Yamaha Unveils New Aventage AVR Range with Unprecedented HDMI 2.1 Support
Up to now, support in the AV receiver world for the latest HDMI 2.1 connection standard has been pretty half-hearted. In fact, you could even say it’s been broken, at least for Xbox Series X gamers on most of the first HDMI 2.1-capable AVRs we’ve seen to date.
However, Yamaha has become the first AVR brand to properly grab the HDMI 2.1 bull by the horns with a trio of new premium ‘Aventage’ AVRs.
Yamaha's RX-A8A, RX-A6A and RX-A4A AVRs claim the HDMI 2.1 high ground for two main reasons. First, rather than just carrying a single 2.1-version HDMI as most 2021 AVRs to date have done, all three of these new models carry no less than seven ports capable of delivering HDMI 2.1 features.
Secondly, The Aventage series HDMIs also avoid the HDMI 2.1 ‘bug’ that prevents current AVRs from Denon and Marantz and Yamaha’s own more affordable RX-V models from being able to play 4K at 120Hz from Xbox Series X consoles.
A solution of sorts to the Denon/Marantz HDMI ‘bug’ was recently announced, involving the rather cumbersome addition of an external converter box. And Yamaha has assured us during our communications about the new Aventage models that it’s also expecting to announce its own solution very soon. But really there’s no replacement for having so many HDMI 2.1 ports tidily built into a single (in the Aventages’ case, very attractive) product.
With the HDMI 2.1 ports also supporting 8K, being able to potentially simultaneously connect a high-end PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X to one of the new Aventage models, while still having a bunch of cutting edge HDMIs to spare, will make them look seriously attractive to the increasingly important gamer market.
Especially as Yamaha is promising that all seven of the Aventage AVRs’ HDMI 2.1 ports will support all of the key next-gen gaming features of 8K at 60Hz; 4K at 120Hz; variable refresh rates; Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) for switching displays into game mode when a game source is detected; Quick Frame Transport to decrease display latency; and the VRR-based Quick Media Switching feature for eliminating the black out period you usually get when you switch between different video modes/frame rates.
The Aventage AVRs’ HDMIs aren’t only eye-catching for their gaming capabilities, though. They’re also ready for the 8K video era should external 8K sources start to appear, as well as allowing pass-through of both the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ premium HDR formats.
Impressive and helpful though the Aventage’s bug-free HDMI connectivity might be, in normal times it wouldn’t be the thing that most attracted consumers. That honour would typically belong to their sound quality. Yamaha’s pursuit of HDMI glory for its latest receivers, though, doesn’t seem to have come at the expense of sound quality.
For starters, all three new Aventage models support DTS:X and Dolby Atmos object-based sound, courtesy of a brand new Qualcomm QCS407 smart audio platform. This delivers quad-core audio processing designed to decode and optimise playback of a huge range of audio content. The RX-A8A and RX-A6A additionally support the Auro-3D format.
All three models also boast Yamaha’s proprietary Surround:AI feature. This analyses all incoming sound in real-time, picking out and characterising the different elements of a mix so that it can always get the maximum impact from whatever you’re listening to. The new processor carried by all three Aventage AVRs doubles the processing power available for this feature to 64 bits.
The Aventage AVRs have all the tools you need to optimise their sound to your specific room set up, too. Yamaha’s Parametric room Acoustic Optimiser works in tandem with reflected sound control, multi-point measuring, precision EQ controls and a new low-frequency mode to ensure that there’s really no room set up that the Aventage AVRs shouldn’t be able to sound great in.
For those of you who like to know exactly what’s going on under the hood of premium AV gear, the Aventage AVRs feature a number of upgrades to their internal design. For instance, a new symmetrical amplifier layout is claimed to deliver optimised signal paths to reduce signal noise and cross-channel interference, enhancing the overall clarity of the sound.
A new internal H frame structure has been created to enhance the rigidity of the chassis, too, while premier audio DACs from SABRE have been used in a bid to improve signal to noise ratios and provide up to 120dB of dynamic range, for what Yamaha calls ‘professional’ audio quality.
There’s even a new ‘high slew rate’ amplifier reckoned to deliver twice the performance level of the amplifier used in the previous Aventage models by responding more precisely and accurately to rapid changes of input levels.
Each new Aventage model offers all the latest convenience figures you’d expect of a high-end AVR in 2021, such as Wi-Fi playback, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, built-in Amazon Music HD/Deezer/Spotify/Tidal/Qobuz streaming, multi-room audio, and voice control via Alexa, Google and Siri.
There is even complete two-way control via software integration drivers connecting the new Aventage models with home automation and smart home control systems.
The flagship RX-A8A will cost US$2,999.95 RRP and offers 150W across 11.2 channels. The RX-A6A reduces the supported channel count to 9.2 with the same 150W power and costs US$2,199.95 RRP. Finally, the US$1,29.95 RRP RX-A4A reduces the power to 110-watt and the channel count to 7.2.
All three new Yamaha Aventage receivers are expected to join the already launched RX-A2A from August 2021.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.
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