Yamaha was making soundbars a decade before most modern pretenders, so has more experience than most in terms of what works, what doesn’t, and what people want.
Its new model is the Yamaha SR-C30A, and it comobines a compact soundbar with a separate wireless subwoofer to extend the bass response.
Of course, part of the attraction of those earlier models was that they didn’t have subwoofers, so avoided the difficulties of placing a large black box somewhere it can be both aesthetically and sonically integrated. But Yamaha recognises the issue, and here offers a subwoofer which can either stand up 36cm high, or can be lain sideways. It ports to the front and appears to fire to the right, so positioning will be pretty versatile, including potential placement inside modern entertainment units.
Of course, you may prefer to have it all on display, especially as Yamaha has taken a wild punt on producing a gorgeous-looking red version of both bar and subwoofer, as well as the standard black. Notwithstanding the retailer truism that “you put the red one in the window and the black one goes out the door”, this is pleasingly radical.
The compact soundbar is 60cm wide and just 6.4cm high (so good to go in front of most raised TVs). It’s strictly stereo, with few efforts to pretend that it’s going to magically throw sound around the room, just a mention of a “Yamaha Original 3D Sound Field Technology” but even this is described as “crafting a detailed and lively sound field” rather than claiming faux immersiveness or fake surround sound.
That’s as it should be. Yamaha’s focus is instead on what it calls ‘True Sound’, by which it means detail, clarity and realism.
Soundbar manufacturers hardly ever quote genuine power figures, because soundbars don’t look very impressive when you do: here the bar’s power is 2 x 20W, quoted into six ohms at 1kHz while allowing 10% distortion (THD). Measure that at hi-fi levels and the watts are likely in single figures – though here with the additional power given the subwoofer.
Those two bar channels use 46mm speaker cones, while the subwoofer adds a 13cm woofer.
For connections it is more generous than the inputs of many modern soundbars, with HDMI ARC to play from your TV, plus not one but two optical digital inputs, an analogue input, and the useful addition of Bluetooth streaming so you can send the system tunes from your device of choice, or potentially play from Bluetooth-equipped TVs, at the risk of sync delay.
There are four sound modes – nothing too crazy – and you can keep an eye on settings using the free Sound Bar Controller app. Yamaha’s Adaptive Low Volume technology aims to keep the balance right when playing quiet as well as loud, while ‘Clear Voice’ is available to make dialogue more audible and crisp.
Yamaha is promoting the SR-C30A not only in the usual TV audio scenario, but for gamers and desktop scenarios, although integration between a benched bar and a more distant subwoofer may be a challenge. We will discover more when we undertake a full review.
The price is surprisingly low for a bar with a subwoofer... Yamaha's SR-C30A soundbar and subwoofer combo will retail at £299 / AU$399.
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