Yamaha's RX-V "81" Series Home Theater Receivers

Yamaha RX-V781 Home Theater Receiver
Yamaha RX-V781 Home Theater Receiver. Images provided by Yamaha Electronics Corp.

Yamaha's RX-V line of home theater receivers includes the RX-V381; RX-V481, RX-V581, RX-V681, and RX-V781. For details on the RX-V381, which is an entry-level model, refer to our companion report.

The rest of the receivers in the RX-V81 series are mid-range models that offer a varying amount of advanced feature and connectivity options. Here is a rundown of the features and options that may provide you with what you might need for your home theater setup.

Audio Support

Audio Decoding and Processing: All of the receivers include Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. In addition, the RX-V581, 681, and 781 also include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding capability when when used with compatible streaming or Blu-ray Disc content and compatible speaker setup.

Additional audio processing provided on all four receivers includes AirSurround Xtreme-based Virtual Cinema Front audio processing for those that would rather place all their speakers in the front of the room, as well as the SCENE mode feature, which provides of preset audio equalization options that work in conjunction with input selection.

Also, another audio processing option that Yamaha includes on all its home theater receivers is Silent Cinema. This option allows users to plug in any set of traditional headphones or earphones and listen to movies or music in surround sound without disturbing others.

Channels and Speaker Options: The RX-V481 provides 5 amplified channels and one subwoofer preamp output, while the RX-V581 provides 7 channels and one subwoofer output.

The RX-V681 and RX-V781 provide 7 channels and 2 subwoofer outputs (using both subwoofer outputs is optional).

Since the RX-V581/681/781 all incorporate Dolby Atmos, you can implement 5.1.2 channel speaker setup where you have 5 speakers laid out in a traditional left, center, right, left surround, right surround, and subwoofer configuration, and also include 2 ceiling mounted, or vertically firing, speakers to experience overhead sound from Dolby Atmos-encoded content.

Zone 2: The RX-V681 and 781 can also be configured to provide 5.1 channels in a main room and 2 channels in a Zone 2 setup using either a powered or line-output option. However, keep in mind that if you use the powered Zone 2 option, you cannot run a 7.1 or Dolby Atmos setup in your main room at the same time, and if you use the line-output option, you will need an external amplifier(s) to power the Zone 2 speaker setup. More details are provided in the user manual of each receiver.

Speaker Settings: All the receivers incorporate Yamaha's YPAO automatic speaker setup feature to make speaker setup and use easier. Using a provided microphone, the YPAO system sends out specific test tones to each speaker and the subwoofer. The system determines the distance of each speaker from the listening position, sets the sound level relationship between each speaker, the crossover point between the speakers and the subwoofer, and the equalization profile is determined in relation to the room's acoustics.

Video Features

For video, all of the receivers provide full HDMI support for 3D, 4K , BT.2020, and HDR pass-through. All the receivers are also HDCP 2.2 compliant.

What all of the above means is that all of the RX-V-series receivers discussed in this article are compatible all HDMI-video sources, including external media streamers, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray sources that incorporate the latest enhanced color, brightness, and contrast formats - when used with compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs.

Additionally, HDCP 2.2 compliance insures access to 4K copy-protected streaming or disc content.

The RX-V681 and RX-V781 also both provide analog (Composite/Component) to HDMI video conversion and both 1080p and 4K upscaling is provided.

Connectivity

HDMI: The RX-V481 and 581 provide 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, with the RX-V681 providing 6 HDMI inputs and 1 output, and the RV-V781 providing 6 inputs/2 outputs. The two HDMI outputs on the RX-V781 are parallel (both outputs send out the same signal).

All the receivers include both Digital Optical/Coaxial and Analog Stereo audio input options. This means you can access audio from older Non-HDMI equipped DVD players, Audio Cassette Decks, VCRs, and more.

USB: A USB Port is included on all four receivers for access to music files stored on USB flash flash drives.

Phono Input: As an added bonus, the RX-V681 and RX-V781 also take a nod to to those that like to listen to vinyl records with the inclusion of a dedicated phono/turntable input.

Network Connectivity and Streaming

Network connectivity is included on all four receivers, which allows streaming of audio files stored on a PC and access to Internet Radio services (Pandora, Spotify, vTuner, and on the RX-V681 and 781 Rhapsody and Sirius/XM).

WiFi, Bluetooth, as well as Apple Airplay connectivity are also built-in. Also, for additional flexibility, in lieu of WiFi, you can also connect any of the receivers to your home network and the internet via a wired Ethernet/LAN connection.

MusicCast

A big bonus feature on all four receivers is the incorporation of Yamaha's latest version of its MusicCast multi-room audio system platform. This platform enables each receiver to send, receive, and share music content from/to/between a variety of compatible Yamaha components that include home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, sound bars, and powered wireless speakers.

This means that not only can the receivers be used for controlling the TV and movie home theater audio experience, but can be incorporated into a whole house audio system using compatible wireless speakers, such as the Yamaha WX-030. For more details, read our companion profile of the MusicCast System.

Control Options

Although all four receivers come with a remote control, additional control convenience is available via Yamaha's free downloadable AV Controller App for compatible iOS and Android devices.

The official stated power output of each receiver is as follows:

RX-V481 (80wpc x 5), RX-V581 (80wpc x 7), RX-V681 (90wpc x7), RX-V781 (95 wpc x 7)

All power ratings stated above were determined as follows: 20 Hz to 20 kHz test tones running through 2 channels, at 8 Ohms, with 0.09% (RX-V481/581) or 0.06% (RX-V681/781) THD. For more details on what the stated power ratings mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications. Suffice it to say that all of the RX-81 receivers have enough power output, working in conjunction with appropriate speakers, to fill a small or medium size room with great sound.

The Bottom Line

The Yamaha RX-V Series home theater receivers, which also includes their entry-level RX-V381 were originally introduced in 2016, and are definitely worth checking out as both affordable and practical for a variety of home theater setups. You may be find them at your local retailer or online new, on clearance, or used. For additional suggestions, also check out our continually updated listing of entry-level and mid-range home theater receivers.

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