Yamaha introduced this week two affordably priced soundbars that are each designed for easy connectivity and setup while bringing built-in Alexa voice control AI compatibility.

Yamaha soundbar models YAS-209 ($349.95 suggested retail) and YAS-109 ($239.95) both offer a fresh, ultra-slim design for discreet placement below today’s flat-panel televisions, using either table-top or wall-mount (without the need of an additional bracket) positioning.

Both models are said to output enhanced music playback capabilities, featuring Wi-Fi connectivity to play tunes through popular streaming music services including: Spotify Connect, Amazon Music and other Alexa-supported services, the company said.

The YAS-209 and YAS-109 will hit stores in July and are designed to contribute to an immersive multi-sensory home theater experience with sound that greatly improves what’s available from a television’s built-in 2-channel speakers.

The YAS-109 features built-in subwoofers to present deep bass in settings that require compact size. The YAS-209 further enhances the bottom end with expressive bass tones using a separate wireless subwoofer that is easily placed on the floor and out of the way.

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Both units feature built-in far-field microphones for integrated Alexa control, turning the sound bar into an Alexa smart speaker. Yamaha collaborated with the Alexa team at Amazon to implement the preferred method for microphones, focusing on both quality and spacing.

“Building voice control into these soundbars will allow our customers to simplify, integrate and control their home entertainment system with Alexa,” stated Alex Sadeghian, Yamaha Corp. of America consumer audio director. “Movie and music fans will enjoy both the features and performance. When coupled with the option of two different models, it’s an unbeatable combination for fans who truly expect more from a sound bar.”

With Alexa, users will be able to automatically lower volume of movies or music before issuing a voice command. Users initiate voice control by pressing a dedicated button on the soundbar’s remote. In addition, Alexa can be muted, when desired, or turned off completely when the unit is powered down for privacy concerns, Yamaha said.

As the world’s largest maker of musical instruments and audio products, that expertise from Yamaha extends to the design of these soundbars to deliver true sound reproduction for music and entertainment experiences.

Both soundbars incorporate Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround and DTS:Virtual X surround sound. The latter offers a virtual 3D surround sound experience that is said to produce an audible effect that envelops listeners in sound from both around and above the audience, without the need for separate speakers.

Both soundbars feature Yamaha Clear Voice technology to improve clarity of dialog in movies and TV shows while maintaining overall sonic quality.

For connectivity, the new models support HDMI input and output with audio return channel (ARC). These support pass-through of 4K video resolution with high dynamic range (HDR) for use with HDMI-connected 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players or 4K streaming media players.

Both soundbars include CEC, to enable audio control with compatible TV remotes. An optical input is provided for use with other devices without HDMI connections.

For music lovers, both soundbars come with 90 days of free access to Amazon Music Unlimited, and also provide support for Spotify Connect and Alexa-enabled music services. They also include Bluetooth functionality to wirelessly link with any Bluetooth mobile device to playback song libraries and services from a the device.

A free app to control the soundbar, available for both Apple and Android mobile devices, offers another way to control inputs and volume, while allowing playback of music stored on a smartphone via Wi-Fi.

By Greg Tarr

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