As arguably the first to develop the soundbar category, Yamaha has a long history and strong tradition in this sector, especially for sound-quality.
However, the emphasis here is on functionality as the company is keen to underline the voice control abilities of these two new models, the YAS-209 and YAS-109, making it easier to connect, control and enjoy music and movies all with native Alexa voice control.
The company has already introduced the functionality to its MusicCast platform so the inclusion here is no surprise, and these models also offer Wi-Fi connectivity to play tunes through Spotify Connect, Amazon Music and Alexa-supported music services.
The YAS-209 and YAS-109 continue the tradition of the previous soundbars from Yamaha, providing an immersive experience and modern setup for the smart home era, says the company.
Aesthetically, both models boast a fresh, ultra-slim to discreetly place in front of the TV or mount on the wall without the need of an additional bracket.
Yamaha says the YAS-109 features built-in subwoofers that deliver rich and deep bass in a compact size, while the YAS-209 includes a separate wireless subwoofer, providing flexible placement options and more expressive bass.
One thing that is sure to damage a product’s ability to deliver voice control effectively is a poor mic, so Yamaha says the built-in microphones for integrated Alexa control were methodically approached as well.
Yamaha collaborated with the Alexa team at Amazon to implement the preferred method for microphones, focusing on both quality and spacing.
The built-in Alexa feature provides volume lowering capabilities, which automatically decreases the volume of movies or music to help receive a voice command.
The included remote contains a dedicated button to initiate Alexa control. In addition, Alexa can be muted, when desired, or turned off completely when the soundbar is powered down.
The soundbars also incorporate Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround decoding, as well as DTS Virtual:X for immersive, virtual 3D surround sound. The post-processing technology is designed to create a life-like, 3D sound field that envelops without the need for separate speakers.
Both products feature Yamaha Clear Voice technology, which improves the audibility and clarity of dialogue in movies and TV shows while maintaining overall sonic quality.
The feature especially helps during action scenes and live sports programs when background sounds might otherwise overwhelm dialogue and narration.
Connectivity options include HDMI input and output with ARC. 4K high dynamic range (HDR) video is supported for use with HDMI-connected 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players or 4K streaming media players.
Both soundbars support CEC, enabling audio control with compatible TV remotes. An optical input is provided for use with other devices without HDMI connections.
Besides Spotify Connect and Alexa enabled music services, Bluetooth functionality allows playback from any Bluetooth-connected mobile device.
A free app to control the soundbars, available for both Appleand Android mobile devices, gives users another way to control inputs and volume. The same app allows for playback of music stored on a smartphone via Wi-Fi.
The YAS-109 (£299) is expected August and the YAS-209 (£399) is expected September.