Deciding which AV receiver to buy is a bit like choosing a good bottle of wine in a restaurant: it’s often best to avoid the cheapest or most expensive on the list, and instead go for something in the middle. The Yamaha RX-A6A is the perfect example of this philosophy, offering most of the benefits of the flagship RX-A8A, but without that fairly hefty price premium.
As a result you still get the minimalist Aventage design and superb build quality, plus a hat-trick of immersive audio formats with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. The RX-A6A includes nine powerful channels of built-in amplification and processing for up to 11.2, along with HDMI 2.1 connections, and Yamaha’s proprietary Surround:AI and YPAO room correction technology.
The RX-A6A is a consummate performer, delivering the musicality, power and multichannel expertise for which Yamaha is famous. Underpinning this performance are nine channels of powerful amplification that can drive most systems without breaking a sweat. You can run a 9.2-channel configuration with multiple overhead speakers and dual subwoofers right out of the box, although if for some reason that’s not enough there is processing for up to 11.2 channels.
Yamaha has been pioneering multichannel audio for decades, and the RX-A6A sports a full suite of virtual surround modes designed to upscale regular audio, simulating an immersive soundtrack that takes full advantage of those nine or 11 channels. Yamaha is famous for its DSP modes, applying sound field data to create the illusion of being in various famous venues, and the new Surround:AI feature analyses the audio to automatically select the most appropriate processing.
If you match the RX-A6A to a decent pair of floorstanding speakers you’ll be rewarded with a full-bodied and highly musical performance. Any good two-channel recording will be revealed in all its glory, with precise placement of instruments and clear stereo imaging. The Yamaha is able to render the layers of even the most complex music, teasing out the vocals and instruments with a deft hand, and revealing all the dynamic range within the original masters.
The RX-A6A is equally as impressive with 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks, producing a cohesive and beautifully balanced soundstage that effortlessly steers effects from speaker to speaker. Thanks to the nine built in channels you can run a fully immersive 5.1.4- or 7.1.2-channel configuration, but if want the full monty (7.1.4) you’ll need to add two extra channels of amplification. Whatever setup you choose, this AV receiver is sure to dazzle with its unrivalled immersive audio talents.
The RX-A6A might not be the flagship model but you’ll find that hard to believe just from looking at it. There’s the solid construction and premium finish we’ve come to expect from Yamaha’s Aventage range, plus a new minimalist design that’s surprisingly elegant for an AV receiver. Only the small display tucked away in the right hand corner disappoints.
Yamaha’s recently updated menu system and remote control makes setup considerably easier than previous years, but it’s still not the most intuitive process, with a confusing choice of speaker configurations. On the plus side, the YPAO automatic EQ is fairly user-friendly, tightening up the bass and eliminating the more egregious acoustic characteristics of your room.
One of the big additions this year is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 connections. These enable the receiver to pass 4K/120p, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and even 8K/60p – assuming you can find any sources that use this resolution. Of more immediate benefit is the ability to pass 4K/120p high frame-rate signals from the latest Xbox X Series and PlayStation 5 gaming consoles.
As with the majority of Yamaha’s products, the RX-A6A supports the company’s proprietary MusicCast multiroom system. A highly effective remote app allows high-res audio to be played on a multitude of supporting devices, as well as provide a comprehensive choice of music streaming services, and voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Christopher Nolan’s existential heist movie boasts a fantastic 5.1-channel mix that allows the RX-A6A to simultaneously drive all the speakers hard and create a powerful surround soundstage. The climatic shootout in a mountain fortress really benefits from this AVR’s multichannel prowess.
This film has been used for home cinema demos for over 20 years, and thanks to its new Dolby Atmos soundtrack that’s likely to continue. All the usual audio highlights are present and correct, but it’s the famous ‘bullet-time’ scenes that stand out as sonic shockwaves glide past your head.
Fast & Furious 9
This gang-busting DTS:X soundtrack is about as subtle as you’d expect for a film about globe-trotting, crime-fighting muscle car racers, and the RX-A6A has sufficient grunt to handle every ridiculous gravity-defying stunt, up to and including sending a car into space (seriously).
Audioholics praised the RX-A6A’s state-of-the-art electronics and impressive reserves of power, while Sound and Vision awarded a Top Pick badge, saying it features everything but the kitchen sink and delivers a solid overall performance.
The Yamaha RX-A6A is a richly featured and highly capable AV receiver that includes sufficient power to drive even the most demanding of systems. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to setup, and the YPAO room correction will ensure all the speakers and subs are balanced and cohesive. The sound quality is excellent for both music and movies, with the latter enjoying seamless steering of effects from speaker to speaker. There are extensive sound modes, plus the option to expand your configuration to 11.2-channels if you desire, while the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 ensures the RX-A6A is suitably future proofed. Overall this mid-range marvel is hard to fault.