Sim­ple thrills

Some prod­ucts get bet­ter with each gen­er­a­tion, and yet, re­tain their tra­di­tional ap­peal.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By SUJESH PAVITHRAN

KEEP­ING it sim­ple is a virtue I rate highly. I’ve had my fair share of AV am­pli­fiers that came crammed with fea­tures I never had use for, put there, I sus­pect, for sales­men to pitch to im­pres­sion­able pun­ters.

The bare ne­ces­si­ties are good enough for me – 5.1 sur­round is about right, 7.1 ex­ces­sive. I can even get by with a cen­tre and two front speak­ers, plus a good sub­woofer. What I don’t want to pay for is stuff that will lurk, for­got­ten, in the dark in­nards of the amp.

The Yamaha RX-V567 AV re­ceiver is the lat­est in a long line of mid-range mod­els of­fered by the home the­atre vet­eran. It cer­tainly doesn’t go over­board ... but is it enough?

Sil­ver or black?

The re­view unit was of­fi­cially sil­ver but this ap­plied only to the bot­tom half – the top half, in­cor­po­rat­ing the dis­play, was mir­ror-black.

This is a 7.1 amp (over­done, yes) with a to­tal out­put of 630 watts, at a sub­stan­tial 90 per chan­nel. It of­fers HDMI 1.4, which sup­ports 3D video, a nod to­wards the cur­rent flavour, al­though I’m not sure if an update is needed for this.

The four HDMI in­puts will be enough for most, along with a sin­gle out­put. Full HD is a given, and the 567 will up­scale ana­logue video to 1080p for im­proved qual­ity. You also get Deep Color technology, x.v. Color and 24Hz re­fresh rates.

The au­dio sur­round for­mats in­clude Dolby TrueHD/Dig­i­tal Plus and DTS-HD Mas­ter Au­dio. The sur­round Cin­ema DSP modes are limited and don’t get in the way – purists will ap­pre­ci­ate the di­rect mode.

There’s a Com­pressed Mu­sic En­hancer fea­ture to re­store dy­nam­ics to mu­sic files ripped from CDs or down­loaded from In­ter­net sources, while an­other called Adap­tive Dy­namic Range in­creases softer di­a­logue au­to­mat­i­cally when over­all sys­tem vol­ume is turned down.

You can’t con­nect your iPod di­rectly, but the 567 has a multi-pin in­put for the com­pat­i­ble and op­tional dock (or a Blue­tooth re­ceiver) from Yamaha. This apart, there are four two coax­ial and two op­ti­cal dig­i­tal in­puts, along with two sets of ana­logue out­puts. You also get three sets of ana­logue out­puts, and a sub­woofer out­put. The on­board de­coders are of the 24-bit/192kHz va­ri­ety from Burr Brown.

As for video, apart from HDMI, two sets of com­po­nent in­puts come along with four com­pos­ite ones – S-Video is out of the pic­ture (pun in­tended)! Ah, and there’s a ra­dio tuner. At the front, you get an­other set of coax­ial ana­logue AV in­puts, plus a mini in­put and an out­put for head­phones. The lay­out is pretty neat, while the graphic in­ter­face, once con­nected to the TV, is pretty straight­for­ward.

A mi­cro­phone and Yamaha’s Acous­tic Op­ti­mizer sys­tem to an­a­lyse room acous­tics make set­ting up this amp a breeze.

Plain al­lure

The 567 was hooked to an Epos AVS speaker sys­tem, with a Par­a­digm Cube sub; a Pana­sonic HD-ready plasma TV, Astro B.yond, TM Unifi’s IPTV and a me­dia player were the an­cil­lar­ies, along with a Pi­o­neer DVD player. Note the de­creas­ing de­pen­dence on disc play­ers!

As in the past with the costlier mod­els, this one ex­celled in the au­dio depart­ment, whether two-chan­nel, sur­round or via head­phones. Hi-fi en­thu­si­asts have a chip on their shoul­der about in­te­grat­ing their two-chan­nel and home the­atre needs us­ing an AV amp or re­ceiver, but the mid-range prod­ucts of to­day are show­ing them­selves to be in­creas­ingly ca­pa­ble of stand­ing their ground against some of the stereo com­pe­ti­tion.

A rock-steady bass, in two-and mul­ti­chan­nel mode, loads of weight and punch with­out get­ting in your face, sheer clar­ity across the fre­quen­cies, the abil­ity to han­dle dy­namic pas­sages with­out trip­ping up and a spa­tially airy pre­sen­ta­tion were qual­i­ties about this amp that I found al­lur­ing. Im­por­tantly, def­i­ni­tion was re­tained at lower vol­ume lev­els.

The video was no less com­pe­tent than what the com­pe­ti­tion is putting out – even stan­dard def­i­ni­tion pro­grammes fed via the HDMI links dis­played bet­ter clar­ity than of yore, while high-def­i­ni­tion sig­nal reproduction was im­pres­sive on my 42-inch plasma dis­play. Also, I found no degra­da­tion be­tween video sig­nals fed di­rectly to the TV and those pass­ing through the 567.

If per­for­mance alone were the yard­stick, the 567 passed with dis­tinc­tion, es­pe­cially for its au­dio ca­pa­bil­i­ties – the depth in de­tail, weight in pre­sen­ta­tion and the abil­ity to tackle all sorts of ma­te­ri­als made it al­most an over-achiever!

A sure thing

The Yamaha RX-V567 is a tempt­ing pack­age, punch­ing above its weight and – in a smallto-medium size room – all you would need to en­joy ster­ling sur­round and two-chan­nel per­for­mance.

I be­lieve there is much com­pe­ti­tion in this price range that is get­ting bet­ter with each gen­er­a­tion. Still, I would highly rec­om­mend the 567; it’s a cer­tain thing, for me at least.

The right stuff: The Ya­hama RXV567 isn’t over­done ... and sports tra­di­tional and mod­ern val­ues.

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