connect, internet radio or directly from networked devices.
Alongside the usual lossy formats, the amp supports high-resolution playback of FLAC, WAV and AIFF files up to 24 bit/192kHz via USB and network, with support also in place for DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz.
Bluetooth is also built into the V679, connecting via an adaptor. The result is pretty good – as expected, it’s noticeably less dynamic than CD playback, but it adds another useful string to the Yamaha’s bow.
As we mentioned, Yamaha has nudged its price up this year, taking the RX-V679 to some £100 more than rivals from Sony and Denon. It wouldn’t be so bad if it managed to outperform them, but that’s not the case.
The Denon manages to sound more fluid and expressive, not to mention squeeze in Atmos capabilities, and others challenge the Yamaha with their timing and subtlety, and at a considerably cheaper price.
We said that the RX-V679 is the best AV receiver we’ve heard from Yamaha for a few years – but unfortunately the others around it have also done better.
At £600, we’re disappointed not to see Atmos, but at the very least, we’d expect a performance that can’t be matched by products around £100 cheaper. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
There are certainly fewer ifs ands or buts for Yamaha this year, except the most important one: the competition.
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