The RX-V3900 has a two-tiered set-up structure. One level, called the “Advanced Setup” menu, uses front panel controls only to configure certain core functions that will likely only need to be adjusted once (for example, setting the impedance for the loudspeakers you’ll use). A second level, called the “Graphical User Interface” menu, offers a well-designed GUI to let you navigate through a very broad range of setup options—some of which you might want to reconfigure on the fly. In general, the GUI menu is well conceived and fairly easy to use, with a master menu that unfolds into multi-tiered “trees” of options presented in layered sub-menus. Graphics are quite good and help to steer you through the plethora of set-up and adjustment options at hand. Nevertheless, prospective buyers should be aware that there are (or can be) two catches. First, understand that this is a seriously flexible A/V receiver, which—of necessity—is fairly complex; in short, the sheer number of set-up/control options could be daunting or intimidating for some owners. Second, be aware that certain set-up procedures are not as logical as they could be.
Consider this anomaly as one example. Most of the RX-V3900’s inputs can and should be configured through a very handy I/O Assignment menu. The menu provides a list of (most of) the receiver’s available inputs, such as the Blu-ray or DVD player inputs, and allows you to assign audio and video ports to those inputs as desired (for example, you could assign HDMI port 4 to the Blu-ray player). But if you look closely, you’ll find the I/O Assignment menu does not allow you to configure the multichannel analog audio input. Only after poring over the manual (and doing some trial-and-error experimentation) did I discover that I needed to use an altogether different menu, called Inputs, to set up the multichannel analog audio input. Not an impossible problem to solve, but a puzzler all the same.
The good news is that the ultra-flexible RX-V3900 almost always offers a way for you to do what you want, but the bad news is the “right answer” isn’t always obvious or easy to find. The RX-V3900 poses just enough anomalies along the way to be confusing at times.
But one aspect of the receiver that’s not confusing at all is the well executed, next generation YPAO room/speaker EQ system. Unlike many such systems, this newest version of the YPAO system lets you choose between two fundamentally different EQ schemes. You can optimize EQ settings for just one listening position, or take more measurements and dial in settings that provide a best case solution for multiple listening positions at once. Either way, the room/speaker EQ system is a joy to use and gives audibly excellent results.
The RX-V3900 provides one of the better remotes I’ve yet found among AVRs in this price class. It has three things going for it: very effective backlighting (in brilliant blue) for all of the most commonly used buttons and switches, direct access buttons for every input that the receiver supports (a total of 16 in all), and a very complete set of listening mode control buttons. Realistically, no receiver with as many processing options as this one offers is ever going to be truly “dirt simple” to operate, but that said, I found the RX-V3900’s listening mode buttons made it a lot easier to narrow down my choices and to harness and enjoy all of the processing power on tap.
The RX-V3900 incorporates a VRS video processor from Anchor Bay and it performed extremely well on the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD, turning in a stellar performance on the disc’s extremely difficult jaggies tests, and film detail/moiré pattern tests. In fact, the VRS processor got very good-to-excellent on almost all of the tests, though its weakest area of performance involved noise reduction on static images, where test results, while good, were not the best I’ve seen.