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I love home theatre receivers. For most people, a home theatre receiver is more than enough to give them a good surround sound experience. Aside from sound bars, more home theatres nowadays are driven by a receiver than they are separate components, but not every home theatre receiver is going to be perfect for that enthusiast who’s looking for something a little bit more high end, we have the receiver for that today, because we are talking about Yamaha’s flagship RX-a3080 vintage receiver.
There is no shortage of AV receivers on the market right now and they range in price from a few $100, all the way up to 1000s. And it isn’t so much the features that dictate the price of a receiver because you can find a cheap receiver that has 4k, even 8k capability let alone Dolby Atmos.
You should know that what sets the price for a home theatre receiver is the quality of the amplifiers found within and the number of channels or speakers those amps are capable of driving. The aim of any home theatre receiver is to simplify the control of your home theatre as well as power your surround sound speakers and for the most part a lot of AV receivers get this right.
There are some receivers that are clearly aimed at a more entry level audience and they simplify what is a potentially complicated process down to its bare essentials. Case in point; our Sony DN1080 receiver. It takes a complicated topic like home theatre and makes it approachable.
But on the flip side, we have the Yamaha that we’re looking at today which is tailor made for enthusiasts, allowing them to customise it to their heart’s content. And in doing so, it reacts much more like a pair of dedicated home theatre separate components, all the while sounding pretty good in the process.
We’re gonna take a little bit more of a bird’s eye view on this particular receiver because the its feature set is that vast; not to mention the way I set it up may not be identical to how you will set it up but by the end of this review, it is my goal that you will understand kind of what it sounds like, what its tendencies are, what it is like to live with day to day, as well as a few things you might want to look out for.
So let’s kick things off with the specs. Right off the bat, the first thing that I noticed about the Yamaha rx-a3080 was its size and weight. This is not your standard receiver. In fact, it’s built to a standard that you’ll find on a lot more high end components. That being said, you’re going to want to make sure that your rack is capable of supporting its weight as well as accommodating its depth.
I actually had to remove the back panel on one side of the BDI octave cabinet in order to accommodate it; which was surprising because pretty much everything fits in the BDI octave.
Thankfully installing the a3080 was no different than any other receiver and there’s plenty of real estate on the back panel to make all of your necessary connections. I was pleasantly surprised to see a host of legacy input options on it as a lot of modern receivers forgo things like composite and component video inputs in an attempt to save space and money.
Speaking of inputs, I am pleased to see that Yamaha has included a very capable phono preamp here as well as a pair of balanced analogue inputs. Now in terms of HDMI, there are a tonne of HDMI inputs and outputs; there’s actually three HDMI outputs on this receiver and all of the HDMI inputs and outputs are capable of 4k 60 and legacy video signals are upscaled to that standard via HDMI.
Now there is an RC as well as an earc though you may have to run a firmware update in order to get eARC out of the box. And this is also HDR compatible with HDR 10 as well as Dolby Vision. So while the Yamaha a3080 may not be on the bleeding edge of video technology with 8k, it has more than enough to keep you happy with 4k for the foreseeable future.
When looking at a receiver in this price range, it should have some measure of upgrade-ability and this receiver does, in fact it has preamp outputs for all 11 of its channels including both subwoofers.
There’s even a pair of balanced preamp outputs that you can use to drive an AMP to power your left and right main speakers. And if you use the preamp outputs, you’re effectively turning this av receiver into a preamp processor and you’re bypassing its internal amps all together.
Or of course, you can mix and match for something a little more low cost. Now Yamaha states the power output of this receiver to 165 watts per channel, but it immediately throws some cold water on those claims, rating it at 150 watts per channel into eight ohms in more real world scenarios but again only two channels driven.
We don’t actually know what the all channels driven power output of this receiver is suffice to say we know it ain’t no 165 watts. The amplifier inside the Yamaha exhibits great control over virtually any loudspeaker that we connected it to via a home theatre or two channel use.
For home theatre use, we primarily relied on our Jamo HCS speaker system. We also used the elac debut reference as well as the SPS prime satellite speaker system. And for two channel listening we relied on the Q acoustics concept 300 monitor speakers.
WHAT IS THE YAMAHA RX-A3080 SOUND SIGNATURE?
So the Yamaha’s overall sound signature isn’t so much a signature as it is a tendency for control; almost absolute control. This is not a receiver that I would dub as lively, or forward, nor would I say that it is warm or lush; it actually falls somewhere in the middle and you might be thinking to yourself, well that makes it neutral, maybe it is, it may be one of the more neutral receivers that I’ve encountered as it falls somewhere in between sort of the round lush tones of Denon and Marantz while being nowhere near as excitable as Sony’s crop of receivers.
As a result, the sound experience from this av receiver is going to be far more impacted by your choice of connected loudspeakers. That and whether or not you choose to use its room correction software which I’m going to be honest with you, is fantastic. Yamaha’s room correction software goes a step further by not only allowing you to measure multiple areas within your room, but also multiple dimensions.
This is something that high end home theatre processes are currently playing with but that a lot of budget receivers just outright lack. It even has a manual parametric EQ for all of its channels for those of you that may want to use third party software like room EQ wizard. Yeah, like I said, custom.
In truth, you can scale this beast from a simple five dot one home theatre system to arguably a no holds barred Dolby Atmos setup relatively easily and the experience that you’re going to have throughout is going to be epic; because bass is deep and tight, the mids are clear and intelligible and high frequencies are incredibly airy without a trace of glare.
Depending on your loudspeakers, the dynamics can be rather explosive. Now I had no problems recreating a cinema like experience with my Jamo home theatre system. And I only had to turn the volume up ever so slightly in order to get the LX to follow suit. So while the actual amplifier power ratings on this Yamaha rx-a3080 may not be up to the manufacturer’s claims, this is not a receiver that seems light on juice.
And there’s just one more thing that I want to point out about its performance that I found incredibly useful because it can connect to popular music streaming services like tidal and Spotify natively. It makes things like ancillary or third party music streamers Heck, maybe even disk players, all together a bit unnecessary.
It also has a control app which you can download from the iOS or Google Play Store which is fantastic. It’s borderline “Naim like”; and I don’t say that a lot about a lot of apps that we come across and yet with this rx-a3080, I’ve found it to be exemplary.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT THIS AV RECEIVER
So before you go thinking this is the perfect receiver for you, there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of. My first comment will likely not be seen as a negative by everybody but if you’re just getting started in home theatre, this receiver is not for beginners. If you are a beginner, everything about it is probably overkill.
Can it do everything short of make you dinner? Sure. You just got to be willing to work for it. Which brings me to the menus. They’re not the most centrally located or intelligible and if I’m being honest, they do lack a certain sophistication in the graphics department.
Still, learn them inside-out and you will have a measure of customization within this machine that few, if any receivers on the market right now can match. Now Yamaha is a company that has always prided itself on its virtual surround sound and DSP capabilities and they are in full effect here.
And to be honest with you, I find most of them gimmicky at best so there were a few that I welcomed. But you may find yourself flipping through virtual pages of presets when really all you ever wanted was maybe stereo or simple surround sound decoding.
It should be noted that you can turn these presets off or disable the ones you don’t want to see but once again, you have to know which menu and where to go and do that. I especially like a good remote and the remote control is good, it’s very well built if not a little bit daunting as there are so many buttons because while it enables so much control, I did find that once I had the Yamaha set up the way I wanted to, I started to rely a lot more on the control app which put my music streaming at my fingertips which is handy.
The app however is a supplement to the remote and so you never can use one completely over the other. So, as daunting as the a3080 remote may be, you’re gonna have to learn it. And I’m just gonna keep saying it; the Yamaha is a receiver that you’re going to have to devote some serious time into learning, thankfully it sounds so good out of the box that as you learn it and by the time you know it inside and out, you’ll be even more thrilled.
YAMAHA RX-A3080 VS SONY DN1080 RECEIVER
In terms of competition, obviously we compare the Yamaha to our Sony DN1080 receiver and the Yamaha beats the Sony in every conceivable way save for maybe menus and setup. But again the Sony’s around a $500 receiver whereas the RX-A3080 is just a hair under 2000$ and so I expected this result.
Of course you can get one of its lesser Aventage models; either the 2080 or 1080. Both should give you about the same measure of control; they’ll just be lacking in power and number of channels.
If you’re worried at all about future proofing your system and 8k, then you probably should consider the Denon or Marantz models but understand that we are still very much in a 4k present, and in that present day (2021), the Yamaha is still a killer receiver.
So to wrap it up the Yamaha a3080 is one of the finer home theatre receivers on the market right now. It is clearly aimed at a more advanced enthusiast, maybe someone with a more complex system and who isn’t afraid to dive into the menus and make their experience a little bit more custom.
Do I think it’s worth its asking price?
Absolutely. In fact, I think it’s worth considering over some home theatre separates; it’s that good.
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