Stereo Receiver Usability Feedback [Yamaha HTR-5890]

I’ve owned my Yamaha HTR-5890 stereo receiver for several years now – it’s pre-HDMI era but otherwise top of the line, and I’ve felt no reason to upgrade. It does have some usability issues that I feel are important to mention, though.

This receiver has stacks of inputs, options, customizations and optimizations. If there’s a feature, it probably has it – 7.1 surround with Presence channels, analog input and output, Dolby and DTS decoding, more jacks than I know what to do with, and automatic surround equalization and customization.

The trouble is: these features can only be accessed from the remote control. Period. Front-panel controls are sufficient to perform gross adjustment of the equalizer curves (“Treble” and “Bass” only, not the full equalizer), to set the surround processing mode (“Theatre”, “Concert Hall”, “7ch Surround”, “Direct Passive”, etc.) and to control the volume and input. Everything else, from telling it what speakers are connected to actually performing the automated calibration, must be done by the remote control.

Now, this isn’t normally an issue – except my HTR was purchased as an open-box item missing its accessories. It took $650 off the retail price…but, it’s limited it a bit. I only recently discovered the extra features like automated surround calibration, so I guess I’ll be purchasing a new remote. Modern devices aren’t much better, unfortunately – they still require accessories to use all their features.

Equipment companies should ensure that even if the accessories are lost, all the features in the device can still be accessed – a small selection pad on the front panel wouldn’t have been a difficult addition, and the receiver already has an onboard display. There’s no reason to require additional hardware to enable built-in functionality.

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