First, somewhat inside baseball. Regardless of the clear emphasis on dwelling theater setups, we have been initially going to check the BAR 400 as a attainable choice for Mac desktops. It has HDMI in/out, auxiliary, and optical ports, and who would not need that stage of energy for his or her laptop?
On receiving it although I rapidly realized that at 38.6 inches, the soundbar was simply far too lengthy for my desk, or actually for most individuals’s desks until maybe they have the kind of big, minimalist house you solely see in motion pictures and promoting (or possibly MKBHD movies). So we turned issues round to check the BAR 400 for its meant function.
At a uncooked stage, the product equips your TV with 200 watts of output, 100 per element. It helps Dolby’s Digital and Professional Logic II requirements, in addition to DTS’ Digital Encompass and Digital:X, so whereas Yamaha ideally needs you to pair with wi-fi MusicCast 20 or 50 audio system for true 5.1 encompass, you may get an immersive soundscape with out forking out additional money.
For these involved: the HDMI interface helps ARC, 4K60 passthrough, and excessive dynamic vary within the type of HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient.
Setup is manageable, however was simply my least favourite a part of the expertise. For one, I am not a fan of Yamaha’s port placement — apart from energy, connections are positioned not simply in a recess on the again, however on the facet of that recess. That may make it tough to attach cables, particularly if they don’t seem to be very versatile or, say, the bar has to go behind the TV to keep away from the attain of a curious toddler.
The digital half of setup additionally feels unnecessarily advanced. The bar helps Bluetooth, however so as to join it to Wi-Fi and therefore AirPlay, you will want Yamaha’s iPhone/iPad app. The app’s interface is somewhat outdated and complicated, and for setup you will have to quickly swap Wi-Fi networks in iOS — remember to keep in mind your router login. Different speaker makers corresponding to JBL and Sonos have higher streamlining.
The excellent news is that when set up is full, there’s actually no have to load Yamaha’s app once more. For music, you’ll be able to simply choose the soundbar as a vacation spot in AirPlay or Bluetooth. It is also appropriate with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Spotify Join, so maybe it is no surprise why the app is uncared for.
AirPlay works about as you’d anticipate. It will probably take just a few seconds to push music from iOS, however that is fairly widespread. Assist extends into Siri and the Residence app, and like any AirPlay 2 speaker you’ll be able to group with different models.
Yamaha features a bundled IR distant, which I discovered myself utilizing surprisingly usually. For one factor there are separate bar and sub volumes, and Yamaha has a number of on-the-fly results: Stereo, Encompass, 3D Encompass, Clear Voice, and Bass Extension. In my subjective expertise, Encompass and Bass Extension have been the one ones I stored on completely — Clear Voice appeared to make vocals too sharp, whereas 3D Encompass (which makes use of DTS Digital:X) is nominally supposed to permit each vertical and horizontal panning, however simply did not sound pleasing to me. It might make sense for some motion pictures however not far more.
Whenever you’ve acquired the precise settings in place the 400 does have very satisfying sound. It is not the perfect I’ve sub/bar combo I’ve ever heard, because it lacks the readability you’d hear from one thing like a Sonos Playbase/Sub pair, however it’s greater than ample and places out loads of punch from the highs to the lows. It is the truth that you may get the entire bundle for beneath $500, I feel, that makes it spectacular.
The BAR 400 most likely would not be my first alternative if I have been attempting to find TV audio, however I used to be pleased with it. That Sonos pairing I recommended might simply value $1,400, so getting above-average wi-fi sound for nearly $1,000 much less is a feat. My solely actual points have been with setup and port placement, however when you can overlook these, there’s little motive to not pull the set off.
Rating: four out of 5
The place to purchase
The Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 Sound Bar with Wi-fi Subwoofer retails for $499 and is offered from Amazon and B&H Picture. B&H additionally provides consumers in eligible states an immediate gross sales tax refund with its Payboo Card.