Pros: Overall sound quality, design and looks, full 360 sound from the speaker
Cons: Lack of features, no handle to carry the speaker, no means of daisy-chaining, lacking accessories, price
Build Quality & Features: 6/10
Design & Looks: 9/10
Sound Quality: 9/10
My final Rating: 8/10
Purchase Date: March 2015
Purchase Price: £370-400
First of all, I would like to thank Yamaha for sending me out the speaker for review – I was very much intrigued to see how it would sound and more so how it would look like in-person, in its full glory.
The speaker can be bought from various different resellers for the price of £370-400. This review will be based off its MSRP of £400.
Full specs of the LSX-170 can be found on Yamaha’s website.
Here’s my video review on YouTube:
Starting off with what’s in the box:
-The speaker with its integrated power cable
-A remote control for the speaker
-A few manuals
Other than that, there’s nothing else included with the speaker. I would have at least liked to have seen a 3.5mm cable included alongside the speaker’s package. The cable itself is extremely cheap and it wouldn’t have cost Yamaha much to include the cable, especially seeing as the speaker costs £400 to purchase. As the speaker takes an aux 3.5mm input, I feel that this is something that should have been included. I would have also liked to have seen some sort of protective cover or “pouch” – mainly to prevent dust settling on it, if the speaker is not used for a prolonged amount of time. It would have been a nice touch to have it included and again something I would have expected in a more premium product like the LSX-170.
Overall, I felt a little disappointed by the overall amount of accessories included with the speaker. I felt Yamaha didn’t really pay much attention to what you out the box, which is a shame.
Build Quality & Features
The build quality of the speaker is extremely good. The speaker has a good weight to it, as one would expect with 9+3 cm drivers. With its solid weight and design, the LSX-170 really does boast a lot of good build quality traits, however is let down by its lack of features.
First of all, I found it disappointing not to have found any buttons, both on the speaker unit and the remote control to control the music – by that I mean there’s no way to play/pause, skip/previous and stop music via the speaker or the remote control. To me this is basic functionality that can be found on a cheap £15 Bluetooth speaker – so I’m not quite sure why Yamaha left out such a vital feature. A lot of people might not have their devices at hand and/or want to be using it when they could be using the speaker/remote control’s functionality to do it.
I personally would have really like to have seen it included with the remote control, it would have made the functionality and comfort of the speaker a lot better.
Continuing with its features, I feel that the positioning of the 3.5mm aux connection is very odd. I’m not sure why Yamaha thought it would be a good idea to position the aux cable input at the bottom of the speaker, rather than on the side of the unit. This means that actually interacting with the speaker via a 3.5mm jack manes you have to completely turn the speaker over in order to access the port – whereas all the controls of the speaker are positioned near the side of the speaker. When I asked Yamaha about the inclusion of an aux cable, they stated that it wasn’t really designed to be used with a 3.5mm aux input – which I could understand, but find it disappointing, knowing that a lot of people might actually opt to use the speaker via a 3.5mm jack rather than via Bluetooth.
Speaking of which, the Bluetooth was a little hit and miss with certain devices. It didn’t seem to work that great with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, however my with mother’s Oppo Find 7 worked flawlessly. The range therefore was really dependent on the device – with around 5m via my Note2, and over 20m with the Oppo Find 7. I’m not sure what was the cause – as it could be my device, therefore I won’t really critique it. However, I should state that the speaker is using Bluetooth 2.x, rather than the newer 4.x version. This isn’t a big deal, considering it doesn’t affect range, but in terms of power consumption for the source it does affect it – so I’m yet again not sure why Yamaha have cut costs and not offered a new iteration of Bluetooth. It should however be stated that the Yamaha LSX-170 comes with Apt-X technology, which is fantastic for listening to your music without worrying about quality being lost over Bluetooth. Apt-X transmits at CD Quality, meaning you can enjoy your music as you would over earphones (of course if you have FLAC or similar, then of course they’ll be a difference, but technology doesn’t really exist for that just yet and/or isn’t in high demand to be used in mainstream devices).
Overall the Bluetooth functionality of the LSX-170 is a good, but could have been a lot better, especially given its high price tag.
To round off this section, I would just like to mention the buttons again and the remote control.
The buttons on the side of the speaker allow you to adjust the volume, brightness of the lights and to switch on/off the speaker and/or the lights.
As a note: Due to EU regulations the speaker has an auto standby time-off. This can be disabled by holding the light on/off button for 10 seconds. After having the speaker burning-in with music playing constantly, the standby time was around 4-5hrs.
The speaker also has an IR receiver, which is used for the remote – the placement again from Yamaha isn’t great as it’s downward facing, meaning it is hard for remote to actually communicate with the speaker. I found that I often had to hold it in the right line of sight to the speaker, in order for it to actually respond to my remote commands.
Finally, due to the power cable exiting from the bottom of the speaker and if you were to use the speaker with a 3.5mm jack, it would mean the speaker wouldn’t be perfectly levelled on the ground, due to the very small clearance it has via its small little legs.
Overall the build quality is very good, but the features are somewhat lacking and furthermore weren’t always well thought-out by Yamaha. Most of these things are fundamental flaws by design and/or a lack of inclusion due to Yamaha not thinking of it. At its given price range, I find it a little unacceptable for the LSX-170 to be lacking these features, especially seeing as this speaker is meant for people in the high-end Hi-Fi market.
Design & Looks
There are a few things here that really overlap with the build quality section, such as the placement of the aux input. In this section however, I want to speak more of the overall look of the speaker and the usability of it. In this respect, I found the only real thing missing was some sort of handle in order to carry the speaker around. I do know that people won’t be actually carrying the speaker that often, but in order to move it in anyway, you have to pick up the speaker as if you were carrying a heavy box. It would have been nice to have some sort of small handle included in order to make it a little more convenient to pick up and move around.
Other than that, the speaker looks extremely beautiful – from the top the speaker has a unique UFO-esk look to it which is created by the lights and its overall shape.
Looking at this speaker is like looking at a work of art, and that’s due to the unique speaker cone design it has located at the top of the LSX-170. It’s light hue as well really reminds me of a tube amp, which is always a pleasant sight. More on this design in the sound quality section.
The speaker also comes in three different colours, Black, Champagne Gold, Bronze – the version I was sent was the Black version and it looks fantastic.
Overall the speaker looks really beautiful, no matter where you put it. I find it really does bring an element of class and also has a wonderful design that can really be admired. It does however have design flaws, where were pointed out previously in the build quality section of this review and I feel it does let the speaker down.
The sound quality for me is the most important part of any audio gear, especially speakers. The price tag of the LSX-170 is quite high and I therefore set a high benchmark for it – as at that price tag you can buy a lot of good audio gear.
The most special feature the LSX-170 has is its truly unique 360 sound. The sound really comes from everywhere and it’s the only speaker I’ve ever come across to have a truly 360 sound, which doesn’t degrade as you move around it. It’s sensational how Yamaha have been able to reproduce such excellent sound no matter what position you’re in with the speaker. This all comes down to the cone shape located at the top of the speaker, which is not only perfect in terms of projecting a full 360 sound, but also doubles up in terms of the looks and the design of the speaker.
I should also say that the sound of the speaker can be EQ’ed via the free DTA Controller App. I shall mention my thoughts of the EQ through each section below.
The lows are definitely the biggest talking point of the speaker’s sound quality. They sound absolutely phenomenal! The sub-bass is well extended and very well pronounced, the mid-bass has a very healthy slam that really gives off a floor shaking sound.
In terms of criticism, at its given price range, I could say that the mid-bass isn’t that controlled – the bass could be tighter and a bit more refined.
In terms of EQ – I really felt I had to reduce the low-end impact that the LSX-170 had, as it was really overshadowing the mids. Via the app, I reduced the lows by 4 notches, which reduced the mid-bass quantity by a significant amount. Out-the-box, it’s a little confusing as to why Yamaha chose to have a speaker with a lot of bass, rather than a speaker that’s more flat sounding and neutral. I presume this is to give the speaker a bit more warmth and a fun sounding signature, but the bass is so prominent that it becomes overdone and actually ruins the overall sound experience.
The mids out the box are greatly overshadowed by the mid-bass. However, with a little EQ, the mids come to life and produce a decent sound. They’re far from being perfect, as they still, even with a little EQ are a little pushed back. With that said, the mids on the LSX-170 are able to produce a good sound, which therefore make it a speaker which is capable, rather than one that isn’t. In other words, what I’m trying to say is that with a little bit of EQ the mids are able to produce a good tone. Usually, it’s often the case where the mids are pushed back because they’re not capable of producing a good sound – this wasn’t the case with the LSX-170. It should be said that the mids aren’t perfect, even after being EQ’ed, but are still well above average.
The highs are really nice – especially when coupled with that 360 design, which allows the highs to bounce off the cone of the speakers and produce nice cymbals. I did notice the highs slightly rolling off, at the very top of their extension and thus the reasoning behind the rating, that can be found below.
Overall, the mids are decent although would have been a lot better if it wasn’t for the prominent mid-bass the LSX-170 have. As for the highs, they were really a stand-out performer due to the design the speaker boasts.
As you could have probably guessed, I was extremely impressed by the soundstage that the speaker had to offer. The sound is extremely wide, very well separated and more so really one of the best pieces of audio equipment I’ve come across that give off a truly 360 sound. Unlike other advertised speakers that supposedly have a 360 sound, this LSX-170 really does produce a 360 sound like no other. Due to this the soundstage performs really well and the music separation is really impressive.
Sound Quality Ratings
Overall, the sound was quite low-end orientated, but with a little bit of EQ, I found the speaker to sound a lot more flat. It’s a little shame that the speaker by default has a lot of emphasis on the lows as it drowns out its mids, which are pleasant to hear.
Conclusion & Closing Thoughts
In conclusion the LSX-170 is a great sounding speaker, that really does deliver a truly beautiful 360 sound. Its design is to be really admired and I can see this speaker being placed in any home and being a talking point. It’s truly a beautiful masterclass by Yamaha. However, at its given price-point I find this speaker is appealing for a niche market – those wanting a good looking, 360 sounding speaker that sounds good, albeit not perfect. At £400, I expected to be really blown away by everything the LSX-170 had to offer. Unfortunately, there were quite a lot of flaws that could have been easily fixed by simply taking a step back from the speaker and thinking about how a consumer would use this on a daily basis.
To summarise it, I feel that the LSX-170 will appeal to a few handful of people in the market for a speaker, but its real market lies with people looking for a 360 sounding speaker that has a real stand-out look. It would be criminal to say its looks over sound, but in this respect, at its given price-point, I feel that Yamaha have marked up the price, due to its style, rather than its raw sound quality and included features. This speaker could have been better, but for the time being I’m still blown away by its 360 sound. It’s definitely a speaker I would recommend to anyone that has an expensive taste for a designer-esk speaker.
Hope you enjoyed my review!