- Manufacturer & Model
- Yamaha RX-A8A AVENTAGE 11.2-Channel AV Receiver
Yamaha's latest flagship AVR, 11 channels of onboard amplification, 150 Watts per channel, HDMI 2.1 connectivity, YPAO- R.S.C. with 3D, multipoint measurement, precision EQ and low frequency mode, Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D 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, incredible 7.2.4 immersive sound playback with post-processing performed by Yamaha's Surround: AI. New Low Frequency Mode.
Yamaha is back with a newly refreshed AVENTAGE Series lineup, headlined by its flagship RX-A8A 11.2-channel receiver. Endowed with 11 channels of onboard amplification, the RX-A8A can command systems as large as 7.2.4. 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. The RX-A8A is capable of driving a full compliment of speakers to dizzying heights, loaded with clean character and hard-hitting home theater dynamics.
The AV receiver market has never been healthier or more exciting, as the industry's biggest names are entering 2022 with highly competitive gear stocked throughout their model ranks. Having cleansed the ills of 2020's HDMI chip issues with workable solutions, the landscape is loaded with the most complete, forward-looking models we've ever seen, giving midrange and high-end buyers access to exhilarating reference-grade experiences.
Today we're turning our attention to Yamaha and its newly refreshed Aventage Series of AV receivers. This marks the first of two Aventage reviews scheduled to go live this month, and we're kicking things off in a big way with the company's latest flagship design. Unlike previous Aventage royalty, the RX-A8A has the muscle to drive an 11 channel theater system without the help of additional amplification. And much like its current lineup mates, it's dressed to the nines with a sleek new look.
The beauty of the RX-A8A is its large-scale all-in-one nature, packing both gritty power and advanced audio processing neatly into one box. While last model year's Aventage RX-A3080 offered 11 channels of processing and nine channels of onboard amplification, the RX-A8A natively fuels 11, giving owners tons of flexibility when it comes to speaker layouts. If bi-amping a system’s front mains tickles your fancy, the RX-A8A can do that. And if you're looking to deliver media to different rooms, it can do that too, servicing up to three different zones using traditional speaker wire or outputs feeding external amps, plus an additional zone with HDMI. Of course, the RX-A8A's most alluring competency is its ability to command a potent immersive movie experience, which it does with arrangements as large as 9.2.2 or 7.2.4.
Adding to the totality of the RX-A8A's audio prowess are dedicated sub outs. It's not uncommon for receivers to carry two subwoofer outputs, but they're often split from one channel. The RX-A8A doesn't cheat the system like that, giving owners two unique bass channels for left and right or front and back duties.
The RX-A8A's amp section is rated to deliver 150 Watts per channel (8 ohms, 0.06% THD, 20Hz-20kHz, 2ch driven), giving it lots of power to drive large and small speakers. But there's more to the story, with this generation's amplifier doubling the slew rate of the last and claiming a more stable signal transmission. That, according to Yamaha, translates to performance that instantaneously responds with precision to rapid changes in input level.
Digging deeper, digital to analog conversion is handled by ESS Sabre Pro Premier ES9026PRO DACs on all channels, with Yamaha's DAC On Pure Ground deployment lowering the overall noise floor. This was undoubtedly noticeable during listening sessions, where a silent backdrop served as an exceptional audio canvas. Furthermore, picky ears can dig through the RX-A8A's menu system and choose from one of three DAC filters – Sharp Roll-Off (for clarity), Slow Roll-Off (for a softer presentation), and Short Latency (reduces audio delay for responsive and rhythmical sounds) – for a fine-tuned listening experience.
Audio processing is handled by a new Qualcomm QCS407 quad-core 64-bit processor with support for legacy codecs, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and, much to my delight, Auro-3D (due with a future firmware update). The processor also delivers Yamaha's proprietary Surround: AI post-processing and sound optimization technology and a host of digital signal processing options. More on that later.
Wirelessly, the RX-A8A has Bluetooth SBC/AAC (for both streaming music and transmitting audio to Bluetooth speakers and headphones), 2.4/5GHz WiFi, AirPlay 2, and Yamaha's MusicCast streaming and multi-room platform. MusicCast and its associated app open onboard access to TIDAL, Qobuz, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, Internet Radio, and locally stored music files.
On the video side, HDMI 2.1 will be front and center with various levels of functionality across seven inputs and three outputs. That means 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video via a firmware update this spring, with all the bells and whistles promised by the 2.1 specification. Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) is reserved for the primary HDMI output (it's removed from the other two), but you'll find future support for Variable Refresh Rate, Quick Media Switching, Quick Frame Transport, and Auto Low Latency Mode across them all. And with complete coverage of HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision, the RX-A8A has no qualms handling High Dynamic Range.
Out of the Box
Yamaha's approach to packaging is top-shelf across the board, giving zero concerns about having the RX-A8A shipped to your door. Inside, you'll find the typical accessories along with a microphone and multipoint stand for YPAO measurements, and a handsome motion-activated backlit remote control. The remote is loaded with interesting surfaces to touch, with a hard plastic diamond plate backside and a soft-rubberized front. The tactile nature of its button layout is widely varied, making it easy to memorize for quick use. This might be the best remote I've seen in quite some time – a significant bonus from a convenience/usability standpoint.
Visually, the RX-A8A is a stunning piece of equipment, striking a bold stance and exuding power with an oversized center-mounted volume knob. In a non-traditional move, Yamaha positioned the display off-center, discretely hidden by a dark and shiny plastic faceplate. And, except for a physical power button, front selections are limited to several touch-sensitive surfaces and a small multifunction knob that controls an on-screen menu system.
The topside venting surface pops with personality despite being made from ABS plastic. I'll admit to being disappointed in Yamaha's choice of materials here, especially considering the RX-A8A's flagship status. Tho any concerns subsided once it became evident that a rigid, perforated metal chassis exists beneath the outer cover.
Underneath the RX-A8A, you'll find a complement of metal isolation feet and the Aventage Series' anti-resonance wedge. This year, Yamaha's engineers have repositioned the wedge near the receiver's front, providing more control under the bulk of the receiver's weight.
The rear of the receiver is a sight to see, with 13 pairs of smoky-colored speaker posts, a complete complement of pre-outs, an array of RCA and digital inputs, and dual WiFi antennae. Vinyl fans will be thrilled with the presence of phono connectivity, and those wanting access to balanced ports can access stereo XLR inputs and outputs. Labels and graphics applied to the surface of the rear panel are relatively easy to read, but I wish the entire backside benefited from a high-contrast black text on a grey surface.
At a beefy 47.2 lbs., the RX-A8A is a hefty piece of equipment that's as solid as a concrete block. Despite the outer plasticky nature of its top cover, the receiver feels like a tank in the hands. A look at its internals reveals a dazzling multi-layer PCB, a fan-cooled processor, and serious attention to manufacturing details. The large centrally mounted transformer with double windings occupies its own mounting bracket and is flanked by a symmetrical amplifier layout. Yamaha says the overall design optimizes signal paths and reduces signal noise and cross-channel interference.
Getting the RX-A8A up and running was moderately easy despite a few ripples that might trip up less technically inclined. Yamaha's approach to integration favors the use of its AV Set-Up app (iOS and Android), which I initially skipped but explored during a second set-up trial. Upon first power-up, the RX-A8A guides you through establishing a WiFi connection and then defaults to normal operation. You won't find multiple screens of set-up guidance, so if you need that kind of hand-holding, the AV Set-Up app is the way to go.
The AV Set-Up app is generally worthy of praise, though it doesn't allow a user to position presence channels in a ceiling-mounted position. You can achieve this designation using the RX-A8A's on-screen menu, but you'd have to be comfortable with Yamaha's menu system to make this change quickly. This left me scratching my head, noting it as a flaw in Yamaha's overall set-up approach.
For this review, I configured a 7.2.4 channel system consisting of GoldenEar Triton One.Rs as mains, a GoldenEar SuperCenter XL center, SVS Ultra Surround and Bookshelf side and rear surrounds, ceiling-mounted SVS Prime Elevation presence channels in overhead and front room positions, and dual SVS SB16 Ultra subs. The menu system allowed me to specify appropriate speaker positions while also setting speaker sizes, individual channel crossovers, and the like. Note, the RX-A8A does have a Web UI interface that opens access to the receiver's settings. I'll discuss this more in the forthcoming RX-A4A AVENTAGE 7.1 Channel AVR review.
Video input came at the hands of Kaleidescape's Terra + Strato C 4K capable movie server, with output dumping to a JVC NX7 4K projector. Audio input tapped both TIDAL and Qobuz using Yamaha's MusicCast app.
Once again, Yamaha relies on its in-house Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) R.S.C. multipoint measurement system for calibration and room correction. Using the included microphone and stand, owners can correct for a primary seat or larger seating area. I opted to correct for all five seats in my theater room; pre-and post-correction results (Left speaker and subs measured from the middle listening position, graph data separated for viewing purposes) can be seen below.
Yamaha has several user-selectable correction filters, including a new "Low Frequency Mode" that identifies problems in the 15.6Hz to 250Hz frequency range. Other filter options include Flat, Front, Natural, Manual, and Through (which doesn't engage a filter).
The Low Frequency Mode isn’t an automated solution, meaning it doesn’t identify and correct issues on its own. Instead, it provides users with specific information pertaining to low frequency problem areas, along with the tools to address them. In the case of my system’s subwoofers, the mode highlighted four bands with issues, allowing me to adjust a target frequency, Q, and gain. The upside to this tool is high, particularly for users with a calibrated microphone and measurement software like Room EQ Wizard. Otherwise, owners will need to use their ears to account for positive impacts of any alterations.
The system’s other modes automatically apply as much correction needed to achieve a desired effect. As the graph illustrates (below), 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’s designed to match a system’s multi-channel speakers to the tonality of Left and Right mains. This process doesn’t apply equalization to the mains, but does use measurement information to correct other speakers for a closer sonic match.
Post-calibration, I double-checked channel levels with a handheld SPL meter and found most speakers were within a decibel or two of 75dB, if not spot-on. However, YPAO automatically reset all of my speakers to "large" while applying some questionable crossover settings. For example, it applied a 40Hz crossover to my smaller Elevation ceiling channels while assigning an 80Hz crossover to my larger rear surrounds. So, before the evaluation, I reset crossover points for every speaker to 80Hz, except for the system's mains which I bumped down to 60Hz.
The Owner's Manual is generally a decent resource but suffers from poor wording and a lack of technical details. My own experience and use of various online resources nullified this issue, but it could be a significant stumbling block for less seasoned owners. My concerns are less about performing a general "get it up and running" set-up and more focused on 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 found within the receiver's on-screen menu system.
There's a host of other set-up options that owners are encouraged to explore. I particularly liked the ability to create presets that save an input source, sound program, HDMI output, and a few other options. These “scenes” make for effective one-touch selections via the remote control, giving you the power to instantly switch between different listening and viewing sessions. Neat stuff.
Unleashing the Beast
With a full 7.2.4 array primed for duty, it was impossible not to challenge the RX-A8A's multi-channel and immersive capabilities first. With my personalized Kaleidescape demo script at the ready, I began combing through curated reference scenes from the likes of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (4K HDR, Atmos), Gravity (4K HDR, 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), and more. The results were electric, exploding with the graceful sizzle and heavy punches you'd expect from an upscale system.
From a performance standpoint, the RX-A8A provided a reliably stable HDMI connection and happily obeyed commands from the backlit remote. As previously mentioned, it didn't take long for my thumb to memorize the position and tactile markers associated with various remote commands, making control adjustments swift and painless. On-screen menu systems were easy to access and navigate during playback, though the RX-A8A doesn't account for information positioning while playing back 2:40:1 content. If your theater room runs a fixed cinemascope screen and relies on zoom for 2.40:1 content, viewing essential information during playback (volume changes, sound mode selections, etc.) is hampered because it falls off the screen.
One convenient menu feature is the RX-A8A's on-screen “Information" selection which presents a detailed dashboard summary of playback information. You can use it to confirm a film's native codec, what speakers your system is using 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.
If you're the kind of user that likes to confirm settings and actual playback performance, Yamaha has you covered.
To note, the receiver's newly positioned (and smaller) front panel display receives a passing grade. While I'd prefer it to be slightly larger and capable of displaying more information, it gets the job done. I particularly liked its ability to disappear into the blackness of the RX-A8A's faceplate, keeping the focus on AVR's large volume knob.
Playback-wise, the RX-A8A is an immersive rockstar. Soundscapes were detailed from top to bottom, panning activities were spot-on, and Atmos tracks blanketed my theater room with a dome of sound. As for power, it was there in spades. I took volume levels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to an ear-bending 120dB (equivalent to a jet taking off), and John Williams' score remained graceful and razor-sharp. Dialog held its natural punch, and the cacophony of swirling sound broadcast by my room's Atmos array was both intoxicating and devoid of cringe-inducing blemishes.
Low frequency effects were also hard-hitting and controlled. All of the subtleties we expect from LFE were there, like the deep "thunk" associated with the closing of a luxury car door, the concussive "thwacks" of chopper blades, and the explosive "thuds" from military firearms. And insane bass moments from scenes in Spider-Man, Interstellar, and Project: X (HD, DTS HD-MA. Kaleidescape) were gloriously thunderous and potently punchy across all five seats in my room.
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.
As part of the review, I explored the RX-A8A's ability to create a Virtual Presence Speaker and Virtual Surround Back Speaker using 2.0 and 5.2 layouts. I was pleased to find Yamaha's menu system provides granular control over DSP parameters, giving the user the ability to dial-back or accentuate the virtual speaker experience – I chose to max out performance parameters! Much to my surprise, the system adequately simulated immersive sound. Playback was so convincing that I had to physically check certain speakers to confirm they weren't in use. I wouldn't say it was 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.
Shifting away from movies and moving toward music, proper 2-channel playback performance was spot on. The resulting soundstage was focused and composed, loaded with detail and an expansive nature. More importantly, I didn't find myself wishing my mains were being powered by something other than the receiver. Like my movie demo experiences, stereo playback could be taken to bold SPLs without detriment to sound.
Outside of streaming via Bluetooth or AirPlay, much of the RX-A8A's music experience centers around the MusicCast app. To its benefit, the app is intuitively designed and supports Hi-Res Audio up to 24-bit/192kHz, delivering high levels of convenience and resolution. I had zero issues signing into Spotify, TIDAL, and Qobuz, finding quick access to favorite tracks on TIDAL and the AV NIRVANA staff playlist on Qobuz.
MusicCast does more than just source control; it allows owners to create a complex multi-room audio system using other MusicCast enabled gear. It also gives owners 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.
Speaking of DSP, Yamaha and DSP go together like peanut butter and jelly – it's impossible not to discuss the company's extensive list of sound programs. While jumping between DSP options during demo sessions, I consistently landed back on "Straight" playback for unfettered sound. For better or worse, I'm not a huge fan of altering film or music tracks from their original sound. But, if you're the adventurous type that likes to hear sound processed outside of its natural being, Yamaha has cooked up 20-plus different sound modes to explore. There are modes designed specifically for movies and gaming (like Sci-Fi, Adventure, Sports, and Action Game), and music modes that place your favorite artists in various live settings like a church, a hall, or an intimate nightclub.
There's no “one size fits all” sound program, as they seem to have varying levels of acceptable impacts across different styles of music and media. And while I won't argue against their ability to eerily transport you to the hard surfaces of a large church or the vastness of a music hall, I found myself most intrigued by the mode that has the least amount of increased room size associated with its character. The Cellar Club mode transports you to a small stage, small room feel, creating the bizarre sense of a deadened front wall and slightly expansive rear. It played exceptionally well for singer-songwriter tracks, fostering a coziness that sounded intimate and less processed.
As I re-packed the RX-A8A for its trip back to Yamaha's HQ, I couldn't help but marvel at the insane levels of performance harnessed within its chassis. There's little doubt that it deserves its flagship status, standing as one of the industry's elite AVR products.
From a performance perspective, the RX-A8A does so much right, it's easy to excuse its minor warts. The receiver's movie playback and Surround: AI post-processing capabilities are sensational, and music listening is equally enjoyable. Those, paired with an extensive menu system loaded with information and tweaks makes for a beautiful user experience. I do wish Yamaha's documentation was more friendly and accessible, and I'd like to see YPAO offer target curves and even better low-end control. Still, those dangling wishes didn't diminish my user experience.
If given the opportunity, I'd happily rack the RX-A8A and go to battle with it at my side. It's serious home theater gear. Well done, Yamaha. Easy to recommend!
Yamaha RX-A8A AVENTAGE 11.2-Channel AV Receiver Specifications
- Channels: 11.2
- Power Output 2-Channel Driven: 150 W at 8 Ohms / 20 Hz to 20 kHz / 0.06% THD; 165 W at 8 Ohms / 1 kHz / 0.9% THD
- 1-Channel Driven: 185 W at 8 Ohms / 1 kHz / 0.9% THD; 200 W at 6 Ohms / 1 kHz / 0.9% THD; 230 W at 4 Ohms / 1 kHz / 0.9% THD
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 100 kHz +0/-3 dB (Direct, Pure Mode)
- Speaker Impedance: 4 to 8 Ohms
- Tone Control: Bass (50 Hz): ±6.0 dB
- Treble (20 kHz): ±6.0 dB
- Damping Factor: > 140
- DTS Compatibility: DTS, DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X
- Dolby Compatibility: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD
- Auro 3D Support: Yes
- Upmixing Technology: DTS Neural:X, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology
- Supported File Formats: 11.2 MHz DSD, 2.8 MHz DSD, 5.6 MHz DSD, AAC, AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV, WMA
- DAC 384 kHz / 32-Bit (ESS SABRE ES9026PRO)
- HDR Compatibility: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
- Pass-Through Support: 4K60p
- Upscaling: None
- GUI: Yes
- 7 x HDMI 2.1
- 1 x 3RCA Component
- 2 x RCA Composite
- 3 x Optical TOSLINK
- 2 x Digital Coaxial
- 1 x Stereo XLR
- 5 x Stereo RCA
- 1 x Stereo RCA (Phono) with Ground Screw
- 3 x HDMI 2.1
- 1 x Stereo XLR Pre-Out
- 1 x 11-Channel RCA Pre-Out
- 1 x Stereo RCA Zone 2
- 1 x Stereo RCA Zone 3
- 2 x RCA Subwoofer
- 1 x USB Type-A
- 1 x 1/4" / 6.35 mm Headphone Output
- 1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm Setup Mic Input
- 1 x FM Antenna Terminal Input
- 1 x AM Antenna Terminal Input
- 2 x Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Antenna Terminal
- 2 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm (12 V Trigger) Output
- 1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm (Remote) Input
- 1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm (Remote) Output
- 1 x RJ45 (Ethernet)
- Speaker Connectors: 13 x Binding Post Pairs
- HDCP Support: Version 2.3
- HDMI Compression Modes: Not Specified by Manufacturer
- Audio Return Channel (ARC): ARC, eARC
- HDMI CEC: Yes
- Media Card Slot: None
- Bi-Amp Capability: Yes
- Input Impedance: Phono: 47 Kilohms
- RCA: 47 Kilohms:
- XLR: 200 Kilohm;s
- Input Sensitivity: Phono: 4.5 mV
- RCA: 250 mV
- XLR (Attenuator Off): 260 mV
- XLR (Attenuator On): 520 mV
- Rated Output / Impedance: Pre-Out, Subwoofer Pre-Out: 1 V / 470 Ohms
- Zone 2 Line-Out, Zone 3 Line-Out: 470 mV / 470 Ohms
- Analog: 2 V / 470 Ohms
- 95 dB (Direct Mode / IHF-A)
- Pre-Amp: 110 dB (Direct Mode / IHF-A
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac); Dual-Band (2.4 & 5 GHz)
- Wireless Security: AES, WEP, WPA2-PSK
- Bluetooth: 4.2
- Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP
- Supported Audio Codecs: AAC, SBC
- Bluetooth Range: 32.8' / 10 m
- Wireless Audio Protocols: AirPlay 2, MusicCast
- Virtual Assistant Support: Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant
- Tuner Type: AM, FM
- Number of Tuner Presets: FM: 40 Stations
- Radio Frequencies: AM: 530 to 1710 kHz
- FM: 87.5 to 107.9 MHz
- Sensitivity: FM Mono at 50 dB: 3 µV / 20.8 dBf
- Signal to Noise Ratio, FM: 68 dB (Stereo), 69 dB (Mono)
- AC Input Power: 120 VAC, 60 Hz
- Power Consumption: Active: 600 W
- Network Standby: 3 W
- CEC Standby: 1.9 W
- Bluetooth Standby: 1.7 W
- Standby: 0.4 W
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 17.1 x 7.6 x 18.8" / 43.5 x 19.2 x 47.7 cm; 17.1 x 10.7 x 18.8" / 43.5 x 27.1 x 47.7 cm (Antenna Up)
- Weight: 47.2 lb / 21.4 kg
- Warranty Length: Limited 3-Year Warranty
- Package Weight: 53.5 lb
- Box Dimensions (LxWxH): 21.88 x 21.75 x 11.5"