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Yamaha YAS-105 Soundbar Review

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Table or wall, the choice is yours.

by Steve Withers Aug 30, 2016

  • Home AV review

    11
    5,444

    Recommended
    Yamaha YAS-105 Soundbar Review
    SRP: £199.00

    What is the Yamaha YAS-105?

    The YAS-105 is Yamaha's entry-level soundbar that, despite being a cheaper model, still includes plenty of useful features. We have reviewed a number of budget soundbars and it's a competitive market place with literally dozens of models all vying for the attention of consumers. If there is one thing they all have in common it's that they don't cost more than £199, a psychological barrier that the YAS-105 also hits. Naturally if you're trying to hit a specific price point then certain features tend to fall by the wayside, so these cheaper soundbars rarely have HDMI inputs or subwoofers. However, as we know from other soundbar reviews, just because it costs less that doesn't mean it can't sound good. Yamaha practically invented the soundbar concept and as we've discovered in their previous reviews, they know what sounds good. So despite it's low price, our expectations are high for the YAS-105. Let's see if they are met...

    Design

    In terms of its design, the YAS-105 doesn't disappoint and whilst it might be an entry level model it has the style, dimensions and build quality that you would expect from something much more expensive. The soundbar has the feel and construction of a quality product and a weight that suggests there is plenty of power inside its curved lines. The YAS-105 measures 890 x 53 x 131mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 4kg and, given the width of the soundbar, you can use it with some fairly large screen sizes. It comes in a choice of black or silver and has an attractive appearance with bass ports at either end. The connections are housed in a recess underneath, there are some basic controls and indicator LEDs along the top, whilst a cloth grille covers the front, top and ends.
    Yamaha YAS-105 Design
    Yamaha YAS-105 Design

    The reason the grille covers both the front and the top is that you can install the YAS-105 in one of two different configurations. If you want to use the soundbar on a table top in front of your TV, then you lay it flat and select table top (T) using a switch on the underside of the soundbar. The Yamaha's 53mm low form factor means it can fit comfortable under just about any modern screen. Alternatively, if you want to wall mount the YAS-105 then then you turn it upright and flick the switch to wall mount (W) before hanging it under your TV. There are indicator LEDs along the top right of the soundbar, these show the input being used and any sound processing but they are easier to see in the wall mounted configuration than they are in the table top version.

    The YAS-105 has an attractive curved design that can be installed in one of two configurations

    Connections & Control

    As mentioned, all the connections are in a recess in the underside of the soundbar and here you'll find an optical digital input, a coaxial digital input and a 3.5mm analogue input jack. Although the Yamaha doesn't come with a subwoofer, you do have the option of adding one and there is a subwoofer output for that purpose. The YAS-105 also includes Bluetooth but otherwise that's it in terms of connections, with no HDMI inputs or outputs for example.
    Yamaha YAS-105 Connections & Control
    Yamaha YAS-105 Connections & Control


    You have a number of options when it comes to controlling the YAS-105. First of all there are controls on the top of the soundbar itself and these allow you to select the input, mute the sound, turn the volume up or down and turn the unit on or off. Yamaha also include one of their mini remote controls that, whilst small, does include all the buttons you'll need. So you can turn the unit on or off, select the inputs, change the volume and mute the audio, as well as choose between surround and stereo or select bass extension and clear voice. There's also Bluetooth standby, a learning mode and the option to adjust the subwoofer level if you have one attached.
    Yamaha YAS-105
    Yamaha YAS-105

    The YAS-105 is compatible with Yamaha's free controller app for iOS and Android. The useful operating screen uses icons to let you easily perform a variety of operations from your smartphone or tablet screen. You can also select from five different surround modes – Movie, Sports, Game, Music and TV programme – whereas the remote control only allows you to choose between surround and stereo. You can also select from the different connected sources, as well as choose clear voice, bass extension and adjust the subwoofer volume.

    Features & Specs

    The YAS-105 isn't the most feature-packed of soundbars but at this price point you wouldn't expect that. So there's no HDMI connections, no subwoofer included and no support for MusicCast. However you do get Bluetooth Ver. 2.1 + EDR (A2DP, SPP) with support for SBC, MPEG4 and AAC, so you can connect your smartphone or tablet and listen to music through the soundbar. There's also a handy remote control and an excellent remote app with a very intuitive user interface. There's also the ability to install the Yamaha in one of two different configurations and, if you plan to wall mount, the YAS-105 includes a template and rubber spacers for the purpose. There's also an optical digital cable included as well. The soundbar has dual 5.5cm cone drivers and dual 1.9cm dome tweeters all driven by 60W of amplification, as well as dual 7.5cm bass reflex woofers and another 60W of amplification. The YAS-105 also includes Yamaha's Air Surround Xtreme virtual surround technology to create a more immersive sound experience from two-channel audio.

    Although a budget model, the soundbar still includes Bluetooth, virtual surround and a remote app

    Setup & Testing

    We set up the YAS-105 in a table top configuration for most of our testing, which meant making sure the switch on the underside of the soundbar was set to 'T'. However we did also try the Yamaha in its upright position, although without actually attaching it to the wall. If you do decide to wall mount the soundbar there is a template to make positioning the screws in the wall easier. Then all you need to do is add the rubber spacers so that the soundbar can be fitted flush with the wall and simply hang it from the screws using the holes at the back – not forgetting to flick the switch to 'W'. In terms of sources we connected a YouView box, a Blu-ray player and an Apple TV to the YAS-105 using various connections and we also used a Bluetooth connection for our iPhone. We tested the Yamaha with TV, film and music content.

    Yamaha YAS-105 Video Review


    Performance

    The YAS-105 might not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive soundbars but it still manages to deliver a solid audio performance that will elevate the sound quality of any of today's flat screen TVs. Where the Yamaha is particularly strong is in terms of its clear and precise mid-range, along with a nicely defined sense of higher frequencies. The result is that many TV programmes benefit from the soundbar's ability to deliver dialogue clearly and to create an effective front soundstage. The stereo separation is also good, which supports programmes with a dominant musical score. As a result nature documentaries sound particularly impressive, with the narration clear and focused, whilst the score spreads out across the front of the room.

    The YAS-105 was also impressive with TV dramas, handling the complex audio mixes of shows like Stranger Things and Mr. Robot very well. The dialogue and the score were both nicely delivered and effects positioned well to create a sense of greater immersion. The only area where the soundbar struggled was in terms of the lower frequencies, despite Yamaha's claims to the capabilities of the dual woofers. Of course no one is expecting a single soundbar to be able to deliver the same kind of bass performance as a soundbar with a separate subwoofer but it does mean that films in particular suffer from a lack of real low frequency impact. Thankfully you have the option of adding a separate subwoofer, should you find the sound needing a bit more kick.

    The soundbar does offer a number of different surround modes – Movie, Sports, Game, Music and TV programme – although to fully access them you'll need to use the remote app. Despite Yamaha's claims to delivering an immersive surround experience, the reality is that this isn't the same as the company's sound projection technology that uses precise audio beams bounced off walls to create a real sense of surround envelopment. The Air Surround Xtreme virtual surround is a result of digital processing and whilst it can make the audio sound more open and spacious, with an immersive soundtrack like Jurassic World it doesn't ever feel like a real surround experience.

    Ultimately we preferred the stereo performance, which we felt delivered a better sounding and less processed experience. The YAS-105 also revealed itself to be a capable performer when it came to music, producing a pleasing soundstage, with some decent imaging and a nice sense of localisation. This makes the Yamaha a good all-round performer and certainly worth considering if you want a cheap way of improving the sound quality of your flat screen TV. We found that whichever orientation we chose, the sound quality was the same, so you can feel confident that whether you table or wall mount, it won't adversely affect the sound.

    The Yamaha delivered a lovely performance overall, although it was understandably lacking in bass

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
    You own this Total 1
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Yamaha YAS-105 Soundbar Review

    Should I buy one?


    If you're looking for a good all-round performer that combines a decent level of sound quality with a flexible approach to installation then the Yamaha YAS-105 is certainly a soundbar that you should consider. It is competitively priced but retains the attractive design and superior build quality found on more expensive models. It isn't feature-packed but it has the ability to be installed flat or vertically, it also includes Bluetooth and supports Yamaha's effective remote app. There's even a series of virtual surround modes, although we preferred the stereo option for the best audio fidelity. The sound quality was very good, especially in the mid and higher ranges but the lower frequencies were limited due to the lack of a subwoofer. There is the option to add a subwoofer, which is certainly worth considering if you watch a lot of action movies. However for those whose viewing habits largely embrace TV programmes or for those who like to listen to music through their soundbar, the YAS-105 has the ability to surprise.

    What are my alternatives?


    As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, the sub-£200 soundbar market is a hugely competitive one, so the YAS-105 does well to hold its own. However if you're looking for an alternative then Samsung's excellent HW-K450 is a great choice. It also costs £199 but for that you get a wireless subwoofer an HDMI input and output, making it exceptional value for money. It's a lovely looking and well made soundbar with a great performance and a decent set of features. We struggled to find any faults when we reviewed the HW-K450, which is why we awarded it a Best Buy badge.


    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    8

    Connectivity

    7

    Ease of use

    9

    Sound Quality

    8

    Features

    8

    Value for Money

    9

    Verdict

    8

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