Yamaha RX-V683 offers a 7.2 receiver which, thanks to MusicCast, may have the best multiroom platform. The many DSP options that we know from the Japanese brand are also present again.
The Yamaha RX-V683 is the big brother of the RX-V483 earlier this year by EISA as receiver of the year was declared. We also wanted to look a bit higher in the range, more specifically to this RX-V683 which is in store for 729 euros. In terms of functionality, there is no immense difference between 483 and 683. Just like other receiver manufacturers, Yamaha works with a platform design on which the different models are based. The RX-V683 is more powerful and versatile than the 483: it offers 7.2 (instead of 5.1) and slightly more power. The higher receiver also has more HDMI inputs (6 instead of 4) and some extras. However, the software hatch – and that includes Yamaha’s acclaimed MusicCast platform – is identical. However, it is the somewhat higher power and the additional options that make the RX-V683 a bit more interesting for the serious home cinema enthusiast.
Yamaha RX-V683 – design and connections
You discover a nice receiver when you take this Yamaha out of the box. Although the RX-V683 belongs to the RX family and not Yamaha’s higher Advantage line, it is a well-finished, valuable looking device. As always with the Japanese brand you have the choice between a completely black version or one that combines a titanium color with a black display. We have always found that last finish very clever and distinctive, unlike what you usually find in the store.
Yamaha still places a lot of buttons on the front panel. One part is hardly noticeable because they are black keys on the black part of glass. The device looks more ‘technical’ than some rival receivers, but there are also advantages to this button feast. For example, we find the four scene buttons at the front quite handy, just like the full radio control. This way you can at least create a dash of music without having to use a remote or remote control.
The RX line aims at the mainstream, something you notice at the back. That is pretty clean, even if you compare the back of the RX-683 with the similar Denon AVR-X2400H. This is partly because the Yamaha no longer offers a number of old video connections (or not as completely as Denon). It is actually a wise step, because in these times of 4K and HDMI it is gradually time to leave component and S-video behind us. The sleek rear of the Yamaha RX-V683 is also because the Yamaha only offers five HDMI outputs (the sixth is in front) and one HDMI output. Do you need more? That depends on you. We do note that the comparable models from Denon and Onkyo offer slightly more HDMI connections. For example, if you want to use one TV with a projector or a second TV set, you have to look at another device. The loudspeaker terminals could also be placed slightly larger and more spacious. Applying banana plugs is almost impossible.
Yamaha RX-V683 – setup
The interface that Yamaha shows on TV is quite busy and has been the same for years now. It does not look bad, but the logic is sometimes confusing. So you have an important menu that slides in the form of a vertical bar on the screen, but you have to search for certain things in a menu that you call via the Option button on the remote. Other settings can only be reached via an advanced menu for which you have to put the receiver in standby. Very special options (such as the 4K-HDMI signal mode and speaker impedance) can be adjusted via buttons on the front of the receiver. We think that Yamaha should think about how to simplify all those things and to bundle them into a more user-friendly interface. However, you can not deny that the RX-V683 offers you a lot of options.
Where Onkyo, Denon and Sony put a lot of energy into the development of a user-friendly step-by-step plan that shows on the TV screen and you explain everything about connections, Yamaha chooses a different, interesting path. Via the AV Setup Guide app on your mobile device, you set everything up and get an explanation of which cables to use. At the end of the ride your choices are forwarded to the receiver, so you do not need to set anything directly on the device. Working through an app is a smart idea, although the app should be slightly more accessible.
In fact, Yamaha seems very radical to choose apps above the TV interface. The menus that the RX-V683 shows on your TV are not as simple as on the Arcam AVR-550, but it is noticeable that the TV interface is much less slick than the two apps that you can use to put the Yamaha on. to send. The two are the Yamaha AV Controller and the MusicCast app. The AV Controller is a simple app that largely replaces the remote. You select inputs, scenes and DSP modes.
Yamaha RX-V683 – MusicCast
MusicCast is a very good app that is mainly focused on streaming and multiroom. A word of explanation is in order: since 2016 Yamaha has equipped almost all of its products (not only receivers) with MusicCast, a function that allows you to stream music from one Yamaha device to another. MusicCast is now very mature and can, for example, send the sound from connected sources (such as a turntable) to another room. It is not just about streaming services and music files, and that is a huge strength. In the MusicCast app you can also switch between HDMI inputs and sound modes. Because of this you can only work with MusicCast for normal use, AV Controller is not really necessary.
For this test we did not really test the multiroom capabilities of MusicCast because we did not have another Yamaha device in our house. In the past, however, we have worked with it many times, and it was always a model of stability and ease of use.
A positive point is that Yamaha keeps tinkering with MusicCast. For example, new services have been added (Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer and Spotify are the most important for the Benelux) and there is support for Alexa. It is still waiting before we can really get to work – any time now, we hear – but then you can operate the receiver with voice commands via an Echo Dot or other Alexa device. At IFA 2017 in Berlin, at least we saw a few demos that were very convincing.
Via MusicCast the RX-V683 has excellent support for own music files, via USB or over the network (DLNA). The receiver played all of our test files, including AIFF and DSD, with the exception of the extremely rare multichannel FLACs and ALACs purchased via Qobuz. Anyway, we have found even more devices to date that do.
Incidentally, the V683 also has Airplay and Bluetooth on board, offering you alternative ways to stream music from a mobile device. We are happy that streaming from the receiver via Bluetooth is also something that is often lacking in the competition. For example, you can connect a Bluetooth headset at night and continue to watch a movie when the neighbors have been lying in bed for a long time.
Yamaha RX-V683 – audio quality
The RX-V683 is a 7.2 receiver with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X . So you can build a 5.2 setup with two height channels. All possible variations of height channels are supported: speakers on the wall, built-in in the ceiling and reflective speakers. With these Atmos speakers, which are typically placed on the floor uprights, it is useful if you can set a room height. We miss that here. We also note that the V683 offers Ultra HD support and knows HDR10, and receives Hybrid Log Gamma and Dolby Vision via a future firmware update.
We connected the RX-V683 to our fixed surround setup, which consists of Dali Rubicon speakers at the front (LCR + Vokal), Opticon LCR at the back and Alteco for the height channels (not used in this test). The subwoofer is a Monitor Audio Silver W12. Yamaha offers the YPAO system to calibrate the receiver and speakers. YPAO works with a single measurement at the listening position. The interesting thing about YPAO is that it not only compensates for reflections, but can also apply dynamic volume control so that the sound remains balanced at low volumes. And it works surprisingly well, we notice when we watch the film “Doctor Strange” from Netflix on a connected Xbox One X. Even at the -50 volume level on the receiver, it still sounds like a movie soundtrack.
Yamaha also really loves DSP interventions. No one offers as many DSP options as the Japanese company. Admit, there are less useful things (do we really want the acoustics of a large hall in Munich at home?), But also powerful functions. If you ever have the time to experiment, put all surround speakers in the front of the room and activate Virtual Cinema Front. This also works to simulate surround with, say, two stereo speakers. Really the same as rear speakers is not, but surprisingly enough it works to a certain extent. Dialogue Lift and Extra Bass are just a little more useful, especially for surround mixes that do not work as well (eg with older Blu-rays or more low-budget productions).
‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2’ on Ultra HD Blu-ray (again via the Xbox One X) we regularly visit for testing – and it’s a perfect weekend film. It is packed with exploding spaceships and special effects, but it also has a very musical soundtrack. And what turns out to be: music, that’s what the Yamaha likes. Even if we use QCuz via MusicCast to listen to pure 2-channel, the V683 shows good performance. de Sony STR-DN1080 die we een tijdje terug testten. With a warm touch, favorite test tracks are served, at the level of the Sony STR-DN1080 which we tested a while back. This receiver is very good purely musically. Yamaha invests time and effort to tune their receivers that they sell to us to European flavors, and you notice that (if you import the same model from the US or Japan it sounds different!). Because of this good basic attitude we did not find that the Music Enhancer function really offers an enormous added value, the thickness tracks too much. The musicality of the Yamaha lifts films with a soundtrack that is driven by music, like this Guardians movie, to a higher level. Surround technically we find the result that YPAO delivers earlier ‘ok’. During the scene where Peter Quill – sorry, Starlord – tries to escape the many spaceships of The Sovereign with his friends, the action stays in the front of the room. We have to adjust that; fortunately, the RX-V683 offers many options in this area. The receiver does put down sudden dynamic changes such as explosions, given the price range and power.
Yamaha RX-V683 – conclusion
The Yamaha RX-V683 could be slightly better finished in some areas and be equipped with functions, but there is nothing that really needs to be a big bush. Yamaha would certainly also simplify its interface once, but their good apps compensate that minus some. Every Yamaha receiver, including RX-V683, greatly benefits from the presence of the MusicCast platform. It really works well and just works perfectly via the MusicCast app. Extras such as Alexa and the re-streaming of connected sources are the icing on the cake. The many DSP options also give the V683 something unique, fun if you like tweaking.