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Hands-on Gear Review
Yamaha YAS-106 Review
Price: $200 List
Pros: Inexpensive, good sound, easy to use
Cons: Flimsy remote
Bottom line: A great choice for those looking for a better sound experience on a budget
With it's fairly unassuming exterior and relatively low price tag, you could be forgiven for not expecting much from the Yamaha YAS-106. However, it blew us away in our sound testing, producing a soundscape comparable to those of much pricier models. It also provided the sleekest user interface of all the models in our testing. While the Yamaha YAS-106 won't satisfy the pickiest of audiophiles, it provides great sound at a bargain price, and will definitely improve your at home cinematic experience.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Yamaha YAS-106 is an inexpensive soundbar that provides good sound and is very easy to use and install. It's the perfect choice for those that want better sound than what comes out of their TV, but don't want to spend too much.
Despite its low price the Yamaha YAS-106 was one of the higher overall scorers in our testing.
Our overall scores are a composite of scores from a number of different individual tests. In the sections below we detail the Yamaha YAS-106's performance in those tests.
The Yamaha YAS-106 earned a slightly above average score of 6 out of 10 in our sound quality testing. You can check out how it compared to the other models in the graph below.
The Yamaha YAS-106 has impressively powerful bass for a self contained unit without an external subwoofer. It was on par with the bass from the Sonos Playbar, which was the top scorer in our sound tasting. The treble was bit less clear than the Sonos, but still had enough clarity to impress us. Amazingly we barely experienced any clipping with loud, high pitched sounds. In fact, it was almost on par with the top scorers. Combining these attributes with a solid dynamic range, the Yamaha YAS-106 was able to create a solid wall of sound in our testing that really brought movies alive and blew away any built-in TV speakers we've tested. Sure, you could spend more than triple what the Yamaha YAS-106 costs and get a soundbar that really makes you feel like you're in a movie theater. But, the Yamaha YAS-106 gets you about 70% of the way there for 30% of the price.
Ease of Use
With an easy setup process and intuitive controls, the Yamaha YAS-106 earned the top score of 9 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. You can see how the other models fared in the chart below.
Set up of the Yamaha YAS-106 couldn't be more simple. It was pretty much just plug and go. We had it out of the box and playing audio from our Blu-ray player in under 5 minutes. LEDs on the top of the soundbar clearly indicate what sound mode is currently selected and which input the bar is connected to. The remote control feels a bit flimsy and cheap, but Yamaha offers a Home Theater Controller app that allows for easy control and adjustment of the speaker. We feel most users will go this route, and not care about the remote.
Very occasionally in our testing we had slight problems with Bluetooth connectivity, but this was only when we had multiple other soundbars on as well. Obviously this is not a situation you'll encounter in most living rooms, but if your house happens to have a lot of different wireless networks within it you may occasionally run into some interruptions in signal.
The Yamaha YAS-106 was a bit above average in our sound customization testing, scoring a 7 out of 10. This was far off from the low scorers and not too far from the top scorers, as you can see in the chart below.
The soundbar itself doesn't offer much in the way of customization, just a bass extension mode that bumps up the bass level and a clear voice mode that highlights the frequencies within which most humans speak, so you can better understand what people are saying. If you end up using Yamaha's Home Theater Controller app (and we definitely suggest that you do) it adds more fine tuned control of bass and treble levels.
Overall we weren't huge fans of the look of the Yamaha YAS-106, but we certainly wouldn't say that it's ugly. It fell towards but not at the bottom of our design/style score sheet, as you can see in the chart below.
The Yamaha YAS-106 is mostly black with some small grey accents, and goes with curves where most models opt for clean right angles. This may fit some people's styles a bit better, but overall we felt like it would be a bit more conspicuous in most living rooms than some of the other, more simple designs we tested. That's not to say we didn't like the design of the YAS-106, it's just a tiny bit flashier than most of the other models. And, considering that your soundbar will likely go right below your TV, we'd tend to prefer something a little less eye catching so we don't miss the next time Matt Damon waltzes onto the screen.
Honestly, we are somewhat amazed that the Yamaha YAS-106 lists for only $200. Based on our hands on experience with it, we would expect it to cost $400 at the very minimum, and $500 almost sounds more reasonable. This product truly delivers an incredible value for the money. If you're on the fence about whether it's worth spending money to improve your TV's sound, get the Yamaha YAS-106. It's a small investment that will pay off in spades.
The Yamaha YAS-106 offers the best value of any of the soundbars we tested, producing good sound for a fraction of the price of the top models. It is the perfect model for those on a budget. Honestly, unless your budget is $700+, we would recommend getting the $200 Yamaha YAS-106 (unless you can find the Klipsch R-20B on super sale, which does happen from time to time).
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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