In mid-April 2013, Yamaha announced the first 2 entry-level home theater receivers to kick off their fourth-generation receivers. These receivers were notable for adding MHL support so all those modern smartphones and tablets can stream high-quality audio and 1080p video while keeping the device charged. With no other big improvements, these entry-level receivers were pretty underwhelming. But the following month, Yamaha revealed 3 more higher-end AV receivers with the Yamaha RX-A1030 being the most affordable of the bunch. Unlike the first 2 entry-level models, the RX-A1030 has some actual improvements that give potential buyers extra incentives in going for a $1,000+ Yamaha receiver.

Yamaha RX-A1030

Yamaha RX-A1030

Design

Because of the high-end nature of the Yamaha RX-A1030, the overall size of the receiver is much bigger and heavier than the cheaper RX-A730 and RX-A830 models. The entire front of the RX-A1030 is no difference than its predecessor either. The top area of the front is all smooth and black with an info display situated in the center. Below the display is a brushed aluminum finish with a large door in-between the two knobs. Opening up the panel will reveal all of the important front panel controls, SCENE buttons and connection ports. Notable ports include the optical digital, HDMI MHL input and USB port.

The back of the receiver has the same layout of ports as the previous model. Compared to the low-end AVENTAGE models, the Yamaha RX-A1030 has more digital audio ports as well as component and composite ports. It also has 4 S-Video inputs and a single output. Like the cheaper Yamaha RX-A830, you can find 7 HDMI inputs and a pair of HDMI outputs.

Many of the external and internal elements of the RX-A1030 were specially designed to optimize audio quality. For instance, the use of aluminum on the front panel ensures better shielding from internal electronic radiation while the Anti-Resonance Technology Wedge serves as a fifth stand on the bottom center to further reduce vibrations caused by the power transformer and speakers. Exclusive to the Yamaha RX-A1030, its predecessor and higher-end AVENTAGE models, the symmetrical power amplifier layout keeps the left and right channels isolated from the electricity generating components to enhance the sound stage and boost signal-to-noise ratio.

Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.

Yamaha RX-A1030 Back Panel

Yamaha RX-A1030 Back Panel

Features

The Yamaha RX-A1030 is the most affordable Yamaha receiver of the 2013 series to have the new ESS Technology ES9006 SABRE Premier Audio DAC. It replaces the Burr-Brown DAC featured in last year’s model and it ends up being a good upgrade. Both the signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range are improved so you can expect better quality audio even though the power ratings of the RX-A1030 and RX-A1020 are identical.

As with other 2013 models, support for the MHL standard is brought to the Yamaha RX-A1030 so supported Android devices finally get the chance to charge their devices and stream high-quality audio and video to the receiver. Apple devices don’t support MHL but they can still rely on the front USB port. If you don’t need to charge the Apple device, you can take a wireless approach by relying on Apple’s AirPlay standard instead and it works on any computer running iTunes too. To attain the wireless setup, you have to get an Ethernet cable and connect it to the wireless router. For a true wireless experience, you need to buy the optional YWA-10 wireless adapter. There is also a YBA-11 adapter if you need Bluetooth support.

The best part of the networking functionality applies to virtually all Apple and Android devices. You just have to download the free Yamaha AV Controller app to enjoy this feature. This app brings up a remote control interface to the smartphone or tablet’s screen that looks far friendlier than the physical remote control. Plus you can customize the interface to your liking if there are functions you don’t use. Even without a mobile device, you can have the RX-A1030 stream from a few online audio streaming services like Rhapsody, Pandora and vTuner Internet Radio.

HDMI zone switching is another new addition to the Yamaha RX-A1030 and other upper-end Yamaha models. This much-needed feature finally allows you to play back a separate audio and video source to different TVs. For instance, you can have a setup where you can connect both your set-top box and Blu-ray player to the receiver. Then the output of the Blu-ray player can go to the main TV while the set-top box can go to the second TV connected to the other HDMI output.

The RX-A1030 is very friendly when it comes to zone management because of the way CINEMA DSP 3D works. You can set up a 7.1-channel sound system in the main room complete with surround back speakers. Then you can activate Zone 2 to disable the surround back speakers. CINEMA DSP 3D can be optionally turned on to add virtual presence speakers. The nice thing about these modes is that they don’t require any physical changes to the wiring thanks to the intelligent amp design.

To get the best sound quality of your setup, you have to set aside a few minutes to calibrate the speakers through Yamaha’s YPAO R.S.C. Sound Optimization. All AVENTAGE models have this feature along with the Reflected Sound Control which helps correct early reflections but only select models including the Yamaha RX-A1030 feature multi-point measurement for even better calibration results. Other great features of the RX-A1030 include support for 4K pass-through and upscaling along with advanced SCENE buttons called SCENE PLUS where you can get the second zone involved.

Bottom Line

The Yamaha RX-A1030 successfully builds upon the RX-A1020’s already impressive connectivity features by making the receiver more powerful resulting to class-leading surround-sound steering, deep bass and loud and clear audio in an eco-friendly package. Improved multi-zone functionality also makes this receiver a better recommendation over the sub-$1,000 models. As an overall package, the RX-A1030 is one of the top contenders to consider if you are looking for a receiver that can drastically improve your movie watching experience. At the same time, the user interface is simple and easy to use and the mobile app makes the receiver even easier to control.

Update: There is a newer model > Yamaha RX-A1050

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