Yamaha YAS-209 Review: Powerful and advanced soundbar

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The Yamaha YAS-209 soundbar features Alexa voice control, allowing users to directly access Amazon’s voice assistant and its various features without having to use the Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker. Using Alexa, soundbar owners can use voice commands to adjust the volume, mute the speaker, mute the soundbar, and stream audio from Alexa-enabled music services. The Yamaha YAS-209 also supports Spotify Connect and Amazon Music. With Alexa support, the Yamaha YAS-209 has built-in microphones. Yamaha said it has partnered with Amazon to select a “preferred method” for using microphones, emphasizing sound quality and placement.

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Inside – six drivers: four midrange / bass with a diameter of 4.6 cm and a pair of inch tweeters. The connections are extremely simple: one HDMI for the source and one for the TV with Audio Return Channel (ARC). Next is the Toslink optical input and the analog one on the 3.5 mm jack, and, like all other connectors, it is on the back. There is also a USB interface in the same compartment, but you won’t be able to listen to music from it, it is a service one for updating the firmware.

The subwoofer is narrow, the bass reflex port is brought out to the front panel, the 16-centimeter woofer is on the side. The only connector is for the power cable. The sub is wireless. No indicators or buttons. Well, well, since you don’t need to touch it, you can push it further, just keep in mind that its location will greatly affect the bass level. The bass performance of the subwoofer is excellent, but the lowest frequencies get out of control at times. Higher-end subwoofers have more focused bass, but the sub in the Yamaha YAS-209 tightens the bass notes a little, which makes the sound less controllable than we like.

The main speaker is more in depth than in height – this makes it visually more compact, but saves space for drivers and electronics. It looks austere and comfortable at the same time: the perimeter is trimmed with a filled fabric, so it seems soft – very cool. Matte plastic – only at the bottom of the front panel, where the LED indicators are located, and at the bottom of the back. There are recesses for connectors and holes for hanging from the wall, made on the protrusions, so that there is some space for the cables.

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About management. It is possible to program the soundbar to work with a standard TV remote control, this is now a standard function for this type of acoustics. But the most interesting thing is the free mobile app for iOS and Android. Interesting because the soundbar has Wi-Fi, while Yamaha has this application over Bluetooth. The application allows you to switch DSP presets (Movie, Music, Sports, Game), activate the processing already mentioned above, adjust the overall volume and subwoofer level, but the most important thing is that everything is clear here. You can, of course, use the remote control as well.

From this point of view, preparing the YAS-209 for operation is not at all capable of creating problems, since this system does not require any preliminary configuration at all. You don’t even need to pair a subwoofer, just plug it into a power outlet. If all HDMI cables are connected correctly (one from the source, the other to the TV), the soundbar is ready to use. The hardest part here is remember to switch to the required inputs. Pairing with a smartphone via Bluetooth is no more difficult: you need to press the corresponding button on the remote control, start a search for available devices on your smartphone and confirm the connection – that’s it!

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The set is minimalistic: documentation, a cardboard mounting template (to make it easier to drill a wall), an optical digital cable (for those who have a TV without a return audio channel, to provide sound from it for TV broadcasts), a pair of power cables and a small flat panel.

In terms of feature set, the Yamaha YAS-209 cannot be considered a versatile system for use in any home theater. But for those on a tight budget for a soundbar, a small room, and no need for particularly powerful bass, the Yamaha YAS-209 is a good buy thanks to its balanced sound and multiple audio effects.

Yamaha YAS-209 review from SalonAV portal

AI-based smart voice technology and networked music streaming are at the forefront of home audio today. And Yamaha has made all of this available to the general public with its popular new entry-level soundbars. So get ready to ask and listen, watch and wonder.

When people see simple inexpensive systems for sounding home space, they often underestimate the amount of work done in the design of equipment of this class. Making acoustics and electronics intended for the mass market sound good is an art in itself – an extremely limited budget sets a rigid framework for the choice of the used element base and technical solutions, so engineers have to always look for the simplest and most effective ways. And only a few manufacturers are capable of expanding the functionality year after year, while remaining in narrow price corridors. Yamaha is definitely one of them when we bring up the topic of sound projectors and soundbars. As everyone knows, she was one of the first to take this direction.

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In general terms, it is necessary to touch upon the main innovation – intelligent voice control, capable of adequately understanding speech requests in a free spoken form. Moreover, to implement this feature, you do not need to buy, as before, a separate smart speaker – both the younger model Yamaha YAS-109 and the slightly more advanced model with a wireless subwoofer Yamaha YAS-209 are already endowed with built-in microphones that allow you to use the services Amazon Alexa.

Although Alexa, unlike Google Assistant or Alice from Yandex, does not yet understand Russian, this does not detract from her amazing abilities. It is enough to start by memorizing a couple of basic queries in English (for example, “Alexa, play … [rock music, May playlist, best rush hits, etc.]” and “Alexa, stop play”) and everything will be executed instantly. Then, specific queries with the names of artists, albums and songs are easily mastered. If you want more – for example, control other smart devices in the house or get some kind of help information – then this will not be a big problem (you can find a lot of training videos on this topic on Youtube). Of course, you will need to connect your Amazon account, and beginners will also have to practice correct pronunciation. For those who seek to improve their knowledge of English, Alexa is generally a godsend. The system, acting as a native speaker, will turn your communication on any topic into an advanced linguaphone training.

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The Yamaha YAS-209, of course, repeats the successful Yamaha YAS-207, and it also differs in concept from all “hundredth” versions. Here the main unit is a closed case that reproduces the range from 80 – 100 Hz. All drivers – four 4.6 cm midrange and two tweeters with 1 inch textile domes – are located on a narrow bezel and are aimed at the listener. For this reason, the wall installation of the soundbar is performed without a reversal – you get a kind of stylish shelf under the TV.

The bass part is given to the included wireless active subwoofer with a 16 cm speaker, which is housed in a narrowed case with a rounded bass reflex bell. The bass machine, one might say, does not need tuning at all – the signal received by it is filtered and amplified by a 100-watt amplifier exactly to the extent that support for the main unit is required. But, of course, you can make your own adjustments to this agreement. I strongly recommend that you first make a “tuning with your feet” – find a place in the room where the sub will give out a clear hit and bass-guitar texture, and only then turn to the Sound Bar Controller application and adjust the desired bass response there. If you do not do the first, there is a risk of getting an indistinct hum instead of a normal bass, from which the whole room can resonate.

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Like the Yamaha YAS-109, this model is built on a network platform. Activation is simple – you pressed a special button on the main unit and then confirmed the connection in the Sound Bar Controller. Once connected, the application will not only allow you to play content from a smartphone or by streaming subscriptions, but also find sources of audio files available on your home network – drives, music servers, media set-top boxes.

There are two nice features of the Sound Bar Controller here. To adjust the volume, the application offers to use not only the virtual “slider” on the main screen, but also the standard smartphone buttons (at least it clearly worked on Android), which is really convenient. And if another soundbar is included in your network, then you will see it in the Sound Bar Controller. That is, you also get a simplified multi-room, because each device can be controlled independently from one application.

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The Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar became a hit because it could surprise you with the quality of playback from the very first sound. The Yamaha YAS-209 is no different: even with a Bluetooth source, a rather slender black “stick” suddenly “shoots” at you with a dense textured sound. Cinema via HDMI is also rendered effectively and meaningfully. Any high-quality music content on the web sounds even better. There is no need to resort to any of the modes that I have already listed earlier – and a simple Stereo guarantees pleasure.

Powerful and advanced amplifiers allow this model to build a clearer dynamic pattern in comparison with the younger one hundred and ninth. It accentuates the effects less, but takes out more of the “core” from the sound – the tonal balance is observed almost by hi-fi standards and is not even overwhelmed at the edges, the middle is smooth and without tint overtones, the space is compact and kept within a narrow base, but everything the imaginary images are in perfect focus. Harmonic tact is also surprising – the timbres are as clear and immediate as it is possible for systems of this type and price.

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But what is there to be surprised – this is Yamaha. The sign of the three tuning forks and the brand, which many associate primarily with musical instruments, obliges the engineers of the audio department, even in inexpensive systems, to achieve branded musicality.