Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 Review

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A few months back, I was fortunate enough to try out the new range of Yamaha MusicCast speakers, the MC20 & MC50 to be exact, and they were excellent. When I saw an opportunity to try out another speaker from the range, I jumped at the chance and just like that, the MusicCast BAR 400 arrived at the office. The BAR 400 is a soundbar and subwoofer combo, utilising that MusicCast wireless system found in all the speakers, as well as more movie based codecs such as DTS: Virtual X and Dolby.

Tech Spec:
– 3D surround sound with DTS Virtual:X
– Clear Voice mode makes movie dialogue stand out and easier to hear
– Alexa voice control compatibility* (*Availability varies by region)
– Music streaming services built-in
– MusicCast multi-room technology
– Wireless Subwoofer (6.5″ woofer / 100w)
– (Centre Unit) : Four 4.6 cm (1-3/4”) woofers, Dual 2.5 cm (1″) tweeters
– Ability to add wireless surround sound speaker/s* (*MusicCast 20 or MusicCast 50)
– High-Resolution Audio
– Qualcomm® DDFA™ digital amplifier technology
– HDMI (ARC), optical, aux input, Ethernet connectivity
– (Centre Unit) : Four 4.6 cm (1-3/4”) woofers, Dual 2.5 cm (1″) tweeters

The soundbar and subwoofer come conveniently packaged together within one single box, albeit quite an obscure shape, but it’s easy to handle and protects the speakers well. The soundbar sits at 980mm wide, 60mm high & 110mm deep, with a number of woofers and tweeters, behind a metal mesh grille. To the top of the soundbar are touch controls, to select various options. To the rear and within a small cove, are the inputs, which includes 2No. HDMI, optical, 3.5mm, USB and ethernet port. Further along at the rear, is the power input. These rear inputs are inserted within this cutout or cove, allowing the cables to bend and sit well, allowing for a flush look if you plan on hanging this on the wall.

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A template is included within the box, so if you do decide to hang this to the wall, you can easily do this with the template and via the two screw holes provided at the rear. That being said, the cables come out from two separate locations, with no recess for the cables to meet in the middle, and feed into a single chase in the wall. That is if you wanted to hide the cables, which to me, is a must. Moving onto the subwoofer, it’s a tall and relatively slim affair, housing a 6.5″ woofer & is wireless, so it must be paired with the soundbar via Bluetooth. Out the box, the subwoofer and soundbar were paired together, so set up was very easy indeed.

For the two weeks, I had the soundbar, I had it plugged into my TV direct via HDMI (arc), and also through my PS4, which I use as a Blu Ray player. As mentioned before, there are touch-sensitive controls on the top of the soundbar, allowing you to select different inputs, change the volume etc. For when you are sitting down during a movie, you can use the remote control provided and/or your smart device via the MusicCast app. The small, slim remote control is great and it gives you plenty of options to try out. Other than selecting sources, volumes etc, it allows you to switch between stereo, surround or 3D surround modes. As the titles suggest, these options offers surround sound modes from the system to suit what you’re watching. There are also buttons for clear voice, which boosts the vocal level and bass extension for changing the bass output.

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I watched a few various movies, DTS & Dolby titles and the experience was smashing! Watching action movies, the explosions were powerful, the low end rumbled, yet it was very well balanced, and voices were clear throughout, which was great to hear. For those wanted vocals to be more prominent, the clear voice option really elevates voices and works very well. I switched between the three standard sound modes, and 3D surround was by far the best mode for me & the movies I was watching. The difference between 3D and non 3D surround was subtle but noticeable and the stereo option is not for movies at all, more for the evening news. Further customisation is available if you want to really fine tune your set up.

It’s not all about movies & TV shows, it’s also about the music. Listening to music via the system, you need to get away from the surround sound settings and move to the stereo setting, which is far better suited for music. The system performed very well, offering a well-balanced music experience, that can form part of your home wide sound system.

As with all MusicCast speakers, you can pair them, group them and create a house-wide audio experience or home cinema experience by adding two rear speakers. Each speaker sits on your wireless network, and its very easy to set up & control, all via the MusicCast app. While watching the movies, I did notice the lack of rear audio, although it was minimal, by pairing it with 2 MC20’s or 1 MC50, you will be able to gain that rear audio, which can only improve on the performance of the system.

I was very impressed with this system, it’s one that defiantly offered a glimpse of a true home cinema experience and I loved it. Yes, I think they could have done better with the cable management to the rear of the soundbar, but it’s something I could live with.

The soundbar on its own retails at £350, while the system including the subwoofer sits at £550, with some retailers offering combo deals with over MusicCast speakers for surround sound packages. The system is nearly 1/3 the price of the equivalent Sonos system, with only a few performance differences, making it a must-have in my eyes.

For more information, visit the official Yamaha Bar 400 webpage.

 

 

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