The Yamaha YAS-203 has long been a favorite here at CNET, it won our Editor's Choice award back in 2014, and so expectation for its replacement is high. Like, really really high. We'll even go so far as to say that the YAS-207 is one of the most requested reviews we've had by readers in years. So this product better be good!
In the three years since its predecessor debuted there have been some tweaks to Yamaha's original formula, and they're all positive. The price is similar at around $300, offers an extra sound mode -- DTS Virtual:X -- for simulated surround, as well as HDMI connectivity.
With prices eroding fast -- Polk just announced a $130 sound bar, for example -- the budget end has never been so competitive, but the Yamaha wins through with an immersive sound and ease of use. Overall its sound quality rated the same as the much cheaper , but the Yamaha has a more immersive sound.
The Yamaha YAS-207 is available now for $299, £349 and AU$599.
Design and features
The specifications list isn't the only thing that's changed, it's also the cosmetics. The YAS-207's faux-leather plastic top and cloth grill surround make it less like the YAS-203's "sports car bumper" and more like a piece of furniture. The 207 does without the IR repeater of the old model but it's also shorter -- down from 3.125 inches to 2.375 inches -- so it's less likely to block your TV's IR port. Of course wall-mounting using the keyhole mounts makes this a non-issue but be aware that it will poke out from the wall about six inches.
The front of the unit features touch-sensitive controls and a sensibly labelled LED readout, though the display is not quite decipherable from the couch. This is a pity as the device is without any on-screen display for your TV.
The sub that accompanies the main unit is large (7.125 inches wide by 17.25 inches high by 15.75 inches deep) and it also has a cloth grill that looks removable... but isn't. The sub is front-ported and wireless so you can easily tuck it in a corner or next to your couch.
Lastly, the remote. It's probably the only thing that Yamaha hasn't changed over previous products. It's somewhere between a credit card and a small clicker and has the buttons you need. But be aware that your own TV remote may be better, or you could try Yamaha's own HT Controller app which operates by Bluetooth for further control options.
The YAS-207 features compatibility with both Dolby and DTS soundtracks. One thing to note is that it's the first sound bar to include DTS Virtual:X -- a virtual surround mode for stereo systems. The soundbar features a set of four 1.75-inch woofers paired with two tweeters while the subwoofer features a 6.5-inch driver.
Connectivity consists of a 4K-compatible HDMI input/output, Bluetooth, a 3.5mm analog input and an optical port. The speaker also includes a USB port for firmware updates, but as there's no display it's hard to check which firmware you have. It's important to note that the earliest versions shipped without DTS Virtual:X and so if pressing the "Surround" button doesn't turn the LED blue you need to update.