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Yamaha YAS-209 review: The Alexa sound bar to beat

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The Good The Yamaha YAS-209 offers excellent sound quality in a compact sound bar. The addition of Amazon Alexa is useful and the mics work well in loud environments. The sound bar's implementation of DTS Virtual:X offers a rich surround effect. The subwoofer is more articulate and offers more headroom than the competing Polk sound bar.

The Bad There's no multiroom music feature. There's no onscreen display and the LEDs on the top are too small to see from your chair.

The Bottom Line The Yamaha YAS-209 is a worthy smart sound bar that offers excellent sound quality, whether it's playing music or movies.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 8

The excellent Yamaha YAS-207 ($241 at Walmart) came out in 2017, and if the company had plenty of competition then, it has even more now. Vizio has gone from strength to strength with products such as the SB36512, and other smart sound bars like the Polk Command Bar ($239 at Amazon) have come online that offer great sound and ease of use.

There's a lot riding on the YAS-209, especially since it's the company's first smart speaker of any kind. Yamaha went with Amazon Alexa, the most popular voice assistant in the home, for its voice control, and if you have a couple of Amazon Echos ($100 at Crutchfield) tucked away already that's good news for you. Even better: The Yamaha performs well as a smart speaker and sounds great.

It's not the cheapest smart sound bar available though. Some shoppers in this price range might well prefer the Sonos Beam for its multiroom chops and choice of Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple AirPlay 2, while the Command Bar offers Alexa for less money. Neither matches the Yamaha's sound quality however. The YAS-209 gives you everything you'd expect from a Yamaha at the price: ease of use, powerful output levels and an ability to replay both movies and music to a high standard. 

Little boxes on your sideboard

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Yamaha YAS-209 is a sound bar and wireless subwoofer combo incorporating two microphones for use with Amazon Alexa. Unlike such competitors as the Sonos Beam (which lacks a sub) and the Bose Soundbar 700, the Yamaha is not going to get Google Assistant in the future.

The main sound bar is approximately 37 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall and I found it fit under a number of TVs without blocking the IR port. You can also mount it on a wall in the same horizontal orientation. The subwoofer, on the other hand, is a large box that houses a 6.5-inch bass woofer. It's a little more intrusive than the bar at roughly 16 inches square and 7.5 inches wide. 

The speaker offers DTS Virtual:X for simulated surround effects from a single bar, plus a bunch of media-specific presets: Music, TV program, Movie, Sports, Game and Stereo.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Connections include HDMI in and HDMI (ARC) out, optical digital and Bluetooth. You can connect the sound bar to Ethernet and Wi-Fi for Spotify Connect and Alexa support (though no AirPlay 2 or built-in Chromecast). Yamaha says compatibility with Amazon's MRM (Multi-Room Music) feature is in the pipeline as well.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar comes with a larger remote than usual and the back of it is pleasingly concave. Given the small nature of the sound bar's LED display readout, the remote is one of the main methods of interacting with the sound bar; its button selection is suitably comprehensive and easy to use. 

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