Yamaha YAS-109 Review
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|Pros||Inexpensive, good connectivity, great dialogue enhancement mode||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs||Three levels of voice enhancement, versatile physical inputs, subwoofer included|
|Cons||Overall audio quality is unimpressive||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Not the best overall sound quality||No smart features, minimal EQ customization||Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup, subwoofer is quite large, sub-par sound quality|
|Bottom Line||This soundbar is sure to improve your home theater experience and is easy to plug in and start enjoying, though the audio quality is far from top-notch||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models||This is a two-piece system that may take up more space than it's worth|
|Rating Categories||Yamaha YAS-109||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Polk Audio Signa S3|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||Yamaha YAS-109||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Polk Audio Signa S3|
|Dimensions||2.13" x 35" x 5.13"||Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
|Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
|Bar: 2.15" x 35.43" x 3.22"
Sub: 13.4" x 6.72" x 12.2"
|External Subwoofer||No (optional)||Yes||Yes||No (optional)||Yes|
|Inputs (wired)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), HDMI in, USB (update only), Ethernet, Subwoofer out||Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX, USB|
|Supported Audio File Formats||Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Digital Surround||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||DTS||Dolby||Dolby|
|Voice Assistants||Alexa||n/a||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device||n/a||Google Assistant|
|App||Yamaha Sound Bar||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Syncs with:||None||None||None||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||Chromecast and/or Google Home enabled devices|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Yamaha YAS-109 Sound Bar is an affordable, all-in-one home theater package with Alexa support and several features that can enhance your viewing experience beyond just making your TV louder. It has full connectivity via HDMI ARC, an optical cable, and outputs for an additional subwoofer, and several listening modes that are more appropriate for listening at lower volumes or gaming.
We assign a lot of weight to our sound quality metric, and, unfortunately, sound quality is not this soundbar's forte. Its bass is booming and fairly overpowering when the volume is cranked. Our testers are not impressed with this model when using it exclusively for listening to music, as its EQ settings are limited to adjusting the bass level. At max volume, the audio quality doesn't decrease significantly, though it's worth noting that we measured 85 dBa when this soundbar is turned all the way up, making it one of the quieter models we tested.
Things start looking up a bit when we consider TV audio, which is why you're looking into soundbars in the first place. The "Clear Voice" feature effectively enhances dialogue without increasing the volume. This comes in handy when trying to view an action movie with dynamic sound after your kids or roommates have gone to sleep. Despite the bass-heavy performance, the dialogue is crisp and clear even over music or the chaotic sounds of explosions and gunfire.
Ease of Use
Initial setup is straightforward for this model if your TV has an HDMI or optical connection. Just plug into your TV and power connection and you're ready to roll. However, some patience is required once you get over the shock of your improved viewing experience and it's time to set up the app controls on your phone and connect the soundbar to WiFi for Alexa assistance. The app is pretty disappointing, as it's very basic and doesn't provide much in terms of additional controls, plus it doesn't update in real time as you adjust settings via the included remote or the touch-sensitive buttons on the soundbar. Connecting to WiFi requires some button pressing and additional time for a software update. Once you're connected to WiFi, you're afforded four different ways to adjust volume and settings—the app, the included remote, Alexa voice control, and the buttons on the soundbar.
The remote is easy and intuitive to use, and when it's out of reach, you can just holler at Alexa to raise and lower the volume, skip tracks, or set an alarm.
As we hinted at when describing the app controls, there's not a lot of customizable parameters for the Yamaha YAS-109 Sound Bar, though it does have eight preset modes and the option to connect a subwoofer via a wired connection. In addition to the useful clear voice mode, there are separate modes for sports, gaming, movies, TV programs, and surround sound. The surround sound functions use this model's DTS Virtual X support to simulate sounds coming from different heights, "surround" being a bit of a misnomer.
A cloth mesh covering surrounds much of this soundbar, and after lots of testing, we prefer the durability of a hard plastic shell, which is also much easier to keep clean. Several LED indicator lights signal Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, which listening mode you're currently using, as well as Alexa's response status. The bar sits low and shouldn't block the tv unless it's flush with the stand or table, or the soundbar can be mounted to the wall.
The Yamaha YAS-109 is a decent value. It has a good feature set, and while it doesn't sound amazing, it sounds good for a budget model and is worth the money for the improvement over your TV's speakers. However, there are other options for around the same price that sound significantly better.
This soundbar will without a doubt improve your home theater experience and is a budget way to get a lot more from your big flat screen. It's adequate in smaller living rooms and apartment settings where the proximity of your neighbors will naturally limit your sound system; however, this is not the soundbar for discerning audiophiles who are willing to spend a little more for better quality sounds.
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