Yamaha | Aventage RX-A1020 | Yamaha Aventage RX-A1020 Review

Yamaha Aventage RX-A1020 Review
Yamaha Aventage
networked AV receiver
Price: $1799
amaha’s third generation of its
premium ‘Aventage’ range is here.
Now consisting of five models, the
RX-A1020 is right in the middle,
but shares some of the higher end features.
For example, it has the ‘Anti-resonance wedge’
— a fifth foot right in the middle of the base
plate. It also has eight HDMI inputs with two
HDMI outputs.
Unlike the higher two models, though, it
has seven rather than nine amplifiers. Highly
configurable (including the ability to drive a
pair of ‘Zone 2’ speakers), each of these is rated
at 110W into 8 ohms, full audible spectrum,
distortion at 0.06%, two channels driven.
This being Yamaha, it does not implement
Dolby Pro Logic IIz — which adds front height
channels — but instead has its own high
quality processing modes which use similarly
placed front ‘Presence’ speakers.
In addition to the support for audio in a
second zone, you can also deliver analogue
video in the form of composite, S-Video or
component video.
The unit has full 7.1-channel analogue
inputs and full 7.1-channel analogue outputs
(the subwoofer socket is also doubled up, but
the signal is the same for both). In addition
to composite and component video, it also
supports S-Video, an increasingly rare
inclusion these days. Plus it comes with a
built-in phono preamplifier (for moving
magnet cartridges).
Obviously it has network capabilities with
an Ethernet port, but it is also supplied with a
Wi-Fi adaptor, freeing you from the necessity
of having a nearby connection to your home
network (if you have Wi-Fi, of course).
Yamaha’s approach to WiFi networking is
interesting, but it can be quite challenging
Setting up the Wi-Fi networking was, for me,
a little bit like going back in time. Rather than
being a USB Wi-Fi dongle it is a standalone
Wi-Fi access box with two Ethernet ports. It
draws power from a USB-style socket on the
back of the receiver and one of its ports is
plugged into the receiver’s Ethernet port.
If you have press-button WPS set-up on
your Wi-Fi network then the unit is easy to
install. I don’t. Fortunately the instructions
are clear, but do be aware that you will have
to first plug the unit into the Ethernet port
on a computer and open a browser interface
to enter the necessary details (including your
Wi-Fi password) into the unit.
So for me it was harder than usual to set
up. But while I often find USB Wi-Fi dongles
problematic in my review environment, this
Wi-Fi interface worked almost perfectly at all
times. The receiver supplies power to it even
when switched off, so you can use it with the
Yamaha iPhone remote app to switch on the
system. And with two additional Ethernet
connections, you may find it convenient in
providing Wi-Fi access to a nearby
Blu-ray player or TV.
The only relative weakness
was that Apple AirPlay was a
little less reliable in my office via
Wi-Fi that it was with a wired
Ethernet connection (note,
though, this was using a 802.11g
Wi-Fi network; the adaptor does
support 802.11n).
Even though AirPlay is
provided, Yamaha’s own iOS
and Android control apps
also include music streaming
functions which more or less
replicate this, and have the added
advantage of leaving the remote
control functions handy.
Speaking of these apps, or at least the iOS
version, a useful set of controls is provided.
The app also works on an iPad with a slightly
different layout which makes good use of the
larger screen area. If you also have a Yamaha
Blu-ray player, as I do, then the app automatically switches on a full set of controls for it
when its input is selected.
The only oddity was that while you can
change the names for the inputs within the
app, these are not fed through to the unit itself,
which maintains its own renaming facility
with a maximum of nine characters available.
If you use that feature then the names are
reflected in the app’s names for the inputs.
The receiver also provides a web interface
which allows some degree of control, but is
useful primarily for allowing you to back up all
the receiver’s settings to computer, and later
restore them. The backup file was only 42kB.
Setting up the receiver was surprisingly
fast with Yamaha’s YMAO speaker and
room calibration system whizzing though
the procedure. While you can have the unit
do multipoint measurements, it defaults to a
single measurement. There was no apparent
way to lock any pre-determined settings, such
as speaker size. With my system the YPAO
auto calibration chose 80Hz, but left the front
speakers on ‘Large’. My centre speaker, while
very capable, should not properly considered
‘Large’. I changed it to ‘Small’ after the calibration, and the sound didn’t seem to suffer for
the change.
Given how advanced this receiver is in so
many ways, it was surprising that its auto set-up
capabilities do not provide different crossover
frequencies for the different speakers. You can
adjust the single crossover a long way (40 to
200Hz), but it can be useful to apply a 40Hz
crossover, say, to your front speakers and a
100Hz crossover to the rear ones.
With only that size change, the receiver
sounded excellent all round with a smooth
and natural sound. You can select from several
different EQ curves (it defaulted to ‘Flat’ but
also offered ‘Natural’, ‘Off’ and ‘Front’, which
makes the other speakers sound like the front
stereo pair. Its room calibration functions
include adjustments for early boundary reflections from the loudspeakers.
The video handling was generally very
good, and most certainly extremely convenient
if you abide by one simple condition. That
is: do not use the receiver’s ability to upscale
HDMI video inputs. You may well want to use
it to process analogue inputs, but if you want
to use it for HDMI upscaling then this will
come at the cost of quick menu overlays.
At native resolution — including 1080p/24
and full-HD 3D (I was unable to check 4K) —
the receiver overlays its menus over the video,
which makes for exceptional responsiveness. It
also has some useful information for the tech
nerd (e.g. me), disclosing the supported video
resolutions on HDMI connected displays, and
showing in numbers what the auto lip sync
delay is for attached displays (0 for my little
Samsung monitor TV, and 123ms for a big
JVC projector).
But if you use the video scaling capabilities
of the receiver, then invoking the GUI makes
the receiver switch off the scaling before
displaying the menus. Quick ad hoc displays
of information or use of the ‘Option’ menu
to change some setting become exercises in
waiting as the TV resyncs with the new signal
standard whenever you press those keys.
The new media functions of the receiver
were a slightly mixed bag. What it does offer,
it offers very nicely. We’ve already mentioned
the Apple AirPlay support, and the streaming
capability of the mobile app. There is also
traditional DLNA support, which is driven
from the receiver rather than the network
music source. Good facilities are provided
for scooting through long lists of Artists
and Albums and Songs using the on-screen
display, while using the iOS App was even
faster and more convenient.
The receiver also supports music from
USB devices plugged into the front port
(remember the rear one is only a 5V power
socket, not a proper USB port at all). It worked
with the AAC and regular WMA (but not the
lossless version) and WAV and MP3 material
on my test memory sticks, plus FLAC at
24-bit/96kHz, but not at 24-bit/192kHz. It had
a manful go at 24/96 FLAC in 5.1 channels but
interpreted it as 2.0 and kept dropping out. It
read cover art from my iPod touch and iPhone
and once again allowed quick movement
through lists, one or ten pages at a time.
For online content you get internet radio
via the very capable vTuner. As usual with
this you can set up favourites via the website,
and get access thousands of podcasts as well.
The omissions are only the various online
subscription music sources, such as Spotify,
offered by others, but you can always access
these via a smartphone or tablet and then
stream them to the Yamaha.
The Yamaha Aventage RX-A1020 is an
excellent all round networked AV receiver,
although at this price it really ought to
implement multiple crossovers for different
speaker positions. Stephen Dawson
Yamaha Aventage
RX-A1020 networked
AV receiver
Price: $1799
• Excellent performance
• GUI overlay
• Excellent network support
and performance
• No separate crossover
frequencies for ‘Small’ speakers
• Have to choose between
scaling and nifty GUI
POWER: 7 x 110W, 8 ohms, 20-20,000kHz,
0.06% THD (two channels driven)
INPUTS: 8 x HDMI, 4 x component video,
4 x S-Video, 5 x composite video,
9 x analogue stereo, 1 x phono,
1 x 7.1 analogue, 4 x optical digital,
3 x coaxial digital, 1 x USB, 1 x Ethernet,
1 x WiFi adaptor (supplied)
OUTPUTS: 2 x HDMI, 1 x component video,
2 x S-Video, 2 x composite video,
1 x analogue stereo, 1 x 7.1 pre-out,
9 pairs speaker binding posts
ZONE: 1 x analogue stereo, 1 x composite
video (redirectable from main output),
1 x S-Video (redirectable from main
output), 1 x component video (redirectable
from main output), assignable amplifiers
OTHER: 1 x Remote In, 1 x Remote Out,
2 x Trigger, 1 x RS-232C, 1 x USB-style 5V
DIMENSIONS (whd): 435 x 182 x 432mm
WEIGHT: 15.1kg
WARRANTY: Four years
CONTACT: Yamaha Music Australia
TEL: 1300 739 411
WEB: www.yamahamusic.com.au
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