It took a while, but finally the new AV receivers from Yamaha are here. The Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver is an affordable 7.2 model with a new design and future-oriented features. In fact, some features are so advanced that they have yet to emerge on the device. Fixed Yamaha values such as MusicCast and the many DSP options are of course not missing.
Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver
It was January since we were allowed to take a look behind closed doors from FWD in Las Vegas at the refreshed receiver line that Yamaha had in store. The new devices will only be available in October – a lot later, but we may not need to tell you why.
Innovation is the message this year for all manufacturers of AV receivers, because the appearance of HDMI 2.1 and the new generation of game consoles means more up-to-date devices are needed. Yamaha seizes this forced technical renewal operation to immediately refresh the design of its devices thoroughly. In this review we look at the RX-V6A, a 7.2 AV receiver of a realistic 100 Watt and with a lot of interesting new and familiar features, such as MusicCast. And that new design, of course, that really provides a breath of fresh air.
Although this is really rather a low middle class receiver, the 749-euro RX-V6A is the highest renewed model that Yamaha has yet proposed. We do expect that the Japanese brand will also perform heavily renewed models in its higher Aventage line in the coming period.
We should note that although we test the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver for the first time, this also means that there are still a number of functions that are not yet available. We cannot therefore pass judgment on all aspects. These are matters that rather belong to specific niche scenarios. For example, this Yamaha promises to be one of the first receivers to receive support for HDR10 + and it will be equipped with Dolby Atmos with Height Virtualizer, where you can experience Atmos without separate height speakers. More important is the future support for 8K / 60 and 4K / 120 via HDMI 2.1. But most of these forward-looking features (and some other stuff) will not arrive until a future firmware update. The RX-V6A is in any case already in the shops, so we think it is relevant to take a closer look at this receiver.
Yamaha connoisseurs will immediately see that the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver has been given a new design. The end result is quite impressive. The new receiver has a sleeker, more modern look that goes in a slightly different direction than most fashionable devices. Current design trends tend to focus on matte colors, for example, but the beautiful black front of the RX-V6A really shines. From a distance it looks like glass, although it turns out to be made of plastic when you get closer. You have to be realistic: a tempered glass front – which might be just a bit nicer – would drive the price of this device up sharply. Especially because that front curves elegantly to the side, which costs a lot of money to do with glass.
More importantly, Yamaha opts for a minimalist appearance, where there are really few visible buttons. That’s just a smart move, because you can set things up with your remote or an app. Those many buttons on a typical AV receiver make a device look more complex, which reduces its appeal to a wider audience. Yamaha does make a good choice. What you get to see here in terms of operation is only a large, centrally placed volume button and a smaller source-select button that you can also press. Between the two is a white LCD display with a higher resolution so that text (such as the chosen source) remains clearly legible. Here too you can nitpick and say that Yamaha should have taken an OLED screen, because then the display would have merged seamlessly into the whole because of the black background. But again: we suspect that this would have made the price tag a bit more unattractive.
By the way, it is only from a meter away that you notice that there are still a number of keys on the front panel, in the form of touch surfaces. Subtle. The glossy front of the RX-V6A does not extend all the way to the bottom by the way; there is a matte black strip where you will find a USB port (for music files), a headphone jack and an input for the YPAO measuring microphone. in the form of touch surfaces. Subtle. The glossy front of the RX-V6A doesn’t extend all the way to the bottom by the way; there is a matte black strip where you will find a USB port (for music files), a headphone jack and an input for the YPAO measuring microphone. in the form of touch surfaces. Subtle. The glossy front of the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver does not extend all the way to the bottom by the way; there is a matte black strip where you will find a USB port (for music files), a headphone jack and an input for the YPAO measuring microphone.
With affordable receivers, the manufacturer’s attention in terms of design often stops at the front, but not here. Yamaha unites the functional with the aesthetic by providing the top and side cooling vents that are sponge in geometric shapes. A detail, but well found.
9 channels in multiple configurations
Unlike some brands, Yamaha opts for a rear without legacy video connections. That immediately makes it less busy and clearer. The Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver is a 7.2 receiver, which means that you basically have seven amplified channels. Yet there are nine here. You can use it for a classic 7.1 plus a second zone where you control the speakers or a second zone via pre-outs. In that case, you use a separate stereo amplifier with its own speakers for that second zone. One advantage of Yamaha’s MusicCast platform is that you can control those two zones completely separately and have your own music played. That is not possible with competitor Denon.
Of course you can also organize those channels differently, with Yamaha giving you very unique choices. Virtual Cinema Front is one of them, a setup that you will not find anywhere else and that offers you surround via 7 speakers that are all in the front of the room. You can also take the front stereo channels via pre-outs to a separate amplifier or bi-amps.
Those who would like to receive their Dolby Atmos or DTS: X content correctly, can opt for a 5 or 7.1.2. Strangely enough, you can’t choose 5.1.4, although there are plenty of amplified channels for that. At a later time, the RX-V6A will get Dolby Atmos with Height Virtualizer, where your 5.1 or 7.1 setup can simulate the presence of two height channels.
The speaker terminals are – as is often the case at this price point – smaller ones that are more suitable for a bare wire connection. It seems impossible, but you can also use banana plugs if you remove a small plastic cap from each terminal. Doing that is easier and results in a better connection.
Wireless speakers are also possible
Another unique thing for Yamaha is MusicCast Surround. With this function you get surround with fewer cables in your living room. Instead of wired rear speakers and a subwoofer that hangs from the receiver via a cord, you use a MusicCast 20 or 50 as rear speakers (1 or 2) and / or the MusicCast 100 as a wireless subwoofer. We have not tested this function with the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver because we did not receive those wireless speakers, but we have tried MusicCast Surround in the past with Yamaha receivers. The function works really well and has no noticeable lag.
It seems to us a nice alternative for people who want surround but are put off by laying cables. We are actually surprised that no more manufacturers offer this option.
Ready for 8K
As befits a receiver hitting the market in 2020-2021, the RX-V6A has an HDMI out that is eARC compliant. Those who own a Samsung or Panasonic television will be pleased to hear that support is planned for HDR10 +. In addition, you can count on all current HDR standards, including HLG and Dolby Vision.
In terms of video inputs, you can count on a spacious seven, three of which are HDMI 2.1 and four are HDMI 2.0a. That means that you can connect three sources to these receivers that deliver 4K / 120 or 8K / 60 video. That makes Yamaha a more interesting choice for gamers who couldn’t choose between the PS5 and the Xbox Series X – and so bought the two. Competitor Denon currently only offers receivers with one HDMI 2.1 port. Gamers can also count on a series of game-related HDMI 2.1 features, such as ALLM and QFT. Mind you, a number of those things are only introduced with a firmware update.
However, as of this writing, we have not yet received our next-gen consoles. So we cannot test whether the 4K120 / 8K60 functionality is already there. Moreover, since we ‘only’ have an LG OLED55C9 and a Sony KD-A9F in the test room, we can only assess 4K / 120 scenarios in the future. In addition, this Yamaha is one of the devices equipped with an HDMI board that appears to have a bug that may cause issues with a 4K / 120 and 8K / 60 stream from an Xbox Series X (but not a PS5), just like the receivers from Denon / Marantz.
However, Yamaha has indicated that they will resolve this issue. That also seems logical to us, because it seems that the problem is the responsibility of the manufacturer of the HMDI board and that he will have to compensate the receiver brands. Owners of the PlayStation 5 would not experience any problems. In any case, it does not seem like a reason not to go for a new Yamaha (or Denon), unless you really want to play in 4K120 now (and thus have an Xbox Series X and a 4K / 120 or 8K60 compatible TV). . In that case, you will have no choice but to hang the console directly on your TV, because as far as we know there is no 8K receiver on the market that does not suffer from the HDMI 2.1 problem.
Excellent for streaming
One of Yamaha’s greatest assets, we think, is the MusicCast platform. This allows you to stream your own files (hi-res welcome) and from streaming services via a very user-friendly app. Internet radio is also present. You can also select physical inputs and sound modes, making the MusicCast app almost a full-fledged remote. The icing on the cake at MusicCast is the stable multiroom function. You also get a physical remote control with the RX-V6A, of course. It feels a bit plastic, but a positive thing is that Yamaha limits the number of buttons, which makes the remote less confusing than the ‘is this the instrument panel of a Boeing 747’ remote controls from some competitors.
In the MusicCast app you can connect, pair and control multiple compatible Yamaha devices, from wireless MusicCast speakers that compete with Sonos to even a wireless turntable. Yamaha has dozens of compatible devices, which gives you as a consumer a lot of choice to equip your home with audio devices. You can forward sources connected to the receiver (such as a CD player) to other MusicCast speakers and devices.
Via the MusicCast app you can play music through a number of services, including Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer. The list is not very long, but the essential services for our region are there. As usual, you can simply play music via Spotify from the music service’s own app, where the RX-V6A appears as a selectable speaker.
Finally, the Yamaha receiver is AirPlay 2 compatible. If you prefer Apple Music, for example, you can designate the Yamaha as a speaker from your iPad, iPhone or Mac computer. The MusicCast app is not necessary for this, you just do it via the music app in question or the system menu of iOS. You can therefore also group the Yamaha receiver via the AirPlay function with speakers in other rooms that support Apple technology, such as a Sonos One or a Bang & Olufsen device.
Those who want to work old-school: the Yamaha is also DLNA / UPnP compatible, so you can control from apps such as BubbleUPnP or mConnect. Finally, Bluetooth is one last streaming option. Usually receivers only support SBC, but our LG G8X reports that the connection with the RX-V6A is via the better AAC codec.
Have a nice TV evening
We connect the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver to our fixed Dali Rubicon-based 5.1 setup, with (in this case) two Alteco ceiling speakers for the height channels. To compensate for the effects of the room and placement, Yamaha provides a room correction function just like its rivals. It is its own system, YPAO, that can measure a room very quickly with test tones. With the included measurement microphone, you can take a measurement that takes less than a minute, much faster than Audyssey or Dirac. You can easily lose ten to twenty minutes with them. But: those systems do measure in several places. That takes longer, of course. With YPAO you do have the option to also measure at multiple positions around the sofa. Then you will be working longer – but not very much – but the result should also be more accurate. Still, we are actually quite impressed with YPAO after one short measurement. The speakers are not as well adjusted as with Dirac, but a room mode is toned down and the rear channels are well integrated with the rest. This receiver is also about YPAO RSC, a more advanced version of the software that also measures the impulse response of the speakers and tries to eliminate (first) reflections.
The measurement process itself is not exactly difficult to perform. Plug in the microphone and it’s mostly automatic. You can tweak a bit afterwards. We’ll start right away with some content, without playing around too much with the many options you can find. First we will discuss ‘Jurassic World’, with a DTS: X soundtrack. The opening scene immediately sounds convincing. The water of the raging sea and the thunders in the distance sound realistic and big, the helicopter rotors are also high in the room in certain shots. The dialogues come in a bit too bright, but that was quickly adjusted. It always takes some getting used to the Yamaha TV interface, but that may be our fault. In itself Yamaha is certainly not bad with its menu system. If you want to adjust something while watching a movie, the menu will pop up from the left of the screen to about one third of the screen. You quickly discover that you have many options at your disposal – a plus for those who like to tweak – but because you don’t get much extra explanation you sometimes have to figure out what does something right.
You will not find much explanation in the interface of the RX-V6A, a typical thing for Yamaha, which nevertheless has a heavy technical background. As a non-techie, you should therefore ignore the RX-V6A. Not that now. Yamaha makes up for the dry interface with a pretty good Setup app that you run on a mobile device. Via a step-by-step plan and questionnaire you will be guided through the installation of the receiver. You even get a list of necessary cables to go shopping with.
With ‘Godzilla: King of Monsters’ (Dolby Atmos, Ultra HD Blu-ray), the Yamaha RV-V6A delivers good balanced performance, even if we turn the volume knob a little further. It also turns out to be a good time to take a closer look at those many audio options. As usual, you will also find the extensive DSP modes on this receiver that the Yamaha engineers love. Whether it really benefits you? We’re never really captivated by simulations of a Munich hall or a science fiction layer over all audio, but it doesn’t hurt that these DSP options are there either. You can also make them disappear from your interface by removing them in the setup. That in itself is useful, because then you do not always have to go along the gimmick modes when switching between the surround modes that you find useful (such as Neural: X).
We find the RX-V6A to perform very well with music. The excellent streaming options are a real plus if you are a music lover, but the sound quality is also very good for this price point. The tuning is now not that much different from Denon, perhaps with a slightly greater emphasis on detail.
Conclusion of Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver
Since a number of features are not yet available, the RX-V6A can still seem like a work-in-progress. In practice, you don’t have that feeling at all (unless you’re already on to one of those future positions). Although this receiver is the helmsman of a new generation of Yamaha AV receivers, it is built on the reliable software platform of the Japanese brand. Things like MusicCast and the DSP functions work exactly as they should, and in a conventional 7.1 or 5.1.2 setup the RX-V6A delivers great performance. Yamaha’s TV interface remains slightly less clear for the less savvy user, but the new Setup app makes up for it. Incidentally, we also want to pay more attention to sustainability, and in that context we think it is positive that Yamaha offers a three-year warranty on this device.