Announcements for new entry-level AV receivers is always exciting because of that possibility of manufacturers to bring features present in midrange and high-end models to the entry-level category. But if the releases of the Yamaha RX-A730 and Yamaha RX-A830 are any indication, it looks like Yamaha is more focused on adding some minor improvements to their prestigious AVENTAGE series. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because those that decided not to get a Yamaha AV receiver back in 2012 now get a chance to get something a little bit better for the same launch price. When comparing the RX-A730 and RX-A830 directly, the latter is the better deal if you have or intend to build a large home theater system.
If it weren’t for that small RX-A830 label on the top of the receiver, the Yamaha RX-A830 would look exactly the same as its predecessor. Given the small amount of improvements present, that is fine because people might get tempted to “upgrade” their RX-A820
The layout of buttons and connection ports is pretty typical for a home theater receiver though and that’s okay since it eases the learning curve. One interesting feature is the four SCENE buttons labeled BD/DVD, TV, NET and Radio. While these buttons switch to the labeled source providing you hooked up those sources to the appropriate labeled HDMI ports, you can actually customize what source will be opened upon pressing the button. A DSP mode can be mapped to this button too so it feels more like switching to a profile where you can go to the source you want while applying the most optimal audio mode at the same time.
Unlike other home theater receivers, the RX-A830 opts for extra stability by having the receiver being supported by 5 feet rather than just 4. A fifth wedge lies directly underneath the center of the receiver and its job to absorb vibrations caused by high volume levels. Vibrations can negatively affect sound quality as a whole. This wedge is known as the Anti-Resonance Technology Wedge.
Visually, the Yamaha RX-A830 is a bit more attractive than its cheaper sibling – the RX-A730. Aside from the SCENE buttons, the only other exposed controls are the zone controls and other common AV receiver functions below the info display and the 2 knobs for volume control and input selection. Everything else is hidden beneath this small horizontal flip-out panel. When opened, you can find the video aux inputs, a single HDMI port which supports MHL cables, the YPAO Mic jack for calibration purposes, a phones jack, a USB port and some buttons including tone control.
The layout of the ports on the back is quite a departure from its predecessor. The ports look a bit more bunched up yet still organized leaving some space on the right side. But other than that, you won’t find anything new or missing if you compare both models. It is worth noting though that you get 7 more HDMI inputs on the back and 2 HDMI outputs. That’s a huge upgrade over the RX-A730 which only offers a total of 6 HDMI inputs and a single output. Those who have or plan on getting multiple gaming consoles will highly benefit from the extra ports.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
If there is one major difference between the RX-A830 and RX-A820 models, it would have to be the support for MHL connections. This improvement concentrates on the front HDMI port mentioned earlier. You can hook up an MHL cable to the port and connect it to a supported smartphone and tablet to immediately charge the device. While connected, your device can also output 1080p video to the TV even if the TV doesn’t support MHL.
MHL is the kind of feature that only Android devices can enjoy but iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users can utilize Apple’s proprietary AirPlay technology to wireless stream high-quality music directly to the receiver without stuttering. Of course you have to connect the Yamaha RX-A830 to the router via Ethernet cable or buy the optional YWA-10 Wi-Fi Adapter for true wireless capabilities. The front USB port can still charge Apple devices even while the receiver is off and it serves as a more traditional way of playing back stored music.
The rest of the features of the RX-A830 are very much the same as the older model. When connected to the Internet, the AV receiver can access a few online services including Pandora, Rhapsody and vTuner. It also allows any Android and iOS devices with the AV Controller App to be used as a touch remote control. A physical remote controller is included but it has way too many buttons. The mobile app simply lets you remove the buttons you don’t need so you end up with a very simple remote.
The Yamaha RX-A830 is a pretty futureproof receiver too as it supports 4K and 3D pass-through enabling compatibility with just about every TV system. The amplifier channels were also specially designed to make it easy to switch between a 7.1-channel environment and a 5.1-channel environment with the surround back channels disabled and the extra 2 channels located in another room enabled.
By picking the RX-A830 over the RX-A730, you get a couple of significant improvements including a slightly higher rated output (from 105 to 110 watts) and an enhanced form of the YPAO Sound Optimization technology with Reflected Sound Control to properly calibrate the speaker setup. This upgraded calibration system adds multi-point measure for even better results. You also get access to HDMI Zone B in case you want to mirror video streaming content to another TV located in another room.
While the Yamaha RX-A830 isn’t really a huge improvement over its predecessor, at least the launch price remains the same. If you were to choose between the two models even if the RX-A820 is cheaper, it would still better to get the RX-A830 in the end because more modern mobile devices are getting MHL support and using that feature is pretty cool. Compared to the rest of the competition, the Yamaha RX-A830 is a very compelling $899 package because of its great audio quality and nice set of features.
Update: There is a newer model > Yamaha RX-A870