This Yamaha ATS 1080 review examines how well soundbars with integrated subwoofers implement surround sound.
Yamaha has a reputation for creating durable, high-performance audio equipment for a good price. Their products do not disappoint when it comes to sound quality. By tracking the performance of the ATS 1080, we get to see whether or not the soundbar is worth what you pay for it.
Yamaha ATS 1080 review: Unboxing
The Yamaha ATS 1080 is a rebrand of the 2018 Yamaha YAS 108, which explains why you’ll see the product numbers used interchangeably online. The two models are similar in every way except their naming system, making the unboxing of the two devices identical. Along with the 35-inch soundbar, the package contains a:
- 3.5mm analog audio-in adapter
- Digital audio cable (optical)
- Power cable
- Mounting template
- Bunch of paperwork, including setup instructions and a user manual
It would be nice if the Yamaha ATS 1080 shipped with an HDMI cable, but it doesn’t. Find one; you’ll need it.
At 35 inches long, 4 inches deep and 2 inches high, the ATS 1080 grabs your attention with its flat form factor. In addition to hugging your TV stand, this soundbar has rounded edges that give it the look of a giant popsicle stick. It is the kind of soundbar that would sidetrack you if you were to spot it in a brick and mortar store.
The front and top surfaces are covered in grey cloth mesh, which is both fragile and a dust magnet. All the controls and LED indicators are on the top surface, which puts you at a disadvantage when you’re seated. So it’s a good thing that the soundbar has a digital interface that you can access via your mobile device or TV.
The sides and bottom surface of the soundbar have plastic surfaces that are pretty sturdy. You’ll notice that the sides of the Yamaha ATS 1080 double as bass ports for the subwoofers.
You will find two insets that extend from the underside and upwards into the back of the soundbar. Each inset has its own set of inputs. If you were to mount the soundbar the inputs would face the wall, making them hard to reach. On the upside, you would be face to face with the controls and indicators.
Inputs, outputs, controls and connectivity
The Yamaha ATS 1080 has a useful array of ports. It comes with an HDMI-In port, an ARC-enabled HDMI output, a subwoofer output, a digital optical port and a 3.5mm analog audio jack.
In the design section of this Yamaha ATS 1080 review, we mentioned the indicators and controls in passing. It’s worth mentioning that the controls sit on a glossy, capacitive touch screen that breaks the uniformity of the cloth mesh. These controls include an input selector and volume/mute buttons. To the right of the controls is a row of well-labeled LED indicators. They’re only visible (read useful) if you mount the soundbar. Luckily the soundbar has a digital interface that will serve as your periscope.
While the ATS 1080 lacks a Wi-Fi connection, it can pair with two devices at the same time via Bluetooth. For obvious reasons, the soundbar won’t allow simultaneous playback from the two devices. It also won’t redirect sound from a mobile device to a Bluetooth subwoofer, which would have been cool.
Remote and other neat features
Most budget soundbars come with bare-bones remotes. Not the Yamaha ATS 1080. The ATS 1080 remote comes with keys that help you select input sources and basic audio presets. You can also use the remote to adjust the volume of the soundbar as well as the individual subwoofer system.
The best part of the ATS 1080 is that its CEC-enabled HDMI ports allow for the TV to control the soundbar and vice versa. This means that you can use the TV remote to control the soundbar, to a degree. This feature comes in handy when you use the Yamaha ATS 1080 as a hub that connects a PC or gaming rig to your display.
You can also use Yamaha’s digital app as a remote. The app also serves as a graphical interface that is a far better alternative to the soundbar’s LED indicators. It works with both Android and iOS.
The core of the Yamaha ATS 1080 review is sound quality. Before we get to how clear, accurate and loud the soundbar is, let’s see what it’s working with.
Each end of the soundbar has a two-inch, front-firing cone woofer. Each woofer terminates at the bass port on its end of the soundbar. Right under each woofer is a one-inch dome tweeter that takes care of the higher treble frequencies. An integrated subwoofer sits next to each woofer.
The sound bar has a total output of 120watts. Half the wattage comes from the subwoofers while the woofers (stereo drivers) are responsible for the other half.
It’s worth noting that all the drivers are at the far ends of the soundbar. This means that there’s no discrete source that fires sound from a singular point at the center of the soundbar. The woofers are then left to create a virtual center, which diminishes the sound definition of the Yamaha ATS 1080.
1. Sound quality: Frequency range and accuracy
The frequency range of the Yamaha ATS 1080 is 61Hz to 19KHz on the treble end. 61Hz is pretty high for a minimum bass frequency, but the ATS 1080 makes it work. That being said, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to add an external subwoofer to your setup.
In terms of treble, the soundbar has all the range it needs. This translates into an accurate reproduction of treble frequencies that are near–identical to the input source.
2. Sound quality: Peak volume and distortion
At moderate volume, the soundbar defines and blends individual audio elements into crisp, detailed sound. This doesn’t change much at peak volume, which is an impressive 90dB. The bass elements may start to merge at maximum volume, but the treble elements are far less susceptible to distortion.
3. Audio format support
The soundbar only supports DTS and basic Dolby, even on an ARC connection. The ATS 1080 will downgrade many surround sound formats to 2.1 stereo. If you want a more realistic implementation of surround sound, try the HDMI and optical cable combo.
Unfortunately, the Yamaha ATS 1080 does not have room adjustment capability. This means that the soundbar will sound different depending on the characteristics of the room you place it in.
The soundbar also lacks an equalizer. That being said, it does allow for the adjustment of the subwoofer volume.
- Nice design
- A nice array of inputs and outputs
- The HDMI pair can channel video and audio from your gaming console to the TV
- Impressive bass levels
- Accurate sound reproduction
- The optical audio port only works in concert with the HDMI-In port, which you’d need to do if you want good surround sound from this soundbar
- This may seem unnecessary because you could connect to the TV via the ARC port alone
- There’s a limit to how much bass a soundbar can produce, even with integrated subwoofers
- The soundbar downgrades 5.1 surround content to stereo and lacks support for many audio formats
Yamaha ATS 1080 review verdict: Good value for money
Not only does this Yamaha soundbar have many useful features, it also sounds pretty good. Its bass levels are not as extensive as those of an external subwoofer, but you could always add one to your setup.
The conclusion of this Yamaha ATS 1080 review is that this soundbar is well worth what you pay for it. Few soundbars in the price range of the ATS 1080 deliver comparable features and sound quality. Read more about this soundbar.