Yamaha RX-V6A review: The future sound of entertainment

The waters around the AV receivers drift rather than rage. Compared to TVs and soundbars, change slowly comes to these big black boxes. The Yamaha RX-V6A ($ 600 on Amazon) it’s a refreshing dip in a swimming pool that has stagnated in recent years. With a nice rounded look reminiscent of high-end brands like Classe, paired with a long list of futuristic features, this is the most forward-thinking receiver I’ve seen in a long time.

Like it

  • Great appearance (for a receiver)
  • It looks engaging with music and movies
  • Updated feature set and connections

I do not like

  • The LCD display can be difficult to read
  • No integrated Chromecast

Appearance is nothing without the performance to support it, and the RX-6A offered great sound quality in my listening test. This mid-range receiver RX-V6A delivers Dolby Atmos playback and many music playback options, making it comfortable with an episode of The Mandalorian as happens with impromptu dance parties.

It has a few quirks: the speaker outputs are arranged in an unusual order and that LCD display is harder to read than an LED – but overall this Yamaha is simply more fun than its competitors. I hope the RX-V6A is the spark that ignites an afterthought on AV receivers and helps bring the category back into the mainstream.

Connect all your stuff

The RX-V6A is a 7.1.2 channel receiver with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X playback and 100 watts per channel. But the spec sheet isn’t the first thing that catches the eye.

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Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

The rounded, glass-like dashboard of the Yamaha RX-V6A is a real deviation from Sony, Denon, and Onkyo’s black shoeboxes. The edges are curved in a way I’ve never seen before, but it doesn’t look ostentatious. The front houses a centered volume control and a high resolution LCD display that looks smart but isn’t all that bright. It’s off-center, so if you sit on the left it’s even more difficult to read even at maximum brightness. I prefer the LED readings found on the competitors.

This receiver couldn’t be “the future” without a fully updated spec sheet and the RX-V6A doesn’t skimp. It includes seven HDMI inputs, three of which are 8K compatible HDMI 2.1 ports ports designed to support all output capabilities of sources such as Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and PC graphics cards such as Nvidia RTX 3090. Yamaha claims this is more 2.1 ports than any other brand, and offers goodies like auto low latency mode and fast media switching. The receivers support even longer HDMI cable works with a ruggedized power supply.

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Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

Yamaha also made changes to the rear. Most receivers, including earlier Yamahas, place the L / R speaker output to the left of the panel, followed by the center and then the rear. For whatever reason, the RX-V6A places the front pair in the center instead of on the left, which could be confusing, especially if you’re bent over it in a dark environment. It won’t take long to remember which output is which, and once the speakers are connected it’s not a big deal.

The RX-V6A may not be fully loaded when it comes to Wi-Fi streaming support compared to our current Editors’ Choice winner, the Onkyo TX-NR696, but still offers something for most people. MusicCast by Yamaha The multiroom system is one of the best integrated systems and also allows the use of Yamaha smart speakers as rear. The recipient offers AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth too, though it lacks a built-in Chromecast. IT can be controlled via Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri-enabled devices, but the controls are mostly basic – mostly volume, input, and next / previous track controls.

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Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

The receiver comes with a remote control that offers a variety of functions, including a dedicated Bluetooth button. It’s bright and cheerful, and offers a zone 2 control switch for added flexibility.

Although the aesthetics have been significantly improved, the on-screen display is a small step backwards. The interface features blocky blue and white icons, while competitors like Sony offer more user-friendly interfaces with larger icons and a better grip for newcomers.

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Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

This is the future of sound

I compared the Yamaha RX-V6A to another new receiver, the Denon AVR-S960, and I found myself returning to listening to Yamaha more often. While the Denon has a relaxed sound, the Yamaha offers more excitement and home theater stimulation when listening to your favorite tunes. Simply put, the Yamaha looks more fun.

I started my testing with an underrated classic: the Iron and Wine / Calexico collaboration EP, In The Reins. While streaming via Roon to the Oppo UDP-203 ($ 3,999 on Amazon) and then letting the receivers decode, the Yamaha had a solid, three-dimensional sound. Through it Sam Beam’s voice was more firmly grounded in space, and the supporting voice a little easier to discern than the Denon.

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Ty Pendlebury / HDOT

Receivers tuned for movies are rarely good with music – they can sound overly harsh and tiring – but Spoon’s You Got Yr tambourine sound. Cherry Bomb sounded fuller on the Yamaha than the Denon. The song’s suffocating bass sustained percussion in the hands of the V6A, and the whole production sounded less thrash and more composed. The Denon was a little thinner, but it didn’t make me sit in the chair the same way.

Moving on to home theater with Avatar, Yamaha driving a couple Bowers and Wilkins 603 S2 the speakers sounded bigger and easier than any soundbar I’ve heard. The opening dialogue of Thanator’s chase scene was also more understandable, and certainly better than the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass ($ 300 on Amazon) soundbar, for example. It may not have had the same boom effect on creature footsteps, but this was easily tweaked via the Yamaha menu.

After that tweak, the Yamaha had bass effects that I could actually hear with my feet, and compared to the Denon, I found it sounded more atmospheric, but the bass still wasn’t as impactful.

Should you buy it?

If you’re trying to decide between Yamaha and Denon, both sound quality and features come into play. The Yamaha offers an extra HDMI port over the Denon and also more 8K compliant 2.1 ports. The RX-V6A also has a better look and a more fun sound.

The receiver didn’t get everything right – that LCD display is a misstep – and I still prefer the Onkyo for the nose because of its superior streaming options and better viewing. While there are more receivers to arrive in mid-2021, if you want something that offers a degree of protection for the future and high quality sound right now, the Yamaha is an excellent choice.

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