Yamaha SR-C20A soundbar review: A sound fit for small spaces

Yamaha SR-C20A soundbar review: When I used to review more TVs than before, readers would ask me, “Which TV should I fit in my media cabinet?” The tiny Yamaha SR-C20A reminded me of that question ($ 180 on Amazon). If your main criteria for choosing a Soundbar if its ability to shoehorn in a given room then this compact speaker might be for you.

To like

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Sounds great with movies and music
  • Lots of connection options

I do not like it

  • No way to add a subwoofer or rears
  • No DTS playback limits the options for viewing DVDs
  • Vizio V21 beats it for home theater

At just 23 inches wide, the C20 is the smallest soundbar I’ve seen from Yamaha. The Sonic Chops are still decent, however, and it sounds better than the even smaller Roku Streambar ($ 130 on Amazon) ($ 130) with stronger bass and a softer high end. While the Roku lacks the streaming capability, the Yamaha offers more connection options.

The problem is that the Yamaha C20 is just too expensive for what you’re getting. If size isn’t your thing, there are tons of great-sounding options available to you for the same money, starting with the Vizio V21 ($ 180 at Best Buy). The C20 needs a drop in price to be recommended to a larger group of people.

Small, solidly built

Yamaha SR-C20A soundbar review: Ty Pendlebury / Tips Clear

As I’ve found on previous Yamaha products, this looks chic RX-V6 For the mini-systems and the soundbars, the build quality of the C20A is solid. The speaker measures just 23.6 “wide, 2.5” high and 3.75 “deep and is covered with an attractive fabric grille that matches the larger speakers in the series.

Yamaha has made some usability improvements that larger models don’t. For example, the Welcome screen is now on the front of the device instead of facing up for easy reading. While the controls are on top, they include an input selector, volume, and power.

The C20 offers a pair of 1.8 “cone drivers, a built-in 3” subwoofer, and two passive radiators. While I haven’t heard the B20 yet, this speaker features a larger cabinet with bigger drivers and special tweeters. It also takes most of the functionality of the C20 and adds a subwoofer output. However, the B20 loses the 3.5mm input.

Vizio V21 review: Best soundbar under $200

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Like all Yamaha audio products, the C20 has always offered some great sound modes, including Stereo, Game, Movie and Clear Voice. The C20 supports Dolby Digital but unfortunately not DTS, which is strange since it includes DTS Virtual: X surround sound emulation.

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Ty Pendlebury / Tips ClearIn the meantime, the chunky remote control is pleasantly tactile and offers a lot of control over the soundbar’s functions. Would you like to improve the intelligibility of the dialogue? Press the Clear Voice button. All the features you might need are neatly arranged without looking like a scientific calculator.

How does it sound

The Yamaha may be small, but it was able to offer a wide sound that was particularly suitable for action films and games. In the meantime, its ability to render dialogue also made it great to just see the news.

The Roku Streambar may be missing the physical side-firing speakers, but the Yamaha makes all the difference with ingenious software. DTS Virtual: X provided a huge soundstage and I was able to follow sounds as they moved around the room and along the sides of my listening position.

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When it comes to watching action films, the Yamaha had a clear advantage over the Roku. Both were excellent at pulling dialogue out of the background, but the Yamaha aided the performance with better bass. The Roku provides almost no bass (without the optional sub), but the Yamaha provides just enough that you really don’t need one. For example, when Max Rockatansky cranked up his charger’s engines at the start of Mad Max Fury Road, it sounded like a real car above the Yamaha, while the Roku’s tiny closet lacked the momentum to sound believable.

Compared to a bigger speaker like the Vizio V21, the C20 won’t rock your next party, but at maximum volume the Yamaha was so loud that my kid asked me to turn it down from the next room (obviously not an Elbow fan). . But pieces of music sounded nice when streamed via Bluetooth, and experimenting with the sound modes helped even further. For example, rock sounded best in stereo mode, while the chorus leanings of Dead Can Dance benefited from the room-wide presentation of music mode.

When I directly compared the C20 to the V21, the advantages of the Vizio’s larger cabinet and separate subwoofer were immediately apparent. In standard movie mode, the Vizio sounded more natural and relaxed during Avatar’s Thanator chase scene. The jungle sounded livelier and less “hyped” than on the C20, and when the elephant-like animals smash trees and trumpet in disgust, there was simply no competition when it came to bass reproduction. The Yamaha couldn’t keep up with the Vizio’s visceral home theater punch.

However, I noticed a Yamaha advantage in this scene: when I applied the Vizio’s voice mode, the dialogue receded like a tunnel, while the Yamaha Clear Voice made it as sharp as you’d expect.

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While it’s easy to see the attraction in the adorable Roku Streambar – it’s cheap, has advanced streaming capabilities, and it sounds great – the more expensive Yamaha is a harder sell. The C20 performs better than the Roku, with richer bass and refined highs, but it’s no longer worth $ 50. Unless you’re really dependent on size restrictions, the larger Yamaha B20 or Vizio V21 with a separate subwoofer makes more sense at this price.

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