Put your AV Receiver on a diet
What is the Yamaha RX-AS710D?If you like idea of having a full surround sound system but don't fancy a huge AV receiver in your lounge, then Yamaha's RX-AS710D might be just the answer. It is a fully specified 7.2-channel AV receiver but unlike most other AVRs, it uses a slimline chassis. This means that you don't have to worry about fitting a traditionally-sized AV receiver into your lounge, making both installation and partner acceptance easier. The AS710 has a list price of £799, as at the time of writing (September 2016), so it wouldn't be classed as a budget receiver but, despite it's slimline dimensions, it does include many of the features you would expect from one of Yamaha's mid-range AVRs.
As a result you not only get seven channels of amplification but you also get Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA lossless audio decoding. There's built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, along with support for high resolution audio and Yamaha's MusicCast multiroom system. On the video side the HDMI connections support Ultra HD 4K, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDCP 2.2; whilst there's also DAB, FM and Internet radio, along with Yamaha's YPAO room correction setup. The build quality is equally as high-end and aside from immersive audio support, there really is nothing missing from the AS710D, making it an interesting prospect for anyone thinking of taking the multi-channel route. The question is can it deliver the performance of a larger AV receiver or will it lack the power? Let's find out.
DesignThe first thing that you notice about the RX-AS710D are its dimensions, this isn't your normal AV receiver. The Yamaha measures in at 435 x 111 x 377mm (WxHxD), which means it is half the height of a more traditional AVR; although it you put the WiFi antenna fully up it increases the effective height of the AS710 to 181mm. However despite its reduced size the receiver still weighs a decent 9.2kg, suggesting there is plenty inside its slimline chassis, as well as an elegant aluminium front panel.
The first thing you notice is the size but the weight suggests there is plenty inside the slimline chassis
In fact the receiver retains all the flair that you would expect from a Yamaha product with their classic two-tone design. Our review sample had an all-black finish, with a glossy top half and a brushed metal lower section. However there is also a version available that uses a glossy black top half and brushed metal titanium lower section. The build quality was excellent and the AS710D includes an Anti Resonance Technology (A.R.T) wedge, basically a fifth foot, to reduce vibrations.
The dimensions might be unusual but the layout is very traditional, with a large input dial on the left hand side and an equally large volume dial on the right. To the left hand side there is also a power button, a zone select button and an info button that doubles as a WPS button for connecting to your wireless network. Over on the right hand side, along with the volume dial there is a pure direct button, a 3.5mm auxiliary jack and a USB port.In the middle, between the two main dials there is a large display which includes all the information that you need to know and, importantly, you can read it from across the room; although you also have the option of an on-screen display as well. Beneath the display there are some basic controls for selecting different scenes and programs, as well as selecting the straight audio option which bypasses any of Yamaha's famous digital signal processing. This latter button can be used to connect the AS710 to a MusicCast multiroom system by holding it down for five seconds. Finally there is a connection for the YPAO setup microphone and a headphone jack.
MORE: What is MusicCast?
Connections & ControlThe majority of the connections are at the rear and, thanks to the lower height of the chassis, Yamaha have been forced to reduce the number of legacy inputs. This is actually a good thing because it makes the rear panel less intimidating and cluttered, concentrating instead on the connections you will actually use. So the most important of those connections are the HDMI inputs, of which there are six. There is also an HDMI output that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) and the first three inputs and the output also support HDR, WCG and HDCP 2.2. All the HDMI inputs and output support HDMI CEC as well.
In terms of other connections there are two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, along with four analogue inputs using RCA connectors. There are also two composite and two component video inputs and a phono input for those who are buying vinyl again or perhaps never stopped. There is a LAN port along with an antenna for the built-in WiFi (including Wireless Direct), there's also built-in Bluetooth and aerials for the DAB and FM/AM tuners. There are outputs for two subwoofers, an IR in and and IR out, a second audio zone and a 12V trigger. That should definitely be enough connections for most people.
The rear panel is pleasingly free of clutter, concentrating on the connections you will actually need
The included remote control is reasonably well designed, although some of the buttons are a little small and there are quite a lot of them. Its two-tone design is attractive but better suited to the titanium version of the AS710D rather than the black one. The remote is comfortable to hold and simple to use with one hand but strangely doesn't include a backlight. This can make the remote quite difficult to use in the dark, especially with all those tiny buttons. However it's good to see that Yamaha include a full remote control with the AS710 and every button you need is on the controller, assuming you can see them properly.
Thankfully there is a solution to the problem of a lack of backlight on the remote control in the form of Yamaha's excellent free remote app, which is available for both iOS and Android. The app uses a well designed user interface that is 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 easy to read buttons, as opposed to the tiny ones on the provided remote. 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 & SpecsIt's good to see that despite its slimline design, Yamaha haven't skimped on the features when it comes to the RX-AS710D. In fact, aside from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you get pretty much everything you would expect to find on the larger more expensive receivers. So you get a full set of Cinema DSP modes, including the option for virtual height and width speakers. You also get plenty of future-proofing thanks to support for Ultra HD 4K with 4K60p 4:4:4, HDCP 2.2, Rec.2020 and, thanks to a firmware update, HDR. The Yamaha also includes video processing up to 4K should you need it, although you can also just pass the video signal through untouched.
The Yamaha uses Burr-Brown 192 kHz/24-bit DACs, there are 7-channels of discrete amplification at 90W per a channel and decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The AS710 comes with a dedicated setup microphone and uses Yamaha's YPAO-R.S.C. (Reflected Sound Control) to analyse room acoustics and speaker characteristics, before calibrating the audio parameters to achieve optimum sound. The receiver supports Yamaha's MusicCast multiroom system, which means that you can easily create or add it to an existing network and then listen to other sources in the network via the receiver or listen to anything connected to the receiver on another device in the network.
MORE: What is Ultra HD 4K?
The AS710D includes built-in WiFi and is Wireless Direct compatible for easy networking. It is also Bluetooth-compatible 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 AS710 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 AV Controller app allows for easy setup and control of the receiver and allows you to make detailed adjustments to DSP parameters.
There is also support for AirPlay, along with a USB port at the front for iPod and iPhone connection. The AS710D 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.
MORE: What is immersive audio
The chassis of the AS710 might be slimline but Yamaha certainly haven't slimmed down the features
Setup & TestingAlthough setup isn't difficult, it isn't made any easier by Yamaha's rather outdated menu system and the manufacturer could learn a lot from Denon and Marantz when it comes to designing an intuitive set of menus. Yamaha's remains slightly fractured and often less than intuitive, making setup more complex than it really needs to be. In terms of the menu system itself 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, with informative graphics that made it easier to navigate the entire system. In fact the remote app is one of the best around, not only effectively replacing the cluttered remote control and the clumsy menu system but also providing a host of features that you can't access anywhere else. We've said it before and we'll say it again but Yamaha really should get whoever developed the remote app to redesign the menu system.
In terms of the speaker layouts you basically have a choice of 2-channel, 5.1 or 7.1, along with options for bi-amping, extra zones and up to two subwoofers. Once you have chosen 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 and the results were fairly good, although you also have the option of adjusting the setup manually. Although we primarily used the provided remote control, we found the remote app quite useful for some manual fine tuning, especially if you want to customise the various DSP modes
We started our testing in a two channel configuration in the lounge, primarily to see how the slimline chassis looked in a traditional living space. We also wanted to see how the HDMI inputs handled multiple different sources, as well as an Ultra HD 4K TV and Blu-ray player. After that we moved the AS710D into the home cinema where we could run a full 5.2 and 7.2 setup and see how the receiver handled multi-channel audio. Along with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, we also tried out Yamaha's various DSP modes and tested the receiver's ability to stream content from music services and our network server. Although we weren't able to create a full MusicCast multiroom system, we were still able to setup and control the AS710 using the MusicCast app.
Yamaha RX-AS710D Video Review
PerformanceThe RX-AS710D might use a slimline chassis but Yamaha have managed to pack a decent amount of amplification inside its diminutive dimensions. Clearly it lacks the sheer power of the flagship RX-A3050 but when you consider the kind of rooms for which the AS710 was designed, it doesn't need to be a monster. The receiver can deliver more than enough power to drive a 5.1 or 7.1 system in the average-sized living room and although it is lacking in terms of headroom, for the price point it is certainly a capable performer.
We started by using the AS710D in a two-channel configuration and we were pleasantly surprised by how musical the Yamaha sounded, making it a great hub for all your audio needs. The fact the receiver can stream music from your home network, or from subscription services or as part of a MusicCast multiroom system means that you could end up listening to quite a lot of music through the AS710. So it's pleasing to know that the receiver can not only handle high resolution audio but that it can do it so well, with good clarity and localisation of instruments.
Of course if you're buying an AV receiver then its capability with two-channel audio is largely just the icing on the cake, what you're really interested in is its multi-channel performance. Since the AS710 is a Yamaha receiver it didn't come as a surprise to discover that it was capable of an excellent surround sound performance. The receiver created a wide soundstage across the front three channels, with dialogue anchored to the centre speaker. The receiver also created an effective surround sound field, whether using a 5.1- or a 7.1-channel with lively surrounds and some precise steering.
The YPAO sound optimisation was reasonably effective, although the best way to ensure a tonally balanced system is to use the same speakers and to position them correctly. The bass was nicely integrated but again the more care and attention you take to correctly position any subwoofers in your room the less room equalisation the receiver needs to perform. Although the YPAO optimisation worked reasonably well it did have a tendency to rob the bass of some its impact and to smooth out the performance just a little too much. If you want to keep all the life in the system you might be better off setting the AS710 up manually.
We ultimately settled on a installation that was more focused on a manual setup and overall we were extremely pleased with the receiver's performance. The audio was dynamic and enjoyable, with plenty of detail and a sound field that retained a feeling of cohesion. The system could go quite loud before becoming harsh or sibilant but as we mentioned earlier the lack of relative power overall does mean the receiver has less headroom compared to a larger receiver. As a result the audio doesn't always have the speed, responsiveness or overall snap of a more powerful system.
Yamaha have been developing DSP (Digital Signal Processing) effects for decades, long before they were fashionable. So the company knows how to implement them successfully and AS710D includes a full suite of these features. We have never been convinced by many of these effects, they often feel a bit gimmicky but some of the settings can help to create a more spacious audio experience that can help make a small room seem larger. The virtual effects allow for the sensation that there are width or height speakers that aren't actually there but on the whole we normally used the straight setting and allowed the receiver to decode and play the audio as it was meant to be represented by the content creators.
The overall performance was excellent, although it might be a little under-powered for larger rooms
- Great performance
- Slimline chassis
- Excellent features
- Attractive design
- Superior build quality
- Might be under-powered in larger rooms
- No Atmos or DTS:X
Yamaha RX-AS710D 7.2 AV Receiver Review
Should I buy one?
The Yamaha RX-AS710D is a great choice for anyone who fancies installing a surround sound system in their lounge or living room without the thought of a huge AV receiver sitting under the TV. It has suitably slimline dimensions to ensure discretion but still looks like a Yamaha receiver, with their classic two-tone finish and layout. The build quality is excellent and the feature set is impressive with everything you could want covered, including multi-channel lossless audio, Ultra HD 4K and MusicCast multiroom functionality. The connections are comprehensive without being cluttered or intimidating but still manage to include six HDMI inputs and even a phono stage for any vinyl addicts. There's built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, along with DAB, FM and AM tuners, plus a full remote control and an excellent remote app.
Setup is relatively straightforward thanks to the included microphone and Yamaha's YPAO sound optimisation feature but the menu system really is in need of a make-over. The built-in amplification is enough to run a 7-channel setup and you even have outputs for two subwoofers, so the AS710 really is a full surround sound receiver despite its svelte appearance. There isn't support for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X but we really doubt anyone looking at the Yamaha will be considering speakers on the ceiling. However anyone searching for a solid AV receiver that can deliver great surround sound and a surprisingly good two-channel performance need look no further. It's fair to say that the AS710D is a little under-powered for larger rooms but for the average-sized lounge the Yamaha will effectively add a surround presence without imposing itself on your living space.
What are my alternatives?
Despite the obvious advantages of offering a slimline AV receiver to consumers, surprisingly few manufacturers appear to have developed them. Aside from Yamaha, the only other company to really offer a slimline model is Marantz with their NR1607. This attractive AVR also includes 7 channels of built-in amplification, rated at 90W per a channel. It also supports Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 and DTS:X, along with Audyssey MultEQ and the new Audyssey App. There are 8 HDMI inputs and support for 4K, HDCP 2.2, HDR and BT2020, as well as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. If that wasn't enough there is also support for Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DSD, Hi Res Audio and gapless playback. The Marantz NR1607 is available in either black or silver-gold and can be picked up for a very tempting £599, making it a hard act to beat.
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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