FOR Breathtaking dynamics; power; immersive soundfield AGAINST Remote control looks and feels cheap
Each titan has its rival, and in this instance Yamaha’s RX-A3060 is battling Arcam’s AVR390 for superiority in the £2000 home cinema space.
Yamaha’s Aventage AV receivers are billed as the high-performance members of the family, and their premium status is evident straight out of the box. Free the RX-A3060 from its polystyrene and cardboard shackles and the amp’s 18kg body not only gives you a decent workout, it also helps cement the impression that this is a completely different beast when compared with Yamaha’s budget models.
The amp’s chassis, legs and frame have been strengthened, while the amp also features Yamaha’s A.R.T. (Antiresonance Technology). This takes the form of a fifth foot attached to the bottom of the amp, which Yamaha claims minimises the impact of vibrations on sound quality.
The look and the feel of the 3060 befit a higher class of amp too. The smooth, clean lines of the Yamaha’s aluminium front panel give it a graceful, not-tooindustrial look.
Push the bottom edge of the front aluminium panel and it drops down like a high-end drawbridge, giving you access to additional controls and inputs. Among these are an Apple-compatible USB socket, a headphone jack and an extra HDMI input (which comes in handy if you want to hook up an external source such as a digital camera).
Both input and volume dials feel solid, and their slick action inspires con¢dence. The speed at which the volume rises or falls depending on the vigour of your twisting just adds to the user appeal.
There are two different finishes to choose from. Our review sample is in titanium but, if you’d prefer something a bit more discreet, a more traditional black version is available.
The only thing that lets the side down, in our opinion, is the remote control. It’s cluttered and feels like the kind of wand you’d get with a budget receiver, not a £2000 model. The lack of a backlight will have you fumbling around in the dark too.
As you’d probably expect at this price, the Yamaha RX-A3060 doesn’t want for anything. It’s a nine-channel amplifier, with all the processing on board required to handle multiple zones of audio and multiple flavours of surround sound.
Dolby Atmos in 7.1.2 and 5.1.4 guises and DTS:X are both covered – Yamaha even has its own surround processing mode, Cinema DSP H3, which you can apply to these object-base surround modes or a standard 5.1 or 7.1 speaker set-up for a more spatial sound.
In the stream of things
Wi-fi and ethernet are present, which helps turn the Yamaha into a hub for any streamed music in your house. Airplay, Bluetooth and DLNA let you stream from smartphones, laptops and NAS devices.
Yamaha also provides native support for Qobuz, which is good news for
“First there’s the faint whistle of the bomb. It hits and there’s an eerie moment of silence before the Yamaha delivers two gut-wrenching explosions”
subscribers of the Cd-quality streaming service. There’s also Spotify Connect, Napster and vtuner internet radio built in too.
Yamaha includes its trusty YPAO calibration system and mic, which takes multiple measurements of your speakers from different positions to get the best set-up for your room. It works very well.
Modes of operation
It wouldn’t be a Yamaha surround amp without a wealth of processing modes to choose from, and on that front the RX-A3060 doesn’t disappoint. From Sci-fi to Sports, a Church in Freiburg to The Roxy Theatre, you can tweak the Yamaha’s sound to match content or mimic a location.
But to hear this amp sounding its best, you need to engage its Pure Audio setting, which switches off all unnecessary circuitry. Find a particularly fast-paced soundtrack (we watch The Wolverine from start to finish) and the difference between it turned on and off is quite startling. The RX-A3060 sounds clearer, more detailed and even more dynamic. We’re big fans.
The RX-A3060 is a wonderfully talented amp, and even during the brief 20th Century Fox opening sequence it manages to give you a small taste of its dynamic prowess. As the amp flicks through the pages of the Marvel comic it builds from slow and delicate, and ever-so subtly the pages start turning more quickly and with more vigour.
The opening chapter of the film flashes back to Nagasaki, moments before the atomic bomb is dropped. The scene is high on tension and detail, and the Yamaha laps it all up.
First there’s the faint, high-pitched whistle of the bomb hurtling towards the ground. It hits its target and there’s an eerie moment of silence before the Yamaha delivers two gut-wrenching explosions, followed by a wave of damage and destruction.
As Wolverine tries to shield the Japanese soldier from the carnage, the sound of flying debris is punctuated by a couple of short, sharp bursts of silence. Thanks to the Yamaha’s dynamism and control, it manages to balance it all perfectly, and places you within a more expansive audio space than the Arcam does. In such a large audio atmosphere, the quiet moments have just as much impact as the earth-shattering explosions. When Wolverine’s battling the Yakuza henchmen on the high-speed train, lesser amps can sound brash. The Yamaha, in contrast, simply sounds real.
You’re really hearing voices
Dialogue comes through loud and clear too. Whether it’s Wolverine’s grizzly bark or Mirako’s more gentle, soothing tone, the Yamaha captures the emotion well.
The same can be said with music too. Play Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel over Spotify Connect or as a Cd-quality stream, and the track’s beat sounds powerful and solid but never overpowering or too intense. It also manages to capture the fun, easy-going nature of the track better than the Arcam.
The Yamaha’s powerful dynamics, vibrancy, and expansive soundfield not only make its five-star status deserved, they push it ahead of the Arcam AVR390.
Anyone who wants more connectivity than this will probably never be happy