In the market of sound bars, Yamaha has made its reputation with its very sophisticated and expensive "sound projectors". But the Japanese manufacturer also wants to occupy the entry and the mid-range, as with this MusicCast Bar 400.
The MusicCast Bar 400 is Yamaha's mid-range soundbar, positioned just below the YSP-2700 sound projector. Instead of the speaker's 16-speaker array, it adopts a much simpler acoustic configuration in 2.1 - two-way 3-speaker speakers on each side of the bar, plus a wireless subwoofer .
This simplicity does not prevent it from proposing a virtual 5.1 spatialization via the DTS Virtual: X processing algorithms. As its name suggests, the MusicCast Bar 400 can also be integrated into Yamaha's multiroom ecosystem.
- Sound reproduction very balanced.
- Subwoofer good quality (no resonance, good responsiveness).
- Some rarities welcome in the connection (mini-jack input, RJ45 port).
- Multiroom ecosystem very complete, full of protocols and compatible streaming services.
- Crossover between the bar and the box too audible, distortion in the low mids.
- Lack of naturalness when virtual surround is enabled.
- Extreme extremes inaccurate at high volume.
- No front display, only status indicators not always easy to read.
- Mobile application not intuitive.
Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400
From the point of view of its dimensions, the MusicCast Bar 400 is what could be called a reasonable bar: neither singularly compact nor really cumbersome. With its small meter width and 6 cm in height, it should find place without problems in most facilities. Relatively go-anywhere, she should not be offended either; we can hardly blame him for a certain tendency to retain fingerprints, especially on the shiny surface in the center.
Connectivity is based on a very classic base: an HDMI input and an ARC compatible output, and an optical S / PDIF input for connecting to a TV with no audio return channel. Added to this is a Bluetooth receiver and an auxiliary input on stereo mini-jack - a rarity nowadays, but very welcome! As for the connection to the network, it can be done either by Wi-Fi or wired via an RJ45 connection.
Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 review
The Bar 400 is rather pleasant to use everyday. Unlike many of her peers, she has the good taste not to drown us in unreasonable amounts of features and irrelevant settings. And even if the remote control may seem a little overloaded at first, each of its buttons actually accomplishes a single task, and we learn to use it without much trouble ... a small detail: the bar is not equipped with a display or a visual interface on the TV, we must be content with 7 LEDs on the top for any visual feedback when performing an action. It is certainly not insurmountable, but not very comfortable either.
Lastly, the Bar 400, like all MusicCast devices, is compatible with the voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant. Do not understand that they are integrated - you can not call them directly on the bar; but if you already have an Amazon Echo or Google Home at home, you can use it to control your soundbar.
Musiccast bar 400
We find on this Bar 400 a MusicCast ecosystem perfectly unchanged from the one we had crossed with the monobloc MusicCast 50 speaker. The proposed multiroom features are therefore complete and reliable, including even the possibility of using two MusicCast 20 as surround speakers. But these possibilities sadly suffer from a mobile application that is not intuitive, which makes them more complex than necessary to use.
The same goes for the use of the three "favorites" that can be recorded on the bar: the feature is supposed to allow us to quickly access, via dedicated buttons on the remote control, our playlists or radio channels favorite, but frankly convoluted manipulations (to record and manage these favorites) make it often faster to simply launch them manually.
Fortunately, Yamaha's ecosystem is catching up with the broad list of streaming services and network protocols it supports. In addition to the native integration of Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer and Amazon Music, it also has AirPlay 2 UPnP / DLNA compatibility and webradios, and finally the ability to stream music stored locally on his phone. Difficult not to find his account.
Musiccast bar 400 review
Alas, it is on the ground of the sound performances that the Bar 400 causes us a small disappointment. "Just" correct, it fails to rise to the level of competing products. The first contact is however rather pleasant, since one hears first of all the excellent sound balance. The above measurement is meaningful: from 200 Hz to the extreme high, absolutely no significant coloration is to be noted. This is obviously beneficial not only for the transparency of the rendering, but also for its versatility: such a neutral rendering suits both music listening and movies or video games.
It is however in terms of precision that Yamaha's bar stumbles. Although its power reserve is rather generous, it is not advisable to push the volume with too much enthusiasm, under penalty of leaving a touch of acidity unstoppable seize extreme treble - cymbals blows or other shards of glass then make it a little too irritating for the eardrums. But even when one remains wise, it is impossible to eradicate the awkwardness of which she is guilty in the low midrange and serious, at the level of the crossover with the subwoofer. The speakers of the bar can not get down "cleanly" below 400 Hz: the distortion is heard and the power is lacking when one reaches 200 Hz, resulting in a very audible separation of the sound components emitted by the bar and those emitted by the box. This is particularly harmful for the overall feeling of dynamic and fullness of sound. It is all the more unfortunate that the subwoofer itself gets off with the honors: without reaching the level of punch and depth produced by the Samsung Harman / Kardon HW-Q bars (including the HW-Q70R ), it provides a beautiful seat for the sound message, void of any resonance, and responsive enough that the kicks and other effects of dry bass have a very satisfactory impact.
Finally, with regard to spatialization, it must be made clear again that the MusicCast Bar 400 is not really capable of producing a virtual three-dimensional sound: in the absence of decoding the Dolby Atmos or DTS: X tracks, its mode "3D surround" only applies a psychoacoustic treatment to stereo or 5.1 tracks, supposed to give the impression of a sound stage extending in height. In fact, the treatment seems to us to consist only of a V-equalization (reinforcement of bass and treble) with little connection to schmilblick.
It is therefore better to be satisfied with the "horizontal" surround mode, which works in a rather convincing way: we perceive a very clear enlargement of the stereo scene, and the 5.1 channel surround effects manage to detach from the frontal plane to give a feeling of wrapping certainly light, but very present. However, the usual DTS Virtual: X traverses are alas and unsurprisingly still present: a small artificial reverb is added to the signal, certainly helping to shape this sensation of sound space, but obviously depriving the sound of a good part of its integrity and its naturalness. Everyone to see if the game is worth the candle; recognize that with respect to our personal preferences, the answer leans towards no.
The Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 is not a bad sound bar, but we can not help but still be disappointed by its performance, which does not rise to the level of its ambitions. Its positioning is indeed dangerously close to that of the Samsung HW-Q70R, or even the Sony HT-ZF9, competitors substantially more competent.
Yamaha musiccast bar 400 soundbar with wireless subwoofer