We call it a soundbar, Yamaha prefers ‘Front Virtual Surround System’, but whatever the nomenclature the YAS-152 is designed to bring large-scale sound into your living room without cluttering it up with boxes and cables. There’s no separate subwoofer – everything you need is built into a single box, including Bluetooth and a raft of proprietary Yamaha sound modes.
But the YAS-152’s other key selling point is its size. At 1200mm wide it’s the ideal partner for big TVs measuring between 55 and 65in, both aesthetically and sonically – pictures that big deserve to be accompanied by similarly sizeable sound, and Yamaha reckons the YAS-152 has the cabinet volume to produce it.
There are five of these Front Virtual Surround Systems in Yamaha’s range – the YAS-152 sits in the middle above the YAS-101 but below the YAS-201 and YHT-S401, both of which add a separate subwoofer.
One glance at the YAS-152 and you know it’s a Yamaha – the lustrous gloss-black finish, clean, sharp edges and distinctive lettering are the tell-tale signs.
Despite the slightly plasticky finish, it’s a gorgeous, robustly-built unit with a gently curved front surface that brings high-tech allure to your TV stand. If black’s not your bag then it’s also available in white.
Its massive size means you’ll need plenty of room in front of your TV to house it. Despite its size and heft you can hang it on the wall using the keyhole fixings, but with two feet attached it’s easy to place on top of a TV stand.
It stands just 108mm high, but if that still encroaches on the screen you can remove the feet and drop it down to 90mm. And if the bar blocks the TV’s infrared receiver, a remote repeater passes on the signal from a transmitter on the back, which is a really handy feature.
The YAS-152’s 65mm speaker cones are placed at the very edges of the bar, giving you the same breadth and space as the image on the TV. The voluminous cabinet also contains dual subwoofers with long, straight bass reflex ports at both ends, shaped like a trumpet bell – all of which improves the depth and clarity of bass, according to Yamaha.
A recess on the back of the unit houses two optical digital inputs, analogue stereo RCA input and a 3.5mm minijack input that’ll be great for temporarily connecting an MP3 player or iPod. There’s also a subwoofer output if you want to increase bass output further.
Sadly there are no HDMI sockets, which may disappoint those hoping to take advantage of their TV’s Audio Return Channel function, but hooking up an optical cable is just as simple.
The lack of real surround speakers means soundbar manufacturers have to dream up fancy ways of replicating the effect, and Yamaha says its Air Surround Xtreme technology does just that. It reproduces 7.1-channel surround sound with ‘clear dialogue in the front and dynamic sound action at the back’, without using wall reflections.
This is joined by Clear Voice, which boosts the midrange frequencies to make speech clearer without affecting the other sonic elements, while UniVolume maintains a consistent volume level to avoid big jumps in loudness between sources, programmes and inputs.
Another eye-catching feature is built-in Bluetooth, which makes it easy to stream music from phones, tablets and laptops. Unusually there’s a Bluetooth standby mode which automatically turns the Yamaha on or off when the connection is made or severed.
The YAS-152 will also decode Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams fed into the optical inputs. The on-board amplifier feeds 30W to each speaker and 60W to the woofers.