• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Review and Measurements of Yamaha RX-A1080 AVR

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
32,166
Likes
106,199
Location
Seattle Area
#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio/Video Receiver (AVR). I purchased this solely for the purpose of testing through my company (Madrona Digital is a dealer for Yamaha among many other brands). The RX-A1080 is part of the upper tier of Yamaha AVRs consisting of RX-A1080, RX-A2080 and RX-A3080. It costs US $1,300 and is price protected so you won't find it discounted for less online.

The front panel of the RX-A1080 resembles other AVRs such as Pioneer:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Surround Audio Video Receiver AVR Review.jpg

I watched a review of the Yamaha online and the person praised the feel of the volume control. Good thing I don't eat cereal or I would have thrown up all of it after hear that! The control is plastic, and stiff and in no way makes you feel good playing with it. Fortunately you won't be using it much and instead, resort to remote control so practically doesn't matter other than longing for great volume control of 1970s and 1980s audio gear.

The front panel opens up and gives a bunch of direct access buttons, again much like Pioneer. And as with Pioneer, we have a "Pure Direct" button.

The back panel is what you expect to see in an AVR:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Surround Audio Video Receiver AVR Back Panel Review.jpg

Hopefully the money spent on analog component video input and all of those composite inputs (in yellow) did not take away from expense elsewhere to produce great performance. I imagine they put these on the back just for show as to make it look like they do a lot. I mean who needs 7 analog inputs plus Phono? Speaking of phono, I will test that in a future installment.

Anyway, you are here to see measurements rather than read my rants so let's get into that.

AVR DAC Audio Measurements
I tried to save myself work and not test this but you all wouldn't let me. :) After all, the most common application is HDMI In, speakers out. But let's see how digital input and pre-amp output performs. I started with testing HDMI and took a lot of messing with menus to get the darn thing to output 2 channels and no folding of other channels into Left and Right. Disabling processing, etc. Here is that output with volume level set to 0 dB:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC 0 dB Audio Measurements.png


As noted, enabling Pure Direct made no difference with this setup. As is typical of these AVRs, nominal output falls short of 2 volts we like to see out of stand-alone DACs. To get there, I turned up the volume a couple of dBs:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC 2 dB Audio Measurements.png


Distortion increased but so did the output level so SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) did not change.

The unit though was at the verge of shutting down despite me leaving speaker terminals disconnected. If I just dialed up the volume 0.5 to 1 dB, it would shut down. So for the rest of the measurements I went with 0 dB volume level.

With a SINAD of 85 dB, you are not going to brag to your neighbors about RX-A1080 in this regard:
Best Audio DACs Reviewed 2019.png


Forth and bottom quarter performance. Within the much smaller subset of AVRs, we get somewhat better news:

Best Home Theater AVRs Reviewed and Measured.png


Mostly because we have much worse measuring AVR DAC subsystem measurements.

I had request to measure with S/PDIF so I choose to use Toslink to avoid any chance of ground loops and got this:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) Toslink DAC 0 dB Audio Measurements.png


What??? Noise floor goes way down but harmonic distortion -- especially third harmonic -- shoots up resulting in much lower SINAD of 78 dB.

Let me spell this out: there is only one DAC which converts digital to analog. Whether you feed it with audio samples extracted from HDMI or Toslink, the final output should be very similar, sans noise and jitter which could be source specific. What we are seeing is radically different analog distortion profile. I don't understand how this is possible.

To rule out any changes, I immediately retested HDMI and got the same better performance as I have shown above.

Maybe there is some processing going on here but why would it be specific to Toslink and how would it add non-linearities this way and nothing else? Notice how the levels are almost identical to HDMI input.

I plan to investigate this more. If you have some ideas, let me know.

This I think is the first AVR we are measuring with ESS DAC chip. I think it uses an obscure ES9007S. The ES9007 came out back in 2007 I think and has far better performance. Here is the performance of the ES9008 from back then (can't find ES9007):

ESS ES9008 DAC.png


The SINAD is 114 dB which is far, far higher than our 86 dB number we got in our first dashboard view let alone what the Toslink did. The third harmonic distortion is highest at just below 120 dB.

Back to HDMI input, this is the dynamic range we have:
Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC 2 dB Dynamic Range Audio Meas...png


No better than what a 16 bit audio input could produce. Forget about any high-res audio aspirations with regards to 24-bits and such.

Jitter and noise performance was reasonable actually:
Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC 0 dB Jitter Audio Measurements.png


The higher noise floor than state-of-the-art stand-alone DACs hides some sins here but still, it is clean and definitely inaudible tones.

Intermodulation distortion relative to level was revealing:
Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC 0 dB IMD Audio Measurements.png


We see the classic ESS IMD Hump in all of its glory in this graph, showing this problem has existed for more than a decade before we discovered it!

Despite having the RX-A1080 at 0 dB volume, it still shut down before reaching max level. That is why distortion shot up through the roof.

Linearity was decent:
Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) Toslink DAC 0 dB Linearity Audio Measu...png


Multitone at 192 kHz sampling was a head scratcher as well:

Yamaha RX-A1080 Home Theater Audio Video Receiver (AVR) HDMI DAC -6 dB Multitone Audio Measure...png


Can't figure out why the response drops between 50 and 300 Hz. Tested a single tone at a time but did not see it there. So there is some kind of inverted distortion product from the rest of the tones that is interfering. As may be the case with the risen noise floor in low frequencies. For now, don't run with this.

AVR Amplifier Measurements
Per our recent discussions, I am standardizing the AVR dashboard with HDMI input and 5 watt output:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier HDMI Audio Measurements.png


0 dB was fed the the AVR and volume adjusted to produce 5 watt. I also did it for 1 watt as noted above the SINAD in red.

Distortion products are actually not material here: what defines the SINAD/THD+N is the rise spike at 120 Hz or double the mains frequency. This is NOT ground look or mains leakage. Nothing changes it with respect grounding. Instead, 120 Hz is from the power supply rectifier which doubles the incoming frequency (by flipping the negative wave into positive). This is usually smoothed with capacitors and good grounding. One, the other, or both are not done here causing that large spike at -78 dB or so which sets SINAD to the same value. Without it, the SINAD could have been as good as 90 dB. We have to run with what we have and this is where the RX-A1080 ranks:

Best Audio Amplifiers Reviewed and Measured.png


So slightly below average for all amps tested (in AVRs or otherwise). Among AVRs alone, it is actually decent ranking:

Best Home Theater AVRs Reviewed and Measured.png


For the rest of the tests, I switched to using the analog input.

Frequency with and without pure mode shows the difference:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Frequency Response Measurements.png


Even when the input is being digitized, the bandwidth is pretty good, stretching to 48 kHz or so indicating ADC sampling rate is 192 kHz or thereabouts.

Re-running our dashboard with analog input we get:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Measurements.png


We lost 5 dB of SINAD. Switching on Pure Direct gets us that back:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog Pure Audio Measurements.png


In other words, allowing analog inputs to be digitized to allow bass management, DSP and Room EQ, costs you 5 dB of noise and distortion. This is on top of lackluster value to begin with.

There is just no excuse here for not having a transparent ADC given how low the performance bar of the amplifier is. CD's 16 bits demands 96 dB of signal to noise ratio. If we had that in the ADC, there would be no impact on these measurements with or without ADC.

Notice all the junk in the spectrum of the FFT. We put in 1 kHz, and we get all that noise and garbage. Why or why?

Here is our signal to noise ratio:
Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In SNR Measurements.png


At 5 watts, we only have 86 dB or so blended SNR. Watch out for noise with sensitive horn speakers and such. Max power improves fair bit, exceeding CD's spec a bit.

By now you may be asking why the decapitated pink panther is not adorning this AVR. This is why. Power versus distortion at noise at 4 ohm:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Power at 4 Ohm Measurements.png


Seems like Yamaha does not participating in "AVR mediocracy cartel" when it comes to Amplifier performance. We pure-direct mode enabled in Blue, we see much lower noise floor than its competitors. You can see what happens when we allow ADC to get in the way though (in red) with significantly higher noise floor. But even then, it is still better than other AVRs.

Same thing repeats with 8 ohm:
Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Power at 8 Ohm Measurements.png


Give that amp designer a carrot!

Peak power as expected is much higher:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Peak Power  Measurements.png


Power versus level and frequency shows almost no frequency dependence which is unusual:

Pioneer RX-A1080 AVR Amplifier Analog  In Power at 4 Ohm THD vs Level vs Frequency Measurements.png


It could be that the noise/power supply spikes are so high that mask the distortions.

Conclusions
Almost any hope we had of the Yamaha RX-A1080 being a stand-out among other AVRs is dashed. We are still in the red when it comes to DAC performance. We still have strangeness in audio pipeline. We still have ADCs that are not transparent to analog inputs.

The one highlight was better noise/distortion at levels below max power. Here, there is a rather wide gap against other AVRs recently tested. Nothing remotely coming close to state-of-the-art amplifiers but at least better than the competition.

As I mentioned, as time permits, I will perform more tests on this.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Halloween is just around the corner and the panthers are demanding cool outfits for that. So please be generous with your donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
32,166
Likes
106,199
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #2
Forgot to note that Yamaha brags about getting rid of chassis resonances by putting in a fifth leg under this unit. Putting aside the fact that this will make it harder to level, I hope they aspire to fix real fidelity problems than chasing ghosts like mechanical resonances.

On the good news side, there are no fans here. Instead, they divide up the amplifier into two banks, one on each side. The heatsinks are the cheap, stamped sheet metal types though.

Overall, the unit ran fairly warm in my testing but not enough to make me concerned.
 

restorer-john

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
6,429
Likes
15,962
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#3
Forgot to note that Yamaha brags about getting rid of chassis resonances by putting in a fifth leg under this unit.
The fifth leg resonance argument was used in the 80s too, by other companies. Realistically, it was marketing BS- the chassis wasn't strong enough and tended to warp due to the transformers being placed on an unsupported part.

Pioneer used to supply spare foot sticker pads in the box to in case the unit didn't sit level.

pioneer foot pads.jpg
 
Last edited:

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,424
#5
Another illuminating review, @amirm

@restorer-john Good point. You'll recall that in the 70s, some Japanese companies had plate steel on the bottom of the chassis. The purpose was to add weight to units to make them seem more "substantial" for the customer lift test.
 

restorer-john

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
6,429
Likes
15,962
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#6
In the 70s, some Japanese companies had plate steel on the bottom of the chassis. The purpose was to add weight to units to make them seem more "substantial" for the customer lift test.
They all do it. Even now.

Even Accuphase put steel weights in the remotes to make them heavier, as did Cambridge. Marantz put steel plates under gear for the same purpose but pitched it as "resonance" control.

All things being equal, a heavier product feels better, especially if you are paying top dollar and plate steel is pretty cheap... :)
 

SimpleTheater

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
636
Likes
1,018
Location
Woodstock, NY
#7
Does it squeeze out a recommendation because of some performance adequacy or does it fall short.
 

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,424
#8
All things being equal, a heavier product feels better, especially if you are paying top dollar and plate steel is pretty cheap... :)
Agree.

So why not a more robust power supply in AB amps? [Whisper: Because that costs money.]
 

Dj7675

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
1,075
Likes
1,264
#9
The quest for something better continues. Look forward to more of these type of reviews of at least one product from the major players in the AVR market. Hoping someone sends in an Arcam model and an upper end Denon. That should be a pretty good sampling at least.
 

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
1,262
Likes
1,055
#11
Seeing that most AVRs tested here seemed to be below mark, my mind is contemplating a possible scenario why we're seeing this. Of course, this is pure fantasy on my part and not be taken seriously. My take is that, the engineers that built the AVRs did them right the 1st time with measurements up to mark but then the company employed listening session comprised of "competent" people. Based on the feedback from these people, the engineers had to tweak their "perfect" design so that the listening would be palatable to the "experts" few. So, the ghastly measurements that we are seeing now is the product of the engineers tweaking their design so that the listening session would be agreeable to the experts' ears.

This is all speculative by the way and like I said not to be taken seriously :)

ps: the setup listening session I would guess would comprised of using passive speakers of selected brands and would be in a "normal" room or space
 

D700

Active Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
164
Likes
161
#12
They all do it. Even now.

Even Accuphase put steel weights in the remotes to make them heavier, as did Cambridge. Marantz put steel plates under gear for the same purpose but pitched it as "resonance" control.

All things being equal, a heavier product feels better, especially if you are paying top dollar and plate steel is pretty cheap... :)
well you wouldn't want the stiff $400 HDMI cable moving the amplifier while you sleep.
 

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,424
#13
This is all a matter of good engineering and the dollars to deliver it. I would expect that the odds of delivering any full featured, multi channel AVR that measures well for under $3000 are slim to none.
 

HammerSandwich

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
805
Likes
913
#14
The one highlight was better noise/distortion at levels below max power. Here, there is a rather wide gap against other AVRs recently tested. Nothing remotely coming close to state-of-the-art amplifiers but at least better than the competition.
I'm beginning to understand why Sound & Vision stopped publishing measurements.
 

audimus

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
458
Likes
436
#15
This is pretty much the performance (even the published ones) of a “stereo” receiver or integrated amp in the 2000s decade except for more power and more channels. So, there has been no real innovation/improvement since then. They have just stopped publishing the numbers of the different sections like they used to.
 

MZKM

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
3,440
Likes
8,020
Location
Land O’ Lakes, Florida
#16
For those wondering, here’s Audioholics’ measurements of the Denon X3300, which should be identical to the current X3600 (it adds phono, 11ch preamp, and HDMI 2.1).

Most people aren’t using external amps with these except for Atmos, so room correction and speaker output are the main things to note; in this case the Denon seems to output similar levels at 4ohm, but less at 8ohm.

Really wonder how Arcam and Anthem receivers perform.
 
Last edited:

starfly

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
187
Likes
168
#17
Now I'm curious how the Yamaha CXA5200 (top of the line pre-pro) would measure here. I think its predecessor measured quite well on other sites, such as Audioholics.

But even just using these receivers as a pre-amp with an external amp won't give the best sound quality (though how audible the difference would be is probably minimal at best).

Hmmm. I currently have the A2070 driving my Revel F206 and I know in some songs it misses some subtle detail. Perhaps worth upgrading my pre/pro/Amp at some point in the future.

Very curious to see what else you'll measure that's more in the "high-end" audio equipment world vs the desktop dacs and headphone amplifiers that was a more prominent focus of this site until recently.
 

MZKM

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
3,440
Likes
8,020
Location
Land O’ Lakes, Florida
#18
Hmmm. I currently have the A2070 driving my Revel F206 and I know in some songs it misses some subtle detail. Perhaps worth upgrading my pre/pro/Amp at some point in the future.
Unless you have a lot of room treatment, losing out on Room EQ for a lower noise floor and/or harmonics may not be worth it. Frequency response on it’s own is the most important factor in regards to sound quality, everything else comes later.
 

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
1,051
Likes
959
Location
Liège, Belgium
#20
In multi tone, not only the noise raises below 300Hz, but also the signal level is not at same level at all frequencies, as you noted.
Some tone correction is applied without telling?
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom