Yamaha's HDMI 2.1 AV receivers are now the ultimate TV upgrade for PS5 owners

Yamaha receiver lineup against white background
(Image credit: Yamaha)

Late is better than never, right? Yamaha’s latest Aventage and RX-V series AV receiver lines were launched back in 2021 with multiple HDMI 2.1 ports listed on their spec sheets – great news for gamers who were looking for to connect their next-gen PS5 or Xbox Series X consoles to both a speaker-based surround sound system and one the best 4K TVs with features like 4K/120 Hz display.

And while Yamaha’s spec sheets were packed with details about what a gamer could expect from the new receivers when it came to HDMI 2.1-specific features – along with 4K/120 Hz and 8K/60 video pass-through, Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)  were on the list – there was an asterisk next to each one stating “available via a future firmware update."

Cutting-edge features promised to arrive in a future firmware update for AV products that you buy now have become commonplace, however, and Yamaha rolled out one that added 4K/120 Hz and 8K/60 video pass-through earlier in 2022. Now, a new firmware update is available that brings the promised ALLM and VRR support, both of which are essential features for playing on a PS5 or Xbox Series X connected to one of the best gaming TVs.

Just to recap, VRR on a 120 Hz-capable TV allows for the set’s display to accurately sync up with the variable frame rate delivered by next-gen gaming consoles (or a graphics card on a gaming PC). This effectively eliminates “screen tearing” artifacts, resulting in a more smooth and solid-looking graphics.

ALLM, meanwhile, is a feature that lets the TV automatically switch into a low-latency mode for gaming when it detects a compatible input, and then switch back for regular TV or movie viewing. With both VRR and ALLM, the source, TV, and AV receiver’s HDMI ports all need to support these basic HDMI 2.1 features, and with this update Yamaha has now mostly fulfilled its promised specs for the latest receivers, with QMS (Quick Media Switching) and QFT (Quick Frame Transport) still to come in a later firmware update.

Yamaha’s firmware update needs to be installed using its MusicCast app and pertains to the following models:

  • RX-A2A, RX-A4A, RX-A6A, RX-A8A
  • RX-V4A, RX-V6A

Analysis: What does an A/V receiver bring to gaming?

While it’s easy enough to connect a gaming console directly to a TV, audio is also a big component of gaming, and Xbox Series X (along with One X and One S) consoles even support Dolby Atmos sound. (The PlayStation 5 uses its own proprietary surround format for games, though a Dolby Atmos bitstream output can be enabled for Blu-ray disc playback on the PS5.)

An easy enough TV audio upgrade for gaming is to use one of the best soundbars. In that case, the TV’s HDMI eARC port is connected to a soundbar, which routes the audio from the set for both gaming and streaming. Another option is to use a soundbar with multiple HDMI ports that let you connect the console and other video sources directly to the ‘bar for audio, with the video switched and routed out to the TV.

AV receivers provide a more advanced option, and by letting you connect to a separate, passive speaker package, they can provide better performance than Dolby Atmos soundbars. Easy switching of multiple HDMI sources is one advantage to receivers, but there is also more immersive sound than what a typical soundbar system can deliver, along with improved dialogue clarity and bass extension.

Of course, we’re talking mainly about gaming here, and all of the advantages that AV receivers bring to movies can also be applied to game soundtracks. But to meet the needs of both next-gen consoles and the latest TVs, receivers need to be outfitted with a full suite of HDMI 2.1 features, and with this latest update for its Adventage and RX-V series models, Yamaha has stepped up its game to the level of its best A/V receiver competition. 

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.