Yamaha YAS-152 Bluetooth-enabled Sound Bar Review

A Sound Bar made for large screen LCD and Plasma TVs

Yamaha YAS-152 Bluetooth-Enabled Sound Bar
Yamaha YAS-152 Bluetooth-Enabled Sound Bar. Image provided by Yamaha

Sound Bars have definitely become the surprise hit of the home theater category - they are easy to install, easy-to-use, and eliminate a lot speaker and wire clutter.

One of the prime movers in this product category is Yamaha, who employs two different technologies in their sound bar products, giving the consumer and interesting choice: Digital Sound Projection which uses directional sound beams and wall reflection to aid in the creation of a more immersive soundfield, and Air Surround Xtreme which uses audio processing algorithms to obtain a similar effect without the need for wall reflection.

The YAS-152 is Yamaha sound bar product that utilizes Air Surround Xtreme as its foundation. For a closer look and perspective, keep on reading this review.

Product Overview

The features and specifications of the Yamaha YAS-152 Sound Bar include:

Design: Amplified Sound Bar with left and right channel speakers, and two built-in downfiring subwoofers complemented by two side mounted ports (Bass Reflex Design). The YAS-152 can be placed on a shelf above or below a TV (built-in stands), or mounted on a wall (wall mounting screws require extra purchase).

Speakers: 2 (one for each channel) 2 1/2-inch full range drivers. Two 3 1/2-inch downfiring subwoofers.

Frequency Response: 45Hz to 22kHz.

Stated Amplifier Power output: Speaker channels - 30 watts x 2 (measured with a 1kHz test tone with 10% THD at 6 ohms). Subwoofer - 60 watts total (measured with a 100Hz tone with 10% THD at 3 ohms). Under normal operating conditions, the undistorted power output will be a lot less.

Audio Processing: Dolby Prologic II, Yamaha Air Surround Xtreme, Clear Voice dialog enhancement.

Audio Inputs: One digital optical, One digital coaxial, One set analog stereo (RCA), and One set of 3.5mm Audio inputs.

Additional Connectivity: Wireless Bluetooth (Ver. 2.1 + EDR/A2DP compatibility).

Subwoofer Output: Subwoofer preamp out (RCA connection) is provided for connection of an additional external subwoofer.

Control: Limited front panel onboard controls (Input Select/Volume)and wireless remote control provided. Front panel LED status indicators.

Dimensions (W x H x D): 47-1/4” x 4-1/4” x 5-3/8” inches (stands attached), 47-1/4” x 4-1/4” x 5-3/8” inches (without stands attached).

Hardware Used

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Additional Subwoofer Used: Polk PSW10.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

Setup and Performance

For this review, I placed the YAS-152 on the "shelf" just below the TV. I did not listen to the sound bar in a wall-mounted configuration.

In the shelf placement, the YAS-152 produced well-anchored vocals and dialog, especially when activating the Clear Voice function.  With Clear Voice disabled the center channel can sometimes sound a little weak.

Background sounds were, for the most part, clear and distinct. However, high frequency and transient sound effects (flying debris, car noises, wind, rain, etc...) don't quite have the distinctiveness you would get from a higher-end sound bar or speaker setup that normally includes tweeters in their speaker assemblies.

On the other hand, the YAS-152 does well in other areas, especially in the spreading sound beyond the physical borders of the sound bar. Also, with Air Surround Xtreme engaged, the YAS-152 did a very good job projecting sound to the sides, and slightly above the listening position, but I didn't get the sensation of sound coming from the rear as touted by Yamaha's promotional claims.

However, that being said, the overall surround sound effect was immersive enough, considering the utilization of a soundbar form factor.

In terms of two-channel stereo performance, the YAS-152 sounds adequate but doesn't quite have enough depth - engaging Clear Voice and Air Surround Xtreme definitely makes a difference by adding more depth and wider sound field for two-channel source material.

Also, the Univolume feature, which evens out the volume levels, is very useful when you want to listen to the sound bar a low volume levels, as the compression of dynamic range makes normally loud sounds softer and soft sounds louder.

Using the frequency sweep test on the Digital Video Essentials Test Disc, I was able to hear a faint low-frequency output starting at about 40Hz increasing to normal listening levels at about 60Hz, which was better than I was expecting, and is definitely attributable to the decision by Yamaha to include two small built-in down-firing subwoofers.

Although the YAS-152 does incorporate subwoofers that complement the performance of the soundbar, to obtain a more cinematic listening experience, I suggest adding an external sub. For this option, Yamaha provides a subwoofer preamp output.

For this review, I found that even the modest Polk PSW-10 listed earlier in this review, balanced fine with the YAS-152, complementing both music and movie listening. Also, the YAS-152's remote has a separate volume control for the subwoofer once it is connected to the soundbar - which helps further in balancing the two.

Another subwoofer to consider would be Yamaha's own YST-SW216 Compare Prices

However, before you make a decision whether to add another subwoofer, give a the YAS-152 a good listen over a period of time and hear how it sounds to you as is.

What I Liked

1. Good midrange sound reproduction. Good built-in bass response for a sound bar.

2. Yamaha's Air Surround Xtreme produced a good surround sound field, considering the two-channel physical configuration.

3. The 47-inch width matches well in appearance with LCD and Plasma TVs 50-inches and larger (Yamaha promotes its use for TVs 55-inches and larger).

4. Well spaced and very well labeled rear panel connections.

5. Incorporation of Bluetooth technology provides access to more audio playback devices (such as smartphones and digital music players).

What I didn't Like

1. No HDMI connectivity - HDMI connectivity could have easy connection between an HDMI source device and the TV, as well as providing access to the Audio Return Channel feature available on newer TVs

2. High frequencies a little dull.

3. Built-in Subwoofers are very good, but additional subwoofer may be desired by some (additional purchase required).

4. Remote control not backlit - which would make it easier to use in a darkened room.

Final Take

The Yamaha YAS-152's performs well for a sound bar in its price range, provided you take advantage its audio processing features, such as Clear Voice and Air Surround Xtreme.

Clear Voice adds some body and depth for vocals and dialog, while the Air Surround Xtreme surround sound processing widens the front sound stage, and projects to the sides. However, if you want a full surround sound listening experience, a system with dedicated surround speakers is still the better option.

On the other hand, the Yamaha YAS-152 is definitely a suitable for enhancing a TV viewing experience, and its physically wide profile definitely helps to both physically complement, and widen the sound field for very large screen LCD or Plasma TVs.

Also, if you already have, or prefer, a 5.1 or 7.1 channel home theater system in your main room, but also have a 50-inch or larger TV in another room, the YAS-152 is an affordable option to get better sound for that secondary TV at a fairly reasonable price.

The Yamaha YAS-152 is worth consideration as an affordable standalone soundbar solution that is definitely an upgrade over a TV's built-in speakers. However, an external subwoofer may be an add-on option to consider.

For an additional close-up look at the Yamaha YAS-152, check out my Photo Profile.

Also, for a look and perspective of the Digital Sound Projection technology alternative, also read my past review of the Yamaha YSP-2200