The Yamaha YAS-306 is an entry-level sound bar that surprisingly is equipped with all streaming options that MusicCast offers. A subwoofer is not included, but he does not need it.
Soundbars are by far the most popular way to get better sound from your television. Their simplicity attracts many. Connect, switch on the TV and everything sounds more spacious and impressive. Yet there are people who avoid soundbars, simply because they do not have any sense or the ability to place the associated separate subwoofers somewhere in the room. That’s why we’ve seen a remarkable number of soundbars that have not received a subwoofer, but that still produce quite deep bass thanks to built-in woofers.
Yamaha is not one of these newcomers, because the brand has several years soundbars in the range that pretty well succeed in laying a reasonable bass foundation under soundtracks. The YAS-306 that we look at in this test is in a sense a successor to that soundbar, but is a bit higher in the range. With a price of about 329 euros, this Yamaha is not really a budget machine anymore, but still very accessible. But does he perform well?
Yamaha YAS-306: more robust than usual
Many manufacturers like to call on their latest soundbar to break some world record in terms of thinnest construction. But thinning is not necessarily better when it comes to sound. And not at all if you want a soundbar that sounds good without a separate subwoofer. To produce low tones, larger drivers and more cabinet volume are required. The YAS-306 is therefore not the smallest or thinnest on the market. It is 95 x 7.2 x 13.1 cm. Especially that depth is something to take into account if you have limited space on your TV cabinet. In terms of length, the YAS-306 is not too bad, so you can combine it with a 40 and 55 inch TV.
The housing is somewhat larger, but that is also because it contains a lot. The YAS-306 is officially a 7.1-soundbar and has two midrange woofers, two 3 inch subwoofers and two tweeters. The tweeters are right at the listening position, the midrange woofers point diagonally to the ceiling. Moreover, there are bass sports on the side. That is good to know, because it is therefore recommended to place this soundbar freely. Do not place this soundbar on a shelf in a TV cabinet that is only open at the front.
You can also hang this soundbar. Wall mounting has one advantage: then you have a good view of the many LED lights on the YAS-306. If he is lying flat on a piece of furniture, you will not see these lights really well. This is not a huge disaster, because they tell you things that you already know (such as which source is selected and where you are in terms of bass level).
We have visited the black version of the YAS-306, but there is also a white that will look better in some interiors. The soundbar’s finish is very solid but not very exciting. The use of textiles gives him a little extra class.
Yamaha YAS-306: connections
Not surprising at this price point is the absence of HDMI. You connect the YAS-306 to your TV via an optical cable, which has an impact especially in terms of operation (see below). There are still some connections: an analogue cinch or RCA connection for a CD player and a digital coax port that you can use for a device like a Blu-ray player. However, most players and consoles have optical connections, not coax. An extra optical entrance might have been a better choice here.
Yamaha also has a subwoofer output. If you want to experience more bass, you can connect a wired subwoofer along this output. That can in principle be any sub, Yamaha will obviously also sell you one with pleasure.
Yamaha YAS-306: streaming options
You can not be stared at the physical connections with this Yamaha, because on that level it is an average player. That is completely different when we talk about streaming. The YAS-306 has Bluetooth, so you can stream music from a mobile device. This is not so unusual at this price point. But the device is also fully compatible with MusicCast – and that’s special. MusicCast is the multiroom platform from Yamaha , present on the majority of the products of the brand. Via the MusicCast app you quickly connect devices to each other, so that they play synchronously. We have spoken about the MusicCast app before; in short, it is one of the best available, flexible in use and responsive on all mobile platforms.
MusicCast has become more mature in the last year when it comes to streaming services, so that you can now stream music via Deezer, Tidal, Napster and Qobuz. Spotify also draws a present, via the Spotify Connect function. Apple users can also stream via Airplay, which is a better option than Bluetooth because of the better range and the lossless audio quality. Internet radio completes the list.
MusicCast is also provided for playing your own music files from a DLNA server (for example on a NAS) or from the mobile device itself. Yamaha scores very well in terms of codec compatibility. The YAS-306 passes our file test almost perfectly, with the exception of DSD and (obscure) multichannel FLACs. Both are hardly a loss on a soundbar.
A further plus to MusicCast is that it is also provided for the re-streaming of a connected source. You could also hear a turntable that is connected to a Yamaha receiver on the YAS-306. With this soundbar we could not really test this functionality, due to the lack of other Yamaha test devices. With previous tests this was possible and MusicCast proved to function well in the field of multiroom use.
Yamaha YAS-306: learning remote control
A soundbar with only one optical connection traditionally has one major disadvantage: you can not control the volume with the remote of your TV, you have to keep the remote control of the soundbar at hand. So at the start of a random TV evening, that is potentially two boxes that you have to look for between the cushions of the bank. The remote of the YAS-306 seems frankly really made to be lost. It is a small, square thing. Well built, that is, with more buttons than you would expect. You use the remote inter alia to switch between the inputs, sound modes and more.
But for everyday use – which mainly revolves around the volume and the mute button – Yamaha offers an alternative. The YAS-306 can learn the IR signals from the TV remote, so you can still operate the television with one box and adjust the volume. There is only one limitation: the remote control of your TV has to work with infrared, which is not always the case. Especially high-end TV sets nowadays come with a box that sends RF radio signals or Bluetooth. Before the Yamaha soundbar recognizes the IR signals from your TV, you must first learn them. That requires some effort, but with one eye on the manual it works. You also do the learning once. All in all a nice extra.
Yamaha YAS-306: in use
Because of the presence of MusicCast with its many streaming services, we hope that the Yamaha YAS-306 sounds good if you want to enjoy music. Via MusicCast we look up the soundtrack of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ in the Purchases list on Qobuz, a compilation of hits from the years 70-80. They are tracks that everyone has already heard ten thousand times, but they remain enjoyable.
One advantage to Qobuz: songs are in lossless FLAC format, so there is no discussion about source material. While we listen to all those classics, it is striking that the YAS-306 delivers a ‘full’ sound. The absence of a loose sub is not really a problem. We will continue to play with the subwoofer controller on the remote for a long time and often switch from surround to stereo mode in search of the right balance. If we switch to ‘And the Anonymous Nobody’ by De La Soul, it will be very fast. For songs that place more emphasis on vocals, we sometimes miss some body.
In films, the YAS-306 is stronger out of the corner. With ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, the Yamaha soundbar is a good story that director Michael Bay likes to put a lot of energy into the low channel. In the Surround setting we experience a fairly broad stereo feeling, which is also in line with expectations. At the highest subwoofer mode, the basses overpower the fine details, but we recommend that you press the Bass Extension button only in larger rooms.
In the scene where the CIA Cemetery Wind team opens the manhunt on Optimus Prime, resulting in a hellish chase in a Texan city, the YAS-306 pops as the best. Cars explode, bots knock each other into separate parts, buildings collapse, and that brings the Yamaha fine. He seems really tuned for action films like this, which also means that sometimes something more finesse is missing. It should be noted that the Clear Voice function can sometimes be useful to bring dialogues more to the forefront.
Yamaha YAS-306: conclusion
Compared to the built-in speakers of the LG B6 that we use as test TV, the Yamaha YAS-306 just sounds much fuller and more exciting. It is also noticeably better than typical 2.0 sound bars that you pick up for around 200 euros. Nevertheless, there is still much room for improvement. The YAS-306 does what it should do at this price point, but higher targets will give you a more balanced, wider sound. That being said, the YAS-306 delivers an exciting film reproduction and an unrivaled wide streaming offer, and that in a cozy, room-friendly whole.