In the world of digital home appliances, getting the flagship model is only really necessary if you want all of the cool features and extras or the most elegant design. It may not always be the smartest purchase if all you are looking for is powerful specifications or the best possible audio or video quality depending on the type of component you plan on getting. But when it comes to AV receivers, you really have to aim for the flagship model if you have a large home theater system and you want to fuel it with the best audio and video enhancements that every component can take advantage of. When budget has no boundaries, it all boils down to comparing the very best that each manufacturer has to offer. But the Yamaha RX-A3020 is a pretty intriguing offering by the Japanese giant because it only costs $2,199. Some of the major competitors price their best models at $3,000. If most of Yamaha’s features and audio performance match the other big products, Yamaha could end up as the company to beat in providing the best value for enthusiasts.
The RX-A3020 is in the Yamaha AVENTAGE series just like the four other 2012 models. But the Yamaha RX-A3020 is massive weighing 40 lbs. It is an industrial marvel inside and out because the design of the RX-A3020 was made to impress and make the most out of the powerful specifications.
On the outside, the Yamaha RX-A3020 looks very similar to its other AVENTAGE brothers with a sleek aluminum front panel. The use of aluminum is important because it not only gives it that industrial look but it also serves as a protective shielding against radiation. Unlike the more affordable Yamaha AV receivers, there are no ports and buttons out on the open aside from the two usual knobs and power button. Most of the necessary buttons for navigating the friendly user interface are hidden behind a flip down panel. Among the available front ports is the HDMI port which is easily accessible for portable devices. A front USB port is also available to charge iPods, iPads and iPhones as well as provide connectivity so you can play any tracks stored there. 7 additional HDMI ports are found on the back of the Yamaha RX-A3020.
Another key element of AVENTAGE models is the fifth foot placed underneath the very center of the AV receiver which adds some resistance to vibrations caused by speakers and some internal components. But for an AV receiver priced over $2,000, this isn’t enough to meet the demands of audiophiles that really want the best overall sonic performance so Yamaha designed a special “H” shape cross member frame to virtually eliminate the possibility of vibrations on the chassis.
Yamaha spent a lot of time designing the right components for the RX-A3020 and went as far as thoroughly testing each part to make sure that these parts contribute to the high audio quality as a whole. Combined with Yamaha’s approach of a symmetrical power amplifier layout, the Yamaha RX-A3020 is capable of opening up a very wide sound stage.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The RX-A3020 is one of the only Yamaha AV receivers to get a special treatment on the video front. That treatment comes in the form of the HQV or Hollywood Quality Video Vida Processor. It utilizes an amazing noise reduction algorithm that can dramatically improve the quality of any video source whether it is an old DVD title or a new 3D Blu-ray movie. The Yamaha RX-A3020 is also capable of making any non-HD source look great on a 1080p display thanks to the upscaling support. This upscaling feature can go as far as upscaling any type of content including 1080p content to 4K resolution if a 4K TV is hooked up.
With 9.2 channels each with a wattage of 150 watts, the RX-A3020 is even more powerful than the slightly more affordable Yamaha RX-A2020 which is also a 9.2-channel AV receiver. But the standout feature that really separates the Yamaha RX-A3020 from the rest is its expandability to 11.2 channels.
That kind of setup may seem a bit unrealistic right now but the available connections give the RX-A3020 far more options in the multi-zone front. It is possible to go all the way up to zone 4 if you need to provide sound reinforcement to several rooms. Most of the Yamaha AVENTAGE AV receivers feature 2 HDMI outputs so both the audio and video can be extended to another display and speaker system. But the RX-A3020 can assign other HDMI output to another zone where the AV source is different from the main room.
The rest of the features are very much the same as the other high-end AV receivers so you can enjoy the CINEMA DSP 3D mode if you want 3D surround sound or you can activate the SILENT CINEMA mode to enjoy this effect on a pair of headphones. The Compressed Music Enhancer is also a nice feature to take advantage of if you have a large collection of low-quality MP3 files. If your portable device plays back these MP3 files to the Yamaha RX-A3020, the AV receiver can restore some of the lost quality caused by the compression. A feature unique to the RX-A3020 is the High-resolution Music Enhancer which can boost high-quality music as well. Lossless formats like FLAC can enjoy a nice extension of up to 96 kHz/24-bit.
Perhaps the strangest thing that is lacking in the Yamaha RX-A3020 is a built-in wireless adapter and that could explain the low price. Yamaha didn’t even bother including a free dongle. But connecting the RX-A3020 to the home network is essential in allowing smartphones and tablets to control the AV receiver including the zones. What really adds to the value of this flagship AV receiver is the fact that the learning curve is just about the same as any ordinary AVENTAGE model. After calibrating with the tried and tested YPAO Sound Optimization, the Yamaha RX-A3020 is really capable of enhancing every component to studio-level quality.
Update: There is a newer model > Yamaha RX-A3050