Every manufacturer has a different policy toward versioning. Some manufacturers will wait five or even 10 years before offering the next model, which will offer drastic improvements in quality and/or features. Others will offer a new model every year for marketing purposes, when nearly imperceptible differences between model years make justifying the purchase of a new unit very difficult. It’s like when a car manufacturer changes model years. Did they change the engine and drivetrain at all, or did they merely change the shape of the headlights slightly?
Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Yamaha RX-A3040. Recently, the company sent me the follow-up model, the $2,199.95 Aventage RX-A3050 9.2-channel receiver. So, I now have the opportunity to discover what Yamaha means when they say they’ve introduced a new model. (Ironically, as I was finishing this review, Yamaha announced an even newer model, the RX-A3060, which carries the same $2,199.95 price tag and may be available by the time you read this. We’ll discuss the differences between the 3050 and 3060 at the end.)
The Hookup I will kill some of the suspense early on by acknowledging that many of the components and features of the RX-A3040 and the RX-A3050 are similar. The sound processing is built on the same ESS SABRE32 Ultra DAC ES9016 and SABRE ES9006A DAC platforms–although careful inspection of the model numbers will note that the RX-A3050 carries the updated version of those chip platforms and, with it, any improvements ESS may have made. Frequency response, power rating, and other specs (including physical dimensions) are virtually unchanged. Rather than rehash the whole laundry list of features, I’m going to highlight the upgrades (and I do mean upgrades, not just changes) that will probably matter the most to readers here.