Yamaha YAS-152 Front Surround System

The Yamaha YAS-152 is a surprisingly well balanced soundbar with a natural performance and a reasonable price tag.


8.2
CNET Rating

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Yamaha's YAS-152 soundbar is wide. The box suggests that it's "for 55-inch, 60-inch, 65-inch and Larger TVs". Which is why it measures 1200mm. Standing 108mm tall, its two legs are a bit over a metre apart and keep the body some 29mm above the bench. That ought to let it sit above the part of a TV's pedestal that protrudes to the front. It's 136mm deep, so in terms of volume it's fairly substantial. You can attach the unit to a wall using the pre-attached mounting points.

Either way, the underside needs to remain clear because there are two speaker drivers mounted there, firing downwards. These are 85mm units and their job is to deliver the bass. These are apparently wired together to provide the bass in mono (this typically has almost no effect on stereo imaging), receiving 60 watts of total power. The enclosure is a bass reflex design (in which the bass is extended by careful tuning to allow the energy from the rear of the speaker cones to be employed, enhancing output). The ports are at both ends of the bar.

The upper frequencies are delivered are delivered by a pair of 65mm midrange/treble drivers, each supplied with 30 watts of power. These are located within a couple of centimetres of the extreme ends of the bar and fire forwards.

The unit is finished in a shiny black plastic, with only a row of LED function indicators and some small push button controls to break up the expanse. Should the body of the unit obscure the IR remote control sensor at the bottom of your TV, this unit will re-transmit the signal from an emitter at its rear.

At the back, set well into the body, are four inputs: optical digital audio, coaxial digital audio and two sets of analogue stereo audio (one via RCA sockets, one via 3.5mm stereo). The fifth input is Bluetooth. The unit can decode such things as Dolby Digital and DTS sound.

There's a compact remote that comes with the unit and also Yamaha apps for both Android and iOS (it's called HT Controller). This works via Bluetooth, so you'll need to pair and connect to the unit to make use of it.

In Use

It's rare to hear a AU$500 soundbar speaker that sounds good with music, but this one manages to pull it off. It does this by delivering surprisingly high volume levels with very little distortion; by delivering the music with an extremely good tonal balance; and by providing realistic bass levels down to its cut-off. Indeed, the bass was so good I figured I'd better measure it. The bass kicked up to a small peak at around 65 hertz, and settled back down to the regular level at 55 hertz, falling away rapidly below that point.

That isn't enough to give a powerful kick drum, but it is enough to provide a solid bass guitar with most rock music, and to touch those bass regions that make you feel that the music is complete, even if the deeper stuff really isn't there.

Having said all that, I'd try to get ahold of a small subwoofer to go with this unit. Covering the missing bass from 35 hertz to 55 hertz would make this system sound truly massive.

At the higher volume levels there was a bit of dynamic compression — drums not poking through the mix as well as they did at lower levels and such — and a touch of harshness. But it was along the lines of a gentle warning to be careful about turning up the volume much more.

The 'Movie' surround mode showed that the unit implements a digital signal processor. The unit made an attempt to 'project' the surround sound material down the sides of the room so as to bounce back for a rear effect. In my room it worked a little on the right hand side, not at all on the left. In your room, who knows.

What it also did was pile in quite a bit of reverberation to the surround content, so that even if it didn't sound like it was coming from behind, it still sounded different to the material from the front speakers. There was also a tangible sense of depth to material in the front sound stage.

Accurate surround performance? No. A different and effective sound with surround content? Absolutely.

The Bluetooth connections worked reliably. It can pair with up to nine devices and it worked with all my Android and iOS music players. The Apps worked reliably as well and somehow seemed much cooler than using the regular remote, even though they didn't really do anything more.

Conslusion

It may be far from the most expensive soundbar around, but the sound quality of Yamaha's YAS-152 put it right up there in terms of quality. This one is a bargain.

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