The system also doesn’t support DTS audio formats, including DTS:X, Dolby Atmos’ biggest 3D audio rival. This is something you’ll find in many more expensive soundbars from Samsung, LG, and Sony, although brands like Sonos and Bose offer limited to no DTS support as the format becomes less and less fluent.
The 50A offers a good sound profile that often extends too much. There’s plenty of detail up top and a nice mass of muscle in the mids and bass that bring delicious weight to everything from explosive explosions to gunshots and roaring engines.
The buzzing motorcycles in the multi-vehicle chase scene that kicks off Sam Mendes Skyfall are rendered with just the right growl, while gunshots between Bond’s Walther PPK and the assassin’s submachine gun ring out with thrilling pops.
You’ll find something to smile about in chaotic action scenes like the Disney sisters’ duel. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II. As Nebula pilots her gunship into a kamikaze collision with Gamora, the battery of bullets, roaring turbines and thunderous crash are utterly captivating. The performance subwoofer blends seamlessly with the two woofers inside the bar in such scenes to reap low-frequency gold, going beyond standalone soundbar setups and the tinier subwoofers that accompany many budget soundbars.
The sound is boxier as bars approach the $1,000 line. This can sometimes lead to screaming in effects and crisp dialogue or to particularly bright instruments when playing music. This is offset by a nuanced touch to the quieter moments of sitcoms and dramas. Subtle dialogue is smooth but present, with detail that approaches premium quality. Michael Scott’s Comical Mispronunciations and Literal Paper Pushes Office are eloquently delivered, going far beyond what you’ll only hear on your TV.
Up, not out
The upward firing and side-angled drivers of the Bar 50A provide noticeable sonic expansion for Dolby Atmos content, especially for overhead effects. The raindrops, buzzing insects, and strafing spaceships in Atmos movies and demos burst with appropriate awe, bringing much more gravitas to such scenes than cheaper bars with virtual Dolby Atmos systems.
The lack of side drivers or virtualization software like Room Calibration keeps the soundstage short of the mesmerizing expansion of surround sound you’ll hear with systems like the Sonos Arc and Bose Soundbar 900. While Yamaha’s bar certainly extends beyond its frame, winding toward Sometimes the listening position fails to capture the same brain-tingling “sound dome.”
The Bar 50A also can’t anchor a multiroom audio system like those bars, but you can add the new True X Speaker 1A Satellite Speakers ($300) to create a true surround system. It takes some time to configure them, mainly because they are not only environments, but also act as separate environments. Bluetooth speakers you can take it around the house or around the world.
It’s a fascinating concept that we’re starting to see more and more often, but I’m not sure how useful this flexibility is. The speakers offer excellent clarity in the upper register, ideal for podcasts, but there is no shortage of Bluetooth speakers on the market and they lack bass compared to something like Rugged laptops from JBL. We can also imagine scenes like Dad shouting from the basement during movie night: “Who took the left surround speaker?!”