AV Systems Guide

Yamaha TSX-140 Desktop Audio Speakers review

Yamaha TSX-140 Desktop Audio System - A Good All-Rounder

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Earthy and Organic design
Good all-round audio performance
Versatile audio system
Bass has an airy quality which is off putting at times
Remote not up to expectations


** Updated on 1st November 2011 from a re-test of the product**

Living Up to Its Billing?

The TSX-140, like its companions from the Yamaha docking speaker lineup, is meant primarily for your bedside based on the fact that it is equipped with IntelliAlarm. But seeing that it is also fitted with a CD player, FM Radio capabilities and good hardware it does make a case for being used in different settings. From our tests we found that it has good audio reproduction from its excellent set of speakers. It's certainly good enough to act a a desktop audio system or even serve a small room. The detailed score card on the previous page and the summary audio performance scores below speak for themselves.

Summary of Audio Performance Results
Test Type Score
CD Audio Testing (movie soundtracks) 8.5
CD Audio Testing (orchestral soundtracks) 8.5
MP3 Audio Tracks Testing 8.5
Overall Audio Performance  8.5

Decent sized 80mm drivers and a digital amplifier drive its audio output while bass reflex port technology ensures that the bass is atmospheric and greatly improved as compared to smaller models from the series. While it does have a slight airy quality to it, the characteristic can be a boon when listening to atmospheric, ambient tracks. At the same time the docking speakers display the best qualities of Yamaha speakers by providing clear, resonant highs and trebles. And with simple equalizer controls integrated, anyone can adjust the dock's sonic output quality to their liking. Just don't count on its remote to be a good sidekick.

But does the TSX-140’s performance and features justify the S$639 price tag that Yamaha is slapped on it? The price point is not in the same ballpark as some renowned models like the Bose SoundDock 10 and Bowers & Wilkin Zeppelin, both of which represent the pinnacle of current docking speaker solutions. While they cost nearly twice as much and offer even better performance, S$639 of the Yamaha TSX-140 is no small change either and you would be justified to expect bang for your buck.

On the whole the Yamaha TSX-140 hits all the marks expected of a docking speaker system and then some more. Its unique design will be a conversation starter and the ceramic clay finish is bound to lend an earthy, organic and natural feel to its surroundings. It also boasts the required hardware specs to be classified as a premium compact desktop audio system. Not to mention the array of features that extends its usability beyond just a docking speaker. While the inclusion of a CD player is a nice touch, we feel that it would only be attractive to those who already own a significant CD collection that hasn't yet been converted to other forms of storage. USB connectivity and auxiliary input ensure the dock stays versatile for most needs. And rounding up the list is FM Radio and IntelliAlarm functionality.

But the price of the Yamaha TSX-140 prevented it from completely winning us over. Procuring one would a serious outlay for anyone and we feel that the audio performance, which was no doubt quite good, does not merit a S$639 valuation. The docking speakers work well in small spaces but will definitely struggle to fill a larger space with sound. Due to the rectangular nature of the design, you can also expect significant distortion of the soundstage if the listener was walking around; say in a party environment where the TSX-140 was being used to play music. The TSX-140 also faces competition from our Tech Awards 2011 winner, the Philips Fidelio Primo DS9000 that lists for only S$699 and offers performance equivalent to the top dogs. It is however a pure docking speaker solution only.

Don't get us wrong though, the Yamaha TSX-140 is still a very good product - especially if you are in need of an all-round versatile desktop audio system. However, if your needs are more defined, there are others that can offer better for not much more. In any case, as long as you're gunning for a standalone desktop audio system solution above the S$500 mark, the Yamaha TSX-140 should be on your evaluation shortlist. If only it retails a tad lower than its current list tag or if it featured wireless playback options, its price could be just right for its capabilities.