Review of the Yamaha YAS108 Sound Bar

This is a short review of the Yamaha YAS108 soundbar. This is a compact design made for people who want to improve the sound quality on their TV and not take up a bunch of space or spend a ton of money. So does it deliver? Let’s take a look. This is small. It’s only 35 inches across so it’ll look best under a 40 to 50 inch TV but you can really use it on any TV you want. And it looks good, too. They change the design a little from the 107 and made this more rounded. I like it. It sets it apart from a lot of the other soundbars out there. It’s still a really low profile which comes in handy when you’re putting it under a TV on a stand as it doesn’t block any of the picture or you also have the option to hang it on the wall, too.

Inputs and outputs remain the same. You get an HDMI in and out with ARC. You get an optical audio in, analog in, and a subwoofer out in case you’re looking to add a little more bass. There’s also Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. The touch controls are going to be located on the top and include source, mute, volume up and down, and power. And then next to those are going to be some indicator lights to show you what functions you’re using. There’s also an included remote control that’s going to offer you more functionality or you can use the home theater controller app through a smart device.

Sound’s going to be provided by two 2 and 1/8 inch woofers, two 3 inch subs, and two 1 inch tweeters with a total power output of 120 watts. You have the option to use clear voice which I found to work well to enhance dialogue and this also uses DTS virtual X, which we’ve seen on some other Yamaha models, to give you a realistic kind of a simulated surround sound. It helps but definitely doesn’t replace a true surround system. Highs and mids were good, too, and bass was decent considering the subs are only 3 inches. So is it worth it? Well, if you’re looking to add bigger sound of your TV and don’t want to spend a ton of money or take up a lot of space, yes, I’d definitely consider the YAS108.

Review of the Sony S200F 2.1ch Sound Bar

In this section we discuss the Sony HTS200F soundbar. Starting off on the outside, you get a nice wire grill along the front and the cabinet has a nice textured look to it as well. On the top, you’ll see all your touch controls that include power, source, Bluetooth, and volume up and down. Plus, this one also has NFC built in for easy hookup to a Bluetooth device. It’s 23 inches wide so it looks best with TVs 40 inches and smaller, but it’ll still improve the sound on larger TVs as well, it just looks really small underneath those. This is a 2.1 channel system that’s driven by an 80 watt amp. The two speakers that provide the mids and highs are located behind the grill. The subwoofer is going to be located under the speaker so there’s no extra box that you have to find space for on your floor.

And it does an adequate job. This isn’t really meant to replace a full surround system. It’s meant to be a small option to improve the below average sound quality that your TV probably came with out of the box. This does have an HDMI connection with ARC along with an optical and USB type A input for connections, and like I mentioned before, there’s also Bluetooth with NFC. And the Bluetooth can actually connect wirelessly to Sony Bravia TVs that support A2DP for a super easy install.

So a few different ways to hook up to this tiny soundbar. Now, does it sound good? Yes, but you have to be realistic. These are small speakers and a small sub so they aren’t going to blow you away, but the virtual surround technology that Sony uses works well to enhance the soundstage, and for the size, I think it sounds bigger than it actually is. So if you have a smaller TV that needs better sound and you don’t want to spend a ton of money, or you have a larger TV and you don’t want a speaker that takes up a bunch of space, make sure you check this one out.

Samsung HWN450

This is a short review on the Samsung HWN450 soundbar. Starting off on the outside, it’s got a nice look to it. It’s very similar to its big brother, the HWN550. The brush metallic look fits especially well with a lot of the 2018 Samsung models up to about 50 inches. The speaker is about 35.5 inches wide so putting it with a larger TV is ok, too, but it may look a little small. It also comes with the hardware to mount the speaker on the wall if you choose. Onboard controls include volume, source select, and power. The rest of the functions can be controlled by the supplied remote. As you move to the back, you get an HDMI input and output with ARC, a USB input, optical input, and an auxiliary input in the form of a 3.5 millimeter plug. The other way to connect to the speaker will be through Bluetooth.

Now, let’s talk about the sound. This setup houses four speakers that are driven by four amps that provide 40 watts of power each and the wireless sub over here gets 160 watts. Mids and highs I felt were good for a lower-priced soundbar. It doesn’t have that dedicated third channel for vocals so the vocals don’t come through quite as clearly as they do in some other higher priced soundbars, but the sound quality is definitely as good as it should be for the cost. And the bass provided by the sub was sufficient for a system this size. Another nice benefit is the ability to turn this into a 4.1 channel system by adding the SWA 8500S wireless surround speakers.

Overall, this is a great speaker for someone looking for a wireless option to listen to music, improve their TV sound, and also have the potential for a reasonably priced surround system

Sonos Beam

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the Sonos Beam, the Playbar’s little brother, designed for a small to medium sized room. We’ll start off on the outside. This takes on a different kind of more updated look than the Playbar. It’s similar in style to the Sonos One Speaker. It has the same type of material for the cabinet. However, they chose to use a cloth grill for this one where the One is wired. It looks good, nonetheless, and it can either sit on a table or be wall mounted with the wall mount accessory, which is sold separately. There’s touch controls on the top for volume up and down, as well as play and pause, and a microphone button to turn the five far-field mics on and off for use with the built-in Alexa functionality.

I’m also hoping for a future update so it works with Google assistant but we’ll have to wait and see on that. These controls are definitely on the more sensitive side but Sonos has a solution for that with an option to disable them through the app just in case you need to. On the front of the speaker, you’ll see the Sonos logo right in the middle but it blends in well as both it and the grill are very close in color. Below that’s an IR receiver to use with your TV’s remote for controlling volume. On the back are all the connections. There’s an Ethernet port, power plug, an HDMI with ARC, and a provided HDMI cable, as well as a pairing button. And that’s it. No optical input on this one. However, they do provide an adapter that goes from optical to HDMI in case your TV doesn’t have HDMI with ARC.

Keep in mind, though, when you use this adapter, the Beam will only play back in PCM stereo or Dolby Digital. You lose Dolby Digital 5.1. The Beam’s also airplay 2 compatible for people with the right Apple products which gives you the ability to listen to a YouTube video through your Sonos system without going through your TV. Outside of the airplay feature, everything else is going to be controlled within the app, and although there’s a lot more wireless systems to choose from now than when Sonos first got started, I still think they have the best app out there. It’s laid out in the manner that makes it really easy to operate, even for someone who doesn’t have much experience with it, and it’s constantly getting tweaked and updated to improve the functionality.

Now, let’s talk about the sound. I was really pleased with the quality on the Beam. This provides a really dynamic range and a nice wide soundstage. The voices came through clearly and there’s even a speech enhancement feature that can be turned on to help even further. I actually didn’t find myself needing it throughout my testing but I’m sure there’s a situation where it will come in handy. There’s also a night mode that you can use to hear dialogue more clearly while turning down the background sounds so you don’t wake up your whole house if you’re watching a show at night.

You can actually control the bass and treble if you find that whatever you’re listening to need some adjustments. Sound is going to be provided by four full range woofers along with one tweeter and three passive radiators and it’s all powered by five Class D amplifiers. It sounds great by itself but you also have the option to add rear speakers and the sub if you want a full surround system. And you’re going to have a hard time finding a surround system that’s easier to set up, too.

So overall, this is a very good speaker all by itself, but as part of a surround system, it really shines. With a tried-and-true app and simple connections, it’s a great first soundbar or great addition to an existing Sonos system.

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