Yamaha’s entry-level sound bar gets classier and more versatile

Yamaha’s YSP-5600 sound bar, which offers brilliant Atmos and DTS-X virtual surround sound, is one of the most impressive (and expensive) sound bars on the market right now. However, the company hasn’t forgotten those looking for a cinematic upgrade on a strict budget either, today unveiling the brand’s latest entry-level sound bar, the YAS-106.

An upgrade to Yamaha’s popular YAS-105, the next number up in the order offers a makeover of sorts in the design, as well as a few welcome new features.

The bar offers a sleeker, curvier design than the 105 while still offering the hallmarks of its sound engine, including dual down-firing “subwoofers” and twin bass reflex ports, allowing it to carve out some low-end thunder without the need for a separate wireless subwoofer.

But it’s the bar’s inclusion of HDMI support that marks the biggest change over its predecessor. Unlike the YAS-105, the YAS-106’s single HDMI input offers both HD audio and 4K video passthrough to directly connect your video component, be it a gaming console, Blu-ray player, or 4K UHD Blu-ray player. As Yamaha points out, the setup allows for accurate 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound audio support to correctly feed the system’s virtual surround DSP, and if your TV is equipped with ARC, you can use just a single HDMI cable to send audio and video, and also source TV sound back into the bar.

In addition to HDMI, the YAS-106 also offers a single digital Optical input, and Bluetooth connection to  stream music from your phone and connect to Yamaha’s handy Home Theater Controller app to control audio parameters wirelessly. If the single bar isn’t enough power for your home theater setup, the bar also provides a subwoofer output to wire up the sub of your choice.

While many of these features have become standard on pricier bars, it’s nice to see all those modern conveniences in one place on a bar with an MSRP of just $200. One feature the YAS-106 doesn’t offer is compatibility with Yamaha’s new multiroom audio system, MusicCast, which allows you to connect multiple Yamaha speakers and even A/V receivers in a Sonos like system over Wi-Fi. You’ll have to move up a few notches in the sound bar food chain to land those features.

That said, Yamaha’s new YSP-106 offers a lot of bang for its $200 price point. The unit is slated to hit shelves in mid-August.

Updated 8-9-2016 at 8:50 a.m. PST: This post has been updated with information recently added to Yamaha’s website, including the addition of ARC and Optical connection.

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