The interface is clean and simple with everything you’d expect. The EQ options are fairly extensive which is not something you see too often on entry-level receivers – base/treble balance as well as left/right speaker balance. It’s nice to be able to easily tinker with EQ by pushing buttons on the front panel.
The back panel is simple and easy to understand. Two sets of binding posts for each channel gives some set up options like easy bi-wiring. There’s also an ethernet jack to easily hook the receiver up to a home network, which again is something you don’t see too often on entry level speakers. It’s a somewhat peculiar inclusion as well since one of the main selling points of the R-N303 is compatibility with Yamaha’s MusicCast platform, a main purpose of which is wireless streaming. Plenty of RCA inputs but no dedicated pre sub-out line. Technically you can hook up a powered subwoofer using RCA cables, but you can’t set a crossover point on the speakers that way and the overlap generally compromises sound quality, but not always though. Obviously not applicable if you don’t intend to use a subwoofer.
100 W per channel across a standard frequency range is plenty to power pretty much any pair of non professional grade speakers. The harmonic distortion rate is a little higher than normal – 0.2% whereas the market average is around 0.1%. That said, harmonic distortion ratings are not a completely reliable gauge of potential sound quality. You might notice a difference but we’d say less likely than not.
Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
Yamaha is a reputable brand and the R-N303 is a perfectly solid product, but, it’s hard to recommend because it’s on the expensive side. You can get a full fledged 5.2 av receiver that can do everything the R-N303 does and much more. Also, Yamaha’s lower tier R-S202, which has been on our best-of list for a long time, is around half the price and is basically the same, only real difference is it doesn’t have MusicCast. The price hike to have that and/or EQ controls on the front might be worth it for some, but there are other ways to adjust EQ and cheap Bluetooth adapter can give you wireless if you want it.