Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity - Thumbs Up Awards
The RX-A3050 is Yamaha’s flagship Audio-Video Receiver (AVR), boasting no fewer than nine power amplifier channels, 11.2 output capability and every bell and whistle known to man. This receiver has every improvement and feature one could wish for in a state-of-the-art product.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

Highlights

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

  • Powerful amplifier sections (150 wpc)
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X are included
  • Yamaha YPAO room correction
  • DTS-HD Master Audio capable
  • Shielded chassis construction
  • 4K video capable (native or up-converted)
  • Audio quality near that of high-end separates
Introduction

Yamaha, with their “Aventage” line, has an advantage (no pun intended) over their competitors. In addition to being a global competitor in consumer electronics, they have also been a global leader in the manufacture of musical instruments since 1887 when Torakusu Yamaha built his first reed organ. Having the experience of actually making concert quality pianos, string instruments, woodwinds, brass, and drums, one would think that Yamaha would know how to voice their consumer electronics to make them sound lifelike.

In 1973, Yamaha began producing its first commercial stereo amplifiers, and the audio reproduction line has steadily grown, culminating in the current Aventage RX-A3050, intended for the home theater market.

I have listened to and owned a variety of audio-video receivers including models from Sony, Denon, Onkyo, Harmon-Kardon and of course, Yamaha. Each has its own specific strengths and weaknesses. But the Yamaha products that I’ve owned through the years have consistently surprised me with their sound quality.

Yamaha, to their credit, is honest enough to provide power ratings from 20 to 20KHz with two channels driven (150 W @ 8 ohms with 0.06% THD). Many AVR makers are not nearly so honest. Of course, the power rating would fail to meet Yamaha’s claim with all nine channels simultaneously driven, but that specification is probably not relevant. Aside from brief transients like explosions, you’ll never hear output from all nine channels.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

The Yamaha slogan is “Sharing Passion and Performance.” How well have they met that slogan with this product? Stay tuned.

YAMAHA RECEIVER REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Amplifier Channels:

9.2

Rated Output Power:

165w @ 8 Ohms (2 Channels Driven @ 1 Khz)

Rated Output Power:

150w @ 8 Ohms (2 Channels Driven @ 20-20 Khz)

Maximum Output Power:

230w @ 8 Ohms (1 Channel Driven @ 1 Khz – Jeita)

Dynamic Output Power Per Channel:

175/220/295/410w @ 8/6/4/2 Ohms

Front Inputs:

Hdmi/usb/analog Stereo/composite Video

HDMI In/out:

7/2 (v2.0a W/hdcp 2.2)

Optical Digital Audio In/out:

3/0

Coaxial Audio In/out:

3/0

Analog Audio In/out:

9 (front = 1)/0

Phono Input:

1

Component Video In/out:

3/1

Composite Video In/out:

5 (front = 1)/1

Preamplifier Out:

11.2 Channels

Headphone Output:

1

AM/FM Tuner:

Yes

On-screen Display:

Graphical User Interface

Scene:

Scene Plus (12 Sets)

App Control:

iOS/Android

Web Browser Control:

Yes

Remote Control Unit:

Included & Preprogrammed

Zone 2 Audio Output:

Pre-out & HDMI

Zone 3 Audio Output:

Pre-out

Zone 4 Audio Output:

HDMI

Powered Zone:

2/3

Zone Video Output:

HDMI/Component/Composite

Zone HDMI:

Yes (advanced Hdmi Zone Switching)

Zone B Output:

HDMI

Zone Gui:

Yes

RS-232c Interface:

Yes

+12 Volt Trigger Output:

2

Remote IR In/out:

1/1

Party Mode:

Yes

Standby Power Consumption:

≤ 0.1 Watt

Auto Power Standby:

Yes

Eco Mode:

Yes

Size:

10.1″ H x 17.1″ W x 18.6″ D

Weight:

39.9 Pounds

MSRP:

$1,999.95 With Free Shipping From usa.yamaha.com

Company:

Yamaha

SECRETS Tags:

Yamaha, Aventage, RX-A3050, RX-A3050 Receiver, Receiver Review

Surround processing modes of the Yamaha include:

Cinema DSP (HD3) – Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is common on all current AVRs. Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital, and DTS were originally designed for use in very large theaters. The Yamaha Cinema DSP algorithms modify the processing to provide the audio experience of movie theatre sound in the much smaller listening room of your own home.
DSP effects (23) – Yamaha has taken the trouble to actually measure the sonics of numerous venues. The DSP effects attempt to recreate the sonics of these venues in your listening room. By selecting a DSP setting, you can hear your music in a stadium, an auditorium, a cathedral, or a small club.
CDialogue Level Adjustment – This feature allows the listener to compensate on the fly for center dialogue channels that have been recorded at too loud or too soft a level for the ambient movie sound.
Virtual Presence Speaker – To get the best effect from the DSP effects modes, a second pair of front speakers are normally required. These effects speakers are located above and behind the right and left front speakers. Many don’t have the space or the equipment for additional physical speakers, so Yamaha offers the “virtual presence speaker” setting to create the sonic impression of having these additional speakers, even when none exist.
Virtual Surround Back Speaker – Many listeners don’t have the luxury of being able to place speakers behind the listening position due to walls or furniture. With the virtual-surround back speaker feature, Yamaha uses DSP to synthesize the effects of having rear speakers behind the listeners even when no physical speakers are present.
Dialogue Lift (with no presence speaker required) – This technology uses DSP to make the center dialogue channel appear to come from a higher elevation than the actual center speaker. This is useful for those who must place their center speaker significantly below the screen. As claimed, this feature works with only a three-speaker front array.
Silent Cinema – DTS and Dolby Surround audio is reproduced with the feeling of listening to a full surround system, but on headphones. This can be used for late-night listening without disturbing household members or neighbors.
Virtual Cinema Front – For those who can only use three front speakers, this “virtual cinema front” technology uses DSP to create a surround sound field using only the front three speakers.
Dolby Atmos (5.1.4-ch or 7.1.4-ch with external amp) – To recreate height effects, the Dolby Atmos system uses up to four in-ceiling speakers. This can also be synthesized if the physical speakers are not present.
Dolby True HD – This allows the playback of lossless audio using the Dolby codec.
Dolby Digital Plus – DD+ or E-AC-3, as it is also known, is a method of playback for multi-channel digital audio.
Dolby Pro Logic IIx – This can take two-channel stereo, Dolby Surround, or Dolby 5.1 material and up-convert it to 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound.
DTS:X – Interprets metadata from properly encoded media to add spaciousness to the soundscape, regardless of how many or how few speakers are available.
DTS-HD Master Audio – This is a codec that allows lossless reproduction of soundtracks via Blu-ray discs.

Audio features of the Yamaha include:

Pure Direct (with video on) – This mode bypasses all the DSP circuitry and just forwards whatever audio is being fed to the receiver.
Compressed Music Enhancer (helpful with MP3 material) – This feature expands the dynamics of lossy codecs such as the dreadful MP3.
High-Resolution Music Enhancer – This feature is intended to improve the sound of FLAC encoded music files.
YPAO Multi-Point Measurement (R.S.C., 3D and angle measurement) – YPAO is “Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer.” R.S.C. stands for “Reflected Sound Control.” This feature allows one to use the supplied microphone to assess the sound of the listening room (and from multiple locations & heights, if desired). The DSP then removes the room echoes from the audio signals, allowing the listener to hear the original acoustic of the recording rather than having the sound of the listening room superimposed.
YPAO Volume – This allows more or less implementation of the YPAO corrections.
Adaptive Dynamic Range Control – This allows activation or defeat of low-volume listening dynamic range correction.
A.R.T. Wedge – ART, in this context, stands for anti-resonance technology. This is intended (through chassis design and a fifth foot on the bottom of the receiver) to minimize audio contamination by external vibrations.
Bi-Amp audio capability (put those unused amps to use!) – This allows otherwise-unused receiver channels to bi-amplify speakers fitted with bi-wire terminals.
Audio delay from 0 to 500 milliseconds – This allows proper synchronization of audio with video.
192/24 DACs for all channels (ESS Technology ES9016S SABRE32™ Ultra DAC + ESS Technology ES9006A SABRE™ Premier Audio DAC) – This ensures that if higher-resolution audio is available on future movie soundtracks, that the receiver can still decode the soundtrack.

Video features of the Yamaha include:

4K Ultra HD Pass-through and upscaling via 4K 60p 4:4:4 – This allows current 1080p video to be upscaled to 4K if your television or projector can handle it. It also assures that if 4K home video discs become common, the receiver can play them.
HDMI 3D pass-through – This allows movies encoded with 3-D content to play properly.
HDMI Audio Return Channel – (high definition multimedia interface) – HDMI 2.0a enables a device to use a single HDMI cable, to send audio data and video data to an A/V receiver without the need for any separate audio connection.
HDMI upscaling – via both analog to HDMI and HDMI to HDMI Deep Color/x.v.Color/24Hz Refresh Rate /Auto Lip-Sync

Connectivity features of the Yamaha include:

Yamaha MusiCast (for zones 2-4) – Allows the use of MusiCast wireless speakers in other rooms to be driven by the receiver.
Wi-Fi with Yamaha’s Wireless Direct – This provides an alternate way to wirelessly connect your receiver with your smartphone or tablet. Being a peer-to-peer connection, Wireless Direct doesn’t require an existing wi-fi home network.
Apple AirPlay – is a proprietary protocol developed by Apple that allows wireless audio/video/screen/photo streaming between devices.
AAC Bluetooth – AptX Audio Coding is a method of streaming various audio formats (MP3, AAC, WMA, etc.) via Bluetooth connection.
DLNA via Ethernet – “Digital Living Network Alliance” is a protocol that allows one to stream audio and video over a local network (usually Ethernet-connected).

Design and Setup

The RX-A3050 is ruggedly built and cleanly designed. The front cover flips down to reveal the microphone input and a variety of convenience inputs for things like video games and USB media. Additional controls can also be accessed from the front panel.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

There are a total of nine built-in power amplifiers with volume-controlled preamp-outputs for an additional two. Inputs and outputs are clearly labeled, and given enough space on the panels that even gorilla-pawed users (like myself) can successfully make connections without barking knuckles.

The only convenience that I wanted, and didn’t have, was a built-in switchable set of LED lamps that would light up the rear panel when trying to make connections. Having to read tiny print upside down and in the dark can be irritating.

The instructions are clear, and there is an included “quick setup guide” that will assist in initial setup. What does it all mean? Basically you can spend as little or as much time as you want setting up the receiver and still get good sound!

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

The remote control is conveniently laid out with most features readily available. The Yamaha control app for smart phones and tablets mimics most of the remote’s functions. The remote can also be programmed to control other devices such as DVD/Blu-Ray players or displays. Although the remote is plastic, it seems well balanced and the buttons are large enough to avoid confusion during use.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

Calibrating the receiver to your room is as easy as placing the microphone at your listening position and plugging the mic into the receiver’s front panel. A stand is included in the box but I chose to use a camera tripod instead to place the mic at ear level. The on-screen display then automatically asks to run the Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO). The software plays a series of tones (runs spouses & pets from the room), then adjusts frequency response, speaker distance and speaker phase for the best sound. This process also homogenizes disparate sounding speakers for a more uniform sound field. And may I say that the process WORKS! This technology has definitely benefitted from its multiple generations of improvement. What comes out now is far, far better than what room correction software used to be capable of.

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

In Use

Now the question that audiophiles want an answer to is “how does it sound?” AV receivers have long been the red-haired stepchildren of high-end audio, and for good reason. They have yet to equal the sound quality of a separate preamplifier and amplifier combination.

Most AV receivers have little trouble powering sensitive easy-to-drive loudspeakers. But when asked to pair with low impedance speakers or those with complex crossovers, low to mid-priced AV receivers have been not merely inadequate, but woefully so. The RX-A3050 however will drive low impedance and difficult speakers just fine and without strain. I’ll speak later of the receiver’s performance in stereo only.

For movie soundtracks, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with the big Yamaha. It provides an immersive sound stage with clean steering as sound sources sweep the room. And it does so with no discontinuities between speakers! This is highly valuable since my fronts, sides, heights, and rears are differently sized, and from different manufacturers. Without YPAO, the speakers sing like an out of tune and unrehearsed choir. With YPAO, they sound alike and indistinguishable from one another. A neat piece of work, that!

Movies used to assess the receiver included:

John Carter

John Carter

I selected this movie due to its heavy use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects and dialogue presented at low volume levels. Despite the large dynamic range between the softer and louder bits like explosions, the receiver separated out the details nicely, allowing the dialogue to remain understandable despite background noise.

Avatar

Avatar

In keeping with the CGI animation theme, I selected Avatar. Here, I was looking for edge artifacts (as I’ve seen on some projectors) due to the rapid motion of on-screen objects. The video was as clean as I’ve seen for this movie and even better than what I’ve seen on some commercial digital projectors.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

To check out the subterranean bass chops of the RX-A3050, I went straight to my Blu-Ray copy of Jurassic World. When the dinos mix it up at the mall, the Yamaha let the torso-shaking loose! The RX-A3050 obviously does not edit the bass effects channel. When there’s bass to be had, the Yamaha provides it in spades!

For music, the conclusion is less clear. The RX-A3050 does present a wide and deep sound stage with two channel material. It can sound very, very good, but compared to my usual analog-only components, the Yamaha still lacks the last bit of verisimilitude that separates “listening to a stereo” from “listening to music.” Why is this? Is it the DAC? Is it the multitude of digital circuits leaking digital noise into the analog signal path? Is it that the power amplifiers of AVRs are still not as muscular as those of “stereo only” gear? Could it be a combination of these things?

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that my analog preamplifier and two mono block power amplifiers are still better at making music sound like a live performance. But I must also say that the Yamaha RX-A3050 sounds an order of magnitude better than any previous AVR that I’ve heard. If I didn’t have the analog preamplifier and mono block power amplifiers that I’ve got, I could be perfectly happy with the Yamaha for both stereo and movies.

Music that I used to evaluate the Yamaha included:

Blood, Sweat, and Tears debut album (remastered in SACD):

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Blood, Sweat, and Tears “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”

This is one of my favorite albums of all time, and the SACD surround version added quite a bit of enjoyment to some of the tracks. The high-resolution SACD-Stereo, however, is my favorite and seemed to provide the cleanliness and ease of my old vinyl record with even better dynamic range.

On this album, the RX-A3050 throws a wide and deep sound stage, but the midrange lacks the “you are there” impression that my preamp/amplifiers combination gives. Don’t get me wrong – if I lacked the high-end stereo rig, I’d think that the Yamaha was heaven. It’s only in comparison that I prefer the other gear, and even then only by a slight margin.

The HarmOrgan SACD from 2L11 audio of Norway:

HarmOrgan

Iver Kleive and Sigmund Groven“HarmOrgan”

The 5.1 SACD soundtrack gives a real feeling for the size and shape of the cathedral where the recording was made. The RX-A3050’s surround rendition of this disc is far superior to the stereo presentation (even in high-resolution stereo). The size of the cathedral is apparent from the Yamaha’s presentation, and if you close your eyes, you can forget that you’re listening at home. Listening to this disc through my stereo gear fails to provide an equivalent experience.

Conclusions

Yamaha Aventage RX-A3050 Receiver

THE YAMAHA RX-A3050 is a fair priced receiver, also highly future-proof.

Likes
  • Simple setup makes installation a pleasure
  • The YPAO room correction is effective and unobtrusive
  • The soundstage is wide and deep for stereo listening
  • The muscular amplifiers don’t give up with difficult speakers
  • For movie soundtracks, I’ve heard nothing better
Would Like To See
  • Wireless connectivity for all surround speakers

Compared to other equipment that I’ve had the pleasure to audition in this price range, I find the Yamaha RX-A3050 to be not only fairly priced, but also highly future-proof. This makes the investment an easier choice since it won’t have to be replaced as soon as a less expensive model without the advanced features of this receiver.

So for cinema sound, I can find no flaw whatsoever in the Yamaha. It does everything one could hope for and more. It is the best cinema sound receiver that I’ve heard to date. So ultimately, I’d have to say that if 50% or more of your listening is for movie soundtracks, you just can’t do any better than the Yamaha RX-A3050. If, on the other hand, your primary goal is the best possible stereo sound, other equipment may better serve you, although probably at a far higher cost.

That said, the continuous improvement in Yamaha’s AVR sound makes me wonder how much better the Yamaha A-S series (stereo) integrated amplifier line has become. If there is a corresponding improvement in these products, then they may be one of the most underrated lines on the market…

Background Information

Gear used with the Yamaha RX-A3050 for this review:

Axiom M-80 R&L front speakers (run both full-range and small with c/o @ 60 Hz.)
Axiom VP-100 center channel speaker (run small & c/o @ 100 Hz.)
Infinity Primus P152 side surrounds (run small & c/o @ 100 Hz.)
Klipsch KB-15 rear surrounds (run small & c/o @ 100 Hz.)
Roland Edirol MA-100 self-powered height speakers (run small & c/o @ 100 Hz.)
(2) PowerSound Audio XV-15 self-powered subwoofers run in stereo configuration
Yamaha MusiCast wireless zone 2 / 3 speakers
Room treatments by ATS

Comparison electronic equipment for stereo listening:

Emotiva XSP-1, generation two preamplifier
Emotiva XPA-1L, generation one mono block amplifiers
Yaqin VK-2100 tube hybrid integrated amplifier

  • bobbg

    Will it Wash the Windows?
    do the dishes and pop the popcorn?
    ITS MOVIE TIME!

  • Jim Milton

    Washing widows is a bit silly, but the popcorn idea…I think you are on to something there!

  • bobbg

    Windows OS. I use my computer to watch movies! I’d like a clean screen.

  • Boomzilla

    Popcorn or not, that Yamaha’s one HECK of a fine receiver! It’s competitive with anyone’s flagship model, and I find the Yamaha interface (both on-screen and via app) to be most excellent!

  • mhdaniels31

    nice review was on the fence about the yamaha rx-a3050 and was only looking at the denon x6200 but after seeing how yamaha has reworked there protection system and allows more watts per channel when running 5 or less speakers (based on bench tests done on the a2050 ) and the reviews strong recomendation I’m starting to think this receiver has alot more to offer then i originally believed great review liked the attention you gave to the amp section and how it sounded to you its what really made me want to audition the yamaha and switch back from being in the denon/audessy fan club great review