The time has come to once again sit down in front of one of Yamaha’s current-gen “flagship” receivers. Last year’s model was one of only a few items to ever earn the 10-star award in the history of this editorial. Now, Yamaha brings us their new line-up of Aventage receivers, and once again they have stolen the prize. Making it 2 years in a row now.
Now we have the RX-A3050 11.2 channel receiver (advertised as 9.2 channels with additional/optional effects or zones, making it 11.2 channels total), taking the place of the 3040 of last year’s models. This new flagship brings a few added features to the table, one of the most important being DTS:X (which we will talk about shortly).
One of the most notable feature of the Aventage series, is the idea of bringing pro-sumer technology to the hands of consumers at a price they can agree with. This started with the RX-A##10 series in 2011, when they first turned what used to be their $5500+ receiver into something less than half the price, but with just as much power. They do this by taking technology they already own the licensing and patents for (ie, live sound/mixing technologies, soft patching capabilities and internal hardware/software), and sizing it down to fit into a home AVR.
The RX-A3050 is by no means, a small fry. This receiver carries enough power to light up almost any consumer and most audiophile speaker solutions. Being able to power up to 11 speakers and 2 subs, multiple room configurations or running your most important speakers bi-wired at a slight sacrifice in total outputs; this AVR puts out 150-165w per channel (8ohms). More than enough power for a majority of your possible configurations. Anything more and your looking and multiple external amps for your speakers, which is still possible since you have all of your pre-outs on the back of the Yamaha to feed them with.
We were one of the first to get a early peak of this model and have been playing with it for some time now, taking it all in. I have to say, we have been having just as much fun as we did the last model, but this one packs a few new surprises, including built-in Bluetooth (you no longer need an optional accessory to use this feature).
Streaming-wise, it offers all the usual services such as Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, Rhapsody and internet radio. Once again, Sirius sounds superb on this receiver as it did the previous generations, delivering near-audiophile quality on some of the stations. This is rare for online streaming solutions. All of these modes are built into as inputs to select from in the menu or remote (via the “NET” button). You can also stream music from connected devices as it supports just about (deja vu) every wireless connection there is for streaming your music to the receiver. Let it be Apple Play, DLNA, Bluetooth or even WiFi Direct, you have plenty of ways to playback the music on your connected devices with.
With Wireless Direct mode (WiFi), you are able to connect your device directly to the receiver using your tablet or phone. This is pretty much the same idea as AirPlay but for any of your other devices that support streaming music to devices on the network. Of course, when you make use of this feature, you will not be able to access the internet since the device will be directly connected to the receiver (the receiver broadcasts its own network). This option is for users who do not have a wireless router in their home. All of this is done via the AV Controller App.
Which leads us to the app. Once again you have full wireless control of the receiver via your smartphone or tablet using Yamaha’s AV Controller app available here in the Apple store or here in the Google Play store. You can change your input selection, adjust your various DSP parameters, adjust your speaker layout and settings, control streaming sources and so much more. You can can even take control of some of your connected devices.
Just like the generations before, the Aventage has a compressed music enhancer mode you can enable that increases the quality of MP3s and other forms of compressed audio to get better sound of your favorite tracks. Now it also supports the Bluetooth connection as well, which is a big plus since Bluetooth doesn’t always stream the best.
It gets better though. Just in case you haven’t been given enough options for getting your music to the speakers with, you can also make use of the USB input on the front to load a flash drive full of music with. It supports all of your basic formats while also offering support to audiophile formats such as FLAC, DSD, AIFF, ALAC and WAV. This is a biggie for audiophile listeners, as I guarantee they will have a lot of FLAC files laying around waiting to be enjoyed. Plug in that drive and immediately get to doing so, and then break out your tablet to fully control thumbing through the collection with.
I can go on and on about the features, but then again, that’s what the specs are for below as well as the back of the box when your holding it! So let’s get to what makes it special!
Listening to music, movies or whatever else fulfills your current mood. This receiver delivers a quality of sound that will melt you where you sit (…or stand). Sitting down to a solid FLAC album, we spent some time listening to Dire Strait’s Brother in Arms. We also broke out the SACD DSD edition as well. Both of which produced an enlightening experience of sound absorption as we sat there grinning through every track. The audio is so clean, so warm, you would think that you had every speaker behind a pricey tube amp (at least, almost). At times it sounded as though the artists were in the same room with us, playing live just a small distance from our ears. At times we found ourselves dropping it down to 2-channel stereo mode for a nice vintage audiophile listening effect. Of course, taking it back into surround and throwing in the Beatles Love DTS album, it produced a result that any hippy type individual would light up to (oh wait, that’s not legal yet…we will have to wait a little longer before attempting to address that crowd).
The RX-A3050 makes use of ESS SABRE DAC processors to be able to produce the sound that it does. Specifically, what’s involved is ESS Technology ES9016S SABRE32™ Ultra DAC + ESS Technology ES9006A SABRE™ Premier Audio DAC.
Audio playback in movies is also superb. From realistic sounds bouncing around the room to heart throbbing bass that will lift you from where you sit. This receiver creates the ultimate viewing experience. From Star Trek to Avengers, we sat through a lot with this model over the last week and have found nothing to complain about. It feels just like sitting in an actual theater, and in some cases better. Of course, that last part depends on the speakers you have connected to it.
We tested the receiver against two different speaker brand configurations. The first one was a setup using Klipsch reference line, and the other using Paradigm monitor series. Both of which were 9.2 channel setups and resulted in wonderful results. The Paradigm outshined the Klipsch, but not by far. This receiver was able to take the Klipsch to a wonderful level, reminding us why we typically rate Klipsch as high as we do when reviewing them. Both setups were received all of the power they needed from the Yamaha without having to bi-wire any of the speakers to obtain the sound we were looking for. Of course bi-wiring the mains took it to an ever greater level–but most consumers may not even bother with this.
A noticeable improvement on the last two generations, is they added a “Extra Bass” option that allows you to pull a little more bass out of your sub and mains. The RX-A##10 models didn’t have too much trouble since you had full control of your frequency spread, but then they added a cross-over option to the next two generation models, that drops audio from your mains and focused on your sub with. No option to overlap it or bring the missing bass back. Some setups did ok with this, but some others (ie, Klipsch setups) didn’t always shine with this. Now they corrected this by adding a simple bass boost to help brighten the low-end up a little with, bringing all of that warm heart pounding bass back into your movies.
I want to move to video quality, but I just have to touch on one major feature first: DTS:X. This is a big one because just like Dolby Atmos, this changes everything. Like Atmos, DTS:X is “object-based sound” that essentially eliminates the idea of “channels”, and focuses on objects orientation instead. This allows for a more realistic experience as sounds move around the room more fluidly. The difference is more than noticeable and something we expect to see coming from every major movie on Blu-ray from this point forward. We did a demo with them earlier this year at CES and were just taken by the new format. So you can bet we were excited to sit down in one of our own test environments to re-produce the same experience.
With the new DTS:X format, there is no more specific configurations for speakers. You can essentially place your speakers anywhere in the room. As an “object” moves around the room, it will make use of whatever speakers necessary in that direction. You could use a 5.1 setup or add as many speakers as your heart can handle. Of course in this situation you are limited to 11 (and how many consumers need more than that), but in the future, the options are endless. Your only limitation is the amount of speaker placements the receiver itself supports.
Dolby Atmos is also fully supported with this model, allowing you to configure 2 to 4 over-head speakers into the equation. The over-head channels help to create a more enclosed feeling for what you are viewing, also allowing for a more realistic experience. Although we find Atmos to be quite exciting, we were more impressed with the DTS:X format though since with DTS:X, you can still have speakers in your roof just the same (or more on your sides…or more in the rear….or in the corners…..or wherever the receiver will allow you to stick them).
Both of these new sound formats are attainable by making use of the outputs on the back of the receiver. You sacrifice zones and effects channels in exchange for roof located or alternatively location positions. This was the same solution for obtaining Dolby Atmos with the previous generation receiver (and yes, Atmos sounds much better with the new model).
All of which can be calibrated for your environment using Yamaha’a YPAO microphone. You plug it into the designated front input on the receiver, and a screen will pop up where you will tell it to commence its tests. Make sure to be absolutely still and quiet for the best results. It not only measure every speaker for volume, but also for delay/distance, position as well as how it reflects throughout the room. This makes for an easy way of setting up your configuration. Of course, Yamaha has been doing this for awhile and you will most likely want to fine tweak it a little more once it is done, but it gets you to the finish line much quicker. Also, it has become crazy accurate over the years and offers many new features like multi-point measurement vs simply focusing on a single sweet spot in the room.
Video quality! Now that’s something you don’t always talk about when it comes to AVR’s since it used to be that you simply pass-through the signal and let your TV do all the work. However, now that we have 4K, copy protections and HDMI 2.0 (etc); there is an equal focus on what the receiver can support. It is your switcher for all of your input devices after-all. Some receivers are limited by how many inputs support full 4K, but that is not the case with the Yamaha. The RX-A3050 offers 7 (“seven”) HDMI inputs on the back, and every one of them supports HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 protection. This means that you can have a 4K compatible device on every input, and it will still pass-through full 50/60 4K to the TV via two different HDMI outputs (one main and one extra zone out). That makes 4K, ever which way!
Taking a look at the back of the receiver, some things have changed over the last few years.
- No Optical out for monitor/zone out (phased out in favor of HDMI).
- One remote out connection vs two for external zone control (phased out in favor of using the app)
- No multi-channel RCA input (setup is no longer common, thus phased out).
- 3 RCA audio stand-alone inputs vs 4 (AV inputs remain the same as 4 as well as 3 and 3 for optical and coaxial digital inputs).
- There is no longer support for S-Video connections (phased out) – Which is fine as old components can be adapted to RGB.
- There are now 3 RGB inputs (in the past, there were 4).
- RCA AV Out (only supports RCA/RGB for zone/monitor out now in favor of HDMI which still has 2 outs).
Everything else on the back remains the same for the most part. It is nice not having to buy any additional accessories to get Bluetooth to work with the receiver. That is something they should have done with last year’s model. A move that came very close to us deducting half a star over. Thankfully, the many strengths that it did had outshined that flaw and convinced us to let that one slide. Now, none of that matters.
There are a number of other models in the Aventage series offering fewer channels as well as a lower price tag, allowing anyone to take advantage of one of these. These models include the RX-A2050 (9.2 channels) andthe RX-A1050 (7.2 channels). There are 3 other models from there that go as low as $549, but you begin to lose important features such as on-board DACs and DTS:X/Dolby Atmos functionality.
At the moment (as of the 1st of July), it may take a few weeks to a month to receive your unit if you order one from Amazon and other venders ,as there will be that initial scramble to fulfill the initial spike in orders as Yamaha builds up supplies. This will eventually calm down and shipping time will become more reasonable.
Looks like they plan to start shipping the first wave of orders out within the next week or two.
We have included full specifications as well as a break down of features further below.
Should you get it? Well Bob Goedken (general manager, AV Division, Yamaha Corporation of America) didn’t lie when he said at a press event that “Our AVENTAGE AV receivers offer the last word in high-end entertainment, audiophile listening and superb video with wide connectivity to online music services, mobile devices and components throughout the home”. We have sat down with a number of receivers in the years, and these Aventage units take the cake almost every time. The price may be a little high for some, but there are smaller models in the line where you see the price come down for. I mean, not everyone needs 11.2 channels of sound. Maybe 5.2 is the only setup you are looking for. If so (as mentioned above), there is a unit for every type of listener. So the answer is “yes,” you should get one of these. Once again, for a second year in a row, Yamaha has picked up a 10 out of 10 score for one of their receivers. Congratulations to them.
Bluetooth® is a technology for wireless communication between devices within an area of about 10 meters (33 ft) employing the 2.4 GHz frequency band, a band which can be used without a license.
Yamaha network products are perfect control centers for your home entertainment needs. Their network functions include support to access thousands of Internet radio stations, music streaming services and DLNA enabled products in the network along with system control via Yamaha smartphone apps.
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED® products provide the best user experience and carry the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo, ensuring products meet industry-agreed requirements for interoperability, security, and reliability. Choosing Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products enables you to mix and match devices from different manufacturers without worry. All Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products deliver interoperability and industry standard security.
Wi-Fi Protected Setup™
Wi-Fi Protected Setup™ is designed to ease set up of security-enabled Wi-Fi® networks in home and small office environments. It supports methods (pushing a button or entering a PIN) that are familiar to most consumers to configure a network and enable network security. It gives consumers an easier approach to set up a security-protected Wi-Fi connection, either between devices or in a network configuration.
The AV Controller App will turn your smartphone or tablet into a remote control via the Wi-Fi® connection. Control Yamaha network AV receivers and/or Yamaha Blu-ray Disc™ players.
AirPlay® provides the convenience of wireless music playback from iTunes®, iPod® / iPhone® / iPad® and Mac® or PC.
With the Spotify app on your smartphone, you have instant access to millions of songs. Now you can stream these songs to your Yamaha networked AV receiver when using Connect by Spotify. Just hit play to start streaming music. Additionally, when you listen to music on your smartphone outside and come inside, the song immediately streams to your AVR. You can also personalize playlists and receive phone calls while listening to music.
Spotify is all the music you’ll ever need with millions of songs instantly available. Just search for the music you love, or let Spotify recommend something great. Spotify works on your phone, tablet, computer and?home speakers so you’ll always have the perfect soundtrack for whatever you’re doing.
Pandora is the effortless and endless source of personalized music enjoyment and discovery. Personalized stations launch instantly with the simple input of a favorite artist, song, or genre, and we take it from there to provide the soundtrack for that moment… anytime, anywhere.
Meet your new music collection complete with millions of songs, entire albums and artist hits spanning across the decades. This is more than just Internet radio. This is the power to play exactly the songs you want, wherever you are. Give it a try, sign in and start listening.
SiriusXM Internet Radio
SiriusXM Internet Radio delivers a variety of commercial-free music including Pop, Rock, Country, R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Classical and much more, plus expert sports talk and analysis. You also get exclusive entertainment, talk, comedy, family programming, local traffic and weather and news from your most trusted sources.
The DLNA Certified® logo ensures that all relevant mandatory formats and features are supported by the products, and confirms interoperability between devices in support of mandatory formats and features.
Made for iPod® and iPhone®
Made for iPod® and iPhone®” means that an electronic accessory has been designed to connect
specifically to iPods and iPhones and has been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards.
HDMI® (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the first industry supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio / video interface. Providing an interface between any source (such as a set-top box or AV receiver) and an audio / video monitor (such as a digital television), HDMI supports standard, enhanced or high-definition video as well as multichannel digital audio using a single cable. HDMI transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements. When used in combination with HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), HDMI provides a secure audio / video interface that meets the security requirements of content providers and system operators.
High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is to protect digital entertainment content against unauthorized interception and copying between devices. HDCP 2.2 is the latest version designed especially for 4K video transmissions.
4K Pass-through / Upscaling
4K Ultra HD pass-through receives super high-def resolution video and passes it to a 4K compatible monitor. 4K upscaling boosts lower resolution images to super high-def resolution. This ensures compatibility with the latest super high resolution video formats.
Enter a new world of sound with Dolby Atmos®. It transports you from an ordinary moment into an extraordinary experience with captivating, multidimensional sound that fills your room and flows all around you to move your mind, body, and soul.
DTS:X™ is the next generation object-based, multi-dimensional audio technology from DTS.
Unbound from channels, DTS:X™ conveys the fluid movement of sound to create an incredibly rich, realistic and immersive soundscape – in front of, behind, beside and above the audience – more accurately than ever before.
DTS-HD Master Audio™
DTS-HD Master Audio™ is an advanced lossless audio technology developed for high-definition disc-based media including Blu-ray Disc™. Selected as an optional audio standard for Blu-ray Disc, this technology delivers sound that is bit-for-bit identical to the studio master, offering a high-definition home theater experience. Supporting bit rates up to 24.5 Mbps for Blu-ray Disc, DTS-HD Master Audio can carry up to 7.1 discrete channels of 24-bit / 96 kHz audio simultaneously. Supported by HDMI version 1.3 (or higher) and designed for the optical disc players and AV receivers / amplifiers of the future, DTS-HD Master Audio also remains fully compatible with the existing multichannel audio systems that incorporate DTS Digital Surround.
CINEMA DSP HD³
The actually measured sound field data contains the information of the height of the sound images. CINEMA DSP HD³ achieves the reproduction of the accurate height of the sound images so that it creates the accurate and intensive stereoscopic sound fields in a listening room.
CINEMA DSP 3D Mode
The measured sound field data contains the information of the height / presence channels of the rooms sound image. CINEMA DSP 3D mode reproduces the height of this sound image so that it can create an accurate and intensive stereoscopic sound field in a listening environment.
YPAO™ Automatic System Calibration
The Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) uses a small microphone and sophisticated equalization to automatically set the best sound for any room, no matter where the speakers are. First it checks the speaker connections and phase of each speaker. Then it sends out tones which are captured by the microphone to analyze the room acoustics and sets a variety of parameters, such as the speaker size, the distance of the speakers and even the sound pressure level, until it achieves the best sound conditions for your room.
Compressed Music Enhancer
Yamaha employs sophisticated digital signal processing with exclusive algorithms to enable playback that improves the performance of compressed music formats, including MP3 and WMA. With the Compressed Music Enhancer, highs and especially lows are richer and smoother, bringing music back to life to be as close to the original recording as possible.
VURTUAL Surround Back Speaker
Virtual Surround Back Speaker allows the system to virtually reproduce the sound field of the surround back speakers without the surround speakers physically installed. Even if the surround back speakers are not connected, the unit adds a sense of depth to the rear sound filed when CINEMA DSP is used.
Virtual Presence Speaker
Virtual Presence Speaker mode provides a three-dimensional sound field without the installation of front presence speakers. This allows for a 3D sound field and provides more height, width and envelopment during audio playback in the listening area of the room.
SCENE – A New Level of Operating Ease
With most AV components, watching or listening to what you want requires a number of steps. You have to turn on the AV receiver, turn on another component like a Blu-ray Disc™ player, select the source, select the surround mode and then press play. With the SCENE feature from Yamaha, all you need to do is press one button and both components turn on, the correct DSP setting is made, and play begins.
This unit allows you to configure a multi-zone audio/video system. The multi-zone configuration feature enables you to set this unit to reproduce separate input sources in the main zone, second zone (Zone 2), third zone (Zone 3) and fourth zone (Zone 4). You can control this unit from the second, third or fourth zone using the supplied remote control.
Yamaha has developed a natural, realistic DSP algorithm for headphones. Parameters for headphones have been set for each sound field so that accurate representations of all the sound field programs can be enjoyed with a pair of headphones.
ECO mode reduces power consumption by about 20%*. It can easily be set from the top of the GUI / OSD menu.
|Rated Output Power (1kHz, 2ch driven)||165 W (8 ohms, 0.9% THD)|
|Rated Output Power (20Hz-20kHz, 2ch driven)||150 W (8 ohms, 0.06% THD)|
|Maximum Effective Output Power (1kHz, 1ch driven) (JEITA)||230 W (8 ohms, 10% THD)|
|Dynamic Power per Channel (8/6/4/2 ohms)||175 / 220 / 295 / 410 W|
|Surround Sound Processing||CINEMA DSP||Yes (HD3)|
|Dialog Level Adjustment||Yes|
|Virtual Presence Speaker||Yes|
|Virtual Surround Back Speaker||Yes|
|Dialogue Lift||Yes (no presence speakers required)|
|SILENT CINEMA / Virtual CINEMA DSP||Yes (Virtual CINEMA FRONT)|
|Dolby Atmos||Yes (5.1.4-ch or 7.1.4-ch with external amp)|
|Dolby Digital Plus||Yes|
|Dolby Pro Logic IIx||Yes|
|DTS-HD Master Audio||Yes|
|Audio Features||Pure Direct||Yes (with video on mode)|
|Compressed Music Enhancer||Yes|
|High-resolution Music Enhancer||Yes|
|YPAO multi-point measurement||Yes (R.S.C., 3D and angle measurement)|
|Adaptive DRC (Dynamic Range Control)||Yes|
|Initial Volume & Maximum Volume Setting||Yes|
|Audio Delay||Yes (0-500 ms)|
|192kHz/24-bit DACs for all channels||Yes (ESS Technology ES9016S SABRE32™ Ultra DAC + ESS Technology ES9006A SABRE™ Premier Audio DAC)|
|Video Features||4K Ultra HD Pass-through and upscaling||Yes (4K 60p 4:4:4)|
|HDMI 3D pass-through||Yes|
|HDMI Audio Return Channel||Yes|
|HDMI upscaling||Yes (analog to HDMI, HDMI to HDMI)|
|Deep Color/x.v.Color/24Hz Refresh Rate /Auto Lip-Sync||Yes|
|Extensive Connection||HDMI Input/Output||8 in / 2 out (HDCP 2.2: 7 in / 2 out)|
|HDMI CEC||Yes (SCENE, Device Control)|
|USB Input||iPod® / iPhone®, USB memory, portable audio player|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi||Yes (with Wireless Direct)|
|Extensive Connection||Front AV Input||HDMI / USB / Analog Audio / Composite Video|
|Digital Audio Input/Output: Optical||3 / 0|
|Digital Audio Input/Output: Coaxial||3 / 0|
|Analog Audio Input/Output||9 (front 1) / 0|
|Component Video Input/Output||3 / 1|
|Composite Video Input/Output||5 (front 1) / 1|
|Tuner Section||FM/AM Tuner||Yes|
|User Interface||On-screen display||Graphical User Interface|
|SCENE||SCENE PLUS (12 sets)|
|App Control||Yes (iPhone® / iPad® / Android™ phone / tablet)|
|Web Browser Control||Yes|
|Remote Control Unit||Yes (Preset)|
|Zone Control||Zone 2 Audio Output||Preout / HDMI|
|Zone 3 Audio Output||Preout|
|Zone 4 Audio Output||HDMI|
|Powered Zone||Zone 2 / 3|
|Zone Video Output||HDMI / Component / Composite|
|Zone HDMI||Yes (Advanced HDMI Zone Switching)|
|Zone B Output||HDMI|
|+12V Trigger Output||2|
|Remote (IR) Input/Output||1 / 1|
|General||Standby Power Consumption (IR only)||?0.1 W|
|Auto Power Standby||Yes|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17-1/8” x 7-1/2” x 18-5/8” (with antenna up: 17-1/8” x 10-1/8” x 18-5/8”)|
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
Another 10-Star Winner
Very few products ever make it to the 10 star range