Soundbars are one the best ways to get better audio quality from your TV. Thus, today on the comparison list, we have Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 and the Yamaha YAS-209. Here are my two cents on the design, price, sound quality, and performance of these two soundbars:
Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400:
The MusicCast Bar 400 is paired with wireless subwoofers. The main soundbar can go in front or below your TV. Wireless subwoofers can be placed anywhere you deem fit. Yet, with the size measuring about 7.125 inches by 16.375 inches by 16 inches you would need a dedicated space for them.
The 6cm low height is a plus point since it doesn’t block either the screen or the infrared red receiver of the TV. It is 98 cm wide. The bar can be wall-mounted or sit on some sort of cabinetry below your TV. Although, the keyhole mounts at the back of the speaker are deeper than it is tall so it will somewhat protrude out.
To wall-mount the bar you’ll need extreme patience! I expected a mounting bracket that gets hooked to the wall and provides the ease of getting attached or released from the wall without major issues. A paper template and tiny holes that have to be aligned +/- 2mm are a disappointment.
At the back, you’ll find a host of connections. They include Optical In (cable included), 3.5 mm Audio In (no cable included), HDMI In/Out ( with ARC but no HDMI cables included), and Ethernet (for direct connection, no cable included). The remote control is small, almost the size of an iPhone. All the controls have labels and are visible.
The minimalist design of MusicCast Bar 400 is especially favorable for limited spaces. It relinquishes multi-channel audio in a neat and compact model.
There is hardly any room for creativity in the design for soundbar – long cylindrical designs are a given. The YAS-209 still manages to be chich and stylish as compared to the most. It is a thin bar with rounded edges and an all-black design.
The classy soft mesh fabric around the soundbar can make it compete with high-end brands such as Amazon Echo, AirPulse, etc. It is 93 cm wide and 6 cm in height. Like MusicCast Bar 400, it can fit under most TVs without blocking the IR ports. YAS-209 can also mount the wall.
Subwoofers are large and have a straightforward design. They house a 6.5-inch bass woofer. Build quality is good and the body is made out of melamine. Although the subwoofers are wireless, they perform best when placed close to the main soundbar and in front of the wall. This way you get optimal bass.
A row of touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ at the top of the bar control volume, power, input-switching, and microphones. There are also tiny LEDs, each one labeled with the name of a source or feature. In the absence of a display, these LEDs light up in different configurations to show when a setting changes.
There are two slots for inputs and two holes for universal mounts for wall mounting.
Design-wise both MusicCast 400 and YAS-209 are the same. There is hardly any difference.
Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400:
Behind the all-black grille covering, the speaker houses four 1.75 inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters for a seamless audiogenic experience. The sub-woofers include a 6.5-inch cone woofer. They are wireless and connect automatically to the soundbar.
Together, the soundbar and sub combine for a total output of 100 watts.
Bar 400 offers the ease of multiroom connection system over either wifi or Ethernet. You can also use Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth. I miss on-screen set up because I feel it makes device configuration easy. Yamaha doesn’t have Dolby Atmos but it is compatible to decode both Dolby Digital and DTS. It also offers DTS Virtual:X for simulated surround sound.
You can control the unit with Alexa. There’s a short setup process in the app after which ask Alexa to control your MusicCast and you’re good to go!
If you’re using MusicCast on its own set up a connection over your phone using Bluetooth. With the app, you’ll be able to control playback and volume on your phone, as well as stream audio from Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, SiriusXM, and several other services. The app doesn’t have a significant use unless you have MusicCast devices in other areas of your house.
The input of YAS-209 includes – HDMI, TV (ARC), Bluetooth, and Net. LED display has indicators for the surround mode, clear voice, Wi-Fi connection, and Alexa.
Controls including power on/off, source selection, and volume up/down are also present. Since Alexa is now built-in, there’s also a button to wake it up and another to mute the far-field microphones.
For simulated sound effects Yamaha has integrated DTS Virtual:X. Besides, there are other surround modes including Music, Movie, TV Program, Game, and Sports.
Connections comprise of a single 4K and HDR-compatible HDMI input and HDMI (ARC enabled) output, optical digital (doesn’t support ARC), and Bluetooth. You can also connect the soundbar to Ethernet if you don’t prefer WiFi. Internet connection enables Spotify Connect and Alexa support.
In terms of features, MusicCast 400 is a clear winner (obviously!). But, if you’re looking for a cheaper version, consider investing in YAS-209. It is much superior to other soundbars available in the same range.
Yamaha MusicCast 400:
Kudos to Yamaha’s astute virtual surround system that widens the listening field. When I put it to test, I realized that 3D Surround Mode exudes powerful sound but it doesn’t add much to the listening experience.
Although if you don’t add in more speakers and are planning to stick with a 2.1 surround setup, then Stereo or Surround mode delivers enough sound for movies. I could hear and understand dialogues for most genres. The system can play loud sounds, that’s a given!
However, for more action-packed movies where the sound variation from too quiet to too loud is a constant occurrence I could hear a strain at full tilt volume.
Distinct bass and treble controls are missing from the remote. I had to fumble around to find out that I can tweak them using subwoofer volume controls. Switch on the ‘Bass Extension’ feature to use them..
The Stereo, Surround and 3D Surround mode help in adjusting soundstage size. You can fine-tune the sound from narrow to wide, to extra-wide respectively.
Unfortunately, in the case of Bar 400, none of the modes fulfill the purpose of being an all-rounder. You’ll need to fiddle around the modes to see which one sounds right with the movie you are watching.
As far as the musical notes are concerned, I felt that the notes and vocals were distinct and sweet be it Jazz, Rock, or Western swing. The audio quality for the Blu-Ray disc is crystal clear with smooth low-frequency effects.
Setting up the device is convenient. Configure it with your network settings using either a wired or wireless connection. If utilizing a wireless connection, you will need to use the Soundbar Controller app. Set up Alexa by selecting the YAS-209 as a device in the Alexa app. The built-in far-field microphone allows seamless interaction.
The remote gives easy control over the volume of the soundbar and sub-woofers respectively.
Yamaha YAS 209 is a decent speaker with powerful amplification. Clear Voice and Bass Extension serve to be a good combination. Those who are hard of hearing will enjoy the Clear Voice feature since it boosts dialogue. Even in the absence of a dedicated center speaker, the vocals are crisp and clear.
YAS-209’S movie performance is punchy and dynamic as compared to others in the same line. During my testing, I found that there’s a harrowing sense that the bar is pulling its punches. Leading edges are a little less crispy, and those subtler dynamic builds aren’t quite there.
The voices are quite clear and well projected. Yet, they are tonally a bit inconsistent, hitting upon as a little feeble and odd in the lower registers. There is a lacking sense of surrounding envelopment. Sonic delivery is largely focused at the front of the room.
Like most soundbars in the class, Yamaha also falls short in musical acoustics. To avoid echo or audibly compromised sound, I had to switch to the stereo mode. Even then the resulting sound was a bit dull and lackluster.
Both MusicCast 400 ad YAS 209 present a very strong case acoustically. However, to more experienced ears MusicCast will come out as a tad bit better in terms of sound quality and musical superiority.
The Final Verdict:
Yamaha has consistently delivered high-quality soundbars. YAS-209 does an exceptional job of enhancing the sound quality of your TV without drawing attention itself. They are a decent set of speakers in the mid-price range to complete your sonic experience.
Even so, MusicCast Bar 400 gets a lot right! It gives clear, crisp sound, deep bass, sharp dialogue clarity, and a wide soundstage. True that YAS-209 is a close contender but if you have money to spare then MusicCast 400 is a worthy choice.