REVIEW: Yamaha RX-V383
THE VERDICT
The RX-V383 is Yamaha’s best entry-level receiver to date. It includes all the essentials plus it has expanded support for 4K video.

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Design8.5
Features8
Value9
Ease of Use8.5
Sound Quality9
The Good
  • The Yamaha RX-V383 has good sound quality for an entry-level amp. It also has better support for 4K video than last year's model.
The Bad
  • It can be tricky to cram thicker speaker wire inside the provided spring clips. It will struggle in a large home theater room.
8.6Overall Score

The 5.1 channel Yamaha RX-V383 takes the place of last year’s excellent RX-V381 entry-level receiver. You expect an entry-level amp to be bare bones and have just so-so sound quality. However, Yamaha receivers are usually the exact opposite. After spending some time with the RX-V383 it’s safe to say that it sounds just as good as last year’s model plus it’s received a couple notable upgrades over its predecessor. The 383 includes a USB input on the front panel and it’s also better equipped to handle 4K video.


RELATED: Yamaha RX-V483 Review


 

Yamaha RX-V383 Design & Features

Yamaha RX-V383 Review

The Yamaha 383 is your typical boxy AV receiver. The front has the normal array of buttons and knobs for volume, input select, and quick selection preset buttons that automatically select the correct input and DSP setting with one click. The remote is well laid out and simple to use. AV remotes are notorious for being over complicated, however, the 383’s is intuitive and free of button clutter.

 

As far as connections, there aren’t a lot of surprises here. The Yamaha RX-V383 has a couple of analog connections to go along with 3 digital (2 coaxial and 1 optical). Across the top, the 383 has a row of four HDMI inputs and one output. HDCP 2.2, BT .2020 and HDR (High Dynamic Range Video) are all supported.  HDR has become a little complicated now that there are a few different HDR standards. Wisely, Yamaha has built-in support for most of the major ones; HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). The latter two will be available with an unspecified firmware update. The Yamaha 383 will also upscale video to near 4K quality which is something that last year’s model didn’t do.

 

The front of the unit has a headphone input and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input. We criticized Yamaha last year for not including a USB port on the RX-V381.  This year we have one less thing to complain about since Yamaha slapped a USB port on the face of the RX-V383. You can use this port to play music from a portable storage device, however, more importantly, you’ll need this USB input to install future firmware updates.

 

At this price point, the Yamaha RX-V383 doesn’t include ethernet or WiFi network connections. However, Bluetooth is built-in to the 383 so you can easily stream music wirelessly to the amp from various streaming services installed on your smart device. The Bluetooth range of the RX-V383 is excellent. With two floors between me and the receiver, I was able to wirelessly stream music to the amp with just minimal stuttering.

 

Setup

Getting the Yamaha RX-V383 up and running is straightforward. Unfortunately, when you first boot-up the unit you’re not greeted by a setup wizard. Yamaha does include a quick start manual that will help you in the initial setup or if you have an Android or iOS tablet you can download the Yamaha AV Setup Guide. This app will take you through the setup process from start to finish.

Yamaha AV Setup App

 

As with all of Yamaha’s entry-level RX receivers, the center and surround channels use spring clips instead of 5-way binding posts. The spring clips are fine, however, if you have thicker speaker cable you may have to work a little to get them in the spring clip holes.

Yamaha RX-V383 Review

Once you have your speakers connected you can run the YPAO calibration suite. YPAO will blast out a series of test tones and based on the results it will set the proper speaker crossovers and distances. The entire process only takes a few minutes to complete. During my initial setup, YPAO mistakenly thought my front and surround speakers were full range and set my speaker sizes to large. After noticing this I went into the settings menu and changed them to small. This is a common occurrence with automatic calibration systems, so you’ll also want to double check this when you’re setting up your system.

 

Sound Quality

So I could get a good feel for the capabilities of the Yamaha RX-V383, I whipped out Resident Evil – The Final Chapter on Blu-ray. The amp immediately came to life. The sound was clean, clear and powerful. The active surround channels sent bullets whizzing around the room. As the army of the undead marched towards the hollowed remains of Racoon City, their snarls and grunts echoed throughout the room.

 

The Yamaha RX-V383 performed well with music. During testing, I played a variety of music on the 383 and the little amp’s soundstage was full of depth and body. The Yamaha 383 was an energetic music performer. Although it lacks the punch and power of more expensive amps, this entry-level receiver can hold its own in a fight.

 

Testing the limits of the amp, I pushed its volume to near max levels. The 383 still maintained a surprisingly coherent sound field although it did start showing signs of wavering. I detected a slight amount of distortion with high frequencies, but to be honest I had to push the receiver’s volume to unbearable levels before this happened. As with most entry-level receivers, the Yamaha 383 will perform best in small or medium sized spaces.

 

If you love low frequencies, the 383 has an extra bass feature which increases the receiver’s bass output. If you’re a bassaholic you’ll most likely love this feature, however, I felt the bass was a little heavy handed so I usually left this off during testing. The Yamaha RX-V383 also incorporates a built-in music enhancer designed to restore the audio fidelity of compressed audio. When in use, it’s not a night and day difference, but you do get a slight bump in audio quality with MP3s.

 

If you’re challenged with your speaker placement, Yamaha incorporates what they call Virtual Cinema Surround on the 383. This is also similar to the system that they use on their sound bars.  It works by bouncing sound off of your walls. The reflected audio gives the illusion that surround channels are present. Virtual Cinema Surround does an impressive job of creating an expansive sound stage. However, for surround sound applications I didn’t find the system to be 100% convincing. But, if you don’t have ideal speaker placement options this feature will provide a better overall audio experience.

 

The Verdict

I’ve come to expect a lot from Yamaha AV receivers and I’m happy to say that the Yamaha RX-V383 does not disappoint. Its audio quality is on par with last year’s RX-V381 plus it includes a USB input and improved 4K video support. The RX-V383 is the first entry-level receiver we’ve tested this year. If the competition’s models are up to the same level, then I think 2017 is going to be a good year for home theater.


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