The Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5100 AV Preamp/Processor In The Spotlight

The Yamaha CX-A5100 - A separates approach for your home theater setup

Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5100 AV Preamp/Processor
The Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5100 AV Preamp/Processor - Front and Rear Views. Images provided by Yamaha Electronics Corporation

The Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5100 is an AV Preamp Processor. What this means is that the CX-A5100 provides the same type of source inputs, switching, and audio/video processing, and network functions that you would find on many home theater receivers. However, unlike a home theater receiver, the CX-A5100 does not have its own built-in amplifiers or speaker terminals.

In other words, to connect and power speakers in a home theater setup that includes an AV Preamp/Processor, such as the CX-A5100, you have to add an additionally-purchased external multi-channel amplifier or individual power amplifiers for each channel.

Although the choice of amplifiers is up to the user, to complement the CX-A5100, Yamaha offers up the MX-A5000 11-Channel Power Amplifier as a choice.

Audio Feature Highlights

To get started on the audio side, via either RCA or XLR preamp output connection to external amplifiers, the CX-A5100 provides up to an 11.2 channel configuration (11 full range channels, plus two subwoofer channels).

The CX-A5100 incorporates audio decoding and processing for most Dolby and DTS audio formats, including Dolby Atmos (up to 7.1.4 channel speaker configuration), Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X (via firmware update), and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Some of the CX-A5100's additional audio processing features include:

  • Dialog Lift: When using front height speakers, the center channel is partially assigned to those speakers so that the Dialog appears to be "lifted" - the degree of lift is adjustable).
  • Virtual Presence: Provides the sensation of having front height or surround back speakers when no physical front height or surround back speakers are present.
  • Virtual Cinema Front: Allows the user to place all speakers in the front of the room and still get somewhat of a surround sound listening experience).
  • Compressed Music Enhancer: Improves the audio quality of streaming music content.
  • Cinema DSP: Additional proprietary Yamaha surround sound modes provided on top of Dolby/DTS.
  • Silent Cinema: Enjoy surround sound with any set of headphones.

For audio processing hardware support, in addition to the chips needed for Dolby/DTS decoding and Yamaha's added audio processing features, the CX-A5100 also incorporates ESS Technology ES9016S SABRE32™ Ultra and ES9006A SABRE™ Premier Audio DACs (digital-to-analog audio converters)

AirPlay, Bluetooth, Hi-Res Audio

Apple Airplay and Bluetooth capability are built-in. The Bluetooth feature on the CX-A5100 is bi-directional. What this means is that the CX-A5100 you can not only stream music directly from Bluetooth-enabled source devices, such as smartphones, but you can also stream music from the CX-A5100 to compatible headphones and speakers.

The CX-A5100 is also Hi-Res Audio: compatible. What this means is that this AV preamp/processor can play higher-than CD quality digital audio files that are downloaded and saved to network connected PCs or USB flash drives

Multi-Zone

In addition to the surround sound setup in your main room (Zone 1), you can use the CX-A5100 to connect to and control up to 2 additional two-channel stereo amplifier/speaker setups placed in up to 3 rooms (referred to as Zone 2 and 3). The advantage of this type of setup is that you can send and control the same, or up to 2 different sources that are all connected to the CX-A5100.

MusicCast

In addition to physical multi-zone connectivity and control, CX-A5100 also incorporates Yamaha's MusicCast wireless multi-room audio system platform. This enables the CX-A5100 to send, receive, and share music content from/to/between a variety of compatible Yamaha components that will include home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, sound bars, and powered wireless speakers. This makes the CX-A5100 not only a central control piece for a home theater or traditional wired multi-zone setup, but also for a whole house wireless audio system.

Video Feature Highlights

For video, the CX-A5100 provides analog-to-HDMI conversion, as well as both 1080p and 4K upscaling 3D, and 4K pass-through with HDR support and HDCP 2.2 copy-protection (necessary for compatibility 4K Netflix streaming sources and the forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format).

Connectivity

In terms of physical connectivity, CX-A5100 includes 8 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, along with component and composite video inputs and outputs, digital optical/coaxial inputs, several sets of two-channel analog inputs, a set of 5.1 channel analog inputs, 11.2 channel analog preamp output, a dedicated a dedicated phono input, and a USB port for accessing music content stored on iPods, iPhones, or USB flash drives.

The CX-A5100 also adds more connection flexibility for high-end setups with the inclusion of a set of analog two channel XLR inputs and 11.2 channel XLR preamp outputs.

The CX-A5100 also provides comprehensive networking (DLNA) and internet streaming features (such as internet radio) via wired Ethernet or WiFi.

Speaker and System Setup

Once connected to an amplifier(s), and the amplifiers, in-turn, connected to speakers, Yamaha's YPAO automatic speaker setup/room correction system can be accessed on the CX-A5100 to aid in determining the speaker distances and proper equalization and sound levels for each channel/speaker for the best listening experience.

In addition to the built-in YPAO Speaker setup system, Yamaha also provides access to an additional AV Setup Guide to assist with using the CX-A5100's other connection and operating features, that can be downloaded to compatible iOS and Android devices.

Control Features

Custom control features provided include an RS232 port custom-installed control systems, IR sensor input/output, HDMI-CEC, and two 12-volt triggers.

For more basic control, the CX-A5100 can be operated by a standard provided remote control, or via Yamaha's AV Controller App for compatible iOS and Android devices.

Heavy Duty Construction

The Yamaha AVENTAGE CX-A5100 not only offers high-end audio and video features but is also solidly built with aluminum side and interior panel construction, as well as a center wedge foot for decreased vibration sensitivity. As a result, this unit is definitely no lightweight, weighing in at about 30 lbs.

The Bottom Line

Although it doesn't have built-in amplifiers, the Yamaha CX-A5100 has extensive capabilities that can meet just about any home theater need - with the added bonus of being able to fill the role as a centerpiece for a wireless multi-room audio system.

Of course, on the down side, to actually to get sound from your speakers, you not only need to purchase the CX-A5100, but the additionally required external amplifier(s).

The Yamaha CX-A5100 A/V Preamp/Processor carries a suggested price of $2,499.95.

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