Yamaha Aventage RX-A1010 A/V Receiver Page 2
Speaking of which, the supplied remote is just as unimpressive as virtually every stock remote I’ve used in the past couple of years. Frankly, I think the manufacturers are resigned to the fact that most end users utilize aftermarket universal remotes or gravitate to an app controller and are putting as little effort as possible into their remotes. The non-backlit remote supplied with the RX-A1010 contains the major functions. The on-screen GUI isn’t incredibly user friendly, but thankfully, the downloadable manual is extremely well written and informative and was able to answer any of my questions.
In addition to the iDevice app, you can purchase an optional YDS-12 iPod/iPhone dock ($100) or plug your Apple handheld directly into the USB input on the front panel. From there, you can operate your iDevice with the AVR remote or via your touchscreen.
While the two higher-end Adventage-branded models offer HQV Vida video processing, the RX-A1010 and lower-end models employ a proprietary solution that’s barely adequate for this class of AVR. Only 480i/480p signals sent over HDMI can be upconverted to an HD output (720p, 1080i, or 1080p), but native 720p/1080i signals are passed through without any processing. All analog signals, whether high-definition or standard-definition, can be transcoded to HDMI and output as 1080p, but the chroma signal is severely clipped as observed with test pattens on the Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark Blu-ray. The Vatican staircase scene in Mission: Impossible III used frequently as a real-world test for deinterlacing exhibited significant moiré when transcoded from 1080i analog to 1080p HDMI. On the plus side, there was no loss of either the chroma or luma signals when I fed an HDMI signal through the unit. Virtually all HD sources today go HDMI digital in, so analog performance carries much less weight than in the past. We no longer even include it in our VTB results.
Music to My Ears
While J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 is hardly original—think of it as a mashup of The Goonies, E.T., and Cloverfield—it’s a fun story, and its train derailment sequence provided one of the best audio demo scenes of the year. The bass response was out of this world, and the YPAO calibration kept the bass tight and succinct without any blooming on the low end. Furthermore, when the train screeches by our young heroes, it seamlessly moves through the soundstage and creates that “being there” feeling.
I was warned that having two teenagers in the house would try my parenting ability—and patience—but I’m having a blast, especially when it comes to watching older movies with them like The Matrix. I’ve seen the film countless times over the last 13 years, but I still get caught up in the story of Neo. I love the Dolby True HD soundtrack and its many demo-worthy moments. The RX-A1010 didn’t break a sweat during the famous lobby scenes in which Neo and Trinity race to save Morpheus from Agent Smith. The depth and impact are fully felt as the bullets fly through the room and their shell casings ping off the floor. And that wonderful bass you hear when a shotgun is fired. Classic!
Lost isn’t your run-of-the-mill TV production, and the Michael Giacchino score features recurring sonic textures that highlight every aspect of the story. The RX-A1010 truly shines in this arena with its superior musical prowess and ability to re-create intelligible dialogue.
The Streaming Ability of AVRs
The streaming abilities of AVRs is a mixed bag due to their clunky interfaces and the need to have a display on to navigate the complex menus. This is where the wonderful iDevice app comes into play. Utilizing its easy-to-use onscreen interface, I was able to choose my home server and stream music to my heart’s de- light without having to fire up my projector. Its only downfall is it won’t stream WMA lossless files, but it will display the cover art and track information. High-bitrate MP3s didn’t have any noticeable compression issues when played back at loud levels. The mid- range was robust, highs weren’t cringe-inducing, and the bass response was even and full.
The Eagles’ comeback album, Hell Freezes Over, is one of my favorite demo CDs and is usually the first disc I turn to when I get a new piece of equipment in my system. “Hotel California” is arguably the band’s most famous song, and the guitar solo that opens the track can usually make or break how I feel about an amplifier. Well, no worries here. Each pick of the guitar was precise, and the bass had its distinctive thump that I’m used to hearing. Furthermore, when Don Henley’s golden voice kicked in, it sounded like he was in my living room.
There’s so much to love about the RX-A1010, including its build quality, audiophile prowess, and wonderful iDevice app—but it’s not without its issues. Its lack of third-party licensing (THX and Audyssey) may be bothersome to some, although sonically speaking, I can’t fault it for that, as the Yamaha is second to none I’ve heard in its price class. Its video processing abilities don’t quite meet the standard of some other $1,000-and-up AVRs, and its somewhat unfriendly GUI falls victim to this same criticism. In the end, spending a bit more to step up to Yamaha’s RX-A2010 (a $1,600 model that I’d bet sounds as good or better and uses the respected HQV video processor) or the recently tested Onkyo TX-NR1009 ($1,399), or even going with the Pioneer Elite VSX-52 ($900), may get you a best-of-all-world’s solution. But the RX-A1010’s biggest sins are entirely in the analog video arena, and it passes HDMI digital video to its HDMI outputs with no sign of egregious signal clipping, so for most users this represents a small nit to pick. If you don’t plan on using the receiver’s component video inputs to scale signals to 1080p HDMI, on the strength of its sonics alone, the RX-A1010 is a great choice for audiophiles seeking superb sound quality on a moderate budget.