Yamaha YAS-209 soundbar with Alexa review: DTS Virtual:X 3D surround effects aren’t worth the harsh sound

While we like the standard surround-sound modes on this budget-priced soundbar, we aren’t fans of its harsh-sounding DTS Virtual:X implementation.

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Back on the plus side, the YAS-209’s standard surround modes sound pretty good given the soundbar’s price range, and I also enjoyed its straight-up stereo sound while listening to Spotify. The title track from Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad sounded clear, detailed and alive during the opening acoustic section, then warm and full once the synth kicked in. I also got a kick out of the punchy, detailed first movement of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony as performed by the Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by the late, great Carlos Kleiber. Finally, I asked Alexa to dial up Ciara’s fast and furious “Level Up,” which sounded crisp, rich, and boomy without wandering into muddy territory. If you’re looking for a slightly wider soundstage than the YAS-209’s stereo mode, switching to Music mode does the trick.

Bottom line

While I’m not a fan of Yamaha’s harsh-sounding, DTS Virtual:X 3D surround mode, I was still pleased with the YAS-209’s overall sound when using its standard virtual surround modes; and Alexa onboard is always a plus, even if her control over the soundbar’s native features is somewhat limited. In short, this $350 soundbar makes for an easy and relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your TV’s sound. If you’d rather spend a little less money or you don’t care about Alexa integration, you can always opt for the step-down YAS-207, which packs in most of the YAS-209’s features minus Alexa.

 
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At a Glance
  • While we like the standard surround modes on this budget-priced soundbar, we aren’t fans of its harsh-sounding DTS Virtual:X 3D surround mode.

    Pros

    • Impressive sound using standard virtual surround modes
    • Alexa onboard
    • Easy setup

    Cons

    • DTS Virtual:X surround mode sounds distractingly harsh
    • Bass Extender mode is overkill
    • Limited Alexa control over native soundbar features
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