Before we get to our Yamaha Audio YAS-109 Review, we would like to mention that Yamaha really doesn’t need much of an introduction. They are one of these companies that are so well managed that it seems everything they touch is a huge success.
They have diversified over the one hundred and thirty plus years they have been in operation. It included the Motorcycle manufacturing business as well until they separated into separate entities.
At the forefront of Yamaha, today is their involvement in music. It was founded on music, and even the logo has three intertwined tuning forks. They have 64 subsidiaries and work in all aspects of music creation and reproduction.
They have elevated themselves to another level, and some of their instruments are rated the best in the world. A good example of this is their acoustic grand pianos, which are seen in the greatest concert halls in the world. Played by the best virtuoso musicians, they are world-renowned for their quality.
For the purpose of this review, though, we are more concerned with another aspect. Yamaha’s involvement in music and entertainment for the home. Not so much the creation, more the reproduction, as you’ll find out in this Yamaha Audio YAS-109 Review.
We will take a look at how they are giving us excellent sounds in our homes. They are very well-known for their home entertainment systems and produced their first audio system in 1922. And most of us have had something Yamaha in our homes at one time or another.
As technology takes over more and more, Yamaha has ensured they have stayed at the cutting edge. The new YAS109 Sound System is a good example of what Yamaha can achieve. And how they are able to push the boundaries of what is possible. But also manage to do it all at an affordable cost.
The YAS-109 is beginning to take home entertainment to another level altogether. At first sight, it might look like an ordinary soundbar. But you very soon come to understand that it is more, much more. It has various basic features you might expect, but it has some you might not expect.
As an example, there is some young lady called Alexa hiding inside somewhere. We don’t know where she is because we looked. She must be very small. You only need to ask her to find your favorite song or artist, and off she goes and gets it for you. Then she plays it for you from Amazon music.
She will control any of your devices at home that is as ‘smart’ as she is. She will even set clocks, timers, and alarms. In fact, she will do most things. We asked her for a coffee, but she didn’t answer. That is no good, is it! We mean, what is she thinking? Send her back. More on this later.
This soundbar is equipped with DTS Virtual surround sound. We will look at that a little bit closer later as well because that’s certainly worth the time to look at.
As with most things Yamaha, the build and the design has a certain quality to it. That applies even at the budget end of their products. This soundbar is made from a tough plastic shell covered with an attractive but tough textile covering.
It has a certain style to it. It is minimalistic in design, but that is a little deceiving when you consider what is going on inside. There is a display of controls that are almost concealed on the top of the unit. It is 37 inches long and five inches high with a depth of seven inches.
Normally when you see a soundbar, it is part of a home cinema system. If not part of a system, it will usually have a subwoofer attached to it for the lower frequencies. The YAS 109 is so designed that it gives you a full audio experience. This applies right across the range without the need for additional help.
Inside the soundbar are two one inch dome tweeters and two, two-inch cone tweeters for the mids. Added to this, there are two three-inch cone speakers. These act as the subwoofer, there is also a port on one end of the soundbar.
The result of the internal layout of these speakers is that the sound is projected in a wide arc. Horizontally as well as vertically.
On the rear of the soundbar are connections for HDMI in and out. There is also a connection for an extra subwoofer if required, as well as TV and network connections.
So let’s return to the elusive Alexa. She has been hidden away in the soundbar to allow you voice control over features and functions. She will even answer questions if you ask her nicely. We must be honest and say we cannot say how she will react to an accent and whether she will understand.
But the idea is just that without leaving your chair or even reaching for the remote control, things can happen. No tea and biscuits, though. Maybe someone is working on that. Are we becoming lazy, or is it just the next step to when the machines finally take over. Perhaps they have taken over already. The name Alexa in Greek means ‘Defender’. Perhaps that is another of her abilities to ward off enemies.
Also available for use is Spotify Connect. Connections are made via WiFi or Bluetooth.
Crystal clear dialogue…
It also has Clear Voice installed. This is an interesting function that emphasizes the sound of a voice in dialogue. You could be watching a movie, and the background music or effects are a bit overdone, drowning out the dialogue. Clear Voice brings the dialogues to the front of the sound. As an added extra, there is a bass extension facility that pumps up the lower frequencies if you wish.
The set up is made easy. You can use either HDMI or Optical connections situated on the rear, as we have already mentioned. There is also an app that operates as a Controller for the soundbar. Simply download it. It will operate very similar functions to the remote control, which we can look at now.
The remote control is a useful addition to the system when you get a bit fed up with Alexa. It is small and only really very basic but provides some quite interesting functions. It has EQ settings, six in all, as well as source selection options and a button for the Clear Voice addition. There is even a button to summon Alexa if you feel a bit awkward talking to a speaker cabinet.
Logic will tell you that the bass and low frequencies on this soundbar are not going to be as effective as a real subwoofer. It is just not possible to deliver a deep, resonant bass without the right specifications to do so. The built-in subwoofers in this soundbar deliver a reasonable depth considering their size. And are actually quite impressive given the size of the acoustic space and size of the speakers.
But as we said, they cannot really compete with a big-coned subwoofer. However, the sound has depth, and with the bass extension option, it does have some depth without really shaking the room.
The really great elements of the sound experience rest in other areas. DTS Virtual creates a big surround sound experience. In the past, surround sound needed speakers either set in the ceiling or pointing upwards. This gave the impression of height in the sound.
DTS Virtual creates a new surround sound experience, including the illusion of height. So while the dialogue is still concentrated in front of you, other sounds surround you. Very clever. The sound is quite punchy too — 120 watts in total from this soundbar.
The bass extension we mentioned earlier is a good idea but really just acts as a slight boost to the lower frequencies. It is a welcome addition for music or a soundtrack that needs that bit extra. Some are going to want that deep throbbing bass an external subwoofer would give you. If so, there is a connection on the rear.
Yamaha Audio YAS-109 Pros & Cons
- Quality stylish design.
- Alexa Compatible.
- DTS Virtual surround sound.
- Features Clear Voice for enhanced dialogue in movies.
- Plenty of connections.
- Does not have the bass of a full-on subwoofer system. But it does have an additional Sub out connection if you want to add one?
This is an exceptional soundbar and for the price point, an excellent buy. It is quite stylish and is not going to look out of place with its understated design.
Our only concern is for those that like a really deep throbbing bass. For music, it is not so noticeable, and the bass extension adds some nice deeper aspect. But for movies, it loses a little of what the soundtrack could be giving you. Some will not see that as a disadvantage as often it is all just too much depth anyway.
However, there will be some that prefer the real depth, and in that case, this soundbar is a little limited. Nevertheless, it is an excellent addition to your home sound experience and is worth the cost just for the DTS Virtual surround sound.
Alexa told us to say that, and we don’t want to upset the Defender.