We’re not used to seeing anything less than five-star products from Yamaha at this end of the market. Yamaha’s flagship AV receivers tend to win Awards and find their way into our testing room as part of our reference systems.
This year’s flagship, the Yamaha RX-A3070, has all the features of a great Yamaha home cinema amp, but it is simply outdone by more capable rivals at this price.
Big, powerful, muscular – these are Yamaha characteristics that we’ve come to know and expect over the years. And if you love that aspect of Yamaha’s sound, you’ll be pleased to know that the RX-A3070 has all of those traits.
Its brawny nature and huge reserves of low-end rumble suit Mad Max: Fury Road perfectly. War drums thud with a purpose. Engine roars dig deep and sound throaty. And you can feel the weight of each modified rig as they race and crash against each other on screen.
It’s the kind of surround performance that envelops you completely. Not just because of the sheer volume and scale the receiver can guarantee, but also because it’s great at steering surround effects around the room.
Play BBC’s Planet Earth II, and you can pinpoint exactly where the birds are as they swoop around the landscape. The surround field is vast and open, and the receiver does a fantastic job of positioning surround sounds accurately across the speakers.
More than once, we had to stop ourselves from looking behind us when there was a rustle of leaves or a bird squawking. There’s enough detail on offer that the sizzling sea spray and waves crashing against the rocky islands sound realistic.
But where the RX-A3070 is at home with thunderous impact and impressive special effects, it’s less sure of itself when it comes to outright nuance and dynamics.
Take the nail-biting snakes and iguanas chase scene from Planet Earth II. Dynamically, it just falls a touch flat. The build up of tension isn’t as layered and expressive as we’ve heard on its more articulate rival Denon AVR-X6400H, and the heart-stopping silences don’t have the necessary impact.
MORE: Denon AVR-X6400H review
There’s a hard edge to the top end that has a tendency to get aggressive, too, so it’s worth taking care when partnering the amp with the rest of your AV kit.
When it comes to voices, David Attenborough’s narration comes across as slightly nasal and flat-footed when it should be full of warmth and gravitas. We’d love to hear that midrange fleshed out better.
Compared with the rival Denon amp – and even last year’s Yamaha RX-A3060 – the new A3070 doesn’t quite get the emotion behind every line of dialogue across faithfully.
The new A3070 is admittedly grander and more muscular than either, but we want more from a £2000+ receiver. A subtler handling of detail and dynamics would make this Yamaha so much more interesting to listen to.
MORE: Yamaha RX-A3060 review
More after the break
There’s nothing revolutionary about the RX-A3070’s design. It’s a large, burly box that feels like it will stand the test of time, and that’s exactly what we want from a £2000+ AV receiver.
It’s almost identical to last year’s RX-A3060, which feels a little uninspired, although we can’t argue with its sturdy build quality. It comes in either black or titanium finishes, with a neat aluminium front panel.
Buttons and dials work well and the remote control is decent, although a backlight would be useful. The front-panel display is crisp and legible, while the on-screen menus are fairly easy to navigate around.
Set-up is a simple matter of plugging in the supplied mic and running the auto calibration, which is swift and largely accurate. The process isn’t quite as newbie-friendly as Denon’s guide to its calibration, but it does the job.
As always, we’d suggest heading into the manual speaker settings to adjust the levels where needed.
You’ll find the connections at the back of the receiver, from multiple digital and analogue inputs – including MM phono and balanced XLR.
There are eight HDMI inputs (and two outputs), all of which adhere to the latest HDCP2.2 standard required for playing all Ultra HD 4K and HDR content. They also support Dolby Vision HDR and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) formats.
As you'd expect from a high-end receiver, the RX-A3070 supports three-dimensional Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. The flagship features nine channels of amplification, so it’s capable of playing a 5.1.4 Atmos configuration.
It’s worth mentioning that the Denon AVR-X6400H offers 11 channels (and a 7.1.4 Atmos setup) for just £100 more, as well as a couple of more HDMI ports.
Regardless, the Yamaha is well specified on both movie and music fronts. There’s native support for a few more streaming services – Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz – than you’d get on the Denon AVR-X6400H.
Bluetooth, AirPlay and wi-fi streaming come as standard, and the amp handles hi-res audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and double DSD files.
And if you’re planning to have a Yamaha-only household, you can enable multi-room streaming across products through its proprietary MusicCast technology.
This Yamaha ticks plenty of boxes, but as a flagship AV receiver – or as an entertaining receiver – it falls short. We want the amp to deliver greater nuance and have a better way with rhythm and dynamics to fully enjoy our movies.
The RX-A3070’s powerhouse performance will thrill some, but we think you’ll find better options elsewhere.
See all our Yamaha reviews