Yamaha RX-A3010 AV-receiver

The Aventage range represents the present high end in AVR layout from Yamaha. Joining bombproof build quality with DSP that is brilliant, they're arguably the most exciting new home theatre arrivals in the brand because the launch of the outrageously over-specified RX-Z11 THX battle-cruiser back in 2008.

Top of the line is the GBP2,000 Aventage RX-A3010 auditioned here. This 9.2-station winner is a sumptuous animal with enviable reserves of power. In practice, of course, you'll never get close to using that much juice, but it's good to have it in reserve.

Besides the familiar delights of living-room theatre, the RX-A3010 assures audiophile grade two-channel operation, complete home networking, USB connectivity and maybe even Bluetooth convenience (via an optional dock).

Design-wise, the receiver is conventional but dramatic. A pull straddles -down fascia flap. Here you'll locate an extensive bank of quick connections, including HDMI USB and digital audio. You'll find even composite legacy input signals and S Video should you ever want to hook up that old Sega Megadrive.

Back-panel connectivity is outstanding, with no fewer than seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outs, which is often driven concurrently in the event you want to look at a film in two different rooms. There is also a quartet of component video phono AV and stereo audio slugs, plus seven digital audio options, a complete pair of multichannel sound input signals (most likely to accommodate a Super Audio CD player) and matching pre-outs. I doubt you'll discover anything critical that you just can not plug in.

All the HDMIs are, naturally, every video connection, and 3D compliant, however skanky and low resolution the source, can be up-converted for delivery. A Vida chip handles video processing from the silicon specialists at HQV.

Additional management choices come in the shape of two 12 V triggers (to sync like a Yamaha sub, joined kit, for example), and an RS-232 terminal for professional integrators. The RX-A3010 is both Control4 and Crestron certified, and provides a browser-based internet control interface when networked custom installers should find it a snap to bring under system management.

There is one more operational nicety: input choice is allowed by the RX-A3010 while in HDMI Standby mode, in order to use it as a dense switcher for sources without even needing to power it up.

Two remote controls are supplied. The primary zapper (pictured, right) is, inevitably, a little daunting, but on the plus side it is backlit. A more straightforward, credit card design control can be bundled for general use. There is a free Yamaha AV Controller program for iOS and Android if you're averse to buttons completely.

There is no lack of options in regards to channel configuration. The Aventage supports two subwoofers and up to nine loudspeakers, with provision for more should you furnish additional amplification.

While there's plenty of provision for manual tailoring of distances and degrees, the YPAO does such a cracking job, you will probably not need to trouble. Calibration may be checked against a high res image of your loudspeaker layout. Within my listening room, the YPAO accurately identified all speakers as well as their distances.

Input allocation is usually uncomplicated, with all the exception of likely among the very significant sources for UK users - Sky.With any HDMI input, the RX-A3010 automatically defaults to whatever audio is piggybacked. Sadly, Heavens will not deliver multichannel sound via HDMI; rather, you're required to lace up a separate digital audio feed from your satellite receiver. Getting the AVR to recognise this will almost surely result in some head-scratching, as Yamaha has turned what should be an apparent audio solution that is select into a bit of an Easter Egg hunt.

That which you actually need to do is select Choice from the main remote. This calls up a secondary menu, which at first glance seems to provide little help picking that HDMI sound. But scroll down past the underside of the window that is visible, to reveal a singular, Audio Select control that is hidden. It's this which enables you to make the digital audio input the primary sound source to your Sky HDMI feed, which in turn brings with it Dolby Digital 5.1 goodness.

The route to the alteration isn't even unclear in the provided manual; you'll need to fish about. My guidance to Yamaha is in the very least to move the Audio Select alternative to the visible window of the Alternative display - Is Quantity Cut really more significant? Of course not!

In Yammy convention that is true, there's supply for added height/existence speakers front and rear. Nonetheless, realising that for many of us adding additional loudspeakers is akin to filing for divorce, virtual audio processing is on hand to reach substantially the same effect. This VPS (Virtual Presence Speaker) processing can make an almost holographic 3D audio bubble.

Signal processing has long been a Yamaha strength, as well as the RX-A3010 marks an evolution of the Cinema DSP technology of the brand. Because of a higher capacity chipset, more data crunched and may be stored than before. Not only does this mean better precision for acoustic measurements, it also enables Cinema DSP HD3 processing to expand the height/width of any soundfield that is virtual.

With this audition, I ran the RX-A3010 in a reasonably conventional 7.2 configuration. The optional VPS system was afterward engaged, included in the general DSP entourage, to generate additional ambience.

There's a large variety of signal processing flavours available, grouped by genre (Movie Theatre, Classical Entertainment, Live/Club). For example, Movie Theatre comes with six treatments (Spectacle, Standard, Sci Fi, Adventure, Play and Mono) are the soundfield alters, making it wider, tighter etc.

Not that DSP devilry is needed by the RX-A3010. This AVR offers broad, nail imaging, a tuneful mid range and thumping depth. Cliff Martinez's pulsating synthi-pop DTS-HD mother soundtrack from Drive (Blu-ray), is delivered with power that was mesmerising. Contrary to what you may expect, it's not in any way clinical. This tonality may well be down to the fact that the RX-A3010 has been UK-tuned, extremely uncommon for a big Japanese AVR.

The procedure, which requires hundreds of hours of listening tests, followed by live trials and engineering revisions depending on the results, was focused to the two channel operation of the AVR. And this model is astonishingly great with stereo sources; a musicality here which recalls Yamaha's A-S500 stereo amp. But the procedure has affected the entire character of the receiver.

Nevertheless, the RX-A3010 is evolution rather than revolution.

What's notable is a refinement in construction, to minimise interference and shaking. A centralized fifth foot on the bottom to dampen vibration from the energy transformer. Wedge, and it's apparently related to the same technology utilised on the brand.

There is additionally a symmetrical power amp layout and H-shape frame with double-bottom construction. Both conspire to assist rigidity.

It goes without saying that any receiver covers all of the required audio formats for Bluray.

My RX-A3010 and album art successfully played MP3, WMA, M4A, WAV and FLAC 96/24 files, when provided (there is no support for video). The proprietary MP3 Enhancer of the unit for the most part, operates nicely, adding weight to tracks that otherwise sound. It's somewhat indiscriminate in that it could make some tunes sound thumpy, but used on the material that is proper it is unquestionably welcome. Apply it.

Obviously, there is additionally an FM tuner, but it is not easy to picture it'll get much use given that there's internet radio. Offering huge selection, convenient playback and often better quality than FM, 'net radio is a game-changer in regards to listening that is causal. Happily you'll be able to bookmark services, although the channel selection is unfeasibly huge.

Regrettably, there are a few glaring omissions in the attribute spread: Spotify and Apple AirPlay. Your view on this will depend on personal allegiances.

Obviously with such enormous power reservations, the RX-A3010 could not prove somewhat cheap to run.

Ideally placed to embrace network sound, but well equipped for Bluray and two channel, it's an AVR with bonded longevity. These omissions are not deal breakers, although personally I'd have liked to see AirPlay, and of course THX post processing.

Yamaha RX-A3010 AV-receiver photo