The self-contained nature of the YAS-152 makes it an absolute cinch to set up. It’s just a question of placing it in front of your TV and connecting equipment to the rear sockets.
You can control volume and toggle through inputs using the front-mounted buttons, or use the small, ergonomic remote. Its layout is clear and spacious, and everything is clearly labelled.
There are separate controls for the main and subwoofer volume, as well as a button for each input and sound mode, plus an Audio Delay key to correct lip sync problems. You can also programme it to learn your TV’s remote commands for extra convenience.
Yamaha’s app for iOS and Android devices allows you to control the soundbar and select a few EQ presets not available on the regular remote.
On the front of the unit is a row of lights to indicate selected input and sound modes (Surround or Stereo). The lack of an LED display means you have to rely on these lights for other functions too, which feels a little simplistic but you’ll get used to it.
These lights form a line to show the main and subwoofer volume levels, and a cluster in the middle flashes three times when turning on Clear Voice or UniVolume.
An LED glows green when receiving Dolby Digital or red when detecting a DTS signal. In stereo mode, both the surround and DD/DTS lights are off.
For all its technological promise, the YAS-152 delivers a generally disappointing performance. It’s truly brilliant in some areas, and definitely knocks any TV’s speakers into a cocked hat with its volume and presence, but it lacks the sonic sparkle of the best soundbars.
Let’s start with the YAS-152’s most obvious talent – bass output. Our Iron Man 3 Blu-ray provides plenty of opportunity for those bass drivers to do their thing, allowing the Yamaha to pump out the movie’s frequent explosions and pulsating orchestral score with great force.
As Tony’s home is blown to smithereens the sound has remarkable depth and authority – missiles slam into the building with powerful but well-controlled blasts, and huge chunks of debris hit the ground with believable heft. It’s hard to believe that there isn’t a separate sub at play.
This excellent bass performance creates a room-filling soundstage with a decent sense of scale. In fact, bass can be overpowering when turned up to the max, so careful balancing is essential.
But much of this good work is negated by lacklustre midrange and high frequencies. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the mix, leaving the sound feeling flat and stuffy.
This inability to dig out the finest details leaves it trailing behind rival soundbars like the Sony HT-ST3 or Monitor Audio ASB-2, which present a more open, airy soundstage.
We’re also nonplussed by the contribution of Air Surround Xtreme, which fails to open up the sound in the way we expected. There’s a slight echoey effect, but it’s rather thin and synthetic. Thankfully the separation of the left and right channels gives a natural sense of width, but the surround processing added little to our overall enjoyment.
The lack of high-frequency detail leaves music sounding similarly uninspiring. Again there’s a great deal of warmth and punch that gives dancey, bass-driven tunes energy and drive, but without the crispness and refinement at the other end of the spectrum it feels lop-sided.
Let’s end on a positive though – Clear Voice does a good job with TV programmes, lending extra clarity to newsreaders’ and presenters’ voices without greatly affecting the bass response.
There are a lot of things to like about the YAS-152, including its stylish, largescreen-friendly design and packed feature list, which includes Bluetooth, dual subs and various sound modes. It’s reasonably priced too.
But sadly it falls short on performance – sure, its loud sound is bolstered by tight, punchy bass without the assistance of a separate sub, but there isn’t enough top-end detail and openness to make it really sing with movies and music.
Design-wise it’s the perfect soundbar for bigscreen TVs, but the YAS-152’s stuffy sound doesn’t live up to its promise.