Yamaha RX-A3070 9.2 AV Receiver Review
Spot the difference...
What is the Yamaha A3070?This is Yamaha’s current high-end AV Receiver in their 2018 range and in terms of looks and design, is identical to at least the previous two top models, the A3060 and A3050. We use the A3050 model as our reference AVR in this testing room, so we will be putting them side by side to see just what improvements have been made when it comes to sound quality. The A3070 has 9 channels of amplification and you can also add a second amplifier to take advantage of the 11.2-channel processing the AVR has. You are also all set when it comes to the latest video standards as it will pass all current signals up to 4K/60P 4:4:4 with HDR (including Dolby Vision & HLG) and BT.2020 colour. There’s also CINEMA DSP HD3 processing along with a DSP program called Enhanced that adds even more envelopment according to Yamaha and was also available on the A3060. Rounding off the features is the multiroom MusicCast system which is proprietary to Yamaha.
So once again we have a feature packed AV Receiver that from the outside at least looks the same as previous versions, so is this a case of a new model name for the sake of a yearly release schedule, or are there genuine upgrades to the performance? Let’s find out.
DesignAfter unpacking the A3070 we sat it on top of our resident A3050 to see if there have been any changes to the design and connections and to make it easy to wire up the new arrival for testing. As we have already mentioned the A3070 is identical to previous models with the only differences being some transfer logos added to the A3070 such as DTS:X and speaker cable images on the rear panel. The design, layout and weight is identical and doesn't point to any additions to performance being made on the inside of the AVR.
We are not being negative when we describe it as identical to previous models for design and layout, as the A3050 and above have displayed superb levels of build quality and finish. The aluminium front plate is designed to help with producing a ridged chassis, and sports the large volume knob and input selector along with a drop down flap hiding more inputs and controls. Above this is the large and easy to read display that is centrally located. Underneath the drop down flap are controls for using the menu system, directional keys and buttons for setting the sound mode, scenes and zones. The connections are a USB port, the YPAO system Auto EQ mic jack, a quarter inch headphone socket, composite video and RCA audio and an HDMI input. The A3070 measures in at 435 x 192 x 474 mm (W x H x D) and weighs 19.6Kg, which accounts for the well built chassis, and you can order it in black or titanium finishes.
Connections and ControlAround the back we again have an identical layout to the last two previous high-end AVR’s with the only visible difference being the speaker cable graphic on the rear plate. We have seven HDMI inputs and two outputs along the top section of the rear panel. These are all 4K/60p 4:4:4 compatible with HDR (including Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log-Gamma) and BT.2020 wide colour space signals. The rest of the rear panel is split into logical areas depending on the type of input and this allows for better cable management and a tidier set up – or at least that’s the theory as my A3050 has the same layout yet is spaghetti junction in terms of cable management. To the left you have all the analogue RCA inputs and outputs and below these the digital audio connections. Centrally and below the HDMI connectors are component inputs and outputs and to the right of these are remote and RS232 control connectors. Below these we have the pre-out connectors for all channels and subwoofers and below these are the speaker binding posts. So as you can see everything is logically laid out and easy to follow. But there is one major difference to be found on the rear panel from previous models and that is the inclusion of stereo balanced XLR inputs. This will allow owners of CD and Blu-ray players with high quality XLR outputs to take advantage of the balanced connectors.
The remote control is, believe it or not, identical to the previous models as well. The same problems we had with those remotes are carried over here with no backlight and fiddly little buttons that are not easy to find in the dark. We are surprised that the volume and DSP program buttons are not much larger and easier to find as those would make it easier to swap audio programs in the dark, rather than squinting to find the relevant buttons amongst a sea of small, mostly redundant buttons. You can of course use the controller app on Android or iOS devices which is far easier to use and has some added features to really get the best out of the DSP programs, although using your phone as the remote might not suit your way of living. There are also set up and MusicCast apps available.
Features and SpecsAs we have already covered in this review so far the A3070 is a 9.2-channel AVR with the ability to process 11.2channels which you can take advantage of my adding a second 2 channel amplifier and speakers to your set up. It features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio with up to 7.2.2 amplified channels and 7.2.4 using the pre-out connectors with that second amplifier. It also features the world famous Yamaha Cinema DSP suite of venues and effects which includes an Enhanced program which takes advantage of the fact that with the HD3 chip this can be added to Atmos and DTS:X tracks. Whether you use these features will be down to personal preference as it can change the nature of a well-designed soundmix and we usually stick to straight modes for that reason. However we do find the Dolby Surround upmixer works really well with 7.1 tracks and have found that using it doesn’t change the intention of the original mix, it just fills in a little more. But again this will come down to personal preference. There are also virtual speaker modes within the cinema DSP features which can help out those with no rear speakers or just a two channel set up by calculating and adding effects to simulate speakers being present in the room. It can also use existing speakers within a 7.1 system and create virtual presence speakers at the rear. There is no doubt it is a flexible system.
The A3070 follows on from the A3060 with its chassis design and the build quality is excellent the internal H-Shaped cross member frame which reduces chassis vibration and the Anti Resonance Technology (ART) wedge, which is a fifth foot in the centre of the unit, this reduces any vibration from the receiver during high volume use. The power amplifier boards and heat sinks are also placed symmetrically making the left and right channels physically and electrically isolated maximising channel separation, according to Yamaha and also improving the signal to noise ratio for a wider and more open soundstage.
While the menu system is starting to get tired within the Yamaha AVRs it is also possible to select your Atmos speaker configuration within the menus and choose the position and type of speaker you are using for presence channels. Also available through the menu system is the YPAO-R.S.C. sound optimisation with 3D, 64-bit precision EQ calculation and angle measurement. The system uses a provided setup mic to analyse room acoustics from up to 8 points and performs speaker angle measurements. It then calibrates all of the audio parameters to achieve optimum sound at any listening position in the room. It also adjusts the Cinema DSP HD3 programs to suit including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content. We have found the YPAO system to be interesting in some respects but up against the likes of Audyssey and Dirac to name two, it is lacking overall as an auto-EQ system, especially with mid bass and below.
Video signals are well catered for with all the HDMI input and outputs supporting HDMI 2.0 and HDCP2.2 with 4K/60P 4:4:4 compatibility and HDR signals, including HLG and Dolby Vision being supported along with wide colour gamut BT.2020 content. The HDMI outputs can be sent video from separate inputs and directed to different zones at the same time, which will please some users no end.
The A3070 also includes full network support with the ability to add streaming services from Spotify, Tidal, Napster, Deezer and more with full control through the AV controller app. There’s also DAB and DAB+ radio availability, along with Bluetooth so you can add wireless headphones or speakers. MusicCast is also here which is Yamaha’s proprietary multi-room system that lets you add soundbars and speakers to the AVR from other rooms.
How was it tested?As with all AVR reviews we tested the A3070 in our dedicated cinema room and sat it on top of our reference A3050 unit. We used a number of sources, which ranged from an Oppo 205 UHD Blu-ray player, an iPhone6, Samsung K8500 UHD Player for streaming services in 4K and an Apple Macbook Pro for audio streaming services. The projector was our reference JVC DLA-X7000 which fires on to an enlighter 4K Screen Excellence curved 2.38:1 ratio AT screen. Speakers are MK MP300 LCR and S300T surrounds with two MKX12 subwoofers and JBL C1 for the overhead channels. We used a range of material to test the Yamaha including high res streaming from Tidal, normal quality streaming from Spotify, DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray as well as streaming from Amazon and Netflix. We tested the YPAO system and it works, but we have never been a fan of this system in our room, which we know inside out after 17 years of use. We ran without any EQ and set up the AVR the old fashioned way. We didn’t feel there was a significant difference with the YPAO system engaged to warrant its use here, and the control is the fact we use the A3050 in this room as our reference system without EQ as well, with no issues. The testing period was 8 weeks in total.
PerformanceLet’s jump right in with the sound quality assessment and we started with streaming content in Netflix and the superb Star Trek: Discovery. Although it is a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix the soundtrack quality is really first rate with superb mixing of natural sounds and fabricated fantasy sound elements. Dialogue is crisp and clear and it follows the subjects around the sound stage with excellent clarity at all times. It is easy to follow what is being said; even in full-on action scenes and the tonality of voices are realistic and weighty. Music cues are also excellently rendered within the surround space with good weight a nice spread of the stereo channels to the front. Effects are also well rendered with punchy bass and weight when needed to phasers and explosions. It is obvious that great care has been taken over the production of the soundmix and it pays off with a realistic and natural experience, which the A3070 is more than capable of delivering with a certain degree of composure and finesse.
Moving to test material I have used for decades also reinforced the fact that the Yamaha is more than a mallet to hit you over the head with loud effects and bass heavy explosions. There is a real desire to highlight the slightest of sound effects within any mix that creates a more realistic and layered experience. The frozen central park scene in King Kong is a fantastic breather in the middle of an all out action fest where the score softens and our protagonists have some fun in the snow and ice. We get weighty and heavy breathing, mixed with foley effects of the ice moving under the weight of the beast, while human laughing and small movements are picked out precisely. The score is also beautifully realised in this scene with sweeping strings and audible plucks on the harp strings filling up the sound stage as the score swells and the ice games begin on screen. It all highlights that the Yamaha is not all about crash, bang, wallop and it is more than capable of a nuanced and composed performance. This also helps the A3070 when it comes to its musical performance with straight two-channel music.
Just like the A3050 and A3060 that have gone before the Yamaha RX-A3070 is capable of producing a highly dynamic and assured performance over a wide variety of soundtracks and genres along with a subtlety that adds in more realism where needed. It didn’t falter at any point driving our reference MK MP300 system and it’s 4 Ohm load, retaining a nice headroom at sensible volume levels for fast moving transients. As a 7.1 AV Receiver it is simply superb, just like the previous two incarnations. So how does it handle Dolby Atmos?
We started with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and right from the opening number there is a lot going on within the soundmix. However once again the Yamaha manages to keep dialogue rooted to the screen and intelligible at all times, even next to the loudest of explosions. There is a tremendous weight to the effects and bass goes extremely low when called for. But at the same time there is good power on offer that provides excellent headroom for transients at reasonable listening volumes. There is a nice immersive nature to the GOTG2 soundmix that creates the fantasy worlds we see on screen without pulling you out of the experience with over the top effects placement or fluctuations in volume. Moving to something a big more musical and La La Land provides the perfect antidote to all those explosions and deep bass sweeps. The A3070 manages to provide a fantastically wide and enveloping sound field for the heavily jazz-influenced musical numbers, but also has the power to handle those bass drum hard stops and starts, adding real punch. Once again the vocals are superbly handled and the A3070 brings a nice sense of realism to the world we are watching on screen, without an explosion in sight.
With two-channel music the A3070 also performs admirably with a wide genre of styles. We used it with Tidal and Spotify on a regular basis over our weeks of testing and once again it managed to give a nuanced and compelling performance that was very good indeed. My only real concern was that there is no real audible difference between the A3070 and my trusty reference A3050 that would make me want to upgrade. The A3070 is another stunner of an AV Receiver for the money and it does what it says on the tin, but if you already have a previous generation model, there is no need to upgrade just yet.
- Excellent sound quality with all surround formats
- Superb build quality and connections
- Good remote apps for set up and control
- Device names automatically appear in display when connected by HDMI
- Remote control is dated with no backlight and fiddly buttons
- Menus are dated and confusing
- YPAO needs to be replaced with a better EQ system like Dirac or similar
- A new model every year that hardly changes is not fair on consumers
Yamaha RX-A3070 9.2 AV Receiver Review
Should I buy one?There is no doubting that the Yamaha RX-A3070 is a brilliant AV Receiver with just about all the features you would want on board. There’s 9 channels of very good amplification that can easily fill an average sized UK room and drive some very decent quality speakers, such as our reference MP300s. The design is the same as previous years but it remains attractive, well made and built like a tank. It also has just about every connection you could possibility need around the back and it is well laid out to help with cable management. Of course as a flagship unit is has all the major new features including support for 4K/60p, Rec.2020 and HDR (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision). The receiver supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X along with WiFi, Bluetooth, a host of streaming services and extensive file support. It also forms part of Yamaha's MusicCast multiroom system, which is easy to set up, very flexible and highly effective.
There are a few downsides such as the menu system, which needs an overhaul and is looking long in the tooth, as well as the remote with its fiddly buttons and lack of a backlight. Plus the YPAO sound optimisation features are not a patch on Audyssey, RoomPerfect or Dirac systems available elsewhere and it’s about time Yamaha caught up in that regard, especially with low frequencies.
There is no doubting that the Yamaha A3070 is a superb AV Receiver and performs to a very high level indeed. It made our shortlist of AVR’s of 2017 because of its performance vs. VFM and still does so with some excellent online deals to be had out there. However a new Receiver every year is something we think that needs to stop for the good of the industry and end users. The A3070 is hardly a huge step on from the A3050 released in 2015/16. This means that when compared side by side in terms of performance there is very little difference and what changes have been made, could have been added as an upgrade, rather than as a new product and all that entails. We would like to see a little more foresight from AVR manufacturers and products that have a shelf life of more than just a few months before the next identical all-singing and all-dancing model is released.
Having said all that, if you are in the market for your first flagship AV Receiver or looking to upgrade one you have had for a few years you really should add the Yamaha A3070 to your demo list. However, if you have a A3050 or A3060 we don’t think it is worth the trouble upgrading at this time.
What are my alternatives?The most obvious alternative we have tested so far is the Denon AVR-X4400H with every feature imaginable including 9 channels of built-in amplification, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D out of the box. In addition and just like the A3070, you also have the option of adding two more channels of amplification and two subwoofers to run a full 7.2.4 immersive audio system. The X4400 includes 8 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs, all of which support 4K/60p 4:4:4, High Dynamic Range (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision), Wide Colour Gamut (Rec.2020) and HDCP 2.2. Also thanks to a firmware update planned for later this year, the receiver will even support the Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) feature and is currently available online for less that the A3070.
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Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,749.00
Value For Money9
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