- Manufacturer & Model
- Yamaha RX-A4A AVENTAGE 7.2-Channel AV Receiver
Moderately priced member of Yamaha's AVENTAGE series of receivers, 7 channels of onboard amplification, 110 Watts per channel, HDMI 2.1 connectivity, YPAO- R.S.C. with 3D, multipoint measurement, precision EQ and low frequency mode, Atmos and DTS:X capable, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, MusicCast multi-room audio, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant voice control, Onboard streaming with TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music HD, Pandora, and Spotify, several ways to access menu systems for configuration and system use, confident 5.2.2 immersive sound playback with post-processing performed by Yamaha's Surround: AI. New Low Frequency Mode.
Yamaha's latest AVENTAGE lineup features refreshed physical attributes and new processing technology. The RX-A4A 7.2-channel receiver is the third of four models. Sporting 7 channels of onboard amplification, the RX-A4A can command systems as large as 5.2.2. New to this year is a Low Frequency Mode which gives enthusiasts greater control over low frequency output, along with Yamaha's proprietary Surround: AI post-processing. Carrying a moderate price and higher-end options, RX-A4A is capable of delivering an exceptional home theater experience, complete powerful muscle and nuanced dynamics.
You don't need to drop $3K-plus on an AV receiver to ignite home theater magic. Sure, if the purse strings are loose, have at it. But if money matters and the budget has restrictions, rest easy because grin-inducing performance can be had with gear costing half as much or less than a flagship model.
Today, we're returning our attention to Yamaha and its refreshed lineup of AVENTAGE receivers. The company ended 2021 by reinvigorating its top-line offerings with four new models ranging from the entry-level RX-A2A to the flagship RX-A8A (reviewed, here). Sandwiched in between are two well-equipped options, one of which is the RX-A4A ($1,499.95 MSRP). The A4A is a 7.2-Channel, 8K capable receiver endowed with beefy power and the necessary tools to drive a traditional multichannel system or a 5.1.2 Atmos affair. Add in user-centric features like Yamaha's browser-based menu system, and the A4A is easy to integrate and customize.
The AVENTAGE badge first emerged in 2010, boasting a complete reboot – both inside and out – of Yamaha's approach to receivers. The inaugural line hit store shelves with five different models priced from $650 to $1,900 – numbers that seem otherworldly compared to today's pricing. And during the last decade-plus, it's remained a respected force in the world of home theater, playing host to such industry firsts as true 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos playback and more.
In honor of its tenth model cycle, Yamaha has pressed the reboot button again, giving AVENTAGE badged gear an exciting new and unified look. The RX-A4A's faceplate and topside grille are identical to the flagship RX-A8A, offering owners access to a bold flagship look. And that "look" is unmistakable, thanks to a large center-mounted volume knob and an offset display that disappears into the faceplate's blackness when powered down. Beyond that, simplicity is the name of the game, with the remainder of the A4A's forward-facing controls limited to a power button, a small array of touch-sensitive surfaces, and a multi-function knob that interacts with the display's menu system. While atypical when compared to the traditional 'volume knob to the right, display in the middle, selector knob on the left' receiver layout approach, the A4A struts with a panache that should age well.
AVENTAGE fans will be happy to see a return of the line's signature anti-resonance wedge, which has been repositioned beneath the heaviest area of the chassis. This aptly named "fifth foot" is joined by four plastic feet that offer stability with a machined metal look.
Much like the A8A, the visible portion of the A4A's redesigned venting surface is crafted from ABS plastic. It isn't rigid, flexing under moderate pressure, but a second perforated metal grille resides roughly a 1/4" beneath that outer surface, providing both strength and rigidity to the overall chassis.
Moving around back, the A4A takes on a personality of its own, shedding the flagship's gold plated connectors, balanced stereo inputs and pre-outs, and six pairs of analog inputs. There's still plenty of connectivity to go around, however, as the receiver ships loaded with seven HDMI 2.1 inputs, three HDMI outputs, a phono input, optical and coax digital inputs, and four RCA stereo connections. You also get 7.2 pre-outs, which allows the A4A to bypass its internal amps in favor of outboard options. Note: the subwoofer channel is internally split. And, if the good old airwaves appeal to your vintage sensibilities, the A4A ships with AM and FM antennae.
Of course, wireless connectivity is massively important, and owners can enjoy a variety of audio streaming technologies including Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, DLNA, and built-in support for Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Amazon, Napster, and Deezer using Yamaha's MusicCast app. MusicCast also allows for the creation of a multi-room or whole home audio system when paired with other MusicCast-capable devices.
Underneath the Hood
Internally, attention to detail begins with an H-shaped cross frame designed to eliminate vibration from the transformer to the amplifier circuit. A symmetrical layout of components, including circuit boards, also keeps precision and accuracy at the forefront by creating short signal paths. Yamaha says both features favor less noise and more clarity, paving the way to a squeaky clean soundstage.
Digital to analog conversion is handled by a single 32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre ES9007S DAC. As part of the ESS Sabre series, it carries a 32-bit Hyperstream architecture, which promises an exceptional signal-to-noise ratio and up to 120dB of dynamic range. While I'm a tad gun-shy about the company's white paper claims that its Hyperstream DAC's are audibly distinguishable from the competition, listening sessions sounded phenomenal – that's good enough for me.
Audio processing is handled by a new Qualcomm QSC407 quad-core 64-bit processor, the same processor found in the line's flagship model. It supports legacy codecs, along with Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio. The processor also delivers access to Dolby Vision, Yamaha's proprietary Surround:AI post-processing and sound optimization technology, and a laundry list of digital signal processing options.
Yamaha has a lengthy history of packing its receivers with nifty sound field effects, and the A4A doesn't disappoint. Effects range from "Adventure" and "Drama" to "Cellar Club" and "Warehouse Loft," giving owners access to 25 different listening modes crafted to enhance movies and music. As I stated in our RX-A8A review, my ears aren't necessarily drawn to altering sound and music from its original, intended form, but hats off to Yamaha because these sound modes effectively craft significantly varied experiences. If forced to pick a DSP flavor, I'd ride with "Cellar Club," which gave my theater room a small club feel, essentially deadening the front wall while adding a hint of expansiveness to the rear. It's a mode that pairs well with singer-songwriter tracks, imparting an intimately cozy live sound.
Power-wise, the A4A taps a high slew rate amp section that delivers 110 watts per channel (8-ohm, 20-20kHz, 0.06% THD, 2ch), backed by Yamaha's Intelligent Amp Assignment (IAA) for switching between nine connected speakers. Using onboard computing, IAA automatically analyzes content and determines which speakers need power, accommodating both a traditional 7.1 multichannel array and a 5.1.2 system with ceiling-mounted speakers. Owners can also opt to run 7.1 or 5.1.2 systems with two speakers in Zone 2 held in reserve, or a 5.1 arrangement where the front left and right mains are bi-amped.
On the video side, HDMI 2.1 is front and center, with high levels of functionality promised across seven inputs and three outputs. Thanks to a firmware update released during the review (Version 1.65), 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz passthrough is now available, as is support for HDR10+. Support for Enhanced Audio Return Channel (primary HDMI output only) and HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, is also currently available. Quick Media Switching and gaming-centric features like Variable Refresh Rate, Quick Frame Transport, and Auto Low Latency Mode haven't arrived yet, but it won't be long before they're unlocked, too. ***Editor's Note: As of 8/26/22, Firmware Version 1.74 was released. It includes HDMI support for VRR and ALLM gaming functions, cross-format upmixing between Dolby and DTS, and alt-3D processing (Auro-3D) for Dolby Atmos/DTS:X. (only RX-A8A and RX-A6A)***
Unboxing and Set-Up
As discussed in our review of the RX-A8A, Yamaha's choice in packaging for its AVENTAGE line is excellent across the board. The A4A arrived in a minty factory-fresh state thanks to a double-walled cardboard box and custom styrofoam fittings. Internally, the receiver was cocooned in a protective wrap and surrounded by a variety of accessories, including a measurement microphone, a multipoint stand for YPAO duties, and a slick, well-designed remote control.
Weighing nearly 36 lbs., the A4A has a solid presence in the hands but is light enough to be handled by one person. Once positioned, system integration and set-up are moderately easy. Those with less experience might encounter a few moments of confusion, but nothing insurmountable.
Yamaha's approach to set-up favors its AV Set-Up app (iOS and Android), which is generally worthy of praise; owners more comfortable with an on-screen menu system can ditch the app and go that route. Just beware, the A4A helps establish a WiFi connection at first power up and then defaults to normal operation without displaying an on-screen set-up guide. So, if you need a bit of handholding, resorting to the AV Set-Up app is the way to go.
One of the A4A's more intriguing features is a next-gen web browser UI that provides control of every setting on the receiver. Yamaha knocked this menu approach out of the park, making it approachable to the masses through clear and concise controls. No remote. No pressing arrow keys and stumbling around a rigid on-screen menu. Instead, you're given access to fast and accurate adjustments and visual clarifications of key settings. All you need to do is integrate the A4A with your home network and gain access to the menu system using a computer.
For this review, I took full advantage of the A4A's 7.2-channel capabilities by configuring a 5.1.2 Atmos arrangement with the ".2" immersive portion being ceiling channels positioned above my room's seats. Speakers used in the system included GoldenEar Triton One.Rs as mains, a GoldenEar SuperCenter XL center, SVS Ultra Surrounds for side surrounds, ceiling-mounted SVS Prime Elevation speakers, and a single SVS SB16 Ultra sub.
Video demo material was sourced from a Kaleidescape Terra + Strato C player, with an image delivered by a JVC NX7 4K projector. Audio tracks were sourced from TIDAL using Yamaha's MusicCast app.
The A4A allows owners to create two room correction files, which should be enough for most owners. Why two, you ask? It adds a level of versatility for owners looking to maximize playback quality under very specific conditions. For example, one calibration file can be created for critical listening from a room's middle seating position, while another can be used to optimize playback across an entire seating area. Alternatively, if the A4A is tasked with driving a living room system, calibration files can be created for when the curtains are drawn, or when they're open and windows are exposed.
Unlike Marantz, Denon, Onkyo, and Pioneer, Yamaha relies on variations of its own proprietary room correction package across its entire range of AV receivers. The A4A ships with the top-tier Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer (R.S.C.) multipoint measurement system (YPAO), a microphone, and a multi-position plastic stand. I opted to correct across all five seats in my theater room to check the accuracy of the system for the most generalized type of use; pre- and post-correction results (Left speaker and sub measured from the middle listening position, UMIK-1 microphone, Room EQ Wizard) can be seen below. In general, the vast majority of correction was applied from 100Hz and above, tho it's important to keep in mind this is a case study of my room only (your results may vary).
YPAO successfully set channel levels within a decibel or two of 75dB, if not spot-on, which I confirmed with a hand-held SPL meter. However, the calibration process reset all of my speakers to "large" while applying some questionable crossover settings. For example, I'd prefer the room's smaller Elevation ceiling channels to benefit from an 80Hz crossover, as opposed to YPAO's suggested 40Hz. No biggie, tho, because the web UI made post-calibration tweaks quick and easy.
Beyond the automated calibration process, YPAO has several user-selectable filters, including a new Low Frequency Mode that identifies problems in the 15.6Hz to 250Hz frequency range. Other options include Flat, Front, Natural, Manual, and Through (a filterless, straight setting).
Low Frequency Mode (LFM) isn't an automated solution, meaning it doesn't identify and correct issues on its own. Instead, it provides owners with specific information pertaining to low frequency problem areas, along with the tools to address them. In the case of my system's subwoofer, LFM highlighted several bands with issues, allowing me to adjust a target frequency, Q, and gain.
The addition of LFM is great news for owners looking to correct bass below the room transition point (roughly 300-500Hz in most rooms), while leaving the rest of the frequency spectrum untouched. And while I'd prefer to see it semi-automated for mass appeal, its current form should make AVENTAGE receivers much more appealing to hardcore enthusiasts.
The system's other modes automatically apply correction as needed. The graph below is derived from post-calibration mode measurements taken during our RX-A8A review. As you can see, the Flat Mode (green) achieves a relatively flat response across the frequency spectrum, while the Natural Mode (purple) gently rolls-off frequencies from 2.5kHz and beyond. As for the Front Mode (orange), it matches a system's multichannel speakers to the tonality of Left and Right mains. This process doesn't apply equalization to the mains, only using measurement information from these channels to correct other speakers for a closer sonic match.
Of course, you shouldn't need a Ph.D. in acoustics to operate calibration software, and the A4A has a few areas that could use improvement. My concerns are less about performing a general "get it up and running" set-up and more about a novice user's ability to take advantage of the receiver's high-level functionalities. Oddly, this kind of shortfall is juxtaposed to the common sense graphics and intuitive flow designed into the receiver's on-screen menu system.
The Owner's Manual falls into a similar gray area. It's generally a good resource but suffers from poor wording and a lack of technical details. I leaned on years of experience and various online resources to make up for the manual's shortcomings, but a green buyer might find it frustrating.
Tech specs and set-up procedures aside, it's time to talk real-world performance. One of the biggest questions most buyers will have when considering the A4A versus the A6A or A8A is the sound experience delivered by an Atmos array consisting of two overhead channels. If Atmos isn't part of your system's calculous, the A4A's 7.1 multichannel capabilities will give the ears plenty to chew on. And because the leap from 5.1 to 7.1 isn't revolutionary, you aren't losing much by subtracting the rear surrounds and repurposing those channels for immersive duty.
Atmos is a slightly different animal than traditional multichannel sound, particularly when considering how many immersive channels are used. The A4A's two overhead speakers stand as a solid gateway to immersive audio, where objects appear to whiz overhead and a film's soundscape can take on airy heights that belie your room's size. However, the bump from two immersive channels to four is quite significant from an experiential perspective, so if you have your heart set on a high-level Atmos experience, I'd suggest saving your pennies springing for either the RX-A6A or A8A.
Throughout the duration of the review, the RX-A4A delivered reliable HDMI performance, and remote control of the receiver went off without a hitch. The remote's layout is intuitive, complete with tactile markers that make button positions easy to locate. And on-screen menu systems were easy to access and navigate, though the RX-A4A doesn't account for information positioning while playing back 2:40:1 content. If your theater room runs a fixed cinemascope screen with zoomed 2.40:1 content, viewing essential information during playback (volume changes, sound mode selections, etc.) is difficult because it falls off the screen.
One convenient menu feature is the RX-A4A's on-screen "Information" setting which presents a detailed dashboard summary of playback information. You can use it to confirm a film's native codec, which speakers are being used for playback, what, if any, Parametric EQ or Sound Modes are applied, Lip-sync delay, and more. You can also view High-level HDMI settings for control over aspect ratios and resolution output, and real-time information and details about input and output signals.
With my room rigged for Atmos duty, I reached for the same Kaleidescape demo script used during the RX-A8A review. Movies on the script include Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (4K HDR, Atmos), Gravity (HD, Atmos), John Wick: Chapter 2 (4K HDR, Atmos), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (4K HDR, Atmos), Ready Player One (4K HDR, Atmos), Interstellar (4K HDR, DTS MA-HD), Lone Survivor (4K HDR, DTS MA-HD), among others. And, much like the A8A, the results were etched with the kind of detail you'd expect from a high-level home theater system.
After getting a generous taste of the A4A's movie playback capabilities by viewing a variety of demo scenes, I settled on Gravity and John Wick 2 as the two featured films for this review. Gravity, in my opinion, carries one of the most compelling immersive presentations to date, and the A4A's handling of its Atmos track didn't disappoint. While I maintain that four immersive channels are a significant upgrade over two, the A4A used my system's .2 deployment competently. The film's audio attack swirled around the room with pinpoint directionality during the opening disaster sequence, highlighted by Ed Harris's voice, which tracked the Earth's position on and off the screen. And the system's single subwoofer rounded out moments of urgency with tight pulses of bass that grew in magnitude as George Clooney and Sandra Bullock braced for the worst.
One of the film's most dynamic Atmos moments finds Dr. Stone (Sandra Bullock) detached from her rigging and tumbling into outer space. As she hyperventilates and calls for help, the camera enters her helmet. At that moment, the film's audio track takes on a lightness and height that creates an eerie sense of claustrophobic intimacy. The A4A did an excellent job of recreating this moment without sounding hampered by the room's smaller Atmos array.
John Wick 2's raucous immersive audio is also reference quality. The A4A passed through the film's clean 4K video transfer without introducing any issues, and the audio's brutal dynamics associated with shattering glass and pops of gunfire were equal to the task. Despite having moments of mid- to high-frequency brightness that would shred ears on a bright system, the A4A kept sound focused and smoothed well beyond 100dB. And, its use of low frequencies wasn't bloated or distracting – the entire range of frequencies used to tell Wick's story was delivered with balance and proper weight.
One of Yamaha's selling points is its Surround: AI processing mode. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't pinpoint notable differences between Surround: AI processing and straight Dolby Atmos playback, but it performed admirably as an enhancement for legacy codecs. When applied to Lone Survivor's DTS HD-MA track, Surround: AI drenched the room with atmospheric audio and an amplified sense of immersion.
Much like my review of the A8A, I used the A4A's Virtual Presence Speaker and Virtual Surround Back Speaker modes to mimic full 5.1.2 and 7.1 systems using straight 2-channel and 5.1 arrangements. Yamaha's menu system provides granular control over DSP parameters, allowing owners to dial back or accentuate the virtual speaker experience. Believe it or not, these modes work well enough that I had to physically check certain speakers to confirm they weren't in use. I wouldn't say they're a direct 1:1 replacement for traditional surround and presence channels, but if space or budget constraints limited my system's size, I'd be satisfied using Yamaha's virtual technologies.
The A4A was also perfectly competent in the 2-channel department, crafting a composed stereo soundstage that didn't sound constrained or lacking in power. I spent hours sifting through favorite albums and tracks on my TIDAL account, and imaging was abound. For artists such as John Bellion and Norah Jones, fine little details, like lip smacks and breaths, weren't suppressed. And the softer, smooth delivery of album favorites like Pink Floyd's The Wall wasn't dirtied by a detectable noise floor.
Much of the receiver's streaming capabilities are anchored by Yamaha's MusicCast app. To its benefit, the app is intuitively designed and supports Hi-Res Audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. It also expedites access to your preferred streaming services (in my case, Spotify and TIDAL), giving owners the ability to playback favorites and playlists, while providing instant access to key playback settings, like Pure Direct, Surround: AI, bass and dialog controls, the all-important Sleep timer, DSP modes, and a whole bunch more.
When taking MusicCast and the A4A's graceful sound qualities into account, it's impossible not to give the receiver a big thumbs up in the 2-channel department.
Despite being positioned on the lower end of the AVENTAGE totem pole, the RX-A4A is a marvelous piece of equipment. It has muscle, flexing powerful output capabilities that navigate difficult audio soundscapes with ease. It has intelligence, boasting the ability to decode all three of the industry's immersive codecs while offering owners access to post-processing options like Surround: AI and various DSP modes. And it's easy to set-up and even easier to use, thanks to features like the web UI menu system and a well-designed remote control.
My knocks on the A4A are far and few between, starting with a user manual that lacks clarity in its details. I'd also like to see YPAO offer target curves and even better low-end control.
Priced at $1,499, the RX-A4A is far from a budget receiver. But it's budget-esque considering its position within Yamaha's elite ranks, making it a strong option for buyers wanting high-end performance without a price tag north of $2,000. If you're looking to drive a system in a medium to small room, or are certain you'd like to cap your system's immersive speaker count at two, the RX-A4A should definitely be on your radar.
Yamaha RX-A4A 7.2-Channel AV Receiver Specifications
- Number Of Channels: 7
- Stereo RMS Power (watts): 110
- THD in Stereo: 0.06 %
- Frequency Bandwidth (stereo): 20-20k Hz
- Minimum Impedance L/R: 4 ohms
- Minimum Impedance Center: 6 ohms
- Minimum Impedance Surround: 6 ohms
- Bluetooth: Built-in
- Apple AirPlay: AirPlay 2
- Alexa-compatible: Yes
- Google Assistant-compatible: Yes
- Chromecast built-in: No
- DTS Play-Fi: No
- App Remote Control: Yes
- On-Screen Display: Thru HDMI
- Auto Speaker Calibration: YPAO RSC 3D Multi
- Powered Multi-room Audio Output: Yes
- Preamp Multi-room Audio Output: Yes
- Multi-room HDMI Output: Yes
- Total Number of Zones: 2
- Playback from Digital Audio Inputs: Yes
- Playback from Streaming Sources: Yes
- Surround Processing: Dolby Digital, TrueHD, DD+
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization: Firmware Update Required
- DTS: DTS, HD, HDMA, 96/24, Neo:6
- DTS:X: Yes
- DTS Virtual:X: No
- Phono Input: 1
- Audio-Video Inputs: 7
- Audio-only Inputs: 6
- Component Video Inputs: None
- Component Video Monitor Outputs: None
- Optical Digital Inputs: 2
- Coaxial Digital Inputs: 1
- Optical Digital Outputs: None
- Coaxial Digital Outputs: None
- Number of HDMI Inputs: 7
- HDMI Monitor Outputs: 1
- Subwoofer Outputs: 2
- Discrete Subwoofer Outputs: No
- Multi-Channel Analog Input: No
- Multi-channel Preamp Output: Yes
- Ethernet Port: Yes
- USB Connections: Yes
- Video UpscalingTo 4K
- HDR10: Yes
- HDR10+: No
- HLG: Yes
- Dolby Vision: Yes
- Removable Power Cord: IEC 2-prong
- Supports Wireless Rear Speakers: Yes
- HDMI Version 2.1
- VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)
- ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)
- 4K/120Hz-Capable Inputs 7 (future firmware update)
- Audio Return Channel, eARC supported
- FM Sensitivity: Not Given
- Multibrand Remote Control: No
- Learning Remote: No
- Width (inches): 17.1875
- Height (inches): 7.5
- Depth (inches): 18.0625
- Weight (pounds): 35.7
- Parts Warranty: 3 Years
- Labor Warranty: 3 Years