Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000 A/V Receiver

Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Unique construction • YPAO auto setup and room correction • Bluetooth compatible with optional adapter

It must have been a dream. Suddenly, I found myself living in a world where young people were rediscovering vinyl, jazzing up their iPods with audiophile earbuds, and even experimenting with tube amps. LP sections in record stores came back from the dead, steadily enlarging and proliferating. The once ridiculously overpriced CD suddenly became a bargain in wallet-box anthologies and affordable reissues. High-performance, high-value speakers became available over the Internet. I never wanted to wake up—until I realized I hadn’t really been asleep in the first place. All of this stuff is actually happening. We’re living in a new golden age of audiophilia, vibrant with lovingly excavated ideas and manic energy. An increasing number of people care about good sound again.

Some of those people work for Yamaha. Its parent company has a musical instrument division, so you could argue that they never stopped caring about good sound. But like nearly all A/V receiver manufacturers, Yamaha got caught up in the features race. That started to change last year when Yamaha announced the Aventage series of AVRs. What the Prime Directive was for Captain Kirk—a core principle that could be ignored only at his peril, with much furrowing of Mr. Spock’s brow—sound quality became for the designers of these audiophile AVRs. And by the way, if you call audiophile A/V receiver a contradiction in terms, I’ll come over there and smack you.

Lofty View
The RX-A1000 is the middle kid in Aventage’s family of five. It’s also my second foray into the line, following a review of the step-up RX-A2000, which appeared in HT’s January 2011 issue. One of the few things that inaugural review omitted was a detailed overview of the series. Let’s start there.

Aventage is one of four Yamaha A/V receiver lines. The others include the mainstream RX-V Series, which is the largest, with 13 models. There’s also the value-oriented HTR series, with three models.

The five Aventage models range in price from $650 to $1,900. In ascending order of rated power, they offer 90, 95, 105, 130, or 140 watts RMS times seven channels. As always, I encourage you to compare these numbers with the measurements from our lab.

Since Yamaha makes a big deal of the Aventage build features, be advised that some of these appear only in the higher-end models. Only the top two models have an H-shaped frame “across the top, bottom left, and right sides of the chassis to reduce vibration and provide more support for the transformer and heat sinks,” says Yamaha’s Website. And only the RX-A3000 includes double-bottom construction, another feature that provides better support for the power supply and heat sinks, improving mechanical performance. While all of the models have low-jitter PLL circuitry to help prevent the digital nasties, only the top two have “ultra low” jitter reduction. Only the top three, including the one reviewed here, have symmetrical power amplifier layout, which is said to improve vibration control and signal-to-noise ratio, as well as individually grounded DACs that are isolated from other circuits.

Features common to all Aventage models include hybrid power supplies, which separately feed the digital and analog circuits. All have a fifth foot in what Yamaha calls its Anti-Resonance Technology (A.R.T. ) Wedge design, which is said to improve structural rigidity and reduce vibration for an unspecified improvement in sound quality.

In all cases, Yamaha’s designers were fussy about parts—not merely focusing on specs, but also extensively testing key parts to find those that met the desired characteristics. All Aventage A/V receivers are built in Yamaha-owned factor- ies, not outsourced, and their three-year warranties are 50 percent longer than the com- pany norm.

Aventage starts with the RX-A700 ($650). Like pretty much any AVR we review nowadays, it has lossless surround decoding and 3D-via-HDMI capability (in this case, version 1.4a). Noteworthy features include Sirius satellite radio (with the addition of a $15 antenna), Bluetooth capability (with the addition of the YBA-10 wireless audio receiver, $130), and Made for iPod/iPhone capability (with the addition of the YDS-12 dock, $100; or the YID-W10 wireless dock, $150). All models are iThing-dock-dependent—I advise Yamaha to make the USB jack found on the top three models iCapable for direct plug-in of these mobile devices. Step up to the RX-A800 ($800), and digital over-the-air HD Radio with iTunes tagging sweetens the deal.

Things get really interesting when you get to the RX-A1000 ($1,100), the subject of this review. It adds a free app to turn your iPhone or iPod touch into a Wi-Fi-enabled remote that con- trols input, volume, mute, and other functions—for up to three zones. (Though no apps for iPad or Android just yet.) With the addition of a USB input, you can plug in a flash drive. With Web browser control—via Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari, PC or PDA—you can select input, listening mode, presets, and parameters. You can also browse your iPod or USB-connected device. The Yamaha supports the Rhapsody music service and its 11 million songs if you’ve got 10 bucks a month for the subscription fee. It also supports Pandora and Napster via a free firmware update. This model has Network Receiver and DLNA features as well, including Internet radio and the ability to access media from a computer. Why, then, would anyone move up to the previously reviewed RX-A2000? Additional attractions include marquee video processing in the form of HQV Vida, a third zone, macro command capability, and more power, going from the RX-A1000’s 105 watts to the RX-A2000’s 130. The RX-A3000 ($1,900) offers yet more power (140 watts) and a fourth zone.

Ergonomic Angles
Aventage models make no attempt to be beauty queens (and I’m not sure I’d like them better if they did). The front panel includes a white fluores- cent display, a source-select knob at left, and a volume knob at right. In between is a large flip-down panel that conceals a full set of navigation controls, HDMI and USB jacks, and numerous other niceties.

The RX-A1000 includes the same attractive onscreen color interface as its siblings, with a control column at left for the main menu items. As you explore each main menu item, a row of controls pops out at the bottom. If you need to look something up in the manual, you’ll have to load a PDF file from a supplied CD. Like a lot of companies these days, Yamaha has gone green in this regard.

One way in which the RX-A1000 differs from the RX-A2000 is that the latter comes with two remote controls, including a smaller one for multizone use. The RX-A1000 comes with only one. It’s simpler than that of the step-up model, with a less differentiated control layout and no flip-down door to conceal less oft-used controls. But it does have one small advantage over the fancier model: With no door, the critical Sur Decode button is more accessible. It’s indispensable for switching listening modes when you’re playing music.

To make sense of an A/V receiver’s many listening options, Yamaha relies heavily on presets that control multiple options. This AVR’s dozen Scene func- tions associate each input with a plethora of listening modes and settings—see the RX-A2000 review for the full laundry list. The Pattern control lets you switch between the automated YPAO microphone-driven setup and your own manual setup—or two different YPAO setups, two different manual setups, etc. I can imagine the hot breath of tweakers fogging up their heavy horn-rimmed spectacles as they read this.

Another way in which Yamaha does business differently is that it never licenses a feature when it can develop its own version. It uses its own YPAO auto setup and room correction, its own dynamic range adjustment, and its own height (“presence”) channels. There’s no Dolby Pro Logic IIz, just IIx; no Audyssey.

(800) 4-YAMAHA

techguy378's picture

Of course, this receiver can't hold a candle to one with Audyssey. Then no receiver without Audyssey can. I'm curious about one thing. It's my understanding that Yamaha's Aventage receivers can measure room acoustics from eight positions in the listening room. Do Yamaha's receivers simply average out the frequency response of the room?

MrSatyre's picture

I submit this for your consideration: Audyssey---as far as I am aware---is not, nor has it ever been, involved in the recording or mastering stages of any CD, game or movie reproduced by any of the systems which use it. How, then, can the engineers who developed it possibly know if their processes are recreating those sounds correctly? Simply put, they can't; they amount only to hypothesis. To my knowledge, only Pioneer's home-brewed MCACC (co-developed with and approved by AIR Studios), and Sherwood Newcastle's Trinnov (developed by Trinnov and approved by the French national TV and film studios, the BBC, Fox and others) can make such a claim. Furthermore, (again: as far as I am aware) Audyssey is only used "professionally" in IMAX theaters, and only AFTER all the audio has been recorded, mixed and mastered, and is used in IMAX theaters only as a global EQ. There is certainly a world of difference in sound (, speakers, frequency, direction, phasing, etc. between an IMAX theater and a home theater). They don't sound anything alike, even when an Audyssey system is being used in both.

Lastly, I would recommend this article on averaging of listening positions during room calibration: http://avroomservice.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-why-frequency-avera... (or "10 Reasons Why Frequency Averaging is NOT a Good Idea"). You will note the author has nothing to do with any of the auto-room calibration systems mentioned. I have not heard any system or room he has calibrated, so I can't make any comments pro or con; his points against averaging are valid, but I have not read any which can explain why averaging would be beneficial in the first place.

While I would gladly recommend ANY type of room calibration over none at all, I would expect everyone would prefer systems which have post-calibration results which can actually be verified by the content creators as being accurate and therefore beneficial.

Stephen Trask's picture

I myself have problems with the notion of any blanket settings determined by a computer program unless they are simply adjusting unless it's just adjusting decibel levels and, in a large space, the timing of the surrounds. That said, I'm not sure that it matters whether Audessey has been involved in mastering or the mixing. As someone who has mixed in surround many times, I can say that that doesn't really matter much. in fact, the fact that they are involved in theater set-up is a much higher recommendation for their product.

techguy378's picture

Audyssey's website says they don't do averaging like other technologies do. It's also my understanding that YPAO does do averaging meaning that if one seat has a dip at 200Hz and another has a peak at 200Hz then these two measurements will average each other out and no correction will be made. Audyssey can make corrections in the time domain at every single seat in the listening room. It's the only technology that can. It doesn't just smooth out acoustical problems like other technologies do. It fixes them. Has Pioneer finally upgraded their MCACC software to measure at multiple points in the listening room? If not then it will not improve the sound at all. If MCACC still uses a parametric equalizer with 10 bands or less it also will not improve the sound at all.

Stephen Trask's picture

I always enjoy your reviews but this one seems to leave some information out. There is, for instance, no comparison of this product with similarly priced offerings. But mostly I am confused by the 4 star feature rating and the four star value rating. Is their any other feature missing besides Audessey? If so, there is no mention of it. And the ergo rating at 5 stars seems to be a big enough deal that the overall should have been higher. I am not attached to this product in any way. I just am confused by ratings and the decision making.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Techguy378: Your question has been submitted to Yamaha.

Stephen Trask: If you are confused, blame the rating system, not yourself. I spend 99 percent of my time on the text and the other 1 percent on ratings. So I encourage readers to look for answers and perspectives in the text. My definitive statement on ratings is here.

Having said that, I thought the Yamaha had good ergonomics due to the colorful and easy user interface, the spiffy cosmetics, and the smart combining of various functions under the Scene control. Yamaha also offers an excellent iPhone/iPod touch remote control app and a web browser control though they went unmentioned in this review. But another reviewer could have bestowed a different number for different reasons: what's easy or hard to use is pretty subjective and impossible to convey or even sum up in a numerical rating.

You were right that I knocked features and value down due to the lack of Audyssey or a convincing equivalent. In my experience Audyssey works better than Yamaha's YPAO. Audyssey isn't the only game in town -- I have also gotten great results from Pioneer's MCACC many times. Also Trinnov, admittedly only once. Apart from MCACC, non-licensed modes usually produce scattershot results.

Stephen Trask's picture

Thanks for responding. Your answer is probably the most definitive statement I've read on both the importance of room correction and the relative effectiveness of the different proprietary and licensed room correction systems. Can I take it from your list that you haven't used Anthem's ARC or does it fall into the scattershot category? Or can't you say. Room correction is probably the one feature that it is impossible for consumers to comparison shop so, again, your comments are quite helpful here.

Irrivirsible's picture

Many people on forums complain that the Yamaha receivers below the A2000 and A3000 do not allow multiple crossovers for speakers. If your fronts and backs play down to different levels you would have to find one crossover setting to work for all speakers instead of being able to use different crossover settings based on the speakers. Also, the receivers below the A2000 and A3000 do not EQ the sub and even the top 2 supposedly do it to a lesser degree than competitors. To some these are deal breakers. I would ask, what are your thoughts on the crossover and sub eq as described above?

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Stephen: Thanks for the encouragement. I've tried Anthem's ARC in a receiver exactly once. It worked well but I don't know it as well as I know some others. To get a handle on a room correction scheme, you've got to go through multiple setups over a long period of time. That's how I've gotten to trust Audyssey and Pioneer MCACC. I am a big fan of Paradigm's Perfect Bass Kit which works with certain PBK-compatible subs, having used it more than once and always liked the results.

Irrivirsible: I use (and alway recommend to readers) matched speakers, or at least matching driver sizes, so one x-over size fits all as far as I'm concerned. I'd say that a receiver that doesn't EQ the sub isn't doing the most important a room EQ scheme should be doing!

Stephen Trask's picture

It would be cool to do a side by side comparison of various room correction technologies. I also wonder how much the correction changes day to day or situation to situation. A living room full of people on a humid day sounds very different than that same room with one person on a dry day. I noticed that the new Rotel has a 10 band parametric EQ. That, combined with a good iPad app might be a really excellent tool for room cx. in many ways, I would much rather pay for an Audessey app and USB microphone combined with an onboard EQ than to simply have the technology built in. Then you could make easy, on-going adjustments and update the software or upgrade it as you desire.

Edit: I went to the Audyssey website today and found that they have been selling a recording studio version of Multi EQ through plug-in developer IK Multimedia, who make some great products. The product is essentially the same except that it's goal is to help music producers adjust EQ their mixes so as to correct for sound problems in their mix environments. The reviews by users are off the charts positive. I have been thinking of late, in general, that many of the advancements being made in home theater are simply about bringing to living rooms the sorts of hardware and software that recording studios have been employing for sometime. Dynamic Volume is just a mastering limiter/compressor. I wonder how long before some of the leading plug-in developers begin to market their products for home use, including DACs, limiters, EQ's etc. A company like Waves has spent well over a decade developing incredibly transparent and easy to use plug-ins that could easily be licensed as packages to AVR manufacturers. Avid and Apogee both have industry leading DACs that could easily be adapted for home theater use. Avid's Pro Tools also makes extraordinary plug-ins. I would not be surprised to see either of these companies partner with a manufacturer to produce some killer high end products at reasonable prices.

Stephen Trask's picture

I noticed, when looking at the new Aventage line-up for fall 2011 (yes, the product number is now rx-a1010) that YPAO comes in two varieties. The top two models in this series have something called RSC or Reflected Sound Control, which addresses early reflections. These are mostly high end clutter that can interfere with the crispness of a sound and possibly muddle dialogue and make violins and other high end score elements a bit cloudy. I wonder why this feature isn't included across the Aventage line. Is it a DSP or other processing issue or is it just to differentiate products. If it's the latter, then that is a mistake. RSC would probably bring YPAO in line with Audyssey in terms of effectiveness and, in the case of this review, may have resulted in a 5 star review down the line. Which, in turn, could sell a lot of AVRs.

Tobin's picture

Can anyone explain the difference between the Yamaha "Aventage" line (the RX - A810 for example) and the RX-V871? Why the two lines of product? What is the distinction between the two lines? The Yamaha website says the RX-V871 is "New" just like the Aventage line is "New".

Sebastiao Falcao Jr's picture

Please help me:
I sent this receiver for repair and it was returned without the remote control and the power cord.
I would very much appreciate your telling me where can I buy such parts in the US. Pls also give me the site address.
I thank you very much for yr help.