Yamaha RX-A1080

FOR Huge sound; rich­ness; plenty of de­tail; fea­tures AGAINST Loses out to main ri­vals on tim­ing and ex­pres­sion

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Though we try not to make as­sump­tions be­fore re­view­ing a prod­uct, there are usu­ally a num­ber of safe bets when it comes to Yamaha’s premium AV re­ceivers: the build will at least match the price tag; it’ll have a whop­ping great sound­field; and there’ll be more fea­tures than in a Sun­day news­pa­per.

And if the RX-A1080 is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the rest of the com­pany’s new range of Aven­t­age prod­ucts, those re­turns are sure to con­tinue rolling in.

In the mid­dle of the top end

A 7.2-chan­nel amp, with a claimed 110W of power be­hind each and kit­ted out with an ESS Sabre ES9007S DAC, this model sits right in the mid­dle of Yamaha’s five-strong suite for 2018, which spans mid-range to the com­par­a­tively high-end.

Rarely do we en­counter a premium AV re­ceiver that's any­where short of ro­bust, but Yamaha has fo­cused on mak­ing this Aven­t­age range as rigid and well iso­lated as pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of a fifth foot in the cen­tre of the amp’s un­der­car­riage to dampen vi­bra­tions from the power trans­former and else­where in the unit.

On the out­side of the RX-A1080, you’ll find plenty of phys­i­cal con­nec­tions, in­clud­ing seven HDMI HDCP 2.2 in­puts, com­pat­i­ble with 4K HDR and Dolby Vi­sion con­tent, along­side three com­pa­ra­bly equipped HDMI outs.

The Yamaha can also ac­com­mo­date a sec­ond zone, mean­ing the RX-A1080 can also power and con­trol a sys­tem else­where in the house, as well as of­fer­ing the op­tion of bi-amp­ing. A phono in­put shows the com­pany’s in­ten­tion that this amp should be used for mu­sic play­back as much as in a home cin­ema con­text.

Au­to­matic cus­tomi­sa­tion

The RX-A1080’S arse­nal of fea­tures in­cludes Yamaha’s YPAO RSC (Re­flected Sound Con­trol) tech­nol­ogy, which mea­sures the room and tai­lors speaker out­put from up to eight lis­ten­ing po­si­tions – giv­ing an ac­cu­rate gauge that re­quires only a touch of fine-tun­ing in our test room. Mean­while, its Sur­round AI fea­ture can op­ti­mise per­for­mance dur­ing a film, de­pend­ing on as­pects such as the scene, di­a­logue and sound­track.

We don’t usu­ally go in for tech­nolo­gies such as the lat­ter – if an amp is suit­ably tal­ented, its fo­cus is prob­a­bly bet­ter di­rected to­ward trans­parency and let­ting the disc do the rest – but, here, the ef­fect is re­strained and a po­ten­tial bonus for many users.

The RX-A1080 is also a mem­ber of Yamaha’s Mu­s­ic­cast fam­ily, al­low­ing for it to be­come part of a multi-room sys­tem. It can con­nect with the com­pany’s Mu­s­ic­cast 20 or Mu­s­ic­cast 50 wire­less speak­ers along with the Mu­s­ic­cast Sub 100 as part of a 5.1 sys­tem that would re­quire only three front tra­di­tional home cin­ema speak­ers to cre­ate a full sur­round sys­tem.

Given the speak­ers that you’d prob­a­bly wish to pair with an am­pli­fier of this stature, it may not be an ideal so­lu­tion as far as per­for­mance is con­cerned, but it does of­fer a ver­sa­tile al­ter­na­tive to a full ded­i­cated pack­age.

Speaker sim­u­la­tion

A more likely use of the RX-A1080, how­ever, is to em­ploy Yamaha’s Vir­tual Speaker Tech­nol­ogy, which uses its CIN­EMA DSP HD3 en­gine to sim­u­late 11-chan­nel sound on a 7-chan­nel sys­tem. These things can only go so far in their repli­ca­tion of a wider con­fig­u­ra­tion, of course – of­ten you’re bet­ter off try­ing to ex­tract the best from the speak­ers you have – how­ever, this turns out to be a pro­duc­tive en­deav­our.

And as well as its range of dig­i­tal and ana­logue in­puts for mu­sic sources, Yamaha has en­dowed the RX-A1080 with built-in

stream­ing ser­vices such as Spo­tify, Tidal, Qobuz and Deezer, as well as pro­vid­ing sup­port for the amp to be con­trolled by Alexa Voice Con­trol.

We’ve al­ready touched on the RXA1080’S sub­stan­tial sound­field, but it bears re­peat­ing. Yamaha has rarely been coy in this re­gard, and this lat­est Aven­t­age amp is keen to em­broil us in the ac­tion with a pre­sen­ta­tion that is both pow­er­ful and en­gag­ingly warm.

The RX-A1080 feeds our ref­er­ence PMC Twenty5.23 speaker pack­age with the in­gre­di­ents nec­es­sary to rum­ble its bass and soar in the high fre­quen­cies. It spreads its rich, full-bodied tone through­out the reg­is­ter, with­out rolling off any tre­ble or ig­nor­ing the more abra­sive sec­tions of a film’s sound­track.

Smooth con­sis­tency

The per­for­mance is even and well rounded, of­fer­ing the same char­ac­ter to an ef­fect that smoothly switches across speak­ers, be­gin­ning be­hind our right shoul­der and set­tling at the front left.

It does, how­ever, find it­self a step be­hind the Denon range that leads the class in this area of the mar­ket for home cin­ema am­pli­fiers and re­ceivers. It isn’t that the RX-A1080 is lack­ing in de­tail, but more about its or­gan­i­sa­tion, tim­ing and dy­nam­ics. It is ca­pa­ble, but still some way from the best on of­fer.

Even Denon’s AVR-X3500H, which un­der­cuts this Yamaha by £400, is more ex­pres­sive with its di­a­logue, of­fers greater punch and a more con­fi­dent or­gan­i­sa­tion of the im­pres­sive amount of sonic de­tail each has at its dis­posal.

The con­trast is per­haps most stark when lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, where the RX-A1080 is less rhyth­mi­cally adept and strug­gles to match its main com­peti­tors’ lev­els of ex­pres­sion or en­ter­tain­ment.

Those com­par­a­tive de­fi­cien­cies are the dif­fer­ence be­tween four stars and five, but the RX-A1080 re­mains a good home cin­ema amp for the money. Although it loses out to its ri­vals in some im­por­tant ar­eas, its rich­ness, its body and the breadth of its sound­field are dif­fi­cult to match.

Essen­tially, if you want your movies to sound huge, the Yamaha RX-A1080 should make it onto your short­list.

In­puts in­clude seven HDMI HDCP 2.2 ports and a phono in

There should be few com­plaints about the well fea­tured re­mote

All Yamaha’s tra­di­tional virtues are on show – plus a bit more be­sides

The front flap low­ers to re­veal the con­trols and ad­di­tional in­puts

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