A great performer but limited with immersive audio
What is the Yamaha RX-A1060?The Yamaha RX-A1060 is the latest addition to their AVENTAGE range of surround sound AV Receivers. It's a 7.2-channel AVR that comes with Dolby Atmos (5.1.2) and DTS:X as standard and also supports 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG). There's built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, high res audio support and MusicCast which is Yamaha's multiroom system. That's an impressive set of features for a receiver with a listed price of £1,099 as at the time of writing (November 2016). The question is does the A1060 offer enough of an upgrade to justify the price premium over the outgoing A1050? Let's find out.
DesignIn terms of its design, the A1060 is very much a case of business as usual, looking identical to last year's model and the other higher-end models in the AVENTAGE range. That's not necessarily a bad thing and we rather like Yamaha's approach with their minimalist front and two-tone gloss and brushed metal finish. The A1060 uses an aluminium front panel, a symmetrical power amplifier layout and comes in a choice of either black or titanium. The receiver also includes Yamaha's Anti Resonance Technology (ART) wedge, which is a fancy name for a fifth foot under the chassis to provide greater support and isolation. The A1060 is certainly well built, with a level of construction that is superior to receivers of a similar price, and in terms of its dimensions it measures 435 x 182 x 439mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 14.9kg.The layout is classic AVR with a large input selection dial on the left and an even larger volume dial on the right. There's a power button on the top left and a Pure Direct button on the top right, whilst in the middle there's a large and informative display. This display is large enough and clear enough to be read from across a room and it can be dimmed if necessary. Under this display there is a drop down panel behind which you'll find all the buttons necessary to control the A1060 if you don't happen to have the remote to hand. There are also some additional inputs and these include a headphone jack, a USB port, an HDMI input, a composite video input, stereo analogue inputs and a 3.5mm jack for the YPAO setup microphone.
It's business as usual in terms of the design, remaining minimalist, attractive and well made
Connections & ControlAlthough there are a few connections at the front, behind the drop down panel, the majority are to be found at the rear and it's a fairly comprehensive selection. First of all there are seven HDMI 2.0a inputs and two HDMI 2.0a outputs that all support 3D, 4K60p 4:4:4, HDR, Rec.2020, HDCP 2.2 and, in the case of the main output, it also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). There is the usual array of legacy connections with composite and component video covered, along with coaxial and optical digital inputs and analogue audio inputs that include a phono stage. There's also an RS232 serial connector, 12V triggers and IR repeaters but no direct USB audio input. There is a provided aerial for the built-in wireless and Bluetooth, although if you'd rather use a wired connection there's also an Ethernet port. There are also nine sets of speaker terminals for the seven channels of built-in amplification, along with 7.2-channel pre-outs.
There is an extensive set of connections, a fiddly remote and an excellent control app
The A1060 comes with same basic two-tone remote control that Yamaha have been using for a number of years. It really is starting to feel rather unergonomic compared to much of the competition, with its tiny buttons and no backlight. We honestly think its time that Yamaha redesigned the remote to create something that is more comfortable to hold, has less controls and is simpler to use. It's not so much that the remote is bad because it certainly has all the buttons you'll ever, too many in fact, and the main controls are suitably central but it feels tired and dated now.
Just how dated is immediately apparent when you start using Yamaha's excellent free remote app, which is available for both iOS and Android. The app has a nicely designed user interface that is more attractive and more intuitive than the receiver's actual onscreen menus and it obviously lights up making it more practical in the dark. The app itself is responsive, effective and includes all the buttons that you need to control the receiver. It also has different pages for Zones, Inputs, DSP modes and Scenes, making it easy to select exactly which configuration you want and tailor the DSP processing to your personal tastes.
Features & SpecsAs you'd expect for a receiver at this price point, the A1060 boasts a decent set of features. First of all it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X right out of the box. Whilst there are only seven channels of built-in amplification, there are a number of different speaker configurations including front height or overhead options. Yamaha certainly have plenty of experience when it comes to height channels and as you'd expect, the A1060 also includes Cinema DSP modes and the option for virtual speakers. The receiver can also support Ultra HD 4K with 4K60p 4:4:4, HDCP 2.2, HDR and Rec.2020, which should provide a degree of future proofing.
As mentioned the A1060 has seven channels of built-in amplification, with 110W per a channel, and 7.2-channels of processing with pre-outs to match. There's also an aluminium front panel, ART wedge to reduce resonance, a symmetrical power amplifier layout and a SABRE 9006A Premier Audio DAC from ESS Technology. The receiver comes with a setup microphone and uses Yamaha's YPAO-R.S.C. (Reflected Sound Control) to analyse room acoustics and perform multiple speaker measurements, before calibrating the audio parameters to achieve optimum sound at any of several listening positions.
The A1060 includes built-in WiFi and is Wireless Direct compatible for easy networking. It also supports Bluetooth for wireless music streaming and includes a compressed music enhancer. There is also Bluetooth output, allowing you to stream music to Bluetooth headphones and speakers. The Yamaha includes support for DLNA and offers a number of network functions including internet radio, music streaming services including Spotify and access to network servers. The A1060 also includes MusicCast which means that the receiver can form part of a multiroom system, allowing you to stream music from the receiver to other devices and vice versa, all controlled with the MusicCast app.
MORE: What is MusicCast?
You can also control the receiver using Yamaha's excellent remote app and the receiver includes support for AirPlay, providing plenty of ways to listen to your music. The A1060 supports an extensive range of audio codecs via either USB or your network and these include FLAC up to 192kHz/24bit, DSD up to 5.6 MHz, AIFF up to 192kHz/24bit, WAV up to 192kHz/24bit, ALAC up to 96kHz/24bit, MP3 up to 48kHz/320kbps, MPEG-AAC up to 48kHz/320kbps and WMA up to 48kHz/320kbps. The receiver also supports gapless playback, allowing you to listen to music without any interruptions. The Yamaha includes video processing should you need it, although you can also just pass the video signal through untouched, which would be our preference.
There is no shortage of features including support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and MusicCast
Setup & TestingThe A1060 uses Yamaha's slightly fractured menu system, which is sometimes less than intuitive to use and really due for an update. You scroll down through options along the left hand side of the screen and then through another set of options along the bottom. We actually found that using the remote app made more sense because all the different features were more intuitively laid out, making it easier to navigate the entire system. In terms of the speaker layouts you basically have three choices - 5.1, 7.1 or 5.1.2 - along with options for bi-amping, extra zones and up to two subwoofers (5.2, 7.2 or 5.2.2). You have a choice of two front height (presence) speakers, two central overhead speakers or two upward-firing speakers, with the latter two options relating directly to Dolby Atmos. The A1060 is limited to a 5.2.2 speaker configuration in terms of built-in amplification but also in terms of processing and pre-outs, which means it can't be expanded to 5.2.4, 7.2.2 or 7.2.4.
MORE: What is Dolby Atmos?
Once you have decided on your specific configuration you can then run the YPAO sound optimisation feature in conjunction with the included microphone. The system gives you a choice of a single point measurement or multi-point measurements for increased accuracy. We did find that YPAO had a tendency to overly smooth out the sound field, robbing it of some of its liveliness, so we opted for a manual setup instead. We started our testing in a two channel configuration before moving on to a standard 5.1-channel setup for both movies and multi-channel music. After that we used a full 7.1-channel speaker layout before testing the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capabilities in a 5.1.2 configuration. Along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks, we also tried out Yamaha's various DSP modes. In addition we tested the receiver's ability to stream content from music services and our network server, and as part of a MusicCast multiroom system.
MORE: What is DTS:X?
Yamaha RX-A1060 Video Review
PerformanceWe've reviewed a number of Yamaha's AVENTAGE receivers and they have all consistently delivered in terms of their sound quality and overall performance. So we had a fairly good idea of what to expect from the A1060, especially as it appears to be very similar to previous generations such as the RX-A1040. The new AVR certainly didn't disappoint, with the kind of lively and enjoyable delivery that we associate with Yamaha.
We started with the 5.1-channel mix on Interstellar and the A1060 handled the dynamic range of that film well, effectively switching from complete silence to sudden explosions and delivering an immersive experience as sounds rattled all around the interiors of the spaceships. If you want you could use height or overhead speakers to enhance the experience, either through Dolby Surround, DTS Neural: X or the wealth of different DSP modes that Yamaha offer on their receivers. This kind of processing often works very well, sometimes creating the sensation of overhead effects but also often exaggerating various surround effects. Whether this kind of approach is for you is largely a matter of personal preference but it's nice option to have and even if you prefer the straight mode, you won't be disappointed.
We then moved on to a favourite 7.1-channel test disc in the form of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which has a superb opening scene that is a masterclass in sound design. The camera starts close on the eyes of an ape and all you can hear is the sound of his breathing before the camera pulls back and the sound designers mix in rain and the sounds of the apes subtly moving through the trees before the whole sound field bursts into life as they hunt deer through the forest. It's a complex and layered soundtrack that the A1060 handled extremely well, pinpointing precise effects and steering them around the room, whilst distinguishing the different layers within the overall mix. The receiver also handled the sudden jump in volume as the hunt starts and the A1060 definitely has sufficient power for any sensible sized room.
Of course these days immersive audio is growing in popularity and the A1060 supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. However we should caveat this section of the review by pointing out that in terms of speaker configuration, the Yamaha is rather limited. You can set up a 5.2.2 configuration with two subwoofers and two overhead channels (either actual speakers overhead or upward firing models) but that's your lot. The A1060 doesn't have any more amplification, nor does it have any more pre-outs, so presumably it is limited to 5.2.2 processing as well. If that's all you want then there's no problem but if you want the option of adding two more overhead channels or two back channels, then you'll have to look elsewhere. How limiting this is will largely depend on the size of your room but for smaller rooms a 5.2.2-channel configuration should offer an immersive experience, especially if you're sat near the back of the room and have the surround channels just to the sides and behind you. If you have a larger room with more space behind you then you might find you need the extra two rear channels, in particular, to prevent there being a hole in the 360 degree sound field.
Assuming that a 5.2.2 configuration is enough for you then the A1060 will certainly please with a well balanced immersive audio experience that channels effects to the overhead speakers where appropriate. The front soundstage was wide and open, dialogue remained clear and centred to the screen and the bass effects were nicely integrated. There was a sense of objects being moved through a three dimensional space and Game of Throne's 'Battle of the Bastards' episode was particularly visceral in Dolby Atmos, especially as a character becomes buried in literal mound of bodies. The Ultra HD Blu-ray of X-Men: Apocalypse also has an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the A1060 was very effective at delivering all that city destroying mayhem. There aren't that many DTS:X discs available but Crimson Peak is a great example of the format's possibilities, channeling sounds all around the room to bring life to the mansion that dominates the film.
Amongst all this excitement for immersive audio, it's easy to forget that people still listen to good old-fashioned stereo and if music is your preference then the A1060 won't disappoint you either. The recent 20th anniversary release of Suede's Coming Up gave us a chance to enjoy their superb third album, with Richard Oakes excellent guitar work and Brett Anderson's vari-speed vocals. The A1060 handled the band's aggressive pop sensibilities extremely well, with plenty of stereo separation and localisation of instruments within the mix. This was especially true of the tracks where strings are added, sweeping in and out of the mix. A recent trip through Kate Bush's back catalogue gave us a chance to rediscover some of her wonderful music and the sparse vocals and piano playing of This Woman's Work was beautifully handled thanks to the Yamaha's musicality.
Whilst the A1060 isn't a great evolutionary leap over the previous year's A1050, it's unlikely that there's really anything else that Yamaha could have added in terms of features compared to the previous generation. Aside from the receiver's limitations in terms of adding more immersive channels, the A1060 is a very competent performer with both movies and music, making it a great all-round AVR and a solid addition to Yamaha's line-up.
The performance with both multi-channel movies and 2-channel music was hugely enjoyable
- Great multi-channel sound
- Dolby Atmos & DTS:X support
- Excellent with music
- Impressive build quality
- Useful app
- Extensive features
- MusicCast is a real bonus
- Speaker configurations limited
- Setup not always intuitive
- Menus are dated
- No backlight on the remote
Yamaha RX-A1060 7.2 Channel AV Receiver ReviewThe RX-A1060 is yet another solid AV Receiver from Yamaha that delivers an excellent combination of build quality, features and performance. The design doesn't stray from Yamaha's tried and tested formula but it remains an attractive combination of minimalist looks and tank-like construction. The display is suitably informative and there's a comprehensive selection of connections at the rear but the remote control remains frustrating in its design and still lacks a backlight. However the remote app is excellent and far more intuitive to use when setting up and controlling the receiver. The app is also better designed than the actual menu system, which is looking decidedly long in the tooth these days.
The A1060 includes built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, along with Yamaha's excellent MusicCast multiroom system. It also supports DLNA, AirPlay, Spotify and hi-res audio. The receiver includes seven channels of amplification and supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, however it is limited in terms of its speaker configuration and, with only 7.2-channel pre-outs, it also can't be expanded. However, as long as you don't want a speaker configuration higher than 5.1.2 or 7.1 then the A1060 will certainly fit the bill. The setup is relatively straightforward, although the menu system can be confusing on occasion, and the YPAO room optimisation feature had a tendency to overly smooth out the sound field, robbing it of some of its liveliness, so we opted for a manual setup instead.
In terms of its performance the A1060 was exactly what we'd expect from Yamaha, with a solid, engaging and enjoyable sound that suited both movies and music. The receiver handled multi-channel surround with ease, steering effects around the room and delivering a balanced sound field. There was an wide and open front soundstage, plenty of power and some nicely integrated bass, whilst the addition of two overhead channels added another dimension to the audio regardless of whether the soundtrack used Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The Yamaha also delivered a great performance with 2-channel audio, making it a good choice for anyone looking for a receiver that can double for both movies and music.
It's fair to say that the A1060 doesn't really differ from the outgoing A1050 but then we can't think of anything new that Yamaha could have added. However, there are plenty of competing receivers at the A1060's price point and many, like the Marantz SR6011, offer nine channels of amplification and the ability to expand that to a full 7.1.4 configuration. There's also Denon's AVR-X4300 which, whilst more expensive, shares many of the same features as its Marantz stablemate and again offers greater flexibility plus it includes Denon's HEOS multiroom system. However the Yamaha RX-A1060 certainly has the edge in terms of build quality and power, with enough features and performance to justify its price tag, making it worthy of a Recommended badge.
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