Yamaha RX-A6A AV Receiver Review Page 2

As a Yamaha amp, the RX-A6A comes with a roster of DSP modes. These do feel like they've been left over from crazier times, when the best native mix you could hope for was Dolby 5.1, and post-processing embellishments were always welcome. Yet Yamaha, the OG of DSP, doesn't seem inclined to retire them. There are too many options to list, but they include Church in Freiburg and The Roxy Theatre among the music flavours, Sci-Fi and Drama for movies, and RPG and Action for gaming. Reader: I didn't test them all, and the ones I did experiment with I wouldn't heartily recommend over straight decode or the premium Pure Direct option.

Furthermore, the RX-A6A also carries Yamaha's Surround: AI mode, smart real-time processing that analyses various attributes ('dialogue, background music, ambient sounds and sound effects', says Yamaha) to deliver a more immersive experience. This is just a button click away, and can be fun to introduce.

Getting The Measure
YPAO room calibration isn't as detailed or anywhere near as adjustable as Anthem's ARC Genesis or the Dirac platform favoured by NAD and Arcam, but on the plus side is somewhat more plug and play, not requiring any use of a laptop. Single or multipoint measurements can be taken, and the results saved to the AVR, with YPAO then offering Flat, Front, Natural or Low Frequency parametric EQ flavours. Manual configuration is of course a possibility, alongside much, much else – you can even change the DAC roll-off filter setting if that's your thing.


The RX-A6A has seven HDMI ins and three outs, one with eARC

Ramping Up The Excitement
I've felt in the past that the standout traits of Yamaha's receivers were fluid soundstaging and really rich, nuanced tonality. I was expecting more of the same – and I got it – but the company seems to have tuned the RX-A6A to be a little bit more aggressive. More exciting, even.

The warehouse assault sequence toward the end of Nobody (4K Blu-ray) revealed this receiver to be one with a sense of fun. The numerous spot effects – gunshots, shattering glass, throats caught in barbed wire – hit hard, with sharp edges when needed. The RX-A6A's 'high-slew rate' Class AB amp modules never seem to sleep at all – when a sound designer goes big on dynamics, this receiver is up to the task.

Even while the RX-A6A is inducing grins with its upbeat demeanour, it's still in control of the sound balance. There's no sense of overemphasis in the frequency band as the sound progresses from deep bass to crisp treble.

High-frequency details, when they come, are deliciously focused and distinct. In Nobody, during the bus fight, the sound of a knife piercing flesh, and then being pulled out, sounded gruesomely real (I imagine).

In A Quiet Place (4K BD), the microdetails in the mix were afforded a more delicate handling, the RX-A6A creating an effective ambience. Leaves rustling across the empty street in the film's opening chapter, and the soft footsteps of the Abbott family as they sneak around the abandoned shop, manage to be both distinct yet smoothly delivered. This receiver goes about its business with quiet authority.


Yamaha has moved the position of its A.R.T. wedge (aka, the Fifth Foot) to better combat vibrations from the internal power transformer

With a more chaotic, crowd-pleasing Atmos soundtrack, such as that of Iron Man 3 (4K Blu-ray), this authority remains. During the Air Force One plane sequence there's a focus and sense of separation to mix elements (whistling wind, screaming government suits, Brian Tyler's orchestral score) without the RX-A6A losing track of the whole shebang, or turning it into a clinical listen.

Tony Stark's charge down the plane corridor comes with a whoosh of front-to-back sound, his suit thrusters flying through the room. He's then gone through the rip in the fuselage and out into the open air, and the RX-A6A follows (his) suit, expanding its soundfield to leave you floating up there with him. This ability to immerse is superb. Helping out is a front LCR stage that stretches wide, pushing front left/right audio far beyond the edge of your speakers.

As for music playback, be it stereo or multichannel, this Yamaha receiver sounds very much like it's come from the same company that makes pianos, saxophones, marimbas and more – meaning it rates very highly as an all-round option, not just a film-first model. One of my favourite demo tracks, No Excuses from Alice in Chains' semi-acoustic Jar of Flies EP, is presented with a wide, deep soundstage that precisely places the drums and various percussion elements, plus a slick rendering of the vocal harmonies. And with music I felt more inclined to call on the Surround: AI mode, as this brought an interesting 'live performance' feel to this studio-recorded piece.


YPAO mic comes with support stand and connects via front-panel 3.5mm jack

Smash And Grab
Die-hard AV tweakers would probably prefer that Yamaha swapped out its lengthy list of DSP modes in favour of more in-depth room calibration. Yet the RX-A6A is an AV receiver (albeit one with nine channels) aimed more at the mass market, complete with compatibility with the brand's multiroom MusicCast platform.

Viewed in this regard, it's a smash hit. Its sound is naturalistic and musical, and alongside the control it brings to multichannel tracks there's an undercurrent of snarl and aggression. It's (literally) a home cinema heavyweight, and should be on your audition list if a new AVR (with HDMI 2.1 connectivity) is the order of the day.

HCC Verdict

Yamaha RX-A6A

Price: £2,000

We say: With HDMI 2.1 issues in the past, Yamaha steps forward with a superb nine-channel AVR. It's always a pleasure to listen to, whether for movies or music, and rocks a premium build.

Overall: 5/5


DOLBY ATMOS: Yes DTS:X: Yes IMAX ENHANCED: No MULTICHANNEL INPUT: No MULTICHANNEL PRE-OUT: Yes. 11.2-channel MULTICHANNEL OUTPUT (claimed): 9 x 185W (8ohm, 1ch driven) MULTIROOM: Yes. Zone 2 plus MusicCast HDMI: Yes. 7 x inputs and 3 x outputs VIDEO UPSCALING: Yes. 8K AV INPUTS: 5 x digital audio (3 x optical and 2 x coaxial); 6 x analogue stereo DIMENSIONS: 435(w) x 192(h) x 442(d)mm WEIGHT: 20.3kg

FEATURES: YPAO auto calibration with supplied mic; stereo XLR input/pre-out; Cinema DSP (with 24 programs); Surround: AI processing; Auro-3D; USB; Ethernet; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; headphone output; compressed/hi-res Music Enhancer; Pure Direct mode; user customisable Scenes; H Frame construction; A.R.T. wedge; High Slew Rate amplifiers; ES9026PRO and ES9007S DACs; backlit remote