“With the older YAS-109 nonetheless round, the SR-B20A is a tough promote on this value vary.”

Easy setup

Modern design

Nice sound for motion pictures and TV

Lacking options from older fashions

Common sound high quality for music

Yamaha’s new SR-B20A finances soundbar is a peculiar product providing. In keeping with Yamaha, it’s a bar designed to construct on the success of the cost-friendly YAS line — and in some methods, it does simply that. The B20A has a refreshed, glossy design, and it maintains that coveted entry-level value.

However whereas it most intently resembles the older YAS-108, the $200 SR-B20A is priced equally to the featured-packed YAS-109. With the older mannequin nonetheless accessible, usually at a less expensive value than the B20A, is it value investing within the newest from Yamaha? Or is the corporate preventing a battle not solely in opposition to its personal product choices but additionally in opposition to all the finances soundbar panorama?

Design

The design of the B20A didn’t change immensely from the YAS-108 or YAS-109, no less than not in form. In actual fact, the size are practically similar among the many three, with the primary distinction being that the older YAS-109 weighs about half a pound extra.

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The B20A did soften the considerably sharper edges of the YAS fashions, and it’s been wrapped in a extra sturdy, eye-catching material. I appreciated it quite a bit. My important different can vouch for my audible response to unboxing the B20A, and for the truth that I held the seemingly glowing soundbar for a second to admire it, in the identical method the daddy in A Christmas Story proudly locked eyes on his prized lamp.

I held the seemingly glowing soundbar for a second to admire it, in the identical method the daddy in A Christmas Story proudly locked eyes on his prized lamp.

Yamaha simplified the highest panel of the soundbar, including bigger LEDs for higher visibility. Whereas I didn’t have a YAS soundbar in-house to check the variations, I’ll say that it was simple to identify the indications on the bar in a darkened lounge, with out the LEDs being obtrusive to the viewing expertise.

The SR-B20A remains to be an all-in-one setup, following the lead of the YAS-108 and YAS-109 by excluding an exterior subwoofer. Yamaha mentioned it has improved the design of the bar’s built-in woofers, of which there are two, however we’ll cross that bridge after we discuss sound high quality. Past that, the SR-B20A includes a simple-to-use distant — and presents a distant app — that’s largely unchanged from earlier fashions.

Setup

A part of Yamaha’s advertising and marketing pitch with the B20A (and the extra compact C20A) facilities on the flexibility of the soundbar to effortlessly prolong past the lounge. The concept was to offer a soundbar that was simple to arrange and use in a wide range of functions, and I feel they nailed the simplicity of the preliminary setup. The bar simply wants energy and a connection to an audio supply, and whereas I do suppose each soundbar ought to include an included HDMI cable at this level, the offered optical audio cable will do the trick for many conditions.

Nick Woodard/Digital Tendencies

After ridding the distant of its plastic pull tab that protects the battery, there isn’t a lot else left to do to get the B20A playback prepared. One of many few perks of getting a bar with no Wi-Fi connectivity is the flexibility to leap proper into the expertise with out first connecting the soundbar to your web and downloading a firmware replace, and the B20A exemplifies that. It’s not essentially a trade-off I might fortunately make, however for individuals who don’t want a linked soundbar, it takes away that further problem.

Connections

In the case of connection choices, the B20A comes up quick versus its YAS elders. Each the YAS-108 and YAS-109 have a corresponding HDMI enter and output, in addition to a digital optical enter and an analog audio choice. Puzzlingly, the B20A took away one of many HDMI ports, and as an alternative added a second digital optical enter.

Nick Woodard/Digital Tendencies

I do know what the justification for this determination is, and actually, there’s part of me that understands it. The transfer falls according to the “past the lounge mantra,” in addition to the streamlined simplicity — Yamaha desires to make it simple to plug and play no matter the place you’ll be utilizing the B20A in the home. Theoretically, most individuals will solely want that single HDMI ARC port to easily join their TV and soundbar. I get that. I simply can’t consider a state of affairs off the highest of my head the place two distinct optical inputs could be extra helpful to the typical particular person than two HDMIs. I’m certain there’s one, however my guess is it’s uncommon.

Compounding that is the truth that, as I already famous, the B20A lacks Wi-Fi functionality. I don’t suppose it is a must-have function in $200 soundbars (but), so I can’t be too harsh on the B20A for it. Nevertheless, the YAS-109 options Wi-Fi, and is presently nonetheless accessible on Yamaha’s web site for a marked-down value of $180. While you add in the truth that the YAS-109 has Amazon Alexa built-in, you begin to surprise what you achieve by shopping for one thing newer for roughly the identical price.

While you add in the truth that the YAS-109 has Amazon Alexa built-in, you begin to surprise what you achieve by shopping for one thing newer for roughly the identical price.

To be as honest as I can to the B20A, it does help Bluetooth multipoint, and it has Amazon Alexa help by way of Bluetooth and a separate Echo speaker like a Dot (or in my case, a Flex). However whereas it’s helpful and fairly intuitive for a Bluetooth connection, issues can nonetheless come up. If the soundbar’s enter is modified to HDMI, the Bluetooth connection between the Echo gadget is reduce, and sound is reverted again to the Dot. Consequently, all the expertise doesn’t beat having all of these capabilities already on board like they’re with the YAS-109. Having beforehand spent an prolonged interval with the Alexa-enabled Samsung HW-Q800T, I far most popular that inbuilt connection.

Sound high quality

After we reviewed the YAS-109, we praised it as one of many “best-performing inexpensive soundbars with regards to general constancy,” noting its clean midrange, crisp excessive finish, and efficient bass response for a soundbar and not using a separate subwoofer.

Nick Woodard/Digital Tendencies

Based mostly on the time I’ve spent with the SR-B20A, I feel this bar intently resembles that efficiency, no less than with regards to watching motion pictures and TV. I used to be notably impressed with the low finish this bar was in a position to produce and not using a true devoted subwoofer. It’s not going to shake any image frames or rattle any home windows, however it enhances the remainder of the soundstage properly. In case you’re searching for a extra pronounced low finish, the bar does have a subwoofer output to permit for a powered woofer to enter the combination.

The distant’s 4 important listening modes all provided distinct sound profiles, although I gravitated towards film mode for many of my content material because it sounded essentially the most pure to my ears. Extra notable had been the bar’s Clear Voice and DTS Digital:X applied sciences, each of which have devoted buttons on the distant. Clear Voice was notably useful in amplifying lower-decibel dialogue like Tom Segura’s voice on the YMH podcast. In the meantime, DTS Digital:X expanded the soundstage, and added depth to some bone-crunching scenes when screening movies like Brawl in Cell Block 99. It’s not the identical expertise as having bodily encompass sound and top channels, however I assumed the sound processing had a constructive general affect on the content material I watched, and I stored it on more often than not.

Music playback was a special expertise for me. I don’t suppose it was unhealthy, per se, however I do suppose the listening expertise got here off a bit hole. Commonplace mode sounded extra genuine than stereo from my perspective, however it didn’t assist erase a usually less-than-impactful sound throughout a number of genres of music. Perhaps it’s the dearth of supported audio codecs — the YAS-109 helps WAV, FLAC, and AAC codecs, amongst others. Regardless of the case, I loved music considerably extra with bars just like the Polk Audio Signa S3 or the Vizio V Collection, although it’s vital to notice that every prices about $50 extra.

Our take

Yamaha’s SR-B20A could have tweaked its design, however finally retained the affordability and general sound high quality that made the YAS-109 a hit. However with the older bar nonetheless round, and providing higher options at the same value, the B20A turns into one thing of a tough promote on this value vary.

Are there higher options?

It’s no secret by now that I feel the YAS-109, which retailed for $220 however might be discovered on Amazon or Yamaha’s web site for $180, is a greater worth. In case you’re OK with spending a number of extra, the $250 Polk Audio Signa S3 is a greater choice for music, and the $250 Vizio V Collection replaces Yamaha’s digital encompass expertise with bodily drivers.

How lengthy will it final?

All expertise will get outdated in some unspecified time in the future, however I don’t suppose primary connections like HDMI or optical audio are going anyplace quickly. For a finances choice, the B20A ought to maintain onto its comparatively versatile compatibility for a while.

Must you purchase it?

Provided that you’re set on getting the latest soundbar Yamaha has accessible. The SR-B20A sounds distinctive for motion pictures and TV, and it appears to be like fairly good too. Nevertheless it’s not the worth its older model was, particularly when that model remains to be accessible.

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