What is the Yamaha MX-A5200 11-channel Power Amp?
The Yamaha MX-A5200 is an 11-channel power amplifier in the AVENTAGE range and it keeps the same design as the previously reviewed MX-A5000 that we covered all the way back in 2016. It is available in a black or titanium finish.
There are some added features this time around including Bridge Tied Load (BTL) configuration for the front 2 channels. This allows you to bridge channel four with channel three for the front left and right channels if you are not using front presence speakers. We ran it in a 7.2.2 Atmos system with our 4-ohm speakers, so didn’t use the bridge as Yamaha only specify this for use with 8-ohm loads and more. We did, however, test it out for a short period during our review to make sure it works as intended. You can also Bi-Amp drive suitable speakers and Yamaha produce a configuration guide on their website.
Yamaha publishes that the MX-A5200 is capable of 150W per channel with two channels driven and 200W when using the bridge between ch.3 and ch.4, but they do not publish all channels driven figures which will be under the 150W claimed for 8ohm loads.
We tested the MX-A5200 11-channel power amplifier alongside the Yamaha CX-A5200 11.2-channel processor and our detailed assessment of both can be found in the review for the processor.
At the time of this review in May 2020, the MX-A5200 retails at £2,850 and of course, it can be used in partnership with the CX-A5200 or with any other AV processor on the market.
Yamaha MX-A5200 Design
There is not a great deal you can do with the design of a rectangular box that houses power amplifiers, but Yamaha manages to make the MX-A5200 look expensive and well built. The metal construction and aluminium front plate add a sleek feel to proceedings with a minimalist look. There are A and B speaker buttons to the bottom left, a large Power button in the centre that lights up when powered on, with the Yamaha logo and product name to the top left and the AVENTAGE logo to the top right.
There is a nice grain to the aluminium front plate and this works well with the sides which have a striped design and large bolt screws top and bottom, adding to the muscular design of the chassis. This is deliberate and also hints at the double aluminium bottom construction that is designed to reduce vibrations and isolate the amplifier. This is coupled to Yamaha’s five isolation feet on the bottom of the unit with one each corner and the fifth is placed in the centre.
Yamaha MX-A5200 Features
Like the design and purpose of the MX-A5200, the features here are focussed on the performance of the power amplifier and delivering the cleanest sound possible without distortion. Adding to the muscular build quality and materials used, we have a high-output, large toroidal transformer which is combined with two specially developed high-capacity block capacitors. Yamaha claims this provides substantial headroom with large power delivery.
This power amplifier is built like a tank with excellent materials used
The MX-A5200 also employs a symmetrical power amp layout for left and right amplifiers. These are located on either side of the chassis so each set of channels is completely isolated from the other, reducing any possibility of electrical or noise issues polluting the sound output. So left channels are on the left and right, you guessed it, on the right.
You can also use the switches on the rear of the MX-A5200 to assign power amps to channels and bi-amp and bridge certain channels, and even set up zone areas when coupled with the CX-A5200 processor. The Bridge Tied Load (BTL) feature is new for this model and allows ch.3 and ch.4 to be bridged, with your front left and right speakers wired using the live red inputs on both channels (ch.4 is negative and ch.3 is positive). This allows up to 200W claimed output with both channels driven with an 8-ohm or higher load.
Great care has obviously been taken in making sure that power supply, amplifiers and heatsinks are positioned in the best possible areas within the chassis, and these are dampened against vibration with a superbly constructed chassis for everything to sit within. This power amplifier is built like a tank with excellent materials used.
Yamaha MX-A5200 Connections
As mentioned above, the layout of the power amplifier is symmetrical with all left speakers channels to the left and right on the right.
This is also the case of the unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs with ch.1 acting as the mono centre channel.
Channel 3 also has the A and B speaker connections if you want to add in another zone for a separate room or want to run two pairs of main channel speakers in one room.
All the connectors and binding posts are high quality and fit the build quality seen elsewhere with the MX-A5200. You can use bare wire, banana plugs or spades with all the speaker binding posts. Inputs are RCA unbalanced or XLR balanced.
There are also some trigger and remote ports as well as dip switches for auto power and an impedance selector. The power socket is to the bottom right side.
How was the Yamaha MX-A5200 tested?
We tested the Yamaha MX-A5200 with the CX-A5200 11-channel processor in our reference system with consists of an Apple TV 4K, Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player, Sky TV mini box, JVC DLA-N5 projector along with a full set of MK MP300 LCR speakers, with 300T surrounds and two MK X12 subwoofers. Atmos speakers fitted to the ceiling are JBL Control Ones in a 7.2.2 configuration.
Related: What is Dolby Atmos?
I have been using this combination almost daily with Spotify connect for music playback since the products arrived in February. They are also used for all critical TV, streaming and 4K UHD Blu-ray movie viewing on the system.
Yamaha MX-A5200 Performance
There is nothing the MK MP300’s like more than being fed high-quality power, and the Yamaha managed to do this all day long with superb speed and transients and oodles of headroom on tap. The system really came to life after using a Denon X8500 for a few months using that AVR’s built-in amplification. That is no slight on the Denon as it really does manage to drive the MK system to a reasonable level. But when you add in more power the MK’s thrive and that was the case here.
I go into far more detail on the actual performance capabilities of this 11-channel power amplifier in the full review of the CX-A5200 processor, but there is no hiding the fact that it is a very capable power amp with plenty of dynamics and headroom on tap.
... the Yamaha managed to do this all day long with superb speed and transients and oodles of headroom on tap
It is also a neutral sounding power amplifier that doesn’t seem to have any obvious colour to its sound quality. I used it with the Yamaha processor, but also used it to drive the pre-outs on the Denon X8500 as well, and it appears to playback what it is fed, without any manipulation or interference.
We can’t always trust the channels driven figures that manufacturers seem to fall back on these days, but we are also not in the position yet to run our own measurements. However, with seasoned ears and experience running many, many systems in this room, the figures quoted seem to tally with performance and it is clear that there is plenty of power, and headroom to keep most dedicated home cinema systems running at decent volumes with no distortion.
It fits perfectly for those looking to hear other components in the system and just have the power amp deliver the power required to achieve that
Added to speakers like our reference MK MP300s the Yamaha is a very capable power amp that supplies some vigour into these monitors, with excellent transients from quiet to loud and back to silence again. Quiet passages in films are handled with the same care as bombastic sci-fi effects and the switch from quiet anticipation to full-on action has the dynamics and speed to make it sound realistic, thanks to the power and neutrality the MX-A5200 offers,
- Excellent neutral sound
- Powerful with excellent headroom
- Set up flexibility
- Bridge Tied Load (BTL) functionality
- Nothing much at this level of the market
Yamaha MX-A5200 11-Channel Power Amplifier Review
Should I buy one?
The Yamaha MX-A5200 is an excellent 11-channel power amplifier. It delivers headroom where it’s needed with a neutral tone and without any obvious colour to the sound quality. It fits perfectly for those looking to hear other components in the system and just have the power amp deliver the power required to achieve that.
The MX-5200 also delivers a clean and balanced sound that has oodles of headroom on offer, even with more difficult to drive loads. It really brought our MK MP300 reference speakers to life with stunning dynamics and no signs of ever running out of steam. It also manages all of this without ever introducing distortion, even when pushed hard. It does all of this without getting in the way of the end result and performance.
The build quality on offer is also excellent with an attractive looking chassis for a rectangular box containing amplifiers, but it is also well-engineered using high-quality components. While it is certainly designed to be used in conjunction with the CX-A5200 from Yamaha as the processor, the MX-A5200 would be happy powering any home cinema system and doing so with superb power and delivery, without ever getting in the way or adding colouration to the sound, it is surprisingly neutral in that respect.
It comes highly recommended and should be on your demo list if you are in the market for an 11-channel power amplifier.
What are my alternatives?
The only other choice you really have for an 11-channel power amplifier is the Emotiva XPA-11 Gen3 which Steve reviewed recently for AVForums. That has a modular design and is a few hundred pounds cheaper. The module design allows for some upgradability, but none if you go for the 11-channels outright from the start. But you do have flexibility in starting with fewer amplifier modules and add more in as your system grows.
Although I haven’t heard both amplifiers together, after speaking with Steve and swapping notes, the Emotiva is powerful and muscular in its presentation, whereas the Yamaha is powerful but more neutral and transparent in its presentation, but is a little more expensive. Both are exceptionally good and should be on your demo list.
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