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Yamaha RX-A2020 Remote Control, Network Features & Apps

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remoteYamaha obviously took some care in designing this remote. There are a lot of things to like, but I still have a few gripes. First, the good stuff. The remote is quite powerful. It is a learning remote and supports macros. The buttons are large, easy to read, and nicely spaced. Because of the button spacing, the remote is quite large, but looks clean. At the top is a button that switches the remote between two modes. The button lights up green when the remote is set to control a source, such as a CD player or Blu-ray player, and lights up orange when on receiver mode. Right below this is an LCD screen that assists in programming the remote and tells you what device the remote is set to control. Next down is a list of all the inputs available, each input having its own discrete commands. I have seen some manufacturers cut costs here by only including toggles for certain inputs. The bottom part of the remote also lifts open, showing various extra buttons. While I don’t mind having to flip open the bottom of the remote to access some buttons, I would not have organized the buttons in the same manner.

Here in lies my big complaint with the remote. I found that the choice of buttons to include on the remote and the layout of those buttons was poorly executed. For example, the remote has a total of 11 buttons dedicated to switching between DSPs. I know that Yamaha is VERY proud of their different DSP modes, but seriously, 11 buttons? Next to the volume buttons are not the expected channel buttons, but program/DSP up and down buttons. I think I would smack anyone who changes DSPs as often as channels! I also found myself having to flip open the bottom part of the remote quite often. For example, to control Zones 2 or 3, you need to flip open the remote and hit the “Zone” button. I feel that such an important button should be on the front of the remote. Also noticeably absent are any buttons for set top box operation, such as list/DVR, on demand, or guide. The lack of adequate set-top box functionality is a major oversight that has plagued Yamaha receiver remotes for over a decade. One saving grace with this layout is that each button is customizable via the learning feature on the remote, so it is possible that the remote could control a set top box - just not conveniently. Finally, the remote is not backlit, so it is next to useless in the dark. Overall, there is a lot to like about this remote, but the odd choice of buttons and lack of backlight will likely prevent this from being your primary remote. 

Network Features

top menuYamaha chose to change a number of network features between the A2010 and the A2020. They dropped Pandora and Sirius, but added Airplay (which, I suppose can stream both of those networks to the receiver). I hardwired the receiver to my wireless router, and manually set all of the IP settings to help ensure consistent operation. Overall, the network features worked well, but there were a few quirks. Even though the receiver has three zones, and each zone can be on something different, only one network feature works at a time. Network features are considered: USB, Net Radio, Airplay, and DLNA/Server. This means that it is NOT possible to play two different network features, in two different zones, at the same time. Whatever network feature you choose last, will override the other network inputs. For example, if you are listening to Airplay in Zone 2, then select Net Radio in Zone 3, Zone 2 will automatically switch to Net Radio. We were not surprised by this limitation, as it is common in most network receivers, but it is slightly disappointing. We feel that if this limitation was not present, this receiver would be a more viable replacement for equipment such as SONOS or Squeezebox.  On a positive note, when Zones 2 or 3 are on a network feature, the Main Zone is still free to be on any input. Many new network receivers do not allow network features on secondary zones unless the Main Zone is also set to the same network feature.

web control
Yamaha Web Control

Web Control

One of the features I used quite often on the RX-A2020 was web control. Although the AV Controller App works well enough to control each zone, it is nice to be able to navigate the controls on a larger screen.  Simply type in the IP address of the receiver into your internet browser, and it will pull up the controller. If you are installing this receiver for a client, we would recommend using a static IP and making a shortcut for ease of use. The web control provides all of the basic features needed to control each zone. You can turn on/off zones, adjust volume, change inputs, and navigate all of the network features. I found the layout of be effective and well organized. To my surprise, the controller was also very responsive. In fact, we preferred using the web browser over the actual AV Controller App. To be fair, I did not have a chance to use the AV Controller App on a tablet, where its user interface is much improved. The only thing we would like to see is more advanced functionality for the app. while it works well for basic zone operation, you cannot make any advanced adjustments.

iOS/Android AV Controller App

Yamaha is very proud of their new AV Controller App, and they have reason to be. The ability to control a receiver via an app is a relatively new feature to the world of AV, and they did a pretty good job with their AV Controller App. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, and Kindle Fire. I didn’t have the chance to use the app on any form of tablet, but I tested it on my iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy SII. It was not as responsive as the Web Control, but it was reasonably quick.

App 1 App 2

App 3 App 4
Yamaha Network Controller App on iPhone

The app provides all of the control you could want. You have full control of each Zone, including power,   volume, DSP, input, and SCENE. Under an “options” tab, there is a list of extra adjustments, such as treble, bass, Pure Direct mode, and sleep timer. At the bottom of the options tab is a “remote” button. Clicking this button brings up a directional button, and enough controls to allow you to use the GUI on the receiver, or control a Blu-ray player. When selecting one of the Network inputs, the app also shows a list of all the selectable media. For example, when "Server" was selected, I could browse all of the shared music on my computer.

I didn’t use the app for the Main Zone very often, but it was great for Zones 2 and 3. It really helps make the RX-A2020 a whole home solution, eliminating the need for IR repeaters in other zones, particularly when they aren't getting daily use.

USB/Direct iPod Control

The USB connection on the front of the receiver allows for the connection of an iOS device or flash drive.  When an iOS device is connected, the receiver automatically takes control of the device and the screen reads, “Accessory Connected”.  The TV then shows a list of the music available, and the Yamaha remote is used to navigate the tracks. All receivers I have dealt with work this way, but not all of them can switch control back to the device. Luckily, the receiver’s remote has a “mode” button that allows you to control the device normally, turning off the readout on the TV.

The USB slot also supports flash drives. This isn’t a particularly novel feature, but many receivers fail to support many file types.  The RX-A2020 supports almost every CODEC on the market (except Apple Lossless), including 192Khz/24 bit FLAC files. When a flash drive is hooked into the USB port, a read-out of all the files is shown on the TV. Additionally, a list of the files is available on the AV Controller App. This means that you could load up all your music on a thumb drive and just leave it hooked into the receiver, then navigate through the files from anywhere in the home using the AV Controller app or Web Control. Essentially, you could build a music "server" with just a flash drive and the RX-A2020.

Airplay & DLNA

I loved having Airplay on the receiver and this year it has become a staple on almost every manufacturer’s line-up. I had some issues with audio dropout, or at times the receiver would fall off the Airplay menu only to show up again a few seconds later. I am inclined to attribute these sporadic issues to my network or to the fact the receiver was a pre-production model. Hopefully this issue will not come up once the receiver is released to the public. When Airplay worked properly (about 95% of the time), the sound quality was great (though we don't tend to do our critical listening over wireless).

Probably the most used music service on the receiver was Pandora and Spotify. But wait a minute; the receiver doesn’t support either of these features. Well, that is true, to a point; most music apps on the iOS platform support airplay, so you can start Pandora or Spotify on your iPhone and Airplay it to your receiver. With Spotify, only Premium memberships allow streaming over AirPlay. No worries, by downloading a program like Airfoil ($25) to your Mac or PC, you can stream any audio on your computer via Airplay. Although it would be great if the receiver had more network features built in, with a little bit of savvy, almost anything can be streamed to the RX-A2020. oh, and if you aren’t inclined to use Airplay, it also supports Windows7 PlayTo.

We found that the DLNA features worked well, but they were a little sluggish. This was to be expected, as DLNA never seems particularly snappy. I was able to browse the music stored on my computer, and stream it directly to the receiver. Of all of the ways to stream music to the RX-A2020, DLNA is the most widely used standard and will allow the receiver to network with most mobile devices on the market.

Net Radio

Originally, I didn’t think that I would use Net Radio very often, but it turned out to be a great feature. The streams were reliable and many had decent sound quality. There is a wide variety of station choices. I particularly enjoyed being able to look up stations by state. There is even a section for podcasts. However, the one feature that is glaringly missing is the ability to search for stations/podcast by typing in a name. Without being able to search for a particular podcast, there isn’t much hope of finding the ones you are interested in. Another oddity is the inability to bookmark tracks using the receiver, you have to sign into your vTuner account online and bookmark tracks that way. The sound quality varied dramatically between stations, but Yamaha has no control over that. Overall, the sound quality was fine for general background music.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

ACsGreens posts on October 15, 2012 14:36
BTW- For what it's worth Yamaha, unofficially, is going to release an update that places Pandora and Sirius back onto the receivers. Just thought you all may want to know, unnoficially.
3db posts on July 19, 2012 09:35
Ziontrain, post: 896069
Amplification is already well solved and audibly transparent in any decent, self-respecting product of this price range. As such it's about as commodified as a light bulb.

As for “build quality”, the same is true. Whether built in China, Malaysia or whatever, these things are built to global ISO-based standard. But if you believe that the “fifth foot” has audible benefit, then clearly these facts won't register at all.

You shouldn't assume…. it makes an as? out of you and not me. No where did I state such ridiculous belief about the 5th foot.


Ziontrain, post: 896069
What it comes down to is that most of what constituted “quality” is now actually commodity - it can be delivered cheaply by almost anyone. The brand therefore adds no value if it does not make real progress beyond the things that were problems 20-30 years ago. And no, the brands arent going to make that progress unless the press start being more critical and proactive.

BTW you'll understand how commodified this sector is when shortly the OEMs start buying up these failing brands.

Its very apparent from the various forums I frequent where other AVR manufacturers are suffering from quality control problems regardless of the origin of the country that builds them. Your idea of a universal commody of quality is just so wrong in every aspect. Sorry to derail your train.

Yamaha isn't going anywhere BTW
Ziontrain posts on July 19, 2012 08:44
Amplification is already well solved and audibly transparent in any decent, self-respecting product of this price range. As such it's about as commodified as a light bulb.

As for “build quality”, the same is true. Whether built in China, Malaysia or whatever, these things are built to global ISO-based standard. But if you believe that the “fifth foot” has audible benefit, then clearly these facts won't register at all.
What it comes down to is that most of what constituted “quality” is now actually commodity - it can be delivered cheaply by almost anyone. The brand therefore adds no value if it does not make real progress beyond the things that were problems 20-30 years ago. And no, the brands arent going to make that progress unless the press start being more critical and proactive.

BTW you'll understand how commodified this sector is when shortly the OEMs start buying up these failing brands.
3db posts on July 17, 2012 09:32
Ziontrain, post: 895664
I would again point out that what you pass of here as “a few refinements” are in fact a platform overhaul, as they require a step up: much more computing horsepower and a new OS. Thats why YPAO avoid the sub frequencies - cant handle it. But why would someone in 2012 release a product that claims to do room correction yet it can't even handle the frequencies that really need it the most?

I'm writing this post on a phone that has far more horsepower and 10x better human interface design than the receiver we are discussing. Why is this the case? A receiver is meant to be the heart & soul, the control unit of your home audio visual system. The article talks about zone 2 zone 3 etc. Truth is the thing is not even an up to date device for controlling one zone. Another example of the lipstick on the pig, your “new” or “advanced” eatures“ are the shiny but mostly useless distractions meant to distract from the basic fact that last years' dross has been rehashed and slung out again at or higher pricepoint.

We gotta start calling a spade a spade. This sector is growing stale. And there is no way they will change when the ”journalists" are in on the industry game rather than calling them out on it.

Like i said, get a laptop and mate it to a multichannel poweramp iif GUI, network streaming, and post processing are important to you and you are an apple or android fanboy. I'm in it for the overall build quality that Yamaha comes up without fail and I prefer quality audio amplifiers than bells and whistles.
Send Margaritas posts on July 17, 2012 08:42
I liked the review, thanks.

I've got the 2010, and like it very much. I was surprised they dropped the Pandora config, for I use that a lot and like it.

Like the reviewer, I like the GUI config (and the iPad app) a great deal. I think the comments in that regard are very much overblown, and without merit. I'd certianly not want to pay any more for ROMs/EPROMs necessary to support/store ‘better (read larger) icons and fonts’. I'm not confident that the comments were supported by use of the GUI.

I do concur that the manual parametric EQ 62.5 Hz choice was curious, but that capability to equalize each pair of spears in a 9.2 environment is powerful, and very nice.

Again, the biggest negative I saw in this was dropping Pandora.
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