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This Could Be Your Tipping Point!
on October 11, 2011
I offer my perspective as someone who has purchased and used several Yamaha receivers over the years, with upgrades required as the technology ratcheted up to encompass various new video capabilities, sound processing superpowers, and most recently HDMI inputs/outputs, leading up to the new HDMI 1.4 standard for 3D playback. I have NEVER fried out a Yamaha receiver--but let me hasten to add that I don't abuse them at high volume over lengthy periods of use either. Every Yamaha receiver I have owned is still in good working order as of this writing, 10/10/11.
My current reciever was/is a formidable RX-V1800, which is a mid-level dreadnought of a Yamaha receiver. But having recently purchased a 3D TV I now needed HDMI 1.4 capability to process the 3D signal. It IS of course possible to simply feed the blu-ray player (a Sony PlayStation 3 in my case) directly into the TV and enjoy the 3D picture with the TV speaker output (which certainly works), but no one could be happy with that for long. I toyed with the idea of getting an HDMI switcher so I could flip between processing a regular HDMI 1.3 signal through the RX-V1800 receiver or chanelling the 3D signals directly to the TV from my PS3, but none of the HDMI switchers I looked at explicitly said "this switcher handles the new 1.4 HDMI standard".
Ultimately I knew I'd have to get a new receiver that could handle 1.4 which I was VERY reluctant to do. My current RX-V1800 was (and is) fully functional, and I'm reluctant to mothball it so soon.
The $229 price for the RX-V371 tipped me into the buy, and though I've had it for only a short while, I think my long familiarity with Yamaha allows me to say with some confidence that this is a WINNER especially at this price. Now as you should expect, a LOT of bells and whistles have been sacrificed. There is no microphone auto-balancing of speakers, it is plain old 5.1 (no "height" channels or 7.1 options), and I hardly need to add no discrete 5.1 inputs, or inputs for VHS, tape, S-video or phono. Yamaha's sound processing modes (auditorium, jazz club,concert hall, etc) are likewise absent here. There ARE two optical audio inputs, one for TV so your TV audio gets the full spectrum playback over your speakers (if your TV is tricked out with audio return channel function you won't need this--the TV will output its audio signal through your HDMI cable). The owners' manual is provided on a CD ROM disc, which is something new to me but I suppose it's another cost-saving measure. There are four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output.
So, yes, as the price and stripped-down features summarized above suggest, this is everything you need to get a living room home theater setup going with possibly a second DVD or CD player added (along with your blu-ray player--I am presuming you wouldn't even be considering this receiver unless you had already crossed the blu-ray capability threshold).
Let me admit up front I'm not an obsessive angry audiophile who listens deliberately to find flaws, distortion, and imperfections. I'm looking for adequate volume to fill my space (14 x 28' living room) and enough muscle to get as loud as the soundtrack/music demands without rattling my windows or antagonizing the neighbors. I also want clear channel separation--L, R, surrounds & sub all working and capable of reproducing the audio engineering in a 5.1 source, or expanding a stereo source to credibly fill a 5.1 array. I have four Polk bookshelf models on ceiling shelves that sound great plus a Polk center & subwoofer.) So far (to my ears anyway) this receiver is the sonic equal of the RX-V1800 I swapped out AND it processes the 1.4 3D video signal perfectly for an unbelievably vivid 3D picture--standard 2D looks INCREDIBLE also. (You WILL need two new 1.4 HDMI cables, but those can be CHEAPLY bought right here on Amazon.)
I wanted to comment publicly on the RX-V371, because you know what? I don't think we properly appreciate how good we've got it! At my age (54) I clearly remember the primitive black & white TV's I grew up with that nevertheless held my fascination for hour after brain-rotting hour. Those crude, sawtoothed pictures and kazoo-squawky sound would be intolerable today (rabbit ears with strips of tinfoil, anyone?). Color TV took years to get it right; I flash back to 1960's early color sets oscillating between a red, blue or green tinted picture in between long fits of incurable picture roll. I don't think a proper color CRT image and broadcasting was perfected until the 1970's, just in time for VHS and Betamax to create new complications. Today we have SPECTACULAR images through blu-ray and DVD; the new flat screen TV's have NEVER been (comparatively) cheaper, larger, lighter or more idiot-proof than they are now. The concept of "home theater" never really took root until the 1980's and now it is almost simple to set up a staggering 3D system with 5.1 sound, for maybe $1,500-$2,000. That is nothing short of INCREDIBLE I think, and the new availability of sub-$300 receivers like this RX-V371 makes it even more economically realistic to take the plunge if you've been hesitating to make the jump into home theater.
The explosion of technology the RX-V371 is a part of will continue, and who knows how long before a new wave of now-unimaginable possibilities makes this obsolete. Probably sooner than we think. However we don't live in the future, we're living NOW and at $229 from Amazon, I think the RX-V371 should be an absolute "tipping point" for folks looking to upgrade their home theater experience.