Yamaha’s new line-up tries to sexy things up with a slightly controversial new look and a new platform.
The 3 top end receivers correspond to their old line up as below:
RX-A4A to RX-A1080
RX-A6A to RX-A2080
RX-A8A to RX-A3080
Let’s look at a summary of their differentiating features like we did for the current Denon models here.
|No HDMI upscaling to 8K|
No Analogue Video Inputs
No zone 3 and 4
As Compared to Denon and Marantz
In terms of decoder features, Yamaha is lagging behind in that it doesn’t include DTS X Pro or MPEG-H. However, it is possible they might be able to add those in with a firmware update.
Yamaha’s receivers however now offer 8K / 4K/120 input on ALL its HDMI inputs, which is great news and ahead of Denon and Marantz. These new receivers are also not affected by the HDMI bug that stopped Xbox Series X and some high-end PC graphics cards displaying over the HDMI ports.
Yamaha’s YPAO Room Correction solution is also 64bit compared to Audyssey XT32 which runs at 32bits. What this means is that while Denon and Marantz need to downsample high-resolution soundtracks (192/24 and 96/24) to 48/24 precision before feeding it through their Room Correction, Yamaha doesn’t need to do such a thing. In addition, 64 bit precision results in less rounding artefacts and residual noise.
However, Yamaha’s YPAO is still not as precise with subwoofer calibration as Audyssey XT32 is so careful positioning of subwoofer(s) and / or manual touch-up of the calibration might still be required.
Refer to YPAO – The Lost Manual for more information on how to get the best performance out of YPAO.
All three receivers have exceptional build quality built on the same platform. This is not quite the same as Denon where higher-end receivers are built using an improved sound platform and substantially different design.
Choosing Based on Channels
Yamaha Receivers should be chosen based on their decoded and powered channel counts. If all you will have is a 7.1 – 7.2 setup then choose the base model. This can be configured as 5.1 + back surrounds or 5.1 plus a set up height speakers. With Yamaha, I highly recommend front height or a set of overhead speakers to maximise CinemaDSP effects.
However, if you are planning to use a set of back surrounds and one or two sets of height speakers, then either the RX-A6A or RX-A8A will do. The only difference is the powered channels. The RX-A6A will require a two-channel external amplifier to run all 11 channels. Therefore, you may want to use a two-channel amp to run the front L/R speakers to provide additional headroom as necessary. Since the amplifiers are rated the same between the RX-A6A and RX-A8A, the rest of the channels will receive the same power. The only difference could be in the available headroom when running a two-channel external amp.
You can also run a two-channel (or even four-channel) amp with the RX-A8A, as Yamaha Receivers are very flexible when it comes to routing channels to external amps. Refer to the manuals of these receivers for more.
Choosing Based on Power Delivery
I don’t think this is as much of a choice here. The two top receivers are rated the same so only powered channel counts are different.
The low-end RX-A4A still has enough power to run a smaller setup and is usually meant for smaller rooms with smaller number of speakers anyway. However, it still has pre-outs if you want more power later on by connecting external amplification to front or even all channels.
8K Inputs and Outputs
As I said earlier, Yamaha has graced these receivers with a full set of 8K (4K/120) outputs which are enabled using a firmware update. These receivers use second-generation 8K HDMI chips and should be free from all issues the first-generation chips had with passing Xbox Series X and high-end PC GPU signals.
The full set of outputs are also appreciated and are ahead of the competition.
If money is no object, and you love the Yamaha sound, then I would consider the RX-A8A even if you won’t use all 11 speaker amps initially. It has a bigger power supply for more dynamic headroom. Additionally, it is likely to receive firmware updates making it more future proof.
The RX-A6A is an excellent middle-contender. It can be upgraded to the full channel count of the RX-A8A later on as it has the decoding power and pre-outs but at a cheaper price.
The RX-A4A is rather limited and doesn’t have the same processing chips as its more expensive brothers. I would skip this unless you’re really on a budget or you need it for a small setup.