Yamaha Aventage RX-A3010 AV receiver
In the last couple of years there has been something of a mismatch in the better AV receivers. Many have been capable of producing more channels of sound than they have amplifiers with which to deliver them. So one way or another, you’ve been forced to make a choice.
Consider — the latest surround standards such as Dolby Pro Logic IIz, as implemented in inexpensive AV receivers, come at the expense of Dolby Pro Logic IIx. In other words, you can only have the former’s front height channels if you’re prepared to do without the latter’s surround back channels. The cheaper AV receivers won’t deliver both at once, even at the preamplifier level.
Receiver models higher up within various companies’ line-ups are capable of supporting both surround-back and front-height channels, but that adds up to nine full channels. Most have only seven amplifiers, so you’re going to have to fork out for an extra stereo amplifier to take advantage of this, or again choose between the extra front and extra rear.
Well, there’s none of that with Yamaha’s new top-of-the-line Aventage model, our AV Receiver of the Year over $2500. The RX-A3010 comes with nine power amplifiers built in.
Now let me hasten to add that it does not support Dolby Pro Logic IIz. Yamaha has had high-quality DSP modes for years which include support for front height speakers, so it doesn’t see the need for IIz. (We don’t either, but do keep this in mind if you have a particular attachment to Dolby’s standards.)
Anyway, with this receiver you can be surrounded by nine main speakers, all operating at the same time, without the need to add any additional amplification.
In addition, you can use two subwoofers. Here, too, the Yamaha is offering the real thing.
We review lots of AV receivers that claim to offer 7.2 channels, but invariably the ‘.2’ refers simply to two subwoofer sockets on the back, both of which receive the same exact signal. By that logic you can slip down to Jaycar and pick up an RCA double adaptor for a couple of bucks that will convert your 7.1 receiver to 7.2.
In contrast, this is a real 9.2-channel receiver. You can set the two subwoofers to operate with the same signal, or you can have them operating with separate left and right bass content, or front and back bass content.
As to the built-in amplifiers, you can extensively redirect these for various functions. In total, there are 12 patterns by which this receiver’s amplifiers can be assigned. You can have seven main channels with bi-amped front speakers, or various combinations of zones and front and rear ‘Presence’ speakers (the front ‘Presence’ speakers perform the same function as the DPL IIz front height speakers). You can even have the receiver power two zones in stereo, plus your main zone’s centre, left and right surround, and rear surround channels, and use an external amplifier for your front stereo pair. That’s something to be appreciated by the audiophile with an exotic stereo power amplifier.
There has also been a modest power boost since last year’s RX-A3000 receiver: this one offers 150W from each channel.
There are eight HDMI inputs (one on the front), but Yamaha hasn’t skimped on the old-fashioned connections here — you still get plenty of composite, component and S-Video inputs, plus outputs. You can configure the unit for optical digital audio output to a second zone, and all the legacy analogue video outputs can be set to drive other zones (although of course you must feed in analogue video for the sources you want to watch). The receiver will not convert HDMI video inputs to analogue video, although it will convert all analogue inputs to HDMI.