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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Beautiful, natural sound
Well-rounded digital audio features
Fair price point
Plain look and feel
Lackluster setup experience
Middle-of-the-road build quality
There isn’t much to write home about with the features on this soundbar, but if you’re looking for great sound at an awesome price, you’ll find it here.
Yamaha is an old brand in the consumer electronics space, but there’s nothing old about the YAS207BL soundbar and subwoofer combo. This audio setup brings solid punch—much more than we’d normally expect from such a slim chassis. But the pair also brings a nice set of modern features, including DTS surround, Bluetooth connectivity, and even an app to control everything. All of that doesn't come with the hefty price tag of the more premium brands either. Solid sound, a reasonable set of modern features, and a perfectly stomachable price make for a great equation for home audio.
If you look around at all the soundbars available in recent years, you’ll see that there’s been a lot of work on manufacturers’ parts to make these soundbars look futuristic. Think things like metallic grills, glowing gradient lights, and futuristic LED screens. For better or worse, Yamaha has elected a much more traditional home theater look for the YAS-207BL.
When laid flat on the table it’s basically just a rounded rectangle of black mesh with a thin hexagon of matte black plastic on the bottom. The bottom is also where you’ll find the capacitive touch buttons and the series of green LED indicator lights. While we would have liked to see something a little more interesting, like the sleek look of a Sonos speaker, or the more industrial route that brands like Vizio are taking, this is definitely inoffensive.
There’s something about a legacy brand like Yamaha that shows just how much effort the newer brands put into user experience and branding.
The soundbar is on the longer side, spanning more than 36.5 inches in length, but sitting less than 2.5 inches tall. This means it can be slid nicely under most TVs, provided your entertainment center is long enough. We found it particularly refreshing that it fit nicely under all the TV screens we tested, and it didn’t block any of the display—a fact that isn’t nearly as common as you’d think with soundbars.
For our money, the soundbar looks its best when mounted on a wall using the keyhole-shaped mounting slots on the back. The soundbar’s simple design makes it look really nice just floating on the wall. All in all, the design is plain, but that also means you won’t run as much of a risk of it being an eyesore.
Even though soundbars should theoretically never leave the top of your entertainment center, we’ve found that premium brands use metal housings and thick plastic chassis to make sure the sound response and durability are commensurate with your investment.
Yamaha hasn’t built a cheap enclosure here, to be fair. There’s plenty of weight to the products—6 pounds for the center unit and more than 17 pounds for the subwoofer. But when you look at the fact that Sonos builds its speakers with super-thick enclosures, resulting in weights that tend to range from 8–12 pounds, you’ll see that Yamaha has cut a corner or two on how substantial the material choice was.
This isn’t a huge deal, as long as you’re careful during installation, and you aren’t constantly transferring the unit between rooms, but it’s important to keep in mind. We also found it really smart that Yamaha included a cardboard drill hole template to put in the screws for mounting. This is a really simple idea to make sure you can easily and accurately drill holes in your walls before mounting. We’re not quite sure why more manufacturers don’t do this.
Flashier brands like Bose or Sonos have fully fleshed out apps that walk you through all the features of your setup process—guiding you to discover all of the little odds and ends of the feature set your new soundbar offers. Yamaha doesn’t provide any of this at all. As a result, the user manual is about 20 pages long, meaning there’s a bit of a learning curve to figure everything out.
In addition to an HDMI option, the soundbar offers 4K 60Hz passthrough with HDR capabilities.
If you’re using an optical digital cable and you’re just plugging it into a TV, the soundbar should work fine out of the box. But things like switching between the Digital Signal Processing (it was hard to get to the voice clarity mode), and manually re-pairing the subwoofer if it falls out of sync (you have to turn the soundbar off, hold the volume up button on the remote for 3 seconds, and hold the pairing button on the subwoofer unit), left us scratching our heads.
If you can get past these admittedly minor quirks, the input/output is in line with other soundbars at the price point. There’s the standard analog audio in, as well as that optical digital port we mentioned. In addition to an HDMI option, the soundbar offers 4K 60Hz passthrough with HDR capabilities. That’s really important if you’re hoping to daisy chain a system together and use this as any sort of conduit. And because the subwoofer does connect wirelessly right out of the box, you won’t have as many wires to fiddle with.
Sound quality is quite possibly the best feature of the YAS-207BL. It’s surprising how few soundbars seem to put sound quality high on the list. It’s true that many consumers are interested in flashy connectivity and smart speaker features, but if you’re in the market for a brand with solid sound response, then you’ll be happy with Yamaha.
The soundbar contains four independent 1.75-inch woofers for the bulk of its sound, along with a 1-inch tweeter to support the high end of the spectrum. But unlike most soundbars, this one comes bundled with a wirelessly connected subwoofer that sports a massive 6.25-inch cone. Yamaha clocks this array at 100W of sound output each, totaling 200W total. This is plenty for even a large-sized living room, but if you do elect to crank the speaker to its max volume, we found that it didn’t distort much at all, even when dimmed.
There is also Bluetooth 4.1 included, too with support for SBC and the slightly better AAC codecs.
The other piece of the sound quality picture is all the DSP and sound tech built-in. There’s Dolby Digital available, which is pretty common for speakers in this category and price point, but this unit also contains DTS virtual:X “3D” surround sound. This tech is pretty impressive, as it’s one of the latest offerings from DTS—a brand known for bolstering the technology in high-end speakers. The best use case for this spatialization technology in our tests was gaming. Sure, it works nicely for movies, but gaming becomes truly immersive when you get a nice subtle rumble from the subwoofer and the emulated surround, courtesy of the virtual:X. We got all of that projection without having to employ an actual surround speaker setup.
There’s something about a legacy brand like Yamaha that shows just how much effort the newer brands put into user experience and branding. There are plenty of modern features included in the Yamaha soundbar, but you have to jump through some hoops to discover them. We recommend digging into the user manual to make sure you aren’t leaving any features on the table. For example, there are voice emphasis features included on the soundbar, and we actually found the tech to be the best among the versions we tested. Enabling this setting made watching movies way more enjoyable, ensuring we heard every word of dialogue.
There is also Bluetooth 4.1 included, with support for SBC and the slightly better AAC codecs. This is mostly standard, but when you compare it to the Bluetooth 2.0 of budget soundbars, it’s good enough to serve as a pretty serviceable Bluetooth speaker. Finally, there is an accompanying app which we found to be just okay. It’s nice that you have some recourse if you lose the tiny remote that came with the soundbar, but it features a dated UX design and limited functionality. It’s no Sonos app, but it is nice to see some effort on the mobile app front.
A huge pro for the Yamaha is the price point. For a speaker pair that presents such a full sound (bolstered by the added value of a standalone sub), we’d expect to pay $400–500. This kit comes in right under $300 in most cases, and that price is more than fair in our book. With some of the flashier marquis brands you’ll get fancier Wi-Fi features, but those functions will come with a higher price tag. Yamaha has mastered the ability to put good, solid sound tech into their device, even if they have some learning to do when it comes to ease of use and that “premium” feeling.
Klipsch Reference RSB-6: For about $20 or $30 more, you can get a paired subwoofer and soundbar from Klipsch that will do just about everything the Yamaha will, but with a bit more of a flashy look.
Sonos Beam: In the same price range is Sonos’s most recent soundbar release—the Beam. We found the sound profiles to be comparable (though the Yamaha has better bass response from the sub), but the Beam presents a nicer experience.
Yamaha YAS-108: Yamaha has another option that features a lot of the same specs here, but with subwoofers built right into the soundbar. We can’t imagine the bass response will be quite as substantial as something with a standalone subwoofer, but if you want a single-unit solution, it could be a good bet.
A good soundbar, but lacking connectivity options
From a sound profile perspective, the Yamaha YAS-207BL is a textbook decision for your home theater setup. However, with the presence of more convenient connectivity, and Wi-Fi-enabled smart features from brands like Sonos and Bose, we can’t ignore that this soundbar set is stuck in the past. If smart tech and smartphone integration are higher on your list than sound-quality-first specs, this might not be the soundbar for you.