Yamaha’s AVENTAGE line-up of AV receivers has represented the company’s push to professionals and audiophiles since 2010. The market for high-end AV receivers is quite small since very few people see the need of getting a receiver that supports 9 channels. But those that are willing to pay more than $1,500 for such a receiver will still have plenty of choices to make. With all the top brands improving their high-end models every year, it is easy to conclude that these receivers will most definitely deliver a very pleasant professional audio experience. The question is, how do the rest of the features add up and justify the high price? The Yamaha RX-A2030 represents itself as the successor of the RX-A2020 and it will command the same $1,699 price so patient enthusiasts may find more reasons than ever to consider Yamaha’s latest high-end offering.
The RX-A2030 is a lot like the 2012 model that it succeeds in just about every aspect both front and back. It shares that characteristic with other high-end AVENTAGE models where just about all the controls and inputs and outputs are placed beneath this brushed-aluminum panel. Folding down the panel will open up access to all the essential ports from the basic stuff like the video aux ports as well as the HDMI MHL port, digital optical input and USB port. The buttons on the front panel are exactly what you expect from a high-end model although they probably won’t matter since you can control the receiver using the remote control or mobile app. The Yamaha RX-A2030 comes in both black and white flavors so you should be able to pick the right receiver that matches the rest of your home theater components. The back of the RX-A2030 is heavily crowded with ports including 7 HDMI ins and 2 HDMI outs. All the speaker ports are laid out in a single row and they are grouped with labels for easy identification.
The remote control deserves its own section because it is slightly different than the lower-end models. It has the same button layout as the cheaper Yamaha AV receivers save for the small calculator-like display on the upper part of the remote. This screen basically serves as a status indicator which could be useful when operating the control from afar where you might not be able to see the front panel’s info display.
Like the RX-A2020, the Yamaha RX-A2030 serves as the entry-level model to consider if you need the full design treatment. Starting with the basics, the RX-A2030 is supported by the usual 4 feet along with a special wedge called the Anti-Resonance Technology Wedge which keeps the receiver in a more stable position where vibrations caused by loud sounds are reduced. This is an effective design feature for all Yamaha AVENTAGE models but Yamaha RX-A2030 goes the extra mile by reinforcing the receiver’s interior with an H-shaped cross member frame to help reduce chassis vibrations resulting to even better audio quality. The symmetrical power amplifier layout also improves various areas of the sound by making sure all the important elements like the left and right channels are electrically and physically isolated for a wider sound stage and better signal-to-noise ratio.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
Yamaha’s high-end receivers were notable for having an HQV Vida Processor and Burr-Brown digital-to-analog converter. With the Yamaha RX-A2030 and other high-end Yamaha 2013 models, those chips are replaced with the ESS Sabre Premier DAC ES9006. This huge change brings about even better signal-to-noise ratio and higher levels of dynamic range. Despite the lack of HQV, the RX-A2030 still maintains support of Yamaha’s Original Video processing. Futureproof functions like video upconversion to 4K resolution is retained as well.
One of the big features that Yamaha is touting with their 2013 AVENTAGE lineup is MHL support. It turns out that this new addition isn’t too much of a big deal unless you happen to own a phone or tablet that also supports MHL and you have that MHL cable. Once you meet those requirements, you can go ahead and charge the mobile device by plugging it in the front HDMI port. At the same time, you can have it stream 1080p video and multi-channel audio. The receiver’s remote control can operate the phone as well.
But like the previous model, your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet can serve as the superior remote if you download the AV Controller App. The app presents its own graphical remote in which you can remove any buttons you don’t need so you end up with a simpler and more functional remote. This requires the receiver to be hooked up to the wireless router via Ethernet cable as Wi-Fi isn’t built-in. This network connection also enables the receiver to independently stream from vTuner, Pandora and Rhapsody. It is unfortunate that the Yamaha RX-A2030 still lacks Spotify support. Apple devices can also wirelessly stream music to the receiver through Apple’s proprietary AirPlay technology.
Just like the predecessor of the RX-A2030, support for a 9.2-channel configuration is the main selling point of this receiver. This adds to the setup flexibility allowing a full 7.2-channel system to be hooked up along with a 2-channel system in another room as the second zone. The internal amps are capable of powering a third zone as well. For Zone 4, you have to use the second HDMI output which can handle its own independent video source. The Yamaha RX-A2030 has been specially designed to allow configuration switching without the need of physically switching the cables.
YPAO Reflected Sound Control remains as an important part of the experience as it is in charge of calibrating each speaker. With multi-point measurement, many things are taken into account when tweaking the audio parameters so you end up with fantastic audio quality.
The leap between the RX-A2030 and RX-A1030 in specs is huge and so is the price. It looks like Yamaha isn’t planning on making an additional model that bridges this gap but the $1,699 is still a pretty competitive price for a 9.2-channel receiver. Thanks to these improvements, Yamaha’s AVENTAGE lineup is better than ever and that should be a win for anybody that decided not to purchase a 2012 Yamaha AV receiver model.
Update: There is a newer model > Yamaha RX-A2050