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Yamaha RX-V6A review: The future sound of entertainment


The waters around AV receivers drift rather than rage. Compared to TVs and soundbars, change comes slowly to these big black boxes. The Yamaha RX-V6A is a refreshing splash in a pool that has stagnated in recent years. With rounded good looks reminiscent of high-end brands like Classe, paired with a laundry list of futuristic features, this is the most forward-looking receiver I have seen in a long time.

Looks aren't anything without the performance to back it up and the RX-V6A served up great sound quality in my listening test. This midpriced receiver RX-V6A offers Dolby Atmos playback and plenty of music replay options too, making it as comfortable with an episode of The Mandalorian as it is with impromptu dance parties.

It's got some quirks -- the speaker outputs are arranged in an unusual order and that LCD display is harder to read than an LED -- but overall this Yamaha is simply more fun than its competitors. I'm hopeful that the RX-V6A is the spark that ignites a rethink on AV receivers and helps bring the category back into the mainstream.

Connect all your stuff

The RX-V6A is a 7.1-channel receiver with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X playback, and 100 watts per channel. While the receiver has nine amplified channels it can't be used in a 5.1.4 configuration as one pair is a dedicated Zone 2. Nevertheless, the specification sheet isn't the first thing that catches the eye.

The Yamaha RX-V6A's rounded, glass-like fascia is a real departure from the black shoe boxes of Sony, Denon and Onkyo. The edges are curved in a way I've never seen before, but it doesn't look ostentatious. The front houses a centered volume control and high-res LCD display that looks smart but isn't all that bright. It's off-centered so if you're sitting off to the left it's even more difficult to read even at maximum brightness. I prefer the LED readouts found on competitors.

This receiver couldn't be "the future" without a thoroughly up to date spec sheet and the RX-V6A doesn't skimp. It includes seven HDMI inputs, three of which are 8K-compatible HDMI 2.1 ports ports designed to support the full output capabilities of sources like the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and PC graphics cards such as the Nvidia RTX 3090. Yamaha claims this is more 2.1 ports than any other brand, and they offer such goodies as auto low latency mode and quick media switching. The receivers also support longer HDMI cable runs with a bolstered power supply. 

Yamaha also made changes around back. Most receivers, including past Yamahas, place the L/R speaker output at the left of the panel, which is followed by the center and then the rears. For whatever reason the RX-V6A places the front pair in the middle instead of the left, which could be confusing -- especially if you're bent over it in a darkened theater setting. It won't take long to remember which output is which, and once you get your speakers connected it's not a big deal.

The RX-V6A may not be as fully loaded when it comes to Wi-Fi streaming support when compared to our current Editors' Choice winner, the Onkyo TX-NR696, but it still offers something for most people. Yamaha's MusicCast multiroom system is one of the best integrated systems, and it also enables the use of Yamaha smart speakers as rears. The receiver offers AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth too, although it lacks Chromecast built-in. IT can be controlled via Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri-enabled devices, but the commands are mostly basic -- mainly volume, input and next/previous track controls.

The receiver comes with a remote control that offers a variety of functions, including a dedicated Bluetooth button. It's bright and cheery plus offers a zone 2 control switch for more flexibility.

Though the aesthetics have been soundly improved, the on-screen display is a small step back. The interface features blocky white and blue icons, whereas competitors such as Sony offer more user-friendly interfaces with bigger icons and better hand-holding for newcomers.

This is the future of sound

I compared the Yamaha RX-V6A against another new receiver, the Denon AVR-S960, and found myself returning to listen to the Yamaha more often. While the Denon is relaxed-sounding, the Yamaha offers more home theater thrills and pep when listening to your favorite tunes. Simply put, the Yamaha sounds more fun.

I started my testing with an underrated classic -- the Iron and Wine/Calexico collaboration EP, In The Reins. When streaming via Roon to the Oppo UDP-203 and then letting the receivers decode, the Yamaha had a solid, three dimensional sound. Through it Sam Beam's voice was more firmly rooted in space, and the backing vocals a little easier to discern than on the Denon. 

Receivers that are tuned for movies are rarely good with music -- they can sound overly harsh and tiring -- but the tambourine-forward sound of Spoon's You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb sounded fuller on the Yamaha than the Denon. The song's chugging bass underpinned the percussion in the hands of the V6A and the entire production sounded less thrashy and more composed. The Denon was a shade subtler but didn't make me sit up in my seat in the same way.

Turning to home theater with Avatar, the Yamaha driving a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 603 S2 speakers sounded bigger and more effortless than any soundbar I've heard. The opening dialog of the Thanator chase scene was more intelligible too, and certainly better than the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass soundbar, for example. It may not have had the same booming effect on the creatures' footfalls, but this was easily tweaked via the Yamaha menu. 

After that tweak the Yamaha had bass effects I could actually feel with my feet and, compared to the Denon, I found it sounded more atmospheric, but the bass still wasn't as impactful.

Should you buy it?

If you're trying to decide between the Yamaha and the Denon, both sound quality and features come into play. The Yamaha offers an extra HDMI port than the Denon and more 8K-compliant 2.1 ports too. The RX-V6A also looks better and sounds more entertaining. 

The receiver didn't get everything right -- that LCD display is a misstep -- and I still prefer the Onkyo by a nose because of its superior streaming options and better display. While there are more receivers coming in mid-2021, if you want something that offers a degree of future proofing and high-quality sound right now, the Yamaha is an excellent choice.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/yamaha-rx-v6a-review/

YAMAHA RX-V6A 7.2-Channel AV Receiver with 8K HDMI and MusicCast

Pros: Looks nice 7 HDMI Inputs Atmos and Dolby Vision support

Cons: It's broken. YPAO setup is forced anytime I play audio into the receiver, but the YPAO process is completely broken I cannot enter any audio to the receiver or I get stuck.

Overall Review: I unboxed it, plugged it in, and ran a firmware update. After rebooting from firmware update I rebooted, powered off the unit, put the unit in place and made all the speaker and HDMI connections. At this point, when I go to HDMI 1 where my Windows 10 PC is input I can get sound to pass from the PC to the receiver in either Stereo or Dolby Atmos for Home Theater modes. However, as soon as I do, the YPAO setup is forced on me. So I plug in the included YPAO mic and run a single test setup. It sends test signals through all the speakers (even the ones I've got set to "None" in the speaker settings) and once I gets through all the speakers I hear a click and then YPAO says "Error - No Mic", even though the mic is still plugged in. This does not complete the YPAO setup, so the next time I play any audio I am FORCED back to the BROKEN YPAO setup process. First the HDMI 2.1 features in this receiver turn out not to be compatible with the new Sony and Xbox, but then the receiver itself turns out to be completely broken with a deep software flaw in the YPAO process. This is better as a door stop than an audio receiver for me at this point. I'm going to need an RMA.

Sours: https://www.newegg.com/yamaha-rx-v6abl/p/N82E16886971074
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Sound+Image mag review

This review originally appeared in Sound+Image magazine, one of What Hi-Fi?’s Australian sister publications. Click here for more information on Sound+Image, including digital editions and details on how you can subscribe.

Yamaha is shaking up its home cinema receivers for the first time since the Aventage line was launched a decade ago. And here’s one of the first two results of that shake-up: the Yamaha RX-V6A.

Yamaha RX-V receivers have been around for a good long time. We looked back through our reviews and found we’d reviewed an RX-V receiver back in 1999… our own digital records get sparse beyond that, but to save us searching in basement filing cabinets, Yamaha reminds us that the 1999 model was far from the first of the breed, as Yamaha began shipping the RX-V850 and RX-V1050 receivers in 1991. They were radical back then, because all other Dolby Pro Logic decoders of the day were analogue, “with mediocre

separation and steering between the left, centre, right and surround channels” says the company, whereas the first RX-V receivers were built around a digital surround decoder IC developed by Yamaha. Their success was immediate.

Build & connections

Thirty years on, then, what has changed in this new range seems initially largely cosmetic. But that’s welcome. Most AV receivers have square corners, a large display in the middle with blue or amber lettering, and a couple of knobs on each side. As we said, it may be cosmetic but the new facade changes the look of the Yamaha RX-V6A (priced at £649.95, $599.95, AU$1299) rather significantly. The verticals to the left and right of the front are curved, while at centre rests a very large volume control. 

To the right of the knob there’s still a display showing similar information to that of earlier models, but this appears to be an LCD, perhaps OLED, monochrome display with soft blue lettering over a black background. The input selector is to the right of that: a knob, but fairly small. Underneath the display and selector knob are a set of six touch-sensitive spots on the front panel which replace the push buttons of yore. Four of those are for scene selection, one invokes the menu, while the final one backs out of things.

Also on the front panel is a 3.5mm input for the calibration microphone, a 6.35mm output for headphones, and a USB connection for playing back USB audio. Apple’s iPhones are no longer supported by USB these days, but instead, and rather more conveniently, you use the network features of the Yamaha RX-V6A for playing back your iPhone music: specifically Apple’s AirPlay 2.

Or, more powerfully, use the Yamaha MusicCast app on your Apple or Android device. Or, for that matter, any DLNA/uPnP music player on any device.

Indeed with the MusicCast app on your device (Apple or Android is fine), you can also dial up music from Spotify, Tidal, Deezer or Amazon Music (if you have appropriate subscriptions) and more besides. We’ll return to how that stuff goes in practice.

Yamaha’s MusicCast network audio system is also a nicely mature multiroom system. You can fill your home with MusicCast devices so that you can have music wherever you like. We notice that this year it has been advanced even further: you can now configure separate wireless MusicCast speakers to act as wireless rear speakers for your movie room.

The receiver is rated at 100W for each of its seven channels into eight ohms. If you want to use lower impedance speakers there’s a setting in the set-up menus, though unfortunately four-ohm loudspeakers are supported only for the front left and right channels. For all the rest, a six-ohm nominal impedance is the minimum (and perhaps not coincidentally, most Yamaha home speakers have six ohms nominal impedance).

Yamaha RX-V6A specs

Tested with firmware: 1.23

Rated power: 7 x 100W into 8 ohms (20-20,000Hz, 0.06% THD, two channels driven)

Inputs: 7 x HDMI, 3 x analogue stereo, phono, optical digital, coaxial digital, USB-A (front), Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, F Type for FM/DAB+

Outputs: 2 x HDMI, 2.1 analogue output, 6.5mm headphone, 9 pairs speaker binding posts

Zone: 1 x analogue stereo, assignable amplifiers

Other: 1 x 12V trigger out, 1 x calibration microphone

Dimensions (whd): 435 x 171 x 377mm

Weight: 9.8kg

Warranty: Two years

There are seven HDMI inputs. As we write, Yamaha says that advanced features such as 4K at 120 hertz and HDR10+ video signals will be supported with a future firmware update. We did test the unit with regular Ultra HD and both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range, and it passed these through with no problems. Indeed, it was fine with high frame rate Ultra-HD 2160p/60 encoded with Dolby Vision. That’s about as high a throughput as is available from the Ultra-HD Blu-ray format.

We must add here the caveat that we’ve mentioned with all 2021 receivers – there have been reports that the current set of HDMI chips do not fully support 4K/120, though this is generally when there is an 8K input (which there isn’t here). We’ll have to wait and see.

Also to be added in a further update are several game-dedicated functions: Auto Low Latency Mode, Variable Reflesh Rate, Quick Media Switching and Quick Frame Transport. Essentially, these work to reduce delays. Latency is a killer in real-time gaming.

There’s a single HDMI output. Three sets of stereo analogue inputs are provided, along with a phono input suitable for use with a moving-magnet cartridge. An optical and a coaxial digital audio input are available. And this being 2020, there’s also Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi is dual-band, supporting the standards up to 802.11ac, while the Bluetooth is version 4.2 and supports the standard SBC codec, plus the Apple-friendly AAC codec.

We should remind you that this is a receiver, so of course it receives radio. In this case the two ‘bands’ are FM and DAB+ digital radio.

The receiver comes with an IR remote control, and is also thoroughly controllable using the MusicCast app on a smart device, Apple or Android, phone or tablet.

Set-up & calibration

The Yamaha RX-V6A doesn’t really run a first-time wizard, as such. It asks you your language and then it’s up to you to perform the calibration. Basically, you manually specify the intended position of one pair of channels: surround back, height (overhead) or presence (high on the front wall). 

That done, you plug in the supplied calibration microphone and place it at head height at the listening position (you can also do multiple positions if you prefer). Once you plug in the microphone, Yamaha’s YPAO calibration system is invoked and you can then simply follow the on-screen instructions.

The calibration looks after speaker sizes, distances, levels and EQ. With our system, YMAO chose reasonable crossovers, and later we certainly approved of the sound. The default EQ aims at Yamaha’s ‘Natural’ curve, which gently eases higher frequencies to produce a solid, cinema-like sound. But you can easily switch it to ‘Flat’ (a flat frequency response), ‘Front’ (the rest of the speakers are tuned to match the front speakers, which are left unaltered) or ‘Off’.

Performance

We found the sound quality with movies simply wonderful. There was plenty of power available to drive our system to cinema-like levels. The crossovers worked effectively at pulling out the bass and sending it to our subwoofer. Surround imaging was excellent.

As we noted above, we’ve been reviewing Yamaha home theatre receivers for many years, and they’ve never once disappointed.

The automatic lip-sync adjustment available when connected via HDMI was effective – our TV typically adds around 120ms of delay to the video, so it’s obvious if there is no correction. Indeed, all the HDMI control functions worked well, switching on the receiver automatically as required, flicking it over to the input into which we had our UltraHD Blu-ray player plugged.

For music, we tapped the ‘Pure Direct’ button on the remote to get rid of the processing and crossover. The receiver actually did a quite nice job with music from our turntable, plugged into the receiver’s phono inputs. The sound was clean, with decent stereo imaging and detail.

On the video side, things were a bit basic. We’ve related how the receiver passed through all signals cleanly. We also noticed in the HDMI section of the set-up menus the ability to upscale HDMI to 4K (Ultra-HD) output. This was off by default. We switched it on, and initially it did not seem to work. The reason turned out to be that it’s quite limited. It will upscale 1080p to 2160p, but it doesn’t work on anything less, not even 1080i.

Furthermore, when we tried playing a standard Ultra-HD disc with regular HDR with 4K upscaling switched on – it should have done nothing with such a disc – the TV would no longer produce an image. All it showed was a black screen with the HDR logo (produced by the TV when it detects that signal) irregularly pulsing in the corner of the screen. 

The receiver’s onscreen menu wouldn’t work once that happened. All returned to proper operation once we stopped playback (the player drops back to 1080p). We switched off 4K upscaling and proper operation was restored.

The receiver’s remote control has four ‘Scene’ buttons, replicating those on the front panel. We do like these. Hold one down for a few seconds and the current settings for the receiver are stored, including input and things like sound and video modes. So you can switch to, for example, Phono input and Pure Direct with a press of just one key. Then back to movie viewing with another signal button press. Neat and convenient operation indeed.

Smart functionality

Yamaha’s network capabilities are thoroughly worked out and operated with complete reliability, whether by Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. The unit does implement a web interface, but it isn’t a full control panel, just an alternate way to change some basic network-related settings.

Meanwhile, whether we used MusicCast or our own DLNA software, all music we threw at the receiver was reproduced effectively. That included FLAC-encoded PCM up to 24 bits and 192kHz sampling, and double-speed Direct Stream digital.

The receiver’s audio information display usefully confirmed that these were being properly received.

And as far as we’ve been able to determine, Yamaha’s receivers still remain the only ones to which we can direct DTS 5.1-channel sound ripped from DTS CDs and encoded to FLAC. The receiver recognises it, after decompressing the FLAC format, to be DTS and decodes it to proper surround sound. That’s a great way to enjoy ‘Days of Future Passed’.

Verdict

The Yamaha RX-V6A is a fine not-so-entry-level networked and nicely smart AV receiver, and with its welcome face-lift you’ll know this is a firmly 21st-century unit. A must-consider if you’re seeking surround and music power at this price. 

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Sours: https://www.whathifi.com/us/reviews/yamaha-rx-v6a
Yamaha RX-V6A Unboxing \u0026 Dolby Atmos Setup - 8K HDMI 2.1 A/V Receiver

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Yamaha RX V6A

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