Great TV Audio with streaming

Soundbars is the simplest way to having great TV audio. Choose one with a streaming and you'll get a stereo system with your purchase!

The television manufacturers are working diligently to improve their products, and continue to launch better products from year to year. Except for one point: the sound quality. In a world where flatter is better, there is no room to incorporate good quality speakers.

The simplest and most elegant solution to issues regarding audio is a soundbar. A separate speaker, in which all speaker drivers, amplification and processing of the digital audio signal from the film or music are built into a single chassis.

Bar or base?

A regular soundbar is fairly thin and long, and is designed to fit under a wall mounted TV. If, on the other hand, you have your TV on a table, you may prefer to select a sound base. This is deeper and narrower than a soundbar, and has the advantage of allowing you to have the TV placed on top of it, so that it doesn’t get in the way of the TV’s bottom edge, like a soundbar can do, if you place this on the table in front of the TV. Because of the larger chassis volume of the base, it often has more bass than a soundbar and manages fine without an additional subwoofer next to it. The soundbar does not have as deep bass of its own, and may often require a subwoofer to work optimally.
The sound base market has never completely taken off, so many manufacturers have stopped making them. For the same reason, we initially considered having soundbars in this test, but suddenly Sonos (the market leader within multi-room speakers) launched its first sound base, so we decided to include it. Other than that, the rest of the test subjects are soundbars.

What are we looking for?

A soundbar’s job is primarily to improve TV audio, while music becomes a bonus. More powerful sound is an important keyword, but we have learned that some producers have fallen for the temptation to provide a round and rich sound experience at the expense of openness and clarity in the dialogue. This is not acceptable. The soundbar must always be better than the TV. It shouldn’t be the case that when you watch the news, you use the TV’s built-in speakers because they render clearer speech than the soundbar. The soundbar should ALWAYS be the preferred choice. That means first and foremost that dialogue is in order.
Of course, we also want a rich and hefty sound rendition and also viable music experiences in stereo. The best soundbars can handle everything.

This is how we tested

All products have been tested by our hi-fi bench. For movies, we have connected the 4K Blu-ray player Panasonic DMP-UB900 with HDMI as this has been available. In other cases, the audio has been transmitted via the optical digital input. Where products have external subwoofers, they are positioned where it sounds best (usually somewhere on the floor by the wall, not far from the soundbar).
Music in stereo has been played over the wireless network. We have used Tidal with CD quality where this has been available, otherwise we have used Spotify.
We have tested with the movie Deadpool on 4K Blu-ray, while music in stereo has been an assorted selection.

Products in this test
User-friendly and tough

Heos has endowed this with user-friendliness, and here one also gets tough, rich sound for one’s money.

Heos is Denon’s brand for multi-room products, and is one of Sonos’ direct competitors. It’s all about connections of the simplest kind, and everything is controlled with an app. That is to say, one can easily learn sound up and sound down just like the TV’s remote control, and just like Sonos.
Unlike Sonos and Bluesound, Heos has included a wireless subwoofer, and the soundbar also has an HDMI input and output on the back, where the output supports ARC. Since the input does not support the HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which are necessary to display the latest Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, the solution is to connect all HDMI sources directly to the TV and tap the audio signal back out to the soundbar via the HDMI input on the TV that has an ARC. Alternatively, you can use an optical digital cable. We did not notice any problems with lip sync on this one.
Unlike Sonos and Bluesound, Heos actually has support for DTS, which means you effortlessly get audio no matter what type of source material you are looking at.
Connecting to wireless networks is very easy. Connect your mobile phone with the supplied 3.5 mm audio cable, and the app asks you to enter the password for the network. Then the soundbar is controlled with the Heos app. Select TV or one of the many streaming options. Spotify, Tidal and Deezer can be found here. Other services like Apple Music work with Bluetooth, but one such adapter is an accessory.

Sound quality

Film is rendered with a good punch, and the subwoofer is hooked nicely to the soundbar and becomes a natural part of the soundscape. The dialogue sounds large and rich, and bass effects sound mighty and tough.
The virtual surround sound at Heos is not as large and holographic as that of some other soundbars, but it is still entertaining to watch movies. What it lacks is a little more open dialogue, which can sound a little veiled due to a colouring in the midrange.
Music in stereo works okay with rich bass. It is not as rhythmic as desired, and again we crave more airy overtones. It lacks a little snap in the piano; female vocals sound woolly, and the timbre characteristics are largely too murky.

Conclusion

Heos HomeCinema is a very user-friendly soundbar. It becomes a natural extension of the Heos family with multi-room products and is one of Sonos’ direct competitors. The included subwoofer provides better bass pressure than Sonos and Bluesound, unless they are supplemented by an external subwoofer, which becomes very costly.
Soundwise, Heos has plenty of energy with rich and rich bass. The dialogue is huge with good downward weight. It just lacks some nuances in the upper register. The same applies to music in stereo, which can sound somewhat veiled.

A lot of sound pressure, little else

Klipsch has the highest sound pressure in the test. But the soundbar disappoints on sound quality.

The RSB-14 is a very comprehensive soundbar, with three HDMI inputs that support all of the video formats, including the latest copy protection on Ultra HD Blu-ray movies. The wireless subwoofer is in place and the soundbar can be connected in a wireless multi-room setup thanks to DTS Play-Fi. This can be used across brands and can be grouped with similar products from MartinLogan, McIntosh, Onkyo and Pioneer, among others. The only thing required is that they support Play-Fi. Thus, this is a kind of competitor to Google Cast.
The soundbar is connected to the network by downloading the app Klipsch Stream. The user-friendliness of Play-Fi is very good, it’s easy to group several speakers into networks, and the Tidal interface is also very good, almost like the original Tidal app.

Sound quality

The surround sound feature on film is quite good. Here one gets a good impression of surround sound. And this is the test’s most powerful soundbar. It can project very loudly!
But there are some important problems. First, there is an audible whizzing sound from the speakers. But more importantly, the sound quality is not particularly good. The overtone area is fairly constricted, dialogue sounds coloured, and the bass area is particularly bombastic and masks the lower vocal ranges in the dialogue. Deadpool already sounds like he is mumbling as he talks behind his mask. It gets even worse when it is rendered by the Klipsch soundbar.
For film, we still want to assert that the RSB-14 works in an emergency. The big problem arises when you want to play music. Here, the bass range takes over, and it doesn’t help to mute the subwoofer, as there is a hump in midrange that colours the sound a lot. Do we hear an electric bass or a double bass? An electric piano or a grand piano? It’s not so easy to hear. It lacks overtones. It sounds quite simply woolly. It becomes somewhat clearer with the Dialogue button enabled for clearer speech. But acoustic music sounds hard, dark and not very engaging.
The soundbar can play almost absurdly loud, but that doesn’t help much. We don’t feel like throwing a party with this. Disappointing. Especially when we know that Klipsch makes so many other good products.

Conclusion

The soundbar from Klipsch is easy to connect and use, and three HDMI inputs are more than what most can boast. It is also the most powerful of the test. You can play very loudly with Klipsch RSB-14, and Play-Fi is not brand-dependent to work in multi-room.
It unfortunately doesn’t help much, because the soundbar simply does not sound good enough. The dialogue in film lacks resolution and music in stereo works poorly. The sound is quite simply woolly.

Not good enough

Bose has banked on user-friendliness, but has unfortunately forgotten about the sound quality.

SoundTouch 300 is the latest addition to Bose’s multi-room family, an easy-to-use soundbar, where one can also purchase a wireless subwoofer if you want, and even supplement with wireless back speakers. But it also works well on its own.
The SoundTouch 300 has a HDMI output, but interestingly enough no corresponding input. This is because it has an audio return channel (ARC) and should therefore be connected to a corresponding ARC input on the TV. This speaks both ways, so one HDMI cable is all you need.
Connecting to the network is easily done with the SoundTouch mobile app, and there is a bit of magic surrounding the product on the whole. There is built-in support for Spotify Connect and Internet radio. For everything else (Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, etc.), one needs to use Bluetooth. This is a rather scant offer.
It comes with a measurement microphone in the form of a headband, which you must wear while moving from place to place in the room and running the calibration. This is not scary, and the process is easy. Just follow the instructions from the voice coming out of the speakers.

Sound quality

With our Sony TV, we experienced the fact that the optical digital input had too much delay in sound, so the sound from the dialogue on the film didn’t match the lip movements of the actors. HDMI was therefore the only real connection for film.
Without room correction, the dialogue on film sounds boxed and unnatural, with a hump at the top of the chest voice region. It’s almost as if the actors have a bubble in their throat when they speak. After room correction, a lot of this is resolved, and the dialogue becomes clearer. The advantage of room correction is that a soundbar which initially sounds mediocre can quickly work better in a given room, than another soundbar that originally has better sound quality.
The soundbar still doesn’t sound very engaging. The sound is bigger and fuller than from the TV, but it doesn’t handle the bass very well on its own, and there isn’t much timbre here. You can amplify the bass, but then it masks too much of the dialogue. We keep it in the middle range.
Music in stereo suffers from the bass area masking the midrange, and female voices sound too woolly to engage. Music with a lot of dynamism and bass also soon begins to get on your nerves.
We also got hold of the subwoofer Acoustimass 300 to test it. This doubles the price and provides a more powerful bass experience, but it does not remove the tonal weakness of the soundbar, and Bose never becomes a threat to its rivals.

Conclusion

Bose SoundTouch 300 is very easy to connect and use. It also has automatic room correction, that reduces some of the room’s negative impact.
The sound quality itself is unfortunately nothing to get excited about, neither for film or for music, It sounds too closed in and woolly. Better than TV sound, but no more than that. The system also has limited support for streaming services.

Clear speech

The Philips soundbar does its job, with crystal clear dialogue and a fairly balanced sound.

The Philips soundbar came in a somewhat suspiciously small box, which we thought could only have room for a subwoofer. It turned out that the soundbar comes in three parts that must be assembled. It is the thinnest of the test, so if you find a place to hide the wireless subwoofer, there is little that will attract anyone’s attention.
The soundbar has an HDMI input and one output, but since they don’t support 4K video from Blu-ray, all sources must be connected to the TV with HDMI, then to connect the soundbar to the TV’s audio return channel (ARC). It works fine. Alternatively, you can use the optical digital input.
The soundbar connects to the wireless network using the app HCWeSet. Follow the instructions in the app, it’s easy. To stream music, Philips uses Google Cast. It’s super easy. You just open the app that you use for your music, and touch a virtual key in the app that makes the soundbar take over as an audio source instead of the mobile phone. Your mobile phone is now turned into a remote control. If you have multiple Google Cast products in your home, these can be combined so that they play the same music throughout the house. Google Cast supports many streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal and Deezer. But not currently Apple music or the local music player on the iPhone.

Sound quality
I must admit I was sceptical as to whether this thin soundbar would be anything special. Thank goodness I am able to put some of my prejudices aside. The problem with thin soundbars is that they often struggle to play well with the subwoofer, as it frequently turns out that vocalized consonants come from the soundbar while the vowels – vocalzation from the diaphragm – come from the subwoofer. The subwoofer must then be placed very close to the soundbar so that it doesn’t sound quaint.
In this case, it sounds far more decent than anticipated. The voices in the movie are clear and open. With the surround feature enabled, the soundscape spreads uniformly throughout the room without compromising the voice rendition. This is because the centre channel has been equipped with separate speakers. The wireless subwoofer also reproduces the bass effects quite well.

There is a lack of shade in the overtones. Raindrops are reminiscent of tiny glass crystals hitting the ground. There’s also a gap between the subwoofer and the soundbar, but you don’t think much about it during a movie.
The problem arises with music, where the bass instruments sound rather monotonous and unnuanced. You don’t really hear the string plucking on a bass guitar, just the body. Vowels sound clear, but the whole thing becomes a little thin.

Conclusion
Despite the low price, Philips soundbar provides fairly good sound on film with clear dialogue. For music, we’d like more air in the cymbals, and the soundscape is too constricted — the stereo perspective is virtually non-existent.
The Philips soundbar works on the whole perfectly fine. We like streaming with the Google Cast. This is a nice choice if you want a thin and affordable soundbar.

Photo: Philips

Rather complete

If you are looking for an affordable option with multi-room, and do not want an extra bass crate, then this one is good.

This Yamaha soundbar has a built-in subwoofer and does not need an external subwoofer. It is very convenient for those who do not have enough space for one or if, for example, you live in a block and don’t want to bother the neighbours with too much deep bass. With such a solution, the manufacturer cannot make a soundbar that sounds weak, as there is no subwoofer next to it to save it. We therefore expect a solution that sounds balanced and rich enough on its own.
Yamaha has its own proprietary multi-room system called MusicCast, which allows you to connect many Yamaha products together through the home network, and manage them from your mobile phone with an app. The user interface is simple and straightforward and goes straight for Sonos’ throat, but has previously lacked support from Tidal and Deezer services. Now it is finally official that support for these will come, although the services were not available during the testing period. This time, therefore, we have assessed the music with Spotify Connect.

Just like the soundbars from Sonos and Bluesound, the YAS-306 has no HDMI inputs. Instead, it must be connected to the TV with an optical digital cable. Luckily, we had no problems with lips sync on this, unlike with some of the other soundbars.

Sound quality

Movies are rendered with clear dialogue. This is a huge boost from standard TV audio. You can hear every word from the loudmouth, anti-superhero Deadpool Outers from behind his mask. The surround feature allows the soundscape to grow beyond the physical dimensions of the soundbar. So when you are supposed to get the feeling that bullets are flying through the room, you get a certain sense of this, and the soundbar works perfectly well without the use of a separate subwoofer. You don’t actually get deep base, but the sound is rich enough. A little more punch and dynamism is desirable. This can be achieved by connecting an external subwoofer with a cable.
Music in stereo has rich enough bass rendition, but the upper bass area masks the crucial vocal range. The soundbar feels somewhat constricted and canned. Acoustic music does not work particularly well. Female vocals seem smothered and lack air. YAS-306 does not challenge the best here, including Sonos. It simply isn’t open and linear enough. Remember, by the way, to set it to Stereo and not Surround, as the latter adds a sound to the music that is quite unfortunate for the music.

Conclusion

With the YAS-306, Yamaha wants to provide better sound from the TV without the need for a separate subwoofer. It works in a multi-room setup together with other MusicCast products, and it’s very easy to use.
It works okay on movies with rich enough sound and clear dialogue. However, on music in stereo it is anaemic.

Impressive balance

Samsung’s soundbar sounds just as well on music as it does for movies.

With one HDMI input and output, it is natural to connect Samsung’s soundbar to the TV’s audio return channel, if you have more than one video source to connect to. The soundbar is relatively easy to connect to the wireless network, but in the manual it tells only how to do this if you have a compatible Samsung TV. It works best with Samsung’s own TVs, since it opens a few extra features like wireless rear speakers, and the multi-room feature becomes more seamless.
It is still quite possible to connect MS660 to your home network and stream music, even if your TV is not from Samsung. If you hold the Wi-Fi Setup button down, the soundbar is found as a wireless network on the mobile phone, and then press the “ADD Speaker” button on the back of the soundbar. The speaker is found in the Samsung app and you’re asked to enter the network password.
The soundbar, which should work on its own without a subwoofer, is a typical black box, but we like the display that pops up on the right side behind the grill. A small, cool detail.

Sound quality

We used a Sony TV during the test, and the audio from the optical cable is delayed in relation to the picture. With Samsung, you must therefore use HDMI, otherwise the sound does not match the lip movement in the dialogue. If you have a Samsung TV it should not be a problem, but we recommend using HDMI. You will then get better support for the surround sound formats.
The surround mode provides a large and immersive soundscape on movies. The dialogue becomes even clearer in stereo mode, but the sound is still more engaging with the surround feature. The whole thing sounds better than Bose and both of the Yamaha soundbars. In our ears, Samsung also sounds more natural in the timbre than Sonos and Heos. Without an external subwoofer, you cannot get the most powerful bass.
As you might expect, music sounds best in stereo mode. However, even with surround sound enabled, the soundbar does not do much more than create a larger soundscape. It does not ruin the rendition of vocals. This in itself is quite impressive.
Female vocals sound open and fine. Samsung sounds more tidy and dissolved than the other soundbars. Here you get a very balanced and decent sound, which accommodates the various instruments in the soundscape. There are clear overtones, a guitar sounds like a guitar and not like a ukulele. There is no rumbling or masking in the bass range. Sometimes bass instruments sound a little swollen, just turn down the bass with the remote control.

Samsung HW-MS660: Conclusion

Samsung has made a soundbar that sounds very clear and clean, and it is also fuller in the bass than you might think, considering that it has no external subwoofer. Very impressive.
We saw a prototype of a subwoofer at the CES in Las Vegas in January, so all indications are that a matching subwoofer will be included in the purchase.
Edit review: Samsung now also supplies a matching subwoofer for those who want extra bass: SWA-W700.

Photo: Samsung

Good compromise

This is designed to lie flat and point towards the ceiling, but nevertheless sounds good facing forward. It works pretty good.

Sony’s soundbar should be on the table with the front facing diagonally upwards. We have seen this principle in other soundbars before, and with mixed results. But on the Sony soundbar, the speaker drivers are inset in such a way that they point pretty much forward, so they don’t play up into the air but instead provide better forward focus. As far as the display is concerned, it points upward, so you hardly see it from the couch. It is easy getting accustomed to the on-screen display menu on the TV.
The wall mount comes with two small brackets that angle the soundbar slightly downwards, so that the loudspeaker drivers stay at an optimal angle to the listening position.
Three HDMI inputs have full support for 4K video with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, and to stream wireless music using Sony Google Cast. It’s a proven system that works well, and allows you to group other Google Cast products together in a multi-room system across brand names. You can have Sony in one room, Philips in another, and ChromeCast in a third, and they can all play the same music at the same time.

Sound quality

Lying flat on the bench, the Sony soundbar projects surprisingly well-balanced sound towards the sofa, in contrast to other flat soundbars we have heard. This is because the drivers point more straight ahead. Sony utilizes super trebles on their soundbar. These provide a more airy sound. It works out fairly well, because it resonates well up in the overtone area.
Dialogue in movies is clear, and if you want even clearer articulation at low volume, the “Voice Up” feature works fine. It becomes sharper and not as comforftable as having it turned off, but if you are watching TV late at night and do not want the sound on high, then it serves a purpose.
The movie feature provides a certain sense of surround sound. It is somewhat at the expense of the dialogue in the centre channel, which becomes a little thinner, but the compromise is worth having it on to enjoy an extraordinary soundscape.
The subwoofer is well integrated and the sound system works on the whole quite well for movies.
Music in stereo runs smoothly. The dynamics are not the best, but it sounds pretty clear and open. Sony is a little thinner in the mid-range than Sonos, Bluesound and Heos and is also not as balanced as Samsung, but it is not far behind. Overall, a decent music package, and definitely an option if you do not have a wall-mounted TV, but want a soundbar that should be on the TV table without blocking the bottom edge of the TV.

Conclusion

The Sony soundbar is flat and elegant. It works fine for movies and TV with a natural and open soundscape, and it is surprisingly okay for music for a soundbar that lies flat and plays upwards.
Streaming with Google Cast works great, and it is an advantage that the soundbar doesn’t block the bottom edge of the TV, while the disadvantage is being unable to see the display from the couch. But with the on-screen menu on the TV, you don’t have to give it another thought.

The TV's resting pad

Sonos’ new sound base PlayBase acts as a base for the TV. But did it arrive too late?

Sonos has spent a long time on PlayBase in order to offer one of the best sound bases on the market. In the meantime, many competitors have scrapped theirs, due to faltering sales. Sonos thus come to a market where other producers have previously tried and failed. Can PlayBase still be a success?
The idea is still good, and in our opinion, there should be a market for pedestal-style soundbars. Not everyone has their TV on the wall, and if you have it standing on a table, it might make sense to use the sound base as a base rather than adding a soundbar that blocks the TV’s bottom edge. The larger chassis volume allows you to mount the subwoofers on the underside, so you can get a good and rich bass reproduction even without the external subwoofer. If you still want a separate bass speaker, PlayBase is just like the soundbar PlayBar compatible with the wireless Sonos SUB.
Here there are no HDMI inputs; instead, PlayBase must be connected to your TV with an optical audio cable. This supports Dolby Digital and PCM, but not DTS. Therefore, set the TV to convert DTS signals to PCM, and everything will be fine.
It is very easy to connect the PlayBase to the home network with the Sonos app, and none of the others beat Sonos on usability pertaining to daily use. Playlists, grouping of rooms and much more are easy as pie. Support for virtually all music services, including Spotify, Tidal, Deeer, and Apple Music, is provided.
PlayBase also has room correction, which uses the iPhone as a measurement microphone – an arrangement that works very well.

Sound quality

The movie experience is characterised by a fuller bass than with the soundbar PlayBar. The dialogue is clear, and the bass effects are rendered with pretty good foundation, even without an external subwoofer. The timbre balance is unmistakably Sonos, which means a balanced and attractive sound that usually doesn’t play any tricks on you. It works well for most kinds of music.
There is nevertheless not as much energy in PlayBase as in Sonos’ own soundbar PlayBar. A direct comparison indicates that PlayBar has noticeably more dynamism. It doesn’t go as deep in the bass, but it does have bass. So even if you don’t plan to have an external subwoofer, then we would actually advise you to choose the PlayBar purely for the sound.
This also applies to music, which acquires a narrower stereo perspective with the sound base. It also fails to rival our reference among sound bases, namely the Canton DM 75, which is both more affordable and more powerful.

Conclusion

Sonos PlayBase sounds pretty good, with good fullness in the bass compared to a number of soundbars. It is also very user-friendly and supports many streaming services, just like other products by Sonos.
Like Sonos PlayBar, it lacks the HDMI input. But more importantly, the sound base does not have enough dynamism compared to the soundbar from the same manufacturer. It’s all too anaemic and mild. If you absolutely need a soundbar, we would sooner recommend Canton DM75.

The most accomplished

Bluesound’s soundbar costs a bit more, but pays off in the form of a much better experiences on both film and music.

Like the Sonos and Yamaha YAS-306, Bluesound lacks HDMI inputs. Instead, the TV must be connected using optical cable.
Bluesound’s multi-room system works very similar to Sonos and Heos, and connecting to the wireless network is a piece of cake. Bluesound supports high-definition audio, which is worth noting for those interested in hi-fi. The interface with the app works fine, and Bluesound supports Sonos and Bose wireless subwoofers, which can be purchased as optional accessories. However, it does not support external, wireless back speakers, which the two competitors do.
As with Sonos and Heos, it does not come with a remote control. Here you have to use the mobile app. Like the two, Bluesound can learn the volume commands from the TV’s remote control, but here it is not part of the steps in the initial setup: you you have to enter in the setup menu and save it there.

Sound quality

If you think Bluesound seems expensive compared to Sonos, you will understand why when you hear it. On film, it is evident that Bluesound has more powerful sound and better dynamism than both Sonos and Heos. The sound pressure is not quite the same as with the Klipsch, but the sound quality is much better.
Even without a subwoofer there is a lot of power here, and there is surprisingly good punch in the mid bass range. Depending on its physical placement, there may be some colouring in the upper bass area that masks the dialogue. We therefore do not recommend having this on a shelf, but preferably on the wall. Then you’ll get a more open sound. If you purchase Bluesound’s subwoofer and connect to it, the soundbar will cut out all tones under 80 Hz and instead transmit them to the subwoofer. This will also solve the problem.
The soundbar has three Wide modes of stereo width: Off, wide and wider, where the latter produces the widest soundscape. This works best for movies, so will get the best experience of surround sound. The sound effects in Deadpool resonate around the room, while the dialogue is clear within the plot.
We like music in stereo in Wide Mode best. You get a little extra width, without it sounding exaggerated and phase delayed, which we experience in Wider Mode.
Music is rendered with great body below. A cello is rich and warm, and hiphop and rock music sound tough even without a subwoofer. We would have preferred more air at the top. It does not feel like an advantage to have high-resolution sound when the treble rendition is not airy enough to render it, but all in all, the Pulse soundbar works great with music.

Conclusion

The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar has great power, and sounds tough for both movies and music. The dialogue is huge and clear, and there is plenty of oomph in action movies, aplus the rhythms in party music come out well. Along with the subwoofer, this will be even fiercer. There is no doubt that the soundbars with subwoofers have even deeper and cooler bass.
But Bluesound has so many qualities combined with power; in addition, we like the usability and multi-room feature that it is overall the best in the field.

Hissing sound

The biggest problem with this soundbar is a huge hole in the soundscape.

Yamaha is the mother of all soundbars, and was first out with soundbars where a whole bunch of speaker drivers used the ceilings and walls to reflect the sound from behind the back channels, so the sound actually hit the listener from behind. The surround sound is thereby not virtual, but genuine.
The YSP-2700 utilises 16 speaker drivers that work together to create true 7.1 channel surround sound. A measurement microphone is included to make the configuration automatic, which would otherwise be very cumbersome and time-consuming (and probably impossible) to do manually.
Three HDMI inputs support all latest HDCP 2.2 copy protection, essential for rendering Ultra HD video. On the music side, Yamaha’s multi-room audio system MusicCast is used, so that the soundbar can be grouped with other products on the same home network. It is finally official that the soundbar has an built-in support for Tidal and Deezer, in addition to Spotify which it already had. However, this was not available during the testing period.
The user-friendliness is very good. Automatic setup with a measurement microphone is a breeze, and connecting to a network is easy with the MusicCast app. MusicCast is also very easy to use, a system we like very much.

Sound quality

So far so good. Unfortunately, it’s not as good when the movie is inserted in the Blu-ray player. It becomes immediately clear that the soundbar itself does not play low enough to work well with the accompanying subwoofer. There is almost only treble sound coming from the soundbar, while the subwoofer plays too far into the midrange. Not far enough, because there is a hole in the frequency range between the sub and soundbar. But still far too high for it to be good for anything at all. Take dialogue, for instance. The consonants from the actors are emitted through the soundbar. But the chest voice – the vowels – come from the subwoofer. With the surround sound feature enabled, some of this is fixed since it takes some of the focus away from this phenomenon, and one can sit and enjoy surround sound to some extent . But it is there all the time. The further away the subwoofer is placed from the TV, the worse it gets, so be sure to keep it as close as possible.
Music in stereo becomes a crisis. The lower frequency range from all instruments comes from the subwoofer, while the soundbar renders the hissing sound from the upper midrange and upwards. The whole soundscape is crooked and it engages poorly.

Conclusion

Yamaha YSP-2700 uses advanced digital processing and many speaker drivers to reproduce true surround sound, using the room’s walls, ceilings and floors. It also has the multi-room feature, MusicCast, which allows it to be able to integrate with an already existing multi-room setup from Yamaha. Smart.
What is not so smart is that it stumbles in the area of sound quality. The soundbar doesn’t go far enough in frequency, so the subwoofer has to play midrange. Vowels in vocals and dialogue come from the subwoofer, while consonants come from the soundbar. It works poorly.

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