Yamaha RX-V640 AV Receiver - Product Review

Yamaha RX-V640 Home Theater Receiver
Yamaha RX-V640 Home Theater Receiver. Image provided by Yamaha Corp.

Introduction To The Yamaha RX-V640 Home Theater Receiver

New AV receivers are hitting the market almost as fast as new PCs. Even for us "pros" it is hard to keep up with the latest. However, having had a chance to use the Yamaha RX-V640, I must say that it is an excellent value for those getting started in home theater. For more details, check out this product review.

Features and Specifications

The RX-V640 is a "budget" AV receiver from Yamaha that is designed to deliver solid performance, while supplying a number of useful features.

The RX-V640 supports up to a 6-channel speaker configuration (left front, center front, right front, left surround, center back, and right surround). The discrete 6-channel amplifier supplies 85 wpc rms into standard 8 ohm loads (0.06 THD).

Audio inputs include 7 analog, 4 digital optical, 1 digital coaxial.

Video inputs include 5 composite, 5 S-video, and 2 sets Component video inputs, as well as 6.1 channel analog inputs for an external surround sound decoder or SACD/DVD-Audio sources. The RX-V640 also offers 2-channel second zone preamp outputs.

The RX-V640 also has AV switching of composite, S-video, and component sources, with the additional usefulness of two-way video conversion. This feature actually converts S-video input to standard composite output or vice-versa, enabling the user to hook-up a VCR, DVD player, and TV using a combination of S-Video and composite connections. Component video connections are not subject to conversion, however.

In addition to multi-format Dolby Digital/DTS surround decoding, the RX-V640 also has Pro Logic II, and DTS Neo:6 audio processing, which create effective 5.1/6.1 channel surround fields from two channel sources.

Other audio options include Yamaha's Cinema DSP settings, Silent Cinema surround sound headphone technology, and a Center Channel Equalizer.

Additional features include a front headphone jack, two rear convenience power outlets (both switched), an AM/FM stereo tuner and, of course, a remote control.

However, unlike most AV receivers in this class, the RX-V640 does not have an onscreen display; all settings are displayed on the 640's front panel LED display and changed through the supplied remote control.

The MSRP of the RX-V640 is an affordable $499.

Testing Setup

Components used in the evaluation included a Denon DCM-370 CD/HDCD Changer, Panasonic LX-1000 Laserdisc Player, Pioneer DV-525 DVD player, Philips DVDR985 DVD Recorder, a Yamaha YST-SW205 powered subwoofer, and an Optoma H56 DLP video projector 404. A variety of loudspeakers, in both matched and mismatched setups were used.

A sampling of the software used included standard CDs: HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon (2003), Nora Jones: Come Away With Me, Lisa Loeb: Firecracker (HDCD), Blondie: Live (HDCD), Telarc: 1812 Overture. One Laserdisc was used: Godzilla 1998. DVDs used included: Godzilla 1998, Spirited Away, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report (DTS/Dolby Digital), and MeU571(DTS). DVD-Audio/DTS music discs used included: Queen: Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles: Hotel California, Sheila Nicholls: Wake, Alan Parsons: On Air.

Also included: The Corrs: In Blue (Dolby Digital). Portions of other software titles in the above categories were used as well.

Audio Performance

The Yamaha RX-V640 was a great performer with each of the connected components and with all software program material. Surround sound performance was very good on both movie and audio-only material. In addition to the standard Dolby Digital, DTS, etc... modes, the addition of Yamaha's Cinema DSP modes does a great job of placing the above soundfields into realistic environments, such as a movie theater or concert hall. Unlike some AV receivers in this class, the RX-V640 also holds up well in two-channel sound reproduction, providing good music-only performance.

The RX-V640 is not as "powerful" as some other receivers in this price range,but its discrete high-current amplifier design supplied enough power to respond quickly to dramatic changes in sound levels, providing a consistent output over long periods of time.

The 640 lacks the convenience of an onscreen setup menu, but the remote, along with the LED display on the 640 allows adjustment of all needed settings, including room size, speaker distance, and speaker levels. There is also a built-in test tone generator in the 640 that can be used to check the sound level of each speaker individually, or all speakers in a rotating sequence.

Video Performance

The S-Video/composite video conversion was also very good, with little signal loss when compared to a direct composite or S-video feed from the Laserdisc and DVD players to the video projector used.

Additional Features

A useful feature I was glad to see on the RX-V640 (which is becoming common on AV receivers) is the second zone option. This allows setup of an additional two-channel amplifier and speakers, using the RX-V640 to send a line-level signal from one of its connected audio components. The source can be the same or different from what is playing on the main system. Video switching is not included in the second zone option.

A very practical feature, the Center Channel Equalizer, also deserves a mention. This function enables the user to match the characteristics of the center channel speaker to the left and right main speakers and also helps to enhance soft center dialog tracks that plague some DVD material.

Some Negatives

No direct phono/turntable input (vinyl is on the upsurge.

Only one coaxial digital audio input (one more would have been nice).

No onscreen display (It is nice not to have to turn on your TV every time you need to change settings -- but it is nice to have that additional option).

Although I personally would have liked to have seen these features, they, in no way, detracted from the audio or video performance of the unit itself.

Final Take

With its moderate price, and loads of features, the RX-V640 represents an excellent value in an AV receiver in its price class.

To recap: although not as powerful as some other units in its price class, the RX-V640, none-the-less delivers exceptional sound, which should serve well in most average sized rooms.

The features of note were: Video Conversion, which allows mixing of S-video and composite video inputs and outputs; Second Zone pre-outs, which allow the user to supply either a simultaneous or second source to another room (additional amplifier required) and the Center Channel Equalizer, which is great for fine tuning movie dialog tracks.

In conclusion, if you are considering either an upgrade from an old pro-logic receiver or starting a system from scratch, and are on a budget, consider the Yamaha RX-V640. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

NOTE: Yamaha has discontinued production of the RX-V640 but it may still be available used via third parties. For some added details on the RX-V640 refer to the Also, for comparisons with more currently available products that are similar, refer to my periodically-updated listing of Home Theater Receivers - Priced From $400 to $1,299.

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