When I used to review more TVs till now, readers would ask me “Which TV should I fit inside my media cabinet?” I was reminded of this question by the small Yamaha SR-C20A ($ 180 on Amazon). If your main criterion for choosing a soundbar is the ability to show inside a particular location, then this compact speaker may be for you.
- Easy to set up and use
- Sounds great with movies and music
- Many connection options
do not like it
- No ability to add a subwoofer or rear
- No DTS playback limits DVD viewing options
- Vizio V21 beats it for home theater use
The C20 is the smallest soundbar I’ve seen from Yamaha just 23 inches wider. Its sonic chops are still decent, and also sound better than the smaller Roku streambar ($ 130 on Amazon) ($ 130) with more prominent bass and a smooth high end. Although it lacks Roku’s streaming capability, Yamaha offers more connection options.
The problem is that the Yamaha C20 is too expensive for what you get. If you are not constrained by size, there are plenty of great options available for the same money starting with the Vizo-V21. ($ 180 at Best Buy). The C20 requires a price drop to become recommendable to a large group of people.
Small size, solid construction
Spiffy-looking, as I found with previous Yamaha productsFrom the mini sound system to its soundbar, the C20A’s build quality is solid. The speaker measures only 2.5 inches high and 3.75 inches deep 23.6 inches wide, and is covered in an attractive fabric grille, keeping in mind the larger speakers of the range.
Yamaha made some usability improvements that larger models do not have. For example, the input display is now on the front of the unit, which is facing you rather than upwards, making it easier to read. While controls at the top include an input selector, volume and power.
The C20 offers a pair of 1.8-inch cone drivers, a built-in 3-inch subwoofer: and two passive radiators. While I have not heard the B20 the speaker offers a larger cabinet with larger drivers and a dedicated tweeter. It also provides most of the features of the C20, adding subwoofer output. The B20 loses 3.5mm input though.
For such a compact sound bar it is still well specified with an HDMI ARC port, two optical connections, 3.5mm analog and Bluetooth. This will enable you to connect a set-top box and even a turntable through a motion if you wish. When I spoke to Yamaha representatives, they suggested that you could hook up the soundbar with your computer as well, as long as the bar’s 3.75 inch depth is not a problem.
Like all Yamaha audio products from the olden times, the C20 comes with some of the best sound modes including stereo, game, movie and clear voice. The C20 supports Dolby Digital but sadly DTS which is not strange as it includes DTS Virtual: X surround sound emulation.
Meanwhile, the chunky remote is pleasing and provides a lot of control over the functions of the soundbar. Want to promote dialogue intelligence? Press the voice clear button. The need for all your tasks can be clearly laid out without looking like a scientific calculator.
How does it feel
Yamaha may have been small but it was able to include a wide, sound, particularly suited to action films and gaming. Meanwhile its ability to render dialogue only made it great for watching news.
It may lack the physical side-firing speakers of the Roku streambar but Yamaha makes the difference with simpler software. DTS Virtual: X provides a huge soundstage and I was able to track the sounds as they moved across the room and around my listening position.
Yamaha had a clear advantage over Roku when watching action movies. Both excelled at drawing dialogue from the background but Yamaha strengthened the performance with better bass. The Roku offers almost no bass (garnering the optional sub) but Yamaha provides just enough that you don’t really need one. For example, at the beginning of the Mad Max Fury Road when Max Rocktansky landed his charger’s engine, it looked like an actual car on Yamaha, while Rocco’s small cabinet lacked the oomph to make the bellable sound. .
The C20 is not going to rock your next party when compared to a larger speaker like the Vizio V21, but the Yamaha was loud enough for the greater volume that my child asked me to move down from the next room (not the elbow fan, It is evident) . But the tunes sound even better when streamed over Bluetooth and when used with Sound Mode. Rock, for example, provided the best sound in stereo mode, while the choral tilt of Dead Can Dance benefited from a room-wide rendition of music mode.
When I directly compared the C20 to the V21, the advantages of the Visio’s larger cabinet and separate subwoofer became immediately apparent. In the default movie mode, Vizio gave a more natural and effortless voice during the Thanetor Chase scene from Avatar. The forest seemed to be more alive and less “hyped” than the C20, and when animals like elephants were chopping down trees and trumpeting in disgust, the bass response was simply no contest. Yamaha cannot compete with Vijio’s home theater thump.
I noticed a Yamaha advantage on this scene, though: When I implemented Vizio’s voice mode, it changed the dialogue to a tunnel, while the Yamaha’s clear voice made it as crisp as you’d expect.
Should you buy it
While it is easy to see the attraction in the adorable Roku Streambar – – it is cheap, it offers enhanced streaming capability and it feels larger – – the more expensive Yamaha is a tough sell. The C20 outperforms Roku, with richer bass and more refined treble, but is not worth more than $ 50. Unless you are really determined by size constraints, both the larger Yamaha B20 or the Vizio V21 with its separate subwoofer makes more sense at this price.