Yamaha YAS-207BL Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer Bluetooth & DTS Virtual Black
Yamaha’s latest entry, the YAS-207, marks a major step forward. It is the first soundbar to add DTS Virtual:X technology. DTS Virtual:X is such a significant and impressive feature that owners of previous-generation, entry-level Yamaha soundbars will want to upgrade to it. The Yamaha YAS-207BL Soundbar is a slimline soundbar and wireless subwoofer package. While the YAS-207’s rectangular design won’t win any awards, it will certainly appeal to customers who want a soundbar with a small footprint and a wall-mount option. Yamaha includes a template so you know exactly where to drill the holes. You can also put the YAS-207 on top of or inside a cabinet. There are no onboard EQ options to compensate for those different placements.
Yamaha’s wireless sub is vertically tall and thin. The front-ported sub looks more like a tower computer, making it perfect to fit near a couch or tight spaces. The subwoofer’s volume can be controlled independently of the main soundbar, so you can tweak it to your taste. There’s an optional bass boost feature on the remote that further enhances the low end.
One nice touch is that the soundbar and wireless sub came pre-paired and ready to go. We deliberately unpaired the wireless sub to see how difficult it would be should a user have pairing problems. Re-pairing the sub was easy. We would simply caution that you need to be attentive to the specific procedure listed in the manual or the pairing won’t work. The Yamaha’s remote control is far better than most at this price point. Buttons are logically laid out with a reasonably large type. The remote isn’t backlit, but the buttons have different shapes and colours so you can easily make them out in either dim lighting conditions or without looking. Yamaha is among the few soundbars at this price point to come with a complimentary mobile app that takes care of all your control needs. All I had to do was connect the YAS-207 via Bluetooth, download the Yamaha Home Theatre app on my iOS device, and I was in business.
The Yamaha YAS-207BL provides you with HDMI, Toslink optical, Bluetooth, and analogue inputs. It is very unusual that you get both an HDMI input and HDMI output at this price. The HDMI output supports HDMI’s audio return channel (ARC), so a single HDMI cable can be used to send AV signals to the TV as well as receive audio back from the TV over the same cable. HDMI ARC is a neat feature, though you’ll need to make sure that your TV’s CEC option is enabled for ARC to work. Most TVs come with the HDMI CEC turned off by default.
The supported HDMI version isn’t explicitly stated, but it is most likely HDMI 2.0a since Yamaha states the YAS-207 supports 4K UHD signals with HDR (high dynamic range). Supporting video signals is typically irrelevant since most people use a soundbar for processing only audio. Nevertheless, there are situations where it’s handy and practical to have an HDMI input on the soundbar. Should you connect a 4K UHD source to the Yamaha, keep in mind that it will probably pass only HDR10 (today’s dominant HDR standard) and none of the alternative or forthcoming HDR standards such as HDR10+, Dolby Vision, or HLG HDR.
The Yamaha delivers intelligible dialogue and enhances movies and TV programming. The midrange sounds like it is voiced specifically to emphasize dialogue. The big selling point of the Yamaha YAS-207BL is DTS Virtual:X. Yamaha’s YAS-207 is the first soundbar available to deliver this technological enhancement. DTS Virtual:X is a technology by DTS (yes the same DTS that has its logo see plastered all over Blu-ray discs) that analyses an incoming audio signal and uses the Yamaha’s speakers to simulate a 3D sound stage, including creating virtual speakers where none exist. Right now, only a handful of products have DTS Virtual:X and in order to take advantage of DTS Virtual:X, we had to update the soundbar to the latest firmware.
You can download the latest firmware for the YAS-207 from Yamaha’s website. Depending on when your YAS-207 soundbar was manufactured, it may or may not come with the latest firmware. Performing the update was straightforward. We downloaded the firmware to a USB stick, followed the online instructions to install the firmware, and in about a minute flat I was ready to go. After the DTS Virtual:X update, depressing the “surround” button gave me two surround modes. The first mode is a simulated, traditional, 2D surround sound. When you engage the traditional surround, you’ll see a green light on the front of the soundbar. Pressing the surround button a second time turned the light surround light blue and activated DTS Virtual: X
You don’t need programming mastered with DTS:X (the company’s 3D audio technology) for Virtual:X to work its magic. That’s the really cool thing about the technology. It will work on pretty much any audio source you feed it. We’ve never been a fan of simulated 2D surround from soundbars. Our opinion hasn’t changed after sampling the YAS-207. Its simulated surround sound feature is simply OK. DTS Virtual:X, however, is a totally different ball game.
The movie theatre-like sensation DTS Virtual:X delivers is nothing short of astounding. It’s the best-simulated surround sound technology we’ve heard in a soundbar. When you first engage DTS Virtual:X, you should note that there’s a bit of trickery. The volume gets louder. Our human hearing will perceive louder volumes as better. But there’s no trickery involved when it comes to what Virtual:X can do. The audio sound stage expanded significantly in height, width, and depth. Dynamics came to life. If you want to get an immersive audio sensation, but can’t afford the space or cost associated with DTS:X or Dolby Atmos, then DTS Virtual:X is an amazing alternative.
One of the most surprising features of DTS Virtual:X is how it enhanced on-screen dialogue. As good of a value as the Yamaha YAS-207 is, it still has a boxy sound and thin tonal quality to it. Turning on DTS Virtual:X greatly reduced those sonic shortcomings. Even with Virtual:X, however, the overall sound of the Yamaha YAS-207BL still has a thin quality to it. As good as DTS Virtual:X is, that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its occasional pitfalls. I found that enabling DTS Virtual:X brought about a certain harshness to the audio, including some smearing, in some instances, dialogue actually became fuzzier. Switching over to my dedicated 7.1.4 DTS:X immersive audio setup, all these harsh audio elements disappeared. I would suspect that there might be less harshness with higher-end soundbars utilizing DTS Virtual:X.
Yamaha’s soundbars have always been stellar performers in their respective price categories. That stays true here. The Yamaha YAS-207BL with DTS Virtual:X is a winner. The inclusion of DTS Virtual:X differentiates the YAS-207 from among its peers. While Yamaha’s soundbar isn’t perfect, it delivers lots of punch and excitement to delight those who want a better movie experience at home.
The Yamaha YSP-2700 truly delivers on its promise to create a convincing, premium 7.1 channel experience. Of course, that premium experience does come with a premium price tag. Still, when it comes to overall audio quality, multi-room wireless features, connectivity options, and space-saving benefits, this is a fantastic soundbar system. If a true multiple speaker setup is not an option and the lack of overhead audio is not a deal breaker, then the Yamaha YSP-2700 is an impressive single unit (plus subwoofer) alternative to a full-fledged 7.1 home theatre rig.