Yamaha Aventage RX-A550 Review
THE VERDICT:
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better 5 channel receiver than the Yamaha RX-A550. Its amalgam of home theater brilliance, musicality and features make it our editor’s pick for 5 channel receivers.

See Price on Amazon
Design10
Value9
Features10
Sound Quality9.5
The Good
  • The Yamaha RX-A550 has excellent sound quality and an impressive feature set.
The Bad
  • Very few drawbacks with this amp. Its only real weakness is its lack luster on-screen display which needs a visual overhaul.
9.6Overall Score

 

Yamaha RX-A550 Review

Yamaha RX-A550 Review

The chassis of the Yamaha Aventage RX-A550 is a heavily fortified fortress . Like all the receivers in the Aventage line-up, the 550 has a thick aluminum front panel designed to shield the internals from external noise and electronic radiation. Basically, anything that can degrade the audio signal of the Yamaha RX-A550 is stonewalled.

 

Besides it’s substantial shielding, the 550 is also relatively weighty at nearly 18 lbs. The front of the unit has the normal array of buttons and knobs that control everything from volume and input select, to tone controls and DSP settings.

 

Yamaha remotes historically have an indecipherable layout and are crammed with tiny buttons. Yamaha has heeded the complaints from the public and this year they’ve managed to simplify their remotes a great deal. The remote of the Yamaha RX-A550 is actually serviceable. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely better than the predecessors.

 

Connections

Yamaha RX-A550 Connections

The 550 comes equipped with 3 analog inputs, 2 component inputs / 1 output, 2 coaxial inputs, and 1 digital optical. Along with these standard hook-ups, the amp also includes 1 HDMI output and 6 HDMI inputs. The HDMI’s support 4K video at 60 frames per second with the sixth input and output also being HDCP 2.2 compliant. HDCP is basically an encryption method cooked up by multi-media titans to prevent the pirating of 4K content. Without HDCP compatibility you’ll be hard pressed to watch any UHD content that uses this encryption. Because 4K content is a little scarce, this doesn’t pose too much of a problem right now. However, as the high-def format becomes more prevalent it will become more vital for an av receiver to handle the encryption.

 

The Yamaha RX-A550 includes built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. To help improve the audio quality of compressed audio files such as MP3’s, it’s also equipped with a compressed music enhancer. The 550 uses software to restore data that’s lost during the compression process of these audio formats. My personal experience with this has been hit or miss. While MP3’s do sound slightly more dynamic, it’s not a night and day difference.

 

MP3 playback is fine, but high-resolution audio codecs are also on the 550’s ample list of features. DSD, AIFF, FLAC, WAV and  Apple Lossless are all processed by the amp. On the home theater side of things, the receiver’s capable of decoding both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio however, with it only having 5 channels, you won’t be able to indulge in either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

 

Being a networked receiver you can stream your files over your network from a PC or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. A front USB port also makes it possible to stream HD audio files from a USB memory stick.

 

Setup & Features

Hooking your speakers up to the Yamaha Aventage RX-A550 is a pretty standard affair using the 5-way binding posts on the rear. The on-screen interface used by the amp is simplistic. It’s well laid out, but it looks like a leftover from the early days of PC computing.

 

Yamaha RX-A550 Calibration Mic

Yamaha RX-A550 Calibration Mic

The 550 uses Yamaha’s tried and true YPAO calibration system which takes only a few minutes to setup. As usual, we always recommend that you verify the speakers settings after calibration. The Yamaha set my fronts to large, which I then had to switch to small in the settings menu. The speaker distances prescribed by the 550, on the other hand, were spot-on.

 

Getting the RX-A550 on a WiFi network is super easy since you can copy the WiFi settings directly from an iOS device. If you don’t have an iOS device, no worries. You’ll just have to set your WiFi network up manually. It’s not hard, but it will take a little more time. Once online you’ll see that the Yamaha RX-A550 is friendly with a number of internet music streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Vtuner. You also get Apple AirPlay compatibility and the inclusion of Yamaha’s own MusicCast service.

 

Yamaha has a series of apps designed to give you more control over the receiver via a smart phone or tablet. Both are free downloads from the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store. The Yamaha AV setup app functions as an assistant for the initial setup and connection of your AV equipment. One caveat, is that the app only works with devices with screens which are 7-inches and up. So basically you’ll need to use a tablet to use the app.

 

Yamaha AV App

The Yamaha AV Controller app is compatible with a variety of devices and is probably one of the better AV apps on the market. It gives you a good bit of control over the Yamaha RX-A550’s features. Towards the end of my time with the A550, I found myself opting to use the app instead of the remote much of the time.

 

Sound Quality

The Yamaha RX-A550 may be the baby in the Aventage line-up, but it packs a grown-up punch. The 550 once setup and calibrated, displayed excellent clarity and sonic acuity. The 2015 Fantastic Four movie wasn’t popular with critics or fans, but it’s sound track is pretty darn good. The movie’s DTS-HD sound track was a sonic barrage that allowed the A550 to flex its considerable muscles.

 

Sound from the Aventage RX-A550 was spacial and engaging. The surround channels of the 550 were active throughout the entire movie with sound sweeping from front to back and left to right effortlessly and smoothly. The Yamaha RX-A550’s authoritative low-frequency reproduction served as an anchor to its audio performance.  The 550’s bass performance reminded me of another heavy-hitter in this department, the Onkyo TX-NR646. However, I feel that the 550 has a little more finesse than the Onkyo.

 

Mad Max Fury Road - Blu-RaySwitching over to Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-ray, the 550’s sound was even more commanding. The revving car engines growled and snarled filling the listening area. The wild boys screams and war chants echoed around the room.

 

Testing out the Yamaha RX-A550 with music, the receiver performed nearly as good. Music was natural and textured. I’ve had many debates with friends over the use of room correction for music playback. Some purist think that using an AV receiver’s direct mode without any type of processing is the only way to listen to music. I feel differently. Switching the A550 to straight mode with YPAO room correction immediately created a more open and spacious sound stage. Even after I raised the volume level substantially, the 550 maintained its composure and its sound never lost its cohesiveness.

 

Conclusion

The Yamaha Aventage RX-A550 is the total package. If you don’t need more than 5 channels for your home theater, the 550 hits all the right notes. Rugged construction, top-of-the-line features and great sound quality makes it our editor’s choice.


Where to Buy:

See Price on Amazon



Please like & share:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)