Yamaha YST-SW205 Powered Subwoofer - Product Review

Yamaha YST-SW205 8-inch Powered Subwoofer
Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Introduction To The Yamaha YST-SW205

Is your home theater or audio system a little short on the bass end? Then consider the addition of the Yamaha YST-SW205. This is one compact powered subwoofer that may just fill the bill.

The Yamaha YST-SW205 is a compact, vertically designed, powered subwoofer sporting 8-inch front-firing driver, coupled with a 150-watt amplifier.

The SW205 features "Active Servo Technology" for optimum linear speaker motion, providing less distortion between higher and lower bass frequencies.

Frequency response is listed at going down to 23Hz and upper bass frequencies to 170HZ. The subwoofer has an adjustable crossover from 40-140HZ, which can be accessed via the front control panel.

The front of the subwoofer consists of the low-frequency driver and upper bass frequency port as well as controls for Standby Power, Movie/Music Mode, High Cut (crossover frequency adjustment), and Volume.

The rear panel of the 205 consists of the main power switch, line-level (RCA-type connections) input for amplifiers with a line-level subwoofer output.

In addition, traditional speaker connections are provided for amplifiers or home theater receivers with no line-level subwoofer output. These connections pass through to main or satellite speakers for mid and high frequencies, auto standby setup switches for automatic operation, and phase switch to compensate for speaker polarization issues.

Setup

I tested the 205 using the line-level input connection option.

I employed two different speaker setups: one setup using small bookshelf front L/R main speakers and the other with large floor standing main L/R main speakers. The AV receivers used in this test were a Yamaha HTR-5490 and a Marantz SR-7300ose. Other components used were a Denon DCM-370 CD/HDCD Changer, Panasonic LX-1000 Laserdisc Player, Pioneer DV-525 DVD player, and Philips DVDR985 DVD Recorder.

A sampling of the software used included standard CDs: HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon (2003), Nora Jones: Come Away With Me, Blondie: Live (HDCD), Telarc: 1812 Overture. One Laserdisc was used: Godzilla (1998). DVDs used included: Godzilla (1998), Jurassic Park III, The Mummy/The Mummy Returns, and U571(DTS).

DVD-Audio/DTS music discs: Queen: Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles: Hotel California, Alan Parsons: On Air. Portions of other software titles in the above categories were used as well.

In addition, the floor was carpeted. Room dimensions were approximately 15x15 feet. The listening position was approximately 12 feet from the front main speaker and final subwoofer positions.

Performance

I found that the combination of the larger L/R main speakers working in combination with the YST-205 gave a slightly better result than using it with smaller bookshelf main L/R speakers, as the 205 was great at reproducing the extremely low-frequency information and paired well with overlap in the higher bass frequencies with the upper bass frequency output of the large mains.

In addition, the positioning of the 205 on either the side of the L or R main speaker gave acoustically better results than positioning it in the rear or side of the room as the waves were in phase and reflecting in the same manner of the walls and floor, as the mid-low frequencies from the mains.

Lastly, the 205 worked well with both the Marantz and Yamaha AV receivers listed above and never showed signs of any unusual distortion at either low or moderately high volume levels and did not elicit listening fatigue over long periods of time.

Conclusion

I found the Yamaha YST-SW205 to be a very compact subwoofer with good low-frequency output, especially for movies. I found the front panel controls to be a real plus in making adjustments. I did find that both positioning and the type of other speakers used did make a difference in the effectiveness of the subwoofer. After positioning the subwoofer in various parts of the room, I found that the suggestions in the owner's manual did provide the best results, especially when using larger main L/R speakers.

On the other hand, although the 205 did an excellent job on movie and surround sound music discs (such DTS encoded CDs and DVD-Audio discs with DTS soundtracks), I found it a little "boomy" on some standard 2-channel music material and TV broadcasts in the upper bass range, and, when the subwoofer was paired with small main speakers rather than floor-standing main speakers.

Changing the settings helped (Movie/Music setting control), but it would be nice if an inexpensive processor could be a part of the subwoofer that could memorize several user settings.

Also, it would have been nice to have a line level output in addition to the live level input for connection of a second subwoofer for those that need better coverage in a larger room setting, instead of having to use the standard speaker wire input and output connections in order to accomplish this task.

Lastly, although the front panel adjustments were very convenient, it would be great if Yamaha and others would include a remote control so adjustments can be made from the listener's actual seating position instead of the listener having to walk back and forth between the sub and the seat.

I had a very positive impression of this subwoofer, especially for the price (below $200) and size of the unit itself. I was skeptical that its 8-inch driver would be able to produce sufficient output. However, the 8-inch front-firing driver and 150-watt output capability was more than enough to bring out the low-frequency effects in movie soundtracks and, with a little adjustment, did an adequate with music from CDs and TV sound sources in the size room employed.

The Yamaha YST-SW205 can be a great addition to a modest to mid-range home theater system.

More Info

NOTE: The Yamaha YST-SW205 has been discontinued for some since this review was written and has been replaced by more recent models, which can be viewed on the subwoofer portion of Yamaha's website. It is possible you can still find the YST-SW205 through third party Auction sites, such as eBay

Also, if you are interested in other, more current, options, check out my periodically updated Subwoofer List.