The Yamaha YAS-306 is a standalone soundbar with a difference. It comes without a subwoofer, normally a signal of inferior audio performance, yet it manages to pack quite a punch.
Inside its chunky, and subtly designed case is not only a pair of 2.13in drivers and two 0.75in tweeters aimed at producing virtual surround sound, but also a pair of side-ported bass drivers. Yamaha calls these subwoofers, but since they’re only 3in in size, that’s pushing it a bit.
The YAS-306 has a very large scale for a single-unit soundbar. It goes extremely loud without distorting and delivers everything from opera music to full action fight scenes with solidity and balance.
The bass can't quite measure up to a separate subwoofer, but it is reasonably full and gives plenty of grunt. And while the mids and highs lack subtlety, I found dialogue was presented clearly and crisply on all types of audio.
The soundbar uses Yamaha’s "Air Surround Xtreme" tech and is part of Yamahas "front surround" range, which helps to simulate full sound with up to 7.1 channel output. The idea behind the technology is that it can give the impression that sounds are coming from all around the listener, even without satellite speakers.
The sound quality is effective, but we didn't feel as if we were surrounded by sound with this little known tech feature. I found stereo imaging to be pretty reasonable, with the movement of sound effects clearly discernible from left to right and vice versa, and the soundbar does produce a very wide soundstage after a little tweaking. The YAS-306 is a highly listenable speaker and it’s easily powerful enough to impress your friends.
Features, connectivity and design
The YAS-306 is quite a chunky soundbar, but not too wide and would suit a 40in TV or larger. It can be placed on a surface in front or below your TV, and it can be wall-mounted too with the brackets that are provided in the box; a nice touch.
A cutout on the rear of the bar hides the connections which are electrical and optical S/PDIF inputs, a pair of analogue stereo RCA jacks for the connection of CD players etc., a single subwoofer RCA jack plus an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, there’s no HDMI input and output options.
Bluetooth offers playback via mobile devices and even Bluetooth transmission, allowing you to connect your headphones wirelessly to the soundbar and listen to your TV; very handy. The YAS-306 is also part of Yamaha’s MusicCast family of multiroom speakers, and works with the MusicCast Controller app (available on both iOS and Android) you can stream audio around the house to any other compatible MusicCast speakers.
MusicCast is impressively comprehensive. There's Apple Airplay support here and Spotify Connect, and the easy-to-use app also lets you play music files stored on your phone and from DLNA-compatible network drives and computers. There’s internet radio support via vTuner, and in-app access to the Juke and Qobuz services. Proving what a versatile soundbar the MusicCast YAS306 is.
Yamaha's excellent MusicCast tech set up, allows you to buy the YAS-306 on its own or in a package. On its own, the price is £259 ; the “Chorus” package – with the Yamaha MusicCast WX010 and Yamaha MusicCast Restio ISX18D included – is £652 .
You’re getting a lot of speaker for your money here. Sound quality is good for a single-unit soundbar with no subwoofer, and the MusicCast connectivity makes it one of the most flexible soundbars available. It's a clever piece of technology, but doesn't quite hit the levels of a soundbar with a subwoofer.