Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar is the epic battle that we have going on today. Both the Sonos Playbar and the Yamaha YAS-209 are fantastic soundbars that are going to make you realize just how bad modern TV speakers are… ok so on more recent TVs speakers are getting better, but still, I think there is a lot of room for improvement. This is a very interesting matchup. One that is only comparable to the Godzilla vs Kong movie that was released earlier this year. I have put both of these through their paces and right off the bat I can tell you that I did not dislike either one which in one way is good, but it also means that I am going to have to think really hard about which one I had a better experience with.
Being a Scotsman, I like to think of myself as thrifty, my wife has another word for my penny-pinching ways, but I do prefer the term thrifty! Soundbars can be at all ends of the pricing spectrum and the two we are looking at today are of a more higher-end than those that you would find on our 5 Best Soundbars With Subwoofer Below $200 that we did a little while back.
As of me writing this the Yamaha YAS-209 is currently listed at $349.95 which I do not consider to be out of line at all. The Yamaha YAS-109 which I consider to be the little brother of this is priced at $199.99, but that does not come with a soundbar. I think that the asking price, considering a subwoofer is part of the deal is more than fair. I had a quick look on eBay and the prices for this on there are kind of insane, people have new ones for more than they are on Amazon. You can get a used one a bit cheaper, but I would be a bit apprehensive about that, to be honest with you.
To the best of my knowledge the Sonos Playbar is no longer made by Sonos. They do have them on Amazon, but the asking price is a pretty crazy $899.99! I checked a month or so ago and they were $769! If you want one of these, you can get a Sonos refurbished one that still comes with a Sonos guarantee for $379. I think that is a pretty fair price, but it is still more than the 209 and at the end of the day, even though it has been professionally refurbished by Sonos themselves, it is still not a new product. If you do not mind going the “used” route, you can find these on eBay for as little as 200 bucks.
The Verdict: The asking price for the Playbar on Amazon is a crime, you could get a Bose Smart Soundbar 700 for cheaper than what they are asking and that is a better soundbar which if you read my Bose Soundbar 700 review you will know all about. Between these two, I have to say that I feel that buying a brand new Yamaha YAS-209 for $349 is better than buying a refurbished Sonos Playbar for $379.
These are two very interesting looking soundbars which is why design is an important category in our Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar battle. The Sonos in particular has quite a unique style when compared to some of the other soundbars that Sonos have put out. I think that the design of a soundbar is very important. A soundbar is designed to be out on display so the last thing you want is for this big hideous looking thing sitting underneath your TV drawing your eyes to it.
Yamaha YAS-209: We have two things to talk about when it comes to the Yamaha YAS-209 as we have the soundbar and the subwoofer. I suggest you have a quick look at this Yamaha ATS-2090 YAS-209 Soundbar UNBOXING & REVIEW! if you want to see it with your own eyes first.
The Yamaha YAS-209 comes in at 36.4″ x 2.4” x 4.0” so as you can see it is pretty long and just a tad longer than the Sonos Playbar. The majority of the soundbar is made with this black mesh fabric material that wraps all around the front and the sides of the soundbar. It is actually a pretty cool effect and gives the soundbar a real elegance about it that I do like. Still, while I like the way this looks, I have to say that this will be an absolute magnet when it comes to dust. Not to mention, it could be a easily damaged if you have kids or pets.
Next, I want to talk about the subwoofer. This subwoofer has a standard design that you would expect from a subwoofer. If you look at an article I did a little while back called, The 6 Best Subwoofers For Rock And Metal Music Under $200, you will notice many subwoofers all have a similar design and in all honesty, I am fine with that. This subwoofer is wireless and it is larger and weightier than you would think coming in at 7.5” x 16.5” x 15.8”. I was actually very impressed with the build quality of this subwoofer and think that for the asking price of this set it is actually far better than it has any right to be. The subwoofer is wireless so it is nice and easy to connect to your soundbar.
On the back of the soundbar, we have our various hookups. This thing is pretty impressive when it comes to connections. You have an HDMI Arc out, HDMI in, ethernet port, optical port, and a USB in case you ever need to update or fix the soundbar. This is all you need on a soundbar and I was very happy to see that it was more than equipped to handle anything a modern TV would need.
Sonos Playbar: The Sonos Playbar comes in at 35.5” x 3.3” x 5.4 so it is quite a long soundbar. Overall, I think that the design is quite interesting and one that I am sure will split people right down the middle. Like some of the other Sonos products, they have gone for the fabric approach here. It has fabric that wraps around the soundbar and it does look pretty cool. Rather than being all black like many soundbars are, the Playbar has a grey/silver design that I think gives it a very unique look, but most TVs these days are all black so it may stick out in a way that you do not like. The side of the Playbar has a metal grille which I like and the back and the bottom are made of a nice and strong plastic. I like the fabric design, but you do have to worry about tears and it is going to be a magnet for dust!
While I do really like how the Sonos Playbar is trying something different rather than just being all black. However, with that being said, I am a person who likes things to match and there is no way that I could have this under a TV like this LG 75UP8070PUA 75 Inch Series 4K Smart UHD TV or even this more modest SAMSUNG 32-inch Class LED Smart FHD TV as it would stick out as it is so drastically different. I get what they were going for and I am sure some people will love how different it is from their TV, but that is just not something I am cool with.
On the back of the soundbar, we have your various hookups. Sonos have come a long way since the Sonos Playbar was first released all the way back in 2013. There are no HDMI ports at all on here, optical only which I guess is fine. There are two ethernet ports which are ok I guess, but at this kind of price, I do think it is lacking in ports.
I suggest you check out this Sonos Playbar Unboxing and Setup, Mobile app, and TV connection video so you can get a better idea of how different the design for this soundbar is.
The Verdict: I know that the Sonos Playbar was the higher end offering from Sonos during this time and I am sure some people will love the design. For me, the Yamaha YAS-209 is the clear winner here. It offers more suitable connection options, but I think the overall design of the soundbar is far more appealing in pretty much every way if I am being honest with you.
You could argue that sound is the most important category in our Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar fight and I would probably be right there with you. I think that TVs are getting better, we recently got an LG OLED55C1PUB Alexa Built-in C1 Series 55″ 4K Smart OLED TV, and the speakers are better than any TV I have had in the last ten years. Still, if you want close to cinema sound to go with your 4K or even full HD image, you need to get a soundbar.
Yamaha YAS-209: I love the fact that the Yamaha YAS-209 comes with a dedicated soundbar. This thing may not be one the priciest soundbars around, especially when you factor in you are getting a subwoofer included. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by what this offered in terms of power. One of the first things that springs to mind when I think about this soundbar is not a movie, but the TV series Arrow which is based on the DC Comics character. I watched a few episodes of that through this and I was very, very impressed. You see this manages to offer plenty of bass and a lot of volume all the while maintaining an excellent clarity so it is excellent for action scenes. However, Arrow also has a great deal of dialogue, some of which is very soft spoken and I am happy to report that the vocal clarity offered here is excellent. There is actually a dedicated button called “clear voice” on the remote which may come in handy for some of you guys.
I really put this thing through its paces as I was so intrigued by how good the vocal clarity was so when my wife was out, I really cranked up the volume. One of my favorite movies is No Country For Old Men and that was a great way to put the vocal clarity this offered through the wringer. That funky remote control has a few different presets that you can play around with if you like which is handy as we all like different things when it comes to sound. In all, I was very impressed with how much power this offered all the while still being able to hear what people were saying nice and clearly.
A huge plus that the Yamaha YAS-209 has is Bluetooth connectivity. If you have read any of the music collecting articles, I have written such as the recent, 10 Best Movie Soundtrack Albums on Vinyl, you know that for me vinyl is king! However, I cannot say it enough that I feel all soundbars need to offer Bluetooth connectivity to make streaming music from your phone via something like Spotify as easy as can be. This offers that and music I am happy to report sounds great when pumped through this.
It may be a short video, but I recommend having a look at this Sonos Playbar Sound test before we dive into this to get a better idea of what I am talking about. I am a big fan of Sonos and think that they make some fantastic soundbars. This at the time it was released was deemed one of the best on the market, especially in regards to vocal clarity. If you take a movie like The Dark Knight which has a real mixture of dialogue volumes during its runtime, you truly appreciate just how great this soundbar is. For sports as well, the play-by-play is fantastic and clear against any other noise that may be going on.
The vocal clarity does not falter at higher volumes either which is very impressive, even more so when you consider just how far technology has come since this was made. As far as action goes, this is pretty awesome and even though it is lacking a bit in the punch bass department, I still think it gets you far closer to cinema quality sound than your TV speakers ever will. I watched the recent (as of writing) Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie trailer and was very impressed with how it all worked out.
Just like modern Sonos soundbars, the Sonos Playbar does not offer Bluetooth connectivity. Sure, there are workarounds if you want to stream music through this thing, but in 2021 I should not have to do that! I can tell you right now that my wife could not care less about tech related stuff, but if any of the soundbars we have in our house did not offer Bluetooth that would be a massive issue!
The Verdict: Look, for its day the Sonos Playbar was an awesome soundbar and even now if playing with it again after all this time it still sounds great. However, I do have to say that I much preferred the sound experience I was getting from the Yamaha YAS-209. It just offered more punch thanks to the dedicated soundbar and overall, I would say it was just a better sound quality than what I was hearing out of the Playbar.
The Remote Control
Being able to control your soundbar is pretty damn vital which is why we have a dedicated category to it in our Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar contest. Here we will look at what your controller options are for each of these soundbars.
Yamaha YAS-209: Yamaha has a kind of style that they like with their remote controls and the remote control that they give you with the Yamaha YAS-209 is very similar to the one that comes with the 207 and the 109. This one has a bit more of a curve to it though. This is a great remote control and has all the buttons you could possibly need, you can use an app, but what is the point? You have dedicated buttons for six different presets. Controls for the soundbar volume and the subwoofer, clear voice, and 3D surround have their own dedicated button too. In all, I think that this is a damn fine remote and I would not mind one bit if Yamaha just used this design for the next ten years or so!
Sonos Playbar: Even the current Sonos Arc has the same issue as the Sonos Playbar and that is it does not come with a remote control.
You can watch a video like this Installing a Sonos Playbar video which is great, but as easy as it is to use the dedicated app, I still feel at the very least a basic remote should have been included. The app gives you complete control and it is awesome how much you can tinker with the sound. Also, the app is very easy to use so even those people who are less technically minded should not have too much trouble. Still, I hate how Sonos feel that the remote control should go the way of the dodo! It is worth noting that you can make it so your TV remote can control the basic functions of the Playbar, but I found this to be a major pain in the butt.
The Verdict: You could say that the Yamaha YAS-209 wins this one by default as the Sonos Playbar does not have a remote control, but that is unfair. Well, yes the YAS-209 (just a thought is this any relation to ED-209 from Robocop?) does win by default, but that is doing the guys and gals at Yamaha a huge disservice as the Yamaha YAS-209 has a damn fine remote control that is very easy to use and has a design that I really do like.
What Is In The Box?
I know that in our epic Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar showdown what is in the box may not seem like the most exciting category, but I still think it is important to know what you are getting. This way you can know if you need to order any extra cables or whatever with your soundbar.
Yamaha YAS-209: When you buy a Yamaha YAS-209 they nearly give you everything you need inside the box. You get the soundbar, the subwoofer, the power cable, and the stuff you would expect. They do also give you an optical cable as well, but there is no HDMI cable! I had a quick look on Amazon and you can get a decent HDMI Cable 4K 60HZ 6 Foot,18Gbps High Speed HDMI 2.0 Cable for well under ten bucks, I would advise having a couple of HDMI cables in case that is the way you want to hook this thing up. However, if you plan on using an optical cable anyway, you are set right out of the box… still, having a few spare HDMI cables in the house is never a bad thing!
Sonos Playbar: Inside the box for the Sonos Playbar you will find the following items. You will have the actual soundbar and the power cable. They also give you an optical cable and an ethernet cable as well. They technically do give you all that you need so it is hard to fault them for what they are giving you in the box.
The Verdict: I have to give this one to the Yamaha YAS-209 even though they do not give you an HDMI cable in the box. Granted the Sonos Playbar is giving you what you need inside the box. However, the 209 wins this one, but only just.
What Is The Best Soundbar?
I have to say that this Yamaha YAS-209 vs Sonos Playbar article has been a lot of fun to write, not just because I had an excuse to watch movies and listen to music either. I think these are two companies who are always trying to make their next soundbar or whatever it is they are making better. With that being said I have to say that for its day the Sonos Playbar was a damn fine soundbar and even now the sound is solid. However, Sonos themselves have made that soundbar pretty much obsolete and the asking price for it these days is just not worth it.
For me, the Yamaha YAS-209 is the clear winner here. You are getting a good soundbar and subwoofer set for well under 400 bucks! It is not even just because I feel the asking price is great either. I genuinely think that the sound quality offered by this is very good. If you go from your TV speakers to this, you will be blown away and feel like you are much closer to that cinema experience at home!