Which sound bar brand?
Yamaha sound bars rated
By Daniel Nissenbaum
Article 8 of 8
Which? guide to Yamaha sound bars. Find out whether the brand is right for you.
Yamaha was one of the first big technology brands to introduce sound bars – initially called digital sound projectors – to the UK, and launches around two new models a year. A large part of Yamaha’s heritage lies in audio: it has produced musical instruments since 1887, when the company’s founder build his first reed organ.
Highly regarded for its electronic audio products such as amplifiers and speakers, Yamaha has continued to innovate since then, launching its YSP-1 digital sound projector in 2004 and designing a range of models with an emphasis on surround sound and voice clarity.
All Yamaha sound bars provide a way to play music from a smartphone, tablet or laptop using a cable connection via USB or 3.5mm mini-jack inputs, while some of its latest models also offer wireless music streaming. Like other brands, Yamaha includes different sound modes and surround-sound effects, and offers a mix of single-bar sound bars and some that come with a wired or wireless subwoofer - a separate speaker that enhances low sounds.
In the table below, we've rounded up some of the key facts about the brand to help you decide whether a Yamaha sound bar would be right for you. Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive ratings and verdicts in the table.
|Yamaha sound bars overview table|
|Number tested in the past three years||7|
|Number of Best Buys|
|Average test score|
|Brand reliability rating|
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|Should I buy one?|
|Table notes||Average test score based on results of models tested that are still available in shops. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2016 of 209 Yamaha sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 5 June 2017.|
Interested in a Yamaha sound bar? Read our expert Yamaha sound bar reviews.
How much do Yamaha sound bars cost?
The average Yamaha sound bar costs £437, much more expensive than the overall brand average of around £300. Yamaha splits its sound bar between two types: the ‘YAS’ series which cost £150 to £450 and are defined as ‘front virtual surround sound systems’, and the ‘YSP’ series which cost £400 to £1,000 and are defined as ‘digital sound projector’ models. Many are available in a choice of black, white or silver finishes, and are styled to suit TVs ranging from 40 to 55-inches in size.
Choosing the best Yamaha sound bar
Yamaha’s entry-level sound bars are a single unit that don’t have a separate subwoofer speaker. Mid-range Yamaha sound bars usually come with a separate external subwoofer speaker which adds extra bass and links using either a cable or wireless connection. The stylish and slim low-profile sound bars are designed to sit snugly alongside the TV on a surface, and some can be wall-mounted. All models have a handy built-in infra-red (IR) flasher which acts as a repeater to forward your TV's remote control signals to your TV even if the sound bar is blocking the TV's receiver.
Yamaha also offers features that allow you to use a smartphone or tablet with the sound bar. Many, but not all, models provide a way to play music from a phone, tablet or other portable device. Bluetooth wireless music streaming is available on its latest models, while some are compatible with Yamaha's optional 30-pin USB YIT-W12 adapter to wirelessly transmit music to the sound bar from iPods, iPhones, iPads and computers using its AirWired feature. Some, but not all, have an audio input port to connect a portable device using a cable instead.
Although all models come with a remote control, many can also be used with Yamaha’s remote control app, Home Theater Controller, for iOS and Android which lets you operate the sound bar from your phone or tablet, such as turning the power on/off and selecting surround effects or sound quality.
Yamaha surround-sound processing
Yamaha sound bars, like most others, reproduce stereo sound and also offer a surround-sound mode, and its Air Surround Xtreme mode is designed to provide an effect similar to a 5.1 or 7.1 multi-speaker surround-sound system. Some models also offer a choice of extra sound modes, such as Sports or Movie, which you can select to match what you're watching. These modes can be turned on or off to suit your preference - in our tests, we generally find that the overall sound is better when sound processing is turned off to hear the original sound. However, Yamaha claims its 'YSP' digital sound projectors can achieve more immersive surround sound that's achieved by producing beams of sound which reflect off the walls - users can control the beam directions using Yamaha's remote or app.
All Yamaha sound bars can process Dolby Digital and DTS digital soundtracks commonly found on DVDs, Blu-rays and TV broadcasts. 'UniVolume' is designed to keep everything at one volume level, even when switching between a TV show and loud advert breaks, and explosions in movies are toned down so late-night-movie watching won't disturb anyone in bed. Unlike some others, Yamaha’s sound bars have a centre speaker which can help voices sound clear without extra processing, and also include a 'Clear Voice' enhancement feature which is designed to further improve voice clarity. The lip sync feature helps correct and control any audio delay and sync issues.
Some sound bars do a great job with stereo and moving horizontal sound, such as a car speeding from left to right, but it’s hard to beat a surround-sound system for hearing a pin drop behind you. To learn more, read Sound bar vs home cinema vs surround sound system: which is best?.