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Yamaha YAS-203 Speaker Review: The Entertainment Gadget

Aug. 9, 2016
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Imagine stepping into your living room and being transported to a movie theater, concert venue or sports arena. OK, technology isn’t that advanced yet — but you can feel immersed in your entertainment with the right speaker system.

The Yamaha YAS-203 is a sound bar system that offers full sound and high-tech features at a relatively low cost. We took a closer look to find out if it has what it takes to keep up with all of your forms of entertainment.

yamaha-yas-203-speakerDesign

The YAS-203 set includes a sleek black sound bar and wireless subwoofer. The bar — which weighs 6.4 pounds and measures 34.9 inches wide, 3.1 inches high and 4.8 inches deep — can sit on a TV stand or can be mounted on the wall. It connects to your TV, Blu-ray player or other device through its optical, coaxial or analog inputs. The sound bar also includes a digital amplifier and two speakers, designed to increase power and sound clarity.

The subwoofer wirelessly syncs to the bar, so it can add bass from practically anywhere in the room — it just needs to plug into an outlet. It measures 11.4 inches wide, 11.5 inches high and 12.5 inches deep.

The Yamaha YAS-203 has a retail price of $399.95, but you can find it at a variety of retailers, like Amazon, often at a discount.

Features

The YAS-203 is more than a basic sound bar. It’s equipped with state-of-the-art technology and user-friendly features, such as:

  • Bluetooth capabilities. This speaker offers a 33-foot Bluetooth range, so you can wirelessly play music from devices such as smartphones and tablets. You can also use the Bluetooth standby mode, which automatically turns the sound bar on and off to conserve energy.
  • Surround-sound effect. Designed to mimic a fuller, 7.1 channel home theater system, the YAS-203 uses Yamaha’s Air Surround Xtreme technology to spread sound throughout the room.
  • Voice clarity. The speaker’s Clear Voice technology prevents sound effects and background noise from drowning out actors, announcers and narrators. This helps make speech in TV shows and movies sound more crisp and audible.
  • Sound modes. The YAS-203 has five separate sound modes — movie, sports, game, music and TV program — that suit the performance to the type of audio you choose.
  • Free app. You can download Yamaha’s free Home Theater Controller app on your iOS or Android device. Use it to pick one of the sound modes, adjust the volume or change the speaker’s settings.
  • Remote control. This model comes with a remote control, but if you’d rather use your own, it can also “learn” to respond to most TV remotes.
  • UniVolume feature. The YAS-203 automatically adjusts the volume level between shows and commercials so that there won’t be any sudden, startling changes in the range.

» MORE: The best Bluetooth speakers

The reviews

We analyzed reviews of some of the most popular sound-bar speakers on the market, including the YAS-203, to see how it fared. We looked at expert opinions from review sites such as CNET and The Sweethome, and analyzed user reviews to see what shoppers had to say about the different attributes of each speaker.

Based on the reviews, many users were happy with this model overall. The YAS-203 earned praise for its ability to pump out clear, dynamic sound. Some reviewers also liked the abundance of features — such as Bluetooth streaming and remote control learning — that worked seamlessly, which is not always the case with other models. And many said the system was simple to set up.

However, some reported that the YAS-203 didn’t quite give the immersive, bass-heavy performance that Yamaha promised. Certain users said that the subwoofer’s bass is noticeable, but underwhelming. Others noted that the surround-sound effect pales in comparison with a full home theater system.

The verdict

If you’re looking for a speaker with solid sound, advanced technology and easy-to-use features, the Yamaha YAS-203 packs all of that in at a reasonable price. At just under $400, it’s the same price as the popular Pioneer SP-SB23W sound-bar system, yet it boasts a few extras.

Although the YAS-203 handles different types of audio well, it’s no match for a full home theater system. Bass junkies and movie lovers looking for true surround sound will probably want to splurge on a larger, more powerful system.

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Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.