Kudos to Yamaha for loading an exceptional features assortment into the RX-V863. That’s great, but we were even more impressed with the way the designers managed to keep the user interface intuitive. We sailed through most of the setup without consulting the owner’s manual.
The RX-V863 not only receives AM/FM, Sirius and XM Satellite Radio, it also receives HD Radio. The RX-V863 is a seven-channel receiver, but you can run it with as many as nine speakers in your home theater—so in addition to the usual Left, Center, Right front speakers you can add two “Presence” front speakers (they augment the standard left/right speakers). That’s up to five speakers up front, with as many as four speakers for surround channels. If that sounds like too many speakers, the RX-V863 with happily provide 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 channel sound. High quality Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs are used in all channels. Also noteworthy, you can assign the RX-V863’s amplifiers to bi-amplify compatible front left and right speakers in a 5.1 channel system. Yamaha’s YPAO (Automatic System Calibration) system handles speaker setup duties. The RX-V863 offers decoders for a bevy of HD audio formats including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital TrueHD, DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
You get full HD 1080p video upscaling for analog video sources, The receiver supports Deep Color (up to 36 bit), x.v.Color, double speed Refresh Rates of 120Hz and 1080p/24Hz transmission.
Wire’s third record, 154 [EMI] from 1979 still sounds like a volatile, artsy punk feast loaded with ragged, power-pop riffs. The tunes begged to be cranked up to “11” and the RX-V863 didn’t miss a beat. Soundstage depth and air were exception-ally vivid. Next, the Jazz Side of the Moon SACD [Chesky] exercised the receiver’s bottom-end power. Ari Hoeing’s drum patterns and shadings on “Money” were a delicious mix of muscular and tactile. My only qualm about the RX-V863’s sonics involved its slightly cool tonal balance.
The crash scene in the Flight of the Phoenix DVD made quite an impact as the plane skidded and bumped its way across the sandy desert. The deep bass effects of the impact were phenomenal, and later, when a lightning storm threatened to blow up the ungrounded plane, the sound of wind and rain were incredibly realistic.
The heavily compressed signals of Sirius and XM’s music channels typically sounded like low bit-rate MP3s, though Yamaha’s Compressed Music Enhancer can help somewhat. However, the Yamaha sounded better on cleanly received FM, and it did manage to pull in most of the better (but hard to receive) college stations in my area. Oh, and the FM stations broadcasting in HD Radio had lower background noise and sounded even better/clearer than analog FM.
Yamaha’s product designers did an amazing job integrating the RXV863’ s bountiful features set. This receiver was a pleasure to set up and use.