Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar review

Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar review

Under the sleek exterior of the Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar is a powerful speaker system, designed to elevate the audio you hear from your TV or projector. The YAS-109 is ideal for placing on a TV cabinet or wall mounting.

 

Featuring built-in Alexa voice control, DTS® Virtual: X™ virtual 3D surround sound, and built-in subwoofers. The YAS-109 allows you to experience and enjoy TV shows, movies, games and music like never before, thanks to Yamaha’s trademark sound quality.

 

The built-in high quality, stereo speakers deliver a richer, better-balanced sound with punchy low end. Powering the speakers is a dedicated 120-watt amplifier. Even the news sounds far better with the YAS-109, thanks to its enhanced dialogue mode!

 

Connecting your soundbar is easy as a range of inputs is available. The rear HDMI ARC port can help streamline your set up. There’s also an optical input, ideal for older TVs and Blu-ray players. With built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth®, you enjoy a variety of audio sources.

 

The control options are nearly as impressive as the unit. You can use the controls on the unit, an included remote, Alexa or the Yamaha free Sound Bar Controller app. Of course, Alexa is our favourite method, as who wants to search for remotes when you can say your command!

 

For the best home cinema experience, add a separate subwoofer. The YAS109’s output lets you connect any active sub in seconds. Everything sounds better with a soundbar and subwoofer package!

 

Ideal for many uses, including with a projector or TV, the Yamaha YAS-109 supplies superior audio with plenty of smart options. 9/10

 

 

Pros

  • Integrated Alexa Voice Control
  • In and Out HDMI ARC ports
  • DTS Virtual:X

Cons

  • Limited Alexa integration

 

 

 

Design

At first glance, the Yamaha YAS-109 might not appear as wildly different from that of all other soundbars, but you’d be mistaken. The YAS-109 has a slimmer and more rounded profile, making it blend in better with both TVs and projector screens.

 

Let’s start with the rear panel, which maintains a minimalistic look, despite the myriad of connections. The first socket you’ll notice is for power as it’s separate from the others.

 

The main rear panel contains a subwoofer out, HDMI input and output (ARC) ports and an optical input. There is also an Ethernet port. A service USB port is available and allows you to update the unit’s firmware.

 

On the top, there is a series of LEDs that flash or glow to show the operation and setting status. Each input source has a dedicated LED, so you can easily see which is selected. There are LEDs for Wi-Fi, Alexa, Clear voice mode and surround sound mode.

 

Next to the LEDs is a row of buttons and a mic for Alexa. There are buttons for muting the Alexa mic, volume up and down, source selection and power.

 

Under the grille is multiple speakers, including two specially designed subwoofers. You’ll notice the ports at each end, which enhances the bass frequencies the YAS-109 produces.

 

If you prefer to use a remote and don’t have HDMI ARC which would allow you to use a single remote to control multiple media devices, you can use the included remote. While fairly small, it does cover a lot.

 

The remote contains buttons for selecting an input source, adjusting the volume, power on/off, and mute. There are also buttons for selecting different surround sound modes, 3D surround mode and clear voice mode. Plus, if you add a subwoofer, the remote includes a volume control.

 

Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar inputs

photo by Yamaha

 

 

Features

As an advanced soundbar, the Yamaha YAS-109 does more than amplify audio. It delivers 120 watts of power between the speaker (Front L/R: 30 W × 2-ch, Built-in subwoofer: 60 W). Regardless of what you’re using the YAS-109 for, you’ll have plenty of volume on tap.

 

Beyond the basic sound, the YAS-109 can be customised using one of the several options. If you’re watching the news, the clear dialogue mode is ideal as it boosts the frequencies responsible for speech, making it easier to hear.

 

There are multiple DTS virtual: X surround sound modes. These allow you to fine-tune the performance for movies, TV, music, sports and gaming. There is even a 3D sound mode that makes movies feel even more life-like. A built-in subwoofer adds even more warmth to the sound.

 

Enjoy streaming music from your phone or tablet using the built-in Bluetooth or ask Alexa to stream your favourite tunes from Spotify® and Amazon Music.

 

With built-in Alexa voice control, you can easily operate your Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar, including changing the volume, selecting an input source, muting, and selecting streaming services such as Amazon Music.

 

Amazon Alexa can help you control your smart home devices, complete daily tasks and tell you about today’s weather. If you prefer not to use Alexa, a Mute feature ensures your privacy when needed.

 

If you prefer, you can control the YAS-109 using a remote or download the free Sound Bar Controller app.

 

 

Set-up

As you might expect, getting the Yamaha YAS-109 set up and ready takes a few minutes. It will take you long if you decide to wall-mount the unit. You’ll need to supply the audio cables as none come in the box. Thankfully, Yamaha has included some batteries for the remote!

 

If you’re using the soundbar with a fairly modern TV, you should be able to use an HDMI cable. Failing that, use an optical cable. These options also work with a projector or Blu-ray player. Lastly, connect the power cable.

 

You might decide to buy an active subwoofer when you purchase the YAS-109, so you’ll want to plug a phono cable between the soundbar and subwoofer. As an active sub, it’ll also require mains power.

 

After placing or wall mounting the unit and connecting it up, now we can have some fun exploring the different modes. Spend time getting used to using your YAS-109 before you attempt to use Alexa, Bluetooth, or try to use the app.

 

Some modes will work better for the type of sound you require. For example, the 3D virtual surround sound mode might not be great for listening to music, but it could be excellent for gaming. If you’re using a subwoofer, you might need to adjust the subwoofer’s level to each mode.

 

When you’re happy with the basics, you can experiment with Bluetooth and Alexa. You can stream music from your phone to the soundbar using Bluetooth or ask Alexa to play it (you might need an Amazon Prime membership).

 

If you’re happy with the remote and plan to use Alexa for other things, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, it’s worth asking Alexa to control the soundbar and trying a few different commands to see how it reacts. If you’re not a big fan of Alexa but don’t like remote, download the app!

 

 

Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar angle

photo by Yamaha

 

 

Performance

Stripping away all of the extras for a moment, the Yamaha YAS-109 sounds very good, especially when considering the price tag. You’ll notice a huge improvement over the TV’s default speakers. If you’re using it with a projector, it provides a balanced sound for movies, sports and gaming.

 

If you’re expecting a world-changing surround sound experience, you’ll be disappointed. We’re yet to find a soundbar that is advanced enough to offer a completely believable but virtual surround sound.

 

Of course, the YAS-109 is a great starting point but is no substitute for a proper 5.1 or 7.1 system. If you’re eager to buy a basic 5.1 surround sound system, read our review of the highly affordable Sony HT-S20R.

 

We found the 3D mode a little flat, but it is slightly better than the standard surround sound mode. The clear voice mode provides a noticeable improvement to dialogue whether watching TV or a movie.

 

Listening to music using Bluetooth is pleasing and it’s easy to get your phone synced up. Some will love Alexa, others will think it’s a gimmick. Only you can decide where you fit on that scale!

 

Pairing it with a subwoofer provides an additional sound lift, making everything feel more complete. That said, you can use any powered subwoofer with this soundbar, you’re not limited to Yamaha products.

 

 

Is the Yamaha YAS-109 worth buying?

The Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar is a feature-packed unit that provides superb sound for TV, movies, gaming and sports. Offering 120 watts of power, it can handle everything from a small snug to a media room with ease.

 

However, the YAS-109 is more than just a soundbar. It has a built-in subwoofer, Wi-Fi and Alexa. All on top of the HDMI, optical and Bluetooth inputs. It’s highly flexible. Some might complain about the lack of an AUX mini-jack input or USB media players, but these are small issues.

 

The basic sound is balanced yet punchy with different modes adding further refinements. That said, the Yamaha YAS-109’s virtual surround sound mode can’t compete with a proper 5.1 system. It is, however, an excellent stepping stone if you’re building a home cinema room.

 

The app and Alexa are both nice extras that some will enjoy using. However, the included remote is well designed and easy to use. Overall, the Yamaha YAS-109 soundbar is a great option for any home or cinema room. 9/10