Yamaha RX-V6a Review

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We are reviewing Yamaha RX-v6a. This is a seven dot two channel Dolby Atmos enabled home theatre receiver. It boasts 100 watts per channel though that is only with two of its channels driven; so obviously as you add more loudspeakers, power is going to decrease.

However, I maintain that it has enough power to drive almost any loudspeaker that you’re likely going to pair with a home theatre receiver such as this. There’s even an option to bi-amp your main left and right speakers within the Yamaha itself; but if 100 watts per channel just isn’t enough power for you or your speakers, you can add a third party amplifier because the rx-v6a has stereo preamp outputs.

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It even has preamp outputs for a second zone not to mention two subwoofer outs. Now with respect to HDMI and video formats; first, the rx-v6a has seven HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. Of course it supports a RC as well as eRC.

Now as it relates to 4k 120, or 8k anything, Yamaha either knew something before the other brands did, or they have completely dodged a bullet here because that higher level video functionality, at least inside the rx-v6a has always been listed as coming via a firmware update; this means that it’s not enabled straight out of the box. 

If you’re wondering well, “when is that firmware update happening?”, I don’t know, and according to their own support website, neither do they. Yamaha’s new design is causing quite a stir as both the rx-v6a and aventage models have new facelifts for 2020, and I am here for it, I love it. I think it is a bold, forward new look for AV receivers and I have to tell you, it makes it look a lot higher end than it really is.

And if the front panel was made of glass and the back of it made of a thicker stock of aluminium, rest assured this receiver would have cost 1000$s. The large volume and control knobs feel good in the hand and they have a decent amount of resistance; though at least for the volume knob, I would have liked a little bit more of a click type response but the touch sensitive controls and that off centred screen for me, I think it’s a nice touch. 

Before we get into the weeds on this particular review, just a real quick rundown of what we used to test the Yamaha rx-v6a. We primarily relied on our budget home theatre speaker package of choice from Yamaha and we did this with and without the optional Atmos modules.

Now source components included; the Google Chromecast with Google TV, the NVIDIA Shield as well as our ps4 where I logged in a number of hours playing my new favourite game, Uncharted The Lost legacy. For two channel listening, we kind of bounced between both the Jamo s809 and Yamaha’s tower speakers. And well, the rx-v6a has a wealth of streaming music options built in all of which are accessible through the music cast app, and one of them is Tidal; which I don’t have to tell you is my personal favourite.

In order to get the most out of the rx-v6a, you’re gonna want to use the music cast app and it’s completely free. You can download it from the App Store on iOS or Google and get it up and running or connect the music cast app to the Yamaha which is pretty straightforward. Just follow the on screen prompts and you should be up and running in no time just. 

Don’t forget the connect button on the front of the receiver. I should say don’t overlook it like I did, otherwise you might be there for a minute, but the app really is the best way to get the most control out of the Yamaha and it not only enables you access to streaming music services like Spotify and Tidal, but it also enables you to switch between inputs, adjust settings, you know, the whole lot .

While the remote control that comes with  Yamaha rx-v6a is good, I found it rather unnecessary because I was able to adjust the volume of this av receiver using our TV remote and when I wanted to listen to music, well I just used the music cast app. 

SONY STR DN1080 VS YAMAHA rx-v6a

You should know that our budget reference home theatre receiver is the Sony str DN1080 and for good reason, it’s still relevant today, it’s widely available, it is obtainable price wise and it has a performance to price ratio that really kind of defies logic. Sure, it has a sound, it’s not exactly neutral: it is punchy and a little bit forward, but for movies, I like that. 

So why am I telling you this? Well, because I think the Yamaha is just a little bit better. Its sound is definitely dynamic with good low and mid bass definition in direct comparison to the Sony. The Sony str dn1080 has punch but it lacks some of that weight; so it brings speed and immediacy to the party whereas the Yamaha rx-v6a brings a greater sense of grounding at least in the mid range and bass departments.

However it’s not all muted and muffled: you know, down low, the bass is still very dynamic, it just may not be quite as fast as the Sony. In truth, the rx-v6a av receiver has a lot in common as it relates to the mid range and bass performance to the far costlier NAD T778, which was our 2020 AV receiver of the year.

It is because of this added weight that the Yamaha feels more neutral in direct comparison to say the Sony 1080 or a lot of other AV receivers in this class, and in the all important mid range. It is largely colourless. That is until you start to turn things up past 85 db, or you go into the app and adjust some of the dialogue or centre channel settings.

If you do this, you may find that the midrange is going to thin a little bit and take on a far more forward presentation. Don’t worry, it still sits rather nicely with the rest of the frequency range, and it’s still very intelligible and pleasing, it’s just that the rx-v6a starts to sound a little bit more like the Sony str dn1080 at higher volumes than it does the NAD T778, and the mild skew is definitely more noticeable with movies than it is with music, but it is present on both.

Still, I absolutely love the customization to dialogue that I had within the Yamaha rx-v6a, and if you are hearing impaired, I think you’re going to find this feature very beneficial. Real quick, speaking of music, this av receiver is just fantastic whether it’s in its pure direct mode or one of its other sound profiles. 

It just has a very musical heart. I know I’m waxing poetic a little bit but I just don’t really know how else to describe it because it just sounds right. So whether I’m listening to jazz from say gogo penguin or indie rock from King princess, this av receiver just sings its stereo performance which honestly reminds me a lot of the musical fidelity m3si.

Its high frequency performance is one of poise and detail but it may lack just a little bit of that last ounce of extension. What do I mean by that? Well, the reverberation that may come off of a cymbal or a high piano shrill; that note that kind of bounces around inside of a piano, those little cues, they just are a little bit more subdued or rolled off and in some cases, missing altogether.

If it sounds like I’m nitpicking, it’s because I am rest assured, it took all of about half a track for me to completely fall in love with the Yamaha sound quality in terms of the surround sound performance and soundstage. It has a very nice well appointed soundstage that doesn’t favour over-depth or vice versa.

It is very good at placing instruments and performers in their own kind of bubble within three dimensional space so you don’t get this kind of just vague Wall of Sound; there’s some very clear definition between performer instrument and whatnot. Now in terms of dynamics, the Yamaha rx-v6a is very good, especially if you turn things up. 

What I found more impressive is that it manages to be captivating at lower volume; so it is a receiver that builds as you increase the volume rather than shout at you.

Biggest Yamaha rx-v6a Letdown

Where it let me down was in its HDMI capability; switching was quick and seamless but sometimes as it relates to aRC or eRC, the sound just didn’t come along for the ride. If you don’t know what an RC is; it is an audio return channel or ERC enhanced audio return channel and this is a way for multi channel audio signals to be transmitted over HDMI say between your television and the av receiver itself. 

And sometimes that audio signal would just drop out, silence, and that would force me to have to go into my television to switch it to its internal speakers, then back to its eRC function and when I did that, I could hear sound and this happens a lot when switching between say our ps4 and the TV’s internal streaming apps. 

It’s not uncommon that a lot of receivers around this price point kind of suffer from this but nevertheless, it’s annoying. I noticed a similar annoyance when trying to game in HDR when passing a HDR signal through the Yamaha rx-v6a onto our LG TV. It kept throwing a little HDR bug in the upper right corner of the Yamaha screen as if it was constantly reaffirming that it was passing that HDR signal. 

And this just doesn’t happen when I connect our ps4 directly to our LG so I have to think that it’s just a minor bug with the Yamaha itself. Thankfully, it’s not like the image popped in and out of HDR mode when this bug was present, so again it’s just like a minor glitch. And if you’re not big into HDR, be it gaming or just regular content I don’t think this bug is going to be much of an issue for you.

Lastly, it has touched sensitive controls on its front face and they look a lot like just regular labels but rest assured if you put your finger on them, they will do something and have an effect and I’m just, I’m calling attention to it. Just in case you thought like I did that these labels did nothing to end the Yamaha versus Sony debate here, I do consider the Yamaha rx-v6a to be the better product; it is an upgrade in terms of sound quality and functionality.

Now, if you have just purchased a Sony 1080 receiver, know that you made a good purchase it’s still a great product. I still love it and we’re still hanging on to ours, so don’t worry. But the Yamaha is just a little bit better. It’s a little bit more refined, a little bit more neutral and it comes across as having a little bit more power at times; not to mention it has a lot more built in streaming functionality of which I am a power user, so I can see how it would be better for me but maybe not better for everyone.

That being said, I will make the argument that I think the Sony str dn1080 is actually more reliable as it relates to HDMI switching and an RC and eRC functionality over the Yamaha, so if you have not yet made a purchase of a new budget AV receiver, you have some things to consider. 

YAMAHA rx-v6a VS DENON 960H

I enjoyed my time with this AV receiver more than I did another receiver released in 2020, even  the Denon 960h; and there’s no need to go into detail about that particular receiver. 

Now, both of these receivers are likely going to be plagued by the same HDMI issues but if I had to buy a 2020 model receiver, I would choose the Yamaha over the Denon every time as I just prefer its sound. And as for how it competes with other Yamaha receivers, it actually does quite well; in fact it completely holds its own against Yamaha’s costlier aventage line of receivers.

The aventage line is still very good but I think if you are on a budget or you have a more modest system, you can totally get away with this receiver. If you have your sights set on one of Yamaha’s higher end receivers, know that that line is about to get upgraded any moment now so you might be better off just waiting.

While there is some overlap with the NAD T 778, it’s just a whole other animal. The T 778 is the better receiver hands down but at $3,000, it should be. I see the rx-v6a and its music cast ecosystem as sort of the poor man’s NAD, and which I have to say there is no shame in that game.

The Yamaha rx-v6a is one of the better receivers that we have reviewed this year and we’re gonna have to reserve judgement on some of its next gen video functionality until either a firmware update or a fix is made available to customers, but as it stands as of this review, it isn’t so much a future proof receiver as it is a solid present day one. 

I absolutely love the new look and can see how it’s potentially polarising, but I think it’s bold and forward thinking, and I absolutely love it. Plus the sound quality more than holds its own against costlier Yamaha’s like the A3080, and even the NAD T 778; so minor HDMI corks aside, I think the it is priced just right so that even if it never manages to live up to its 4k 120 or 8k claims, it manages to still be a solid buy. 

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