Yamaha RX-A1020

Tested at £1000

Delivering excitement, detail and precision, the Yamaha RX-A1020 is a brilliantly capable all-rounder


I really wanted one of these, followed the link to exceptional audio who are offering a big discount. Dont bother they have no stock. The advert is still up on thier site but its a bait and switch. I got a good offer on the 1030, but it was still too expensive for me.

I dont believe there is any excuse these days for stock lists not to be current in real time.

Oh well, back to the drawing board. Only looking as my Onkyo TX-NR609 (award winner) failed like many others just after getting to its year birthday.

Thanks for posting this....saves me a phone call. It's interesting how many companies are doing this at the moment. Very naughty tactics indeed!!

Why not blind test AV amps vs 2 Channel..?..

It's interesting that a few people here don't like the Yamaha reciever sound for music.  I have a RX-V3067 which I bought a way back.  I listened to loads of receivers from loads of manufacturers before I splashed the cash.  I chose the Yammy because of how it sounded with music.  Spotify via Sonos, CD's in pure direct and DVDA and Bluray audio in 5.1.  I've never played a 5.1 audio disk to any one without them being really impressed, inclueding a few audiophile mates who thought I might have a hidden amp tucked away somewhere.  I find the stereo sound so good that I can't remember the last time I used my stereo amp (don't think it's even plugged in any more).

So I would say that the sound of amps of all descriptions are subjective.  One mans meat is another mans poison. With so many variables in a system like source, dacs, amps, speakers and that's before we even go into the room acoustics thing and personel preference, I'd say a review is always gonna be subjective and the only real way to know if you like a sound is to listern to it.  Reviews are there to tell you what sort of options you have.  Let your ears be your guide

I totally agree. What Hi-fi?'s reviews should only be used as a guide. The only way to decide is to listen for yourself.

Well, have to say I found the Yamaha that I bought had a brilliant movie sound system but was truly, truly dreadful at stereo. It was so bad, that it went straight back to the shop! No life, completely lacking in any expression. Possibly actually painful to listen. Even my wife agreed! Have stuck with my very old Sony AV unit which does a brill job.

Must say I also share concerns that WH is being over-easy with the old 5 stars. Nothing, or at least not much, seems to get less than 4 these days and they can't all be that good.

I must say that I am a bit puzzled with the ratings that the Yamaha Advantage line is getting. I am also puzzled that there is some kind of condescension with the industry where even reviewers accept that AVRs do not necessarily need to sound as good in stereo and can still get 5 stars.  Is that really on par with user expectations? 

I have purchased a few months ago a Yamaha Aventage A2010 and I must admit that in terms of stereo reproduction it is below expectations.  When I read the review of the A1020, I am really wondering whether I am doing something wrong or, how is the magazine doing the testing in order to get the opposite conclusions.  Could it be that the speaker package used during the reviews is so good that the amp does not matter that much?  Or could it be that the focus is really more on cinema side?  Or that my config is wrong or that it is not compatible with my room?

As owner of a A2010 I would not give mine more than 3 stars.  I am one of those who give more importance to music reproduction.  This is how I would describe it: The music has expansive 3D imaging and lots of harmonics, it is true that it does not have any signs of harsh and it does not create acoustic fatigue but, that is about it.  As a compromise, it lacks punch, rhythm, beat, passion, slam, cleanness, clarity, precision and timing.  You hear the music but, you do not feel the music.  If I had to qualify sound, I would probably use words such as: expansive, harmonic, flat, week, artificial, boring, soft, unfocused, disperse, confused, laid back, mixed-up, etc. 

Yesterday, amongst other things, I was playing Deff Leppard and it sounded like if my GRANDMOTHER was at the drums….. or, in other words, no drums at all from the best drum player ever...

Having said that, I know many users are happy with the Aventage line so, it must be something else, who knows.  On the other hand it is great AVR for movies.  I just wished that I did not have neighbours so I could get the best out of it.

I am curious now about your set up now as I bought an RX-A1020BL about a month ago and I find the amp very good in stereo and excellent in surround.

It might not compare with a decent dedicated stereo amp with a good DAC as the source, but as I don't have a dedicated stereo amp to contrast it with side by side we can leave that comparison for another day. (if anyone wants to send me an Arcam stereo amp I would be more than happy to test this out). Spending a grand on a integrated stereo amp will net you a much higher quality unit but for most of us this is not an option if we want a system for surround and stereo. I was looking for something that could do both well and the Yamaha fit the bill for me.

It is certainly not a dull sound in my system which is why I would like to know what your set-up is.  I upgraded from a Denon 1911 which certainly had a more forward presentation and was not easy on the ears for extended listening periods.  I have to say that the Yamaha is an improvement over the Denon for music as there is no harshness to instruments or vocals at the cost of a little excitement.One key note on the Yamaha RX-A1020 though: Always use Pure Direct for analog sources as I believe the analog gets converted to digital in order to process the signal if you don't and this affects the quality.  I found a big improvement using Pure Direct for analog sources, less so for digital inputs. Remember that this amp is designed to be the centre of a digital entertainment system so placing a higher importance on digital inputs is to be expected and I find the internal DACs to be really good at what they do.

Just for reference my set up is as follows:


Tannoy Mercury V4 floorstanders (bi-wired)

Tannoy Mercury VC centre and V1 surrounds

QED Original speaker cable w/ QED banana plugs

Custom HTPC source with 5770 HDMI out supporting DTS-HD Master and Dolby TrueHD (Wireworld Chroma 6 HDMI cable)

Asus Xonar STX stereo sound card (optical digital over install cable) (analog over QED Performance 2)

Arcam rPAC DAC (QED Performance Graphite USB) (QED Performance 2)

Just wanted to put my 10 pence in. I have the Yamaha 1010 and I find my stereo output sounds great from my Marantz 7006 especially in pure direct mode but have to admit that internet and analog radio sounds a bit flat so to speak. So in conclusion to the debate I truly believe depends on the quality of the source!

Apex front end Rel T5 R90hd rears chord and atlas cables throughout.

For stereo purpose, I use Dali Ikon 1 as fronts with a Wharfedale SW150 subwoofer.  I mainly use 2 sources for music:  FM radio and IPOD connected via USB and controlled via the android app.  I have tried all possibilities including pure direct and in my case this option is the worse, it is totally lifeless and flat.  The option which works better for me is in stereo mode with the enhancer activated.  In terms of equalization I have selected the "plane YPAO" but raised a few db on the 6Kh frequency to improve clarity (Q factor = 2000).  I have tried to raise the 100Hz and 60Hz to see if I could get "more drums" but, it does not work.  As I mentioned the sounds lacks slam and beat, the drums are melted into expansive 3d immaging.  I see that you reach similar conclusion but you like it so maybe it is just a matter of personal taste.   Another thing I do not like is that you can not set configurations by input, well yes you can via scene settings but I use a harmony remote therefore no possibility to use scene.  This scene thing is a totally non-value adding feature that only adds complexity.  More and more I am convinced that in the world of the AVR, LESS is MORE.  They need to go back to simplification, they are overcomplicating things:  Ex. instead of music enhancer I would prefer that they make music sound good always without need of enhancers, instead of DRC adaptor, they should make movies sound balanced without need of adaptors, instead of scenes, they should allow configuration by input, instead of 3D sound enhancer they should make cinema experience always sound natural with the right level of 3D effect.  Sometimes you are watching movies and it is crazy because you spend half the movie trying different DSP modes, with and without enhancer, with and without 3D sound, with and without DRC, with and without DSP and back again trying to find the lucky combination that will make all movies sound best.

And if I ever come accross any of the Yamaha engeneers I am going to tell them what they can do with their 5th leg....

With the iPod as a source you are most assuredly best off with ‘Straight’ mode over Pure Direct, in fact with the sub you will need to make sure that the amp is processing the signal in order to output anything to the .1 channel. (Unless the sub is connected by speaker L/R)  In my system I can forego the sub as my Tannoys can happily go down to 32Hz so the direct bypass does not affect the bass reproduction and most of music sources are CD quality or above so I don’t need the enhancer.

For lower quality MP3’s the enhancer helps, a bit, but I would still recommend you try some higher quality copies before pointing fingers at the amp. Grab a CD, rip it to a FLAC format on your PC, copy the files to a USB memory key and plug that into the USB port on the front.  Then play back through the Yamaha’s menu with the Straight mode engaged and see if you can hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC. 

I have never found the overall sound of the Yamaha to be ‘lifeless and flat’ but that is not to say I have not listened to albums that sound that way.  My old Denon amp gave everything a vigorous shaking about the place, which sometimes sounded ok (think drum and bass or dubstep) but often sounded harsh (think vocals and melodies).  The RX-A1020 takes a more even handed approach which I like, but sometimes a ‘vigorous mode’ button would be appreciated!

I always leave the YPAO alone once I have set up the speaker distances, everything is set to off, although I did play around with it a bit and decided the sound was different but not better IMO.   However if you want more drum beat trying adjusting the higher frequency ranges such as around 3Khz for the hit and around 600Hz for the mid, it is not necessarily the bass you are looking for. (for ref see article below)


I have to admit that the surround modes are a waste of time for me.  I use Straight for all DVD and Blu-Ray movies, Dolby Pro Logic II for stereo TV shows and Pure Direct for music.  Essentially I spent money to have these features that I do not want or use, but that fifth foot was well worth a few quid! 

Thanks for all the comments and the link, I need to spend some more time trying around a few things. 

The 5th leg together with the bulb are definetly part of the top 10 inventions of the century.

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Most AV receivers are a compromise when it comes to playing music in stereo, as we frequently point out. The Yamaha is certainly, in our view, better than most. How many people use an AV receiver primarily for film sound, and how many for music replay, is an interesting question. While we always test for stereo and multichannel performance, we do put more weight on the surround sound quality with Blu-ray/DVD etc as we believe that the majority of buyers will be using the receiver primarily as part of a home cinema system.

Thanks for your reply Andy, I very much appreciate the WHF team to take the time to address our concerns.  That makes a difference with other magazines.

I fully respect the possition of WHF but, as an end user I can not accept any compromise. The reality is that the magazine is called What Hi-Fi therefore, when a product gets 5 stars and comments like "is a brilliantly capable all-rounder", users could tend to think that it is trully good with music.  I have no doubt that many users will be very happy with the compromise but some like myself may be deceipt and the next step will be ebay. Again, the comments above are only my personal opinions based on my system and expectations.

I have a problem with the concept 'it is less worse than others'. We should not value things good for being less bad. 

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Will the 1020 stream seemlessly?

Provided the home network is good there shouldn't be a problem streaming. We didn't have any issues in our test rooms.

I have the 1010. (Last year's model) This receiver excels as an AV receiver for movies. It's got plenty of power and never distorts at any volume. I'm using a 5.1 configuration. (B&W 685s, 62B, JBL in wall surrounds, and Martin Login Dynamo 500 - 10" sub.)

Overall, it will play as good as the source. So Blu-ray and vinyl sound amazing. Sometimes CDs are lacking (Marantz Single CD Player) but I'm pretty sure it's related to the sub-par quality of a CD. 

To say Arcam, NAD, Marantz, Pioneer Elite are better is a mistake. I auditioned each of these comarable models at Best Buy's Design Center/ Magnolia studios and the differences between all units is subjective.



First of all, not all AV receivers get five stars. Secondly, we well understand that music replay can be just as important for some buyers and we do test for that as well. In our view, very few AV receivers are as good as a dedicated stereo amp for music replay, so a degree of compromise is inevitable.

thanks a lot Andy Clough  like i said i am regarding to replace a rotel rsx 1056 who is amazing with stereo 

first of all do you know that a review from the sony 5800 and nad t757 is comming soon 

these two receivers should be as i read from other sites amazing with music 

thanks a lot rene 

Hi onlystyle, we're definitely talking to Sony about getting the 5800, not sure if we'll get the Rotel, will need to check with the test team.

Will the 1020 stream seemlessly?

Onlystyle, badge snobbery is less appealing and justified in hifi than it is in cars.

And not all receivers get 5* reviews.

first of all i don't question the rating of whats hifi ......but it is just a fact 

for instance i auditioned the kef r series following there review and bought them 

important is that there are two kind of buyers for av receivers ...

first one is a freak for theatre and he want the most features possible too experience with 

second sort is the kind of guy growing up in stereo and adding theatre issue to it 

i am second sort so music stays the most important 

are you pretending that al other reviewers ( hifi corner home theatre and so one ) are wrong when they give

better sounding on brands like nad marantz anthem rotel ?


strange, living in belgium this receiver has been tested by hifi corner

verdict certainly not for audiophiles

strange habit to give all that comes from yahama, onkyo, pioneer 5 stars 

also for stereo and other sound

there were on american belgium sites those receivers are reviewed 

not able to hold a candle soundwise against nad anthem arcam marantz 

very strange


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