Our Verdict
Yamaha’s YAS-203 soundbar creates a big, immersive sound while keeping the purchase price affordable.

For
Wide field of sound
Rich bass
Clear dialogue and vocals `
Sound enriches the grand illusion of video entertainment, making for a far more immersive movie- or TV-watching experience. At home, you can’t beat a complete 7.1 or 5.1 home entertainment surround audio system for sucking you right into a movie, but those setups could be costly and difficult to use. Yamaha’s YAS-203 soundbar aims to take the pain and cost out of home entertainment sound, making big sound at a realistic price.

Design
The YAS-203 appears like many soundbars: an extended, shallow bar that’s made to be put below or above your TV. At 35 inches wide, the YAS-203 should fit well with most moderate-size sets, those between 42 and 32 inches. Placed directly under a 55-inch Panasonic P55ST60, it appeared overmatched, although sound ended up being big enough to utilize a screen that size.

The machine features easy-to-access music connections on the trunk: optical digital, coaxial digital (labeled BD/DVD) and analog RCA stereo. In addition, it includes Bluetooth for streaming music from a computer or mobile device. The YAS-203 lacks HDMI inputs or outputs, therefore you can only just control sound, not video inputs, and there is no on-screen display for setup or status.

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Instead, the Yamaha depends on green indicator lights on leading of the key soundbar to point which audio tracks input is active, and also whether surround sound is engaged. Those at-a-glance indicators are convenient, however when you’re trying to gain access to deeper features, such as for example specific surround modes specialized for movie, music or sports, you can’t tell which mode you’re in. You should turn to a mobile device and the free HOME ENTERTAINMENT Controller iphone app for that.

The primary unit features two 2.13-inch drivers, slightly smaller compared to the 2.36-inch drivers in Sony’s HT-CT370. However the YAS-203 makes the almost all of those (see Audio Performance for more about this). The Yamaha’s 12.5 x 11.5 x 11.4-inch wireless subwoofer is bigger than those that include the Sony HT-CT370 or Vizio S4251w-B4 5.1 surround soundbar, and the Yamaha product produces better bass therefore.

Setup and Use
The YAS-203 was easy to set up. I linked the included optical-digital cable from my TV to the trunk of the machine; the wireless subwoofer linked with the key soundbar when I plugged in the subwoofer.

The YAS-203 can decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals, though I came across that my TV wasn’t passing these signals to the soundbar. Instead, I had a need to hook up my Blu-ray player right to the soundbar; I used the coaxial digital input for that.

The soundbar offers a few settings on the remote (or within the house Theater Controller app, designed for iOS and Android) which you can use to customize for your environment. You can adapt the subwoofer level and utilize the “bass extension” feature to include more low-end to the mix. You can even engage Clear Voice to improve dialogue. The Univolume button is targeted at late-night watching, and promises to avoid volume levels from spiking suddenly. You can even use music delay if the video and music watch out of sync.

The application helps it be much better to tell levels and which of the five surround-sound modes you’ve engaged: TV Program, Movie, Music, Sports or Game. I came across Movie and Music offered the very best sound quality. The software itself might use refinement, though; I frequently received error messages in Chinese when I launched the iphone app on my iPhone.

You can program the machine to respond to the quantity controls of your TV’s remote, meaning you don’t need to turn to the Yamaha remote normally. Better still, the soundbar includes a built-in IR repeater; that is helpful if the soundbar blocks your TV’s IR sensor – it repeats the signal via an emitter on the trunk of the soundbar.

Audio Performance
For a comparatively small soundbar, the YAS-203 produces a major sound. Not merely does it get plenty loud enough to fill a medium-to-large room, in addition, it creates the illusion of a broad field of sound – the audio tracks spreads out before you. This makes watching movies and TV a far more immersive experience.

While I watched Justified, the YAS-203 produced clear dialogue, and I had no issue understanding Boyd Crowder’s thick drawl. The subwoofer produces better detail in low-end effects than smaller units, including the one which includes Sony’s HT-CT370. Rather than simply a dull rumble as the Batmobile raced through Gotham at night Knight, I possibly could hear the rubber-on-the-road details that induce the effect.

When decoding Dolby Digital or DTS, the YAS-203 really shines. Through the club scene shootout in John Wick, the soundbar nicely handled the deep, throbbing soundtrack and the clatter of gunfire, creating a rich soundscape that complemented the on-screen action.

For music, the YAS-203 takes good thing about aptX technology to increase the quality of Bluetooth music streams. The subwoofer again greatly increased the listening experience, pumping out the bass line that drives D’Angelo’s “The Charade.” Vocals on songs such as for example “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars sounded clear and bright, as did the horns. The midrange tones on some songs fell flat, but overall the soundbar is on par with others in the purchase price range as a stereo system.

Bottom Line
With impressive sound within an affordable package, the Yamaha YAS-203 makes an attractive substitute for bolster your TV’s sound. It’s easy to create and use, while some persons may choose the more feature-rich Sony HT-CT370, which costs just $50 more and includes HDMI inputs. However the YAS-203 gives more-detailed bass and a wider field of sound – important areas of the sound experience.