With its fairly unassuming exterior and relatively low price tag, you could be forgiven for not expecting much from the Yamaha YAS-108. 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-108 won't satisfy the pickiest of audiophiles, it provides great sound at a bargain price, and will definitely improve your at home cinematic experience. If you're looking for a bargain basement model, check out the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel. It is a step down in terms of sound quality but can be found for as little as half the price of the YAS-108.
Yamaha YAS-108 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, good sound, easy to use
Cons: Flimsy remote
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Yamaha YAS-108 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-108 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-108's performance in those tests.
The Yamaha YAS-108 earned a slightly above average score of 7 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-108 has impressively powerful bass for a self-contained unit without an external subwoofer. It is on par with the bass from the Sonos Playbar, which was the top scorer in our sound testing. The treble is a bit less clear than that of the Sonos, but still has enough clarity to make everything from movie dialogue to music sound immersive and well defined. Amazingly, we barely experienced any clipping with loud, high pitched sounds in all the hours we spent listening to this soundbar. In fact, it is almost on par with the top scorers in this regard. Combining these attributes with a respectable dynamic range, the Yamaha YAS-108 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-108 costs and get a soundbar that really makes you feel like you're in a movie theater, but this soundbar 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-108 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-108 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.
The YAS-108 is also compatible with Amazon Alexa. If you have something like an Echo Dot you can connect it to the YAS-108 via Bluetooth and control the YAS-108 with your voice.
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-108 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.
We liked the subdued yet slightly flashy design of the Yamaha YAS-108. It earned an above average score of 7 out of 10 in this metric.
The Yamaha YAS-108 is almost completely black and goes with curves where most models opt for clean right angles. Those curves give an otherwise inconspicuous design a little bit of pop, which we think will work well with most living room decors.
Honestly, we are somewhat amazed that the Yamaha YAS-108 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-108. It's a small investment that will pay off in spades.
The Yamaha YAS-108 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-108.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata