While many of today’s ultra-compact soundbars allow you to add a separately purchased subwoofer, if you find yourself hoping more bass than a tiny little speaker can deliver, a few of them come with a wireless subwoofer built in. That alone makes the Yamaha SR-C30A Compact Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer (available for $279.95 on Amazon) a compelling offering. It does not support Atmos. Surround sound speakers cannot be added. But if you’re simply looking for a mini soundbar with a big sound as well as a healthy bottom-end, this one is hard to beat for the price.
Surprisingly, for such a small soundbar, the Yamaha SR-C30A can fill a reasonably sized room with sound. Granted, it becomes effectively monophonic from more than about four feet away in straight stereo mode, but switch to Standard or 3D Movie mode and the SR-C30A provides a nice sense of spaciousness from even six feet away. Furthermore, the soundbar/subwoofer combination has enough power to provide a satisfyingly loud listening experience even in a larger den or living room.
About Yamaha SR-C30A
In many ways, the SR-C30A is simplicity personified, something you might appreciate in today’s increasingly connected and complicated audio/video landscape. Inside the stubby, L-shaped box is a two-channel soundbar less than two feet wide and a wireless subwoofer that can be placed against a wall, tucked under a desk, or even laid flat under a couch if there’s enough clearance. The commitment to simplicity extends to the product’s design, as it is equipped with only two drivers. That’s one 1.8-inch driver per channel, with no tweeter or cone for high and midrange frequencies.
What We Like
The Yamaha SR-most C30A’s complicated feature is the box it comes in. That’s not hyperbole; the shipping container is a strange L-shaped thing designed to fit the capsule-esque soundbar and slightly boxier subwoofer without taking up too much room. You may have to hunt as well as scratch for a minute or two to figure out how to cut the tape along with how to pull out the flaps to ensure that the box can be opened and the contents thereof can be extricated.
With that out of the way, setting up the soundbar beneath your screen and the subwoofer where you want them is as easy as putting them in their respective locations, connecting your TV with an HDMI ARC cable if necessary or the included optical cable if not, plugging in the soundbar and subwoofer to power, turning the system on, and waiting a few seconds for the soundbar and sub to wirelessly sync. To stream music to the Yamaha SR-C30A, you should also Bluetooth-connect any mobile devices.
It is simple to use
The SR-C30A includes a simple remote control with buttons for the four sound modes (Stereo, Standard, 3D Movie, and Game), source selection (TV, Optical, Bluetooth, Analog), access to the four sound modes, independent volume controls for the subwoofer and the entire system, mute, and dim. There is also a control app (called Yamaha Sound Bar Remote rather than the similarly named but confusingly different Yamaha Sound Bar Controller) that gives you access to the same controls but conveniently enables you to see which modes are active, which is something you can’t tell very well from a quick glance at the soundbar itself.
It sounds pretty good
There are a lot of good-sounding soundbars under $300, but the Yamaha SR-C30A stands out by including a subwoofer, which some of its pocket-sized competitors don’t. At this price point, however, expectations should be kept in check. While the sound is better than expected, the Yamaha does have limitations, primarily because it relies on a single driver per channel rather than separate tweeters and cones. In practical terms, this means that the SR-C30A loses power at higher frequencies. As a result, music and movies lose some of their “air,” and dialogue can often sound nasal.
What We Don’t Like
Little light on features
While the SR-simplicity C30A’s is admirable, Yamaha could have added a few more features without overcomplicating things. It lacks DTS audio, for example, as well as support for virtual Dolby Atmos processing. That kind of processing can only do so much with only two speakers, but other 2.1 offerings at or below this price, such as the Vizio V21t-J8, at least include DTS Virtual:X.
Useless Indicator Lights
Instead of a text-based display screen, the SR-C30A relies on five LED lights to indicate which modes are active and which features are turned on and off. You’d probably learn semaphore faster and easier than you could memorise what it means when the second, third, as well as fourth lights on the bottom of the ‘bar flash three times.
The bright white light on the sub cannot be adjusted
This may not be a problem depending on how the sub is positioned especially if it’s tucked under the sofa. However, in my office, the best location for the sub turned out to be along the side wall, near the corner, with the driver facing out into the room and the bass-reflex port pointing towards the front wall. This meant that the bright white LED light, which shines as brightly as the sun on a partly cloudy day, was always in my peripheral vision.
There’s a lot to like about Yamaha’s little SR-C30A system if you’re looking for an ultra-compact soundbar which comes with its own wireless sub, sounds better than you’d expect, and is almost foolproof in terms of setup and day-to-day operation. However, if you require Atmos processing or DTS decoding of any kind, the SR-C30A falls short. And we believe that it would sound even better if it had separate drivers for high and mid frequencies. However, when compared to its competitors, the Yamaha compensates for those shortcomings with strengths in other areas. The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 sounds better and has Atmos, but it costs $200+ more and lacks a subwoofer.