We review the Yamaha Yas-108 soundbar speaker

Written by Luke Girgis on 30th July, 2018
We review the Yamaha Yas-108 soundbar speaker

Want awesome sound for your home entertainment that’s also affordable? The Yamaha YAS-108 Soundbar may be your answer.

Okay, let me start by saying my track record with home entertainment sound systems has been very poor.

My first purchase was an $800 Samsung soundbar and bass box. It was four years ago now, so I can’t remember the model, and I suppose it isn’t super graceful to name and shame it. I honestly couldn’t work out if the soundbar sounded better than the in-built TV speakers, it died on me after two years and I binned it.

My second attempt was no better: the LG 5.1 ch Blu-Ray Home Theatre System. It sounded amazing, but it would rarely connect to my TV. Every time I turned my TV on it was a total nightmare to actually have it play the audio. This is not conducive to relaxing. After a month of failed tech support from both the retailer and LG, I put it on Gumtree and moved on with my life.

My third attempt, thankfully was very fruitful. I tried the Yamaha YAS-108. It did the two things every soundbar speaker should.

1. It was SUPER EASY to connect to the TV. Really was plug and play, no fuss. Thank God.

2. It sounds awesome! It has a surround sound option at the touch of a button and an inbuilt subwoofer that put my previous speakers to shame. The YAS-108 is really powerful for its size and powerfully fills a room.

yamaha-remote

Yamaha have been around for 130 years, and in the sound game for 100 of those, during which time they have created pianos (fun fact: they are world’s largest manufacturer of these), keyboards, drums, guitars, audio equipment, synths, and opened music schools. Hell, even their motorcycles sound good. I guess what I’m saying is that I know the brand, I equate the brand with high quality and sturdy musical equipment, and I imagine most consumers will feel that same level of comfort in backing a known name, especially with a purchase as important as a home entertainment set up.

So often I have opted for a no-name brand for price’s sake, or a flash-in-the-pan brand because I have been seduced by advertising or reviews – and both these experiences have left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Specs-wise, the bar is favourably-sized: at 35.5 inches wide, 2.5 inches deep, and 5.125 inches high, it’s aesthetically-pleasing and can either slide underneath the television, or be bracketed on a wall (it comes with keyhole mounts) without seeming too intrusive.

That is until you turn it on. This thing packs a mighty punch, with 120 watts of power, two three-inch subwoofers, two two-inch mid-range cones, and two one-inch domes. In addition it has an output port for additional subwoofers should you wanna combine this with a stand-alone unit – although once you hear this thing in action you may not feel this is necessary at all. Still, it’s nice to have the option, and it means that should you wish to upgrade in the future, you can keep the YAS-108, and save a bundle.

In terms of compatibility, the Yamaha YAS-108 can input Toslink optical, 3.5mm analog, HDMI and Bluetooth. There’s no Wi-Fi option, but with Bluetooth, this feels a little like splitting hairs. There is 4K Ultra HD compatibility, too, in both HDR10 and HLG HDR, which is great for pairing with the newer-model TVs.

For the $349 price tag, I really cannot fault it. It’s proof that greater price does not equal better results, as both my previous experiences revealed.

Check out the Yamaha YAS-108 video below, it’s pretty much what you see is what you get



When I got home from work I flicked on the AFL with the remote and put it on Dynamic Surround Sound. The remote basically has a bunch of presets you can flick between which make it easy to adjust the speaker to suit whatever you’re watching or listening to.

A sidenote: This is the first stereo or soundbar that I have ever seen with a dimmer-switch for the display. This is especially great when watching a film in the dark, or if you have the bar in your bedroom. Those lights can become inordinately maddening, so I am very grateful for this small but important inclusion.

Recently I watched ‘Unsolved’ and haven’t been able to stop listening to Notorious B.I.G. since. The speaker has volume presets for its subwoofer which is very handy if you’re listening to hip hop.

I wanted to switch things up, and really test the extremes of the bar, so I played the Splendour live stream, and cranked the sound until I felt like I was standing next to the massive side-of-stage speakers at the festival. Live sound is often a make or break deal when it comes to speakers, as it’s notoriously hard to get a good mix from a live show, and this often translates into muddy sound or that dreaded buzz, as the speaker struggles to keep up with the inflated bottom end. Not so in this case, the live stream was crisp, didn’t suffer from any digital fall out (another pet peeve of audiophile) and basically sounded like a speaker that would retail for triple the cost.

It makes sense that this thing sounds as good as it does.

A nice bonus (and something I was never was able to do quickly on both my previous systems) was that during dinner the Yamaha YAS-108 paired super easily with my phone via Bluetooth and we bumped the Splendour set with little effort.

Again, it’s 2018, playing music via Bluetooth shouldn’t be worth mentioning in a tech review – but how often do you pair with devices easily? Especially when home theatre systems; it’s always been a frustrating exercise for me, one that often finds me yelling obscenities at electrical objects, but the YAS-108 just worked.

THE VERDICT


PROS:

Great value, outperforms its much more expensive competitors. It works, it sounds good, it pairs easily. Win!

The Yamaha YAS-108 is highly recommended for anyone with less than a $400 budget.

CONS:

It’s a budget speaker, so it will never compete with the true top end of town. But it really isn’t designed to. As I mentioned above – the sound is much better than many of its pricier competitors.

The article was originally published on Brag Magazine

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