Yamaha SR-C20A soundbar evaluation: A sound match for small areas

After I used to evaluation extra TVs than I used to now, readers would ask me “Which TV ought to I get to suit inside my media cupboard?” I used to be reminded of this query by the tiny Yamaha SR-C20A ($180 at Amazon). In case your important standards for selecting a soundbar is its potential to shoehorn inside a specific area, then this compact speaker might be for you.

LikeEasy to arrange and useSound nice with films and musicPlenty of connection choices

Do not LikeNo potential so as to add a subwoofer or rearsNo DTS playback limits DVD watching optionsVizio V21 beats it for residence theater use

The C20 is the smallest soundbar I’ve seen from Yamaha at simply 23 inches large. Its sonic chops are nonetheless first rate, nonetheless, and it sounds higher than the even-smaller Roku Streambar ($130 at Amazon) ($130) with extra outstanding bass and a smoother excessive finish. Whereas it lacks the Roku’s streaming functionality, the Yamaha does supply extra connection choices.

The issue is that the Yamaha C20 is simply too costly for what you get. In case you’re not constrained by dimension then there are many great-sounding choices accessible for a similar cash, beginning with the Vizio V21 ($180 at Greatest Purchase). The C20 wants a value drop to change into recommendable to a bigger group of individuals.

Small dimension, strong construct
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

As I’ve discovered with previous Yamaha merchandise, from the spiffy-looking RX-V6 to its mini programs to its soundbars, the construct high quality of the C20A is strong. The speaker measures simply 23.6 inches large by 2.5 inches excessive and three.75 inches deep, and it is lined in a lovely cloth grille consistent with the vary’s larger audio system. 

Yamaha made some usability enhancements these bigger fashions do not have. For instance the enter show is now on the entrance of the unit dealing with you quite than dealing with upwards, making it simpler to learn. Whereas on the highest the controls embrace an enter selector, quantity and energy.

The C20 affords a pair of 1.8-inch cone drivers, a built-in 3-inch subwoofer: and two passive radiators. Whereas I have not heard the B20 that speaker affords a bigger cupboard with larger drivers and devoted tweeters. Plus it affords many of the options of the C20 whereas including a subwoofer output. The B20 does lose the three.5mm enter, although.  

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

For such a compact sound bar it is nonetheless nicely specified with an HDMI ARC port, two optical connections, 3.5mm analog and Bluetooth. It will allow you to attach a set-top field and even a turntable through a preamp if you happen to like. After I spoke to Yamaha representatives they recommended you can hook the soundbar up your pc as nicely, so long as the bar’s 3.75 inch depth is not a difficulty.

Like all Yamaha audio merchandise since time immemorial the C20 comes with some glorious sound modes together with Stereo, Sport, Film and Clear Voice. The C20 helps Dolby Digital however sadly not DTS which is bizarre because it embrace DTS Digital:X encompass sound emulation. 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

In the meantime, the chunky distant is pleasingly tactile and affords quite a lot of management over the soundbar’s features. Wish to enhance the intelligibility of the dialog? Press the Clear Voice button. All the features you can want are laid out clearly, with out wanting like a scientific calculator. 

How does it sound?

The Yamaha could also be small however it was in a position to supply a large, involving sound which was particularly suited to motion films and gaming. In the meantime its potential to render dialog made it nice for simply watching the information as nicely. 

It might lack the bodily side-firing audio system of the Roku Streambar however the Yamaha makes up the distinction with ingenious software program. DTS Digital:X affords an enormous soundstage and I used to be in a position to monitor sounds as they moved across the room and to the edges of my listening place.  

When watching motion films the Yamaha had a transparent benefit over the Roku. Each had been glorious at pulling dialogue out of the background however the Yamaha bolstered the efficiency with higher bass. The Roku delivers nearly no bass (sans the optionally available sub) however the Yamaha affords simply sufficient that you do not really want one. When Max Rockatansky spins up his Charger’s engines firstly of Mad Max Fury Highway, for instance, it seemed like an actual automobile over the Yamaha, whereas the Roku’s tiny cupboard lacked the oomph to sound plausible.

In comparison with a much bigger speaker just like the Vizio V21 the C20 shouldn’t be going to rock your subsequent social gathering, however at most quantity the Yamaha was loud sufficient that my little one requested me to show it down from the following room (not an Elbow fan, clearly). However tunes sounded nice when streamed over Bluetooth and experimenting with the sound modes helped even additional. For instance, rock sounded greatest in stereo mode whereas the choral leanings of Lifeless Can Dance benefitted from the room-wide presentation of Music mode.

After I in contrast the C20 to the V21 straight, the benefits of the Vizio’s bigger cupboard and separate subwoofer had been instantly obvious. Within the default film mode the Vizio sounded extra pure and comfortable through the Thanator Chase scene from Avatar. The jungle sounded extra alive and fewer “hyped” than on the C20, and when the elephant-like animals are smashing up bushes and trumpeting in disgust, there was merely no contest when it got here to bass response. The Yamaha could not compete with the Vizio’s visceral residence theater thump. 

I observed one Yamaha benefit on this scene, nonetheless: once I utilized the Vizio’s voice mode it made dialog recede as if it had been in a tunnel, whereas the Yamaha’s Clear Voice made it as crisp as you’d count on.

Do you have to purchase it?

Whereas it is easy to see the attraction within the cute Roku Streambar – – it is low cost, it affords superior streaming capabilities and it sounds huge – – the costlier Yamaha is a more durable promote. The C20 performs higher than the Roku, with richer bass and a extra refined treble, however it’s not price  50 {dollars} extra. Until you actually are dictated to by dimension constraints, the bigger Yamaha B20 or Vizio V21 with its separate subwoofer each make extra sense at this value.

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