Yamaha YAS-152 Soundbar Review
It's like they've been doing this for years. Oh wait...
What is the Yamaha YAS-152?
Yamaha are old hands in the soundbar market but never before have they faced such competition.It would seem almost every AV manufacturer has a soundbar product to offer, in one shape or another, so Yamaha needs to keep its standards high. The YAS-152 up for review here sits somewhere in the mid-range of Yamaha’s extensive line-up, just below the YAS-201 and above the YAS-103 and YAS-93.
The YAS-152 is currently available for between £200 and £250 at retail so it’s reasonably priced but that sort of money rarely gets you a separate subwoofer unit and that’s the case here. The YAS-152 boasts Yamaha’s Air Surround Xtreme technology and we’ve always found their DSP amongst the best so let’s see how this one checks out.
Yamaha YAS-152 Design & ConnectionsThe YAS-152 is very black and pretty large but both design elements are purposeful. The gloss black will allow the soundbar to blend in with many a flat-panel TV and this product has been specifically designed to partner displays over 55-inches in size, which accounts for its 120cm maximum width. Sat on its rubber feet, the YAS-152 is just under 11cm in height, which will make it touch and go with some more recent TVs as to whether it may obscure the bottom of the screen for a table mount but there is the option of hanging it on the wall and you can remove the feet, to make it 9cm high but that could impair the performance of the two down-firing subs on the bottom of the unit. You will still get some clearance but it may not be enough to prevent reasonably serious distortion.
For those that find black a bit plain and boring, there is the option of a white finish which is far more contemporary and will match up better with a silver-bezeled TV. The YAS-152 has all its physical connections located in a recess on the back of the unit and these include singular S/PDIF, Coaxial, RCA, 3.5mm aux and a subwoofer out so you don’t get HDMI and thus there’s not the option of CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) or ARC (Audio Return Channel). Considering some of the hoops we have to get through to get either working reliably, we’re not too concerned about this omission.
Designed not to be stand-out and also available in white
Yamaha YAS-152 Setup & ControlThe front panel of the YAS-152 features some subtle, green indicator lights which show you which input is selected, the nature of the source and whether you’re utilising the surround processing or listening in unfettered two channel. There are four basic control buttons next to the indicators for input toggling, power and volume but most people will, of course, interface using the supplied remote. Said controller is a fairly typical soundbar offering and is thus fairly compact. There are dedicated buttons for all of the inputs, independent volume and subwoofer controls, buttons to activate the two DSP options, an audio delay key, plus the expected volume and power controls. It’s not a bad remote but the nature of the printing design means it’s difficult to read the key labels, especially in the dark.
Yamaha YAS-152 FeaturesPossibly the most useful feature built-in to the YAS-152 is its ability to pass through the infra-red signal of your TVs remote. Given its dimensions, there’s quite a strong possibility the speaker bar will obscure the IR sensor of your TV and this can definitely cause frustration when you want to do anything other than change the volume. It’s simply activated by holding down the corresponding button on the remote control for around 3 seconds, whereupon the three centre indicator lights will flash to show it’s switched on. There is the also the option of teaching the YAS-152 the On/Off and volume signals from your TVs remote but we found the IR repeater more useful in practise.
As well as the wired connections noted above, the YAS-152 has de rigueur Bluetooth capability by simply selecting the Bluetooth input and then performing the usual pairing sequence with your enabled device. Usefully, you can set the YAS-152 into a Bluetooth Standby mode which will allow you to activate it with your Bluetooth device, which means you won’t necessarily have to go searching for the remote when you want to listen to some music. The YAS-152 can also decode Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround and tells you it is doing so via an indicator light which shines red for Dolby and Green for DTS.
Every soundbar manufacturer should use IR repeaters
Yamaha YAS-152 ListeningThe Yamaha YAS-152 packs in drivers significantly larger than those ultra-slim fashion piece soundbars we sometimes cover, and it shows. There’s a no-nonsense quality to the audio that is impressive in the mid-range and also displays good integration in the lower notes, with two 3.5-inch down-firing subs delivering the bass. The woofers aren’t especially powerful but they provide enough impact to satisfy and the package will comfortably outperform that of your television’s speakers. Which is the whole point.
Yamaha make quite a lot of noise on the subject of Digital Signal Processing (DSP). They have, after all, been doing it for more than twenty years so you’d expect they would have learned a thing or two along the way and we must say that although the YAS-152 has only fairly limited DSP options, what is there, works well. It’s not something you can apply to everything but for multi-channel sources where the centre channel can sometimes come across too weak, putting on the Clear Voice option can work wonders. We can’t say the ‘Surround’ effect gave anything like the claimed 7.1 effect with movies but it definitely added some width and height.
Some of the DSP merits experimentation with
The weekend just gone gave us the opportunity to put the YAS-152 through its paces in perhaps an ideal way with the BBC blanket coverage of Glastonbury. A touch of ‘Surround’ processing here was particularly effective in conveying the atmosphere of the crowd, as well as the music, which really added to the experience. We’d mostly avoid any such trickery for more traditional two channel music listening where the Stereo mode passes the signal untouched and gives a more faithful performance. Like we say, don’t use the DSP ad hoc but do experiment to see where it might genuinely add something.
Yamaha YAS-152 Video Review
- Clean, detailed sound
- Well integrated subs
- Some good DSP options
- IR Repeater
- Unobtrusive design
- Fingerprint/dust magnet
- No HDMI may put off some
Yamaha YAS-152 Soundbar ReviewThe Yamaha YAS-152 features a no-frills design, tailored to blend in with your flat panel TV. You can also get it in white, if you have a more contemporary TV and if you take off the supporting feet, you can reduce its height from 11cm to 9cm should you find it obscuring your screen. Yamaha builds in a nifty infra-red repeater function in case the soundbar is in the way of your TVs remote sensor – which it probably will be. Connectivity options are reasonable but you don’t get HDMI so you have the option of digital optical, RCA, 3.5mm Aux and Bluetooth.
As well as an unassuming design, the YAS-152 features an un-fussy audio presentation. Sound comes across very clear and the standard of the equipped mid/high-range drivers are enough to ensure it delivers more powerfully than many in this price bracket. The pair of downward-firing subwoofers aren’t going to rock your room but they are very well integrated and help deliver a decently wide soundstage. Some of Yamaha’s DSP is also really good when applied to certain material, although we wouldn’t recommend its blanket use.
Considering its price to performance ratio, ease of use and its overall sense of being a package designed by a company that really knows what it is doing in the soundbar market, the Yamaha YAS-152 makes for an easy AVForums Recommended Award.
Ease of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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