Since the advent of Plasma and LCD, big screen TVs can fit just about any where you stick it. However, it’s an entirely different story when it comes to home theater systems. They generally require more space and for a true surround sound experience take sometime to setup. As a result sound bars have surged in popularity in the last few years and now the marketplace is littered with a myriad of options.
Yamaha’s YAS-101 is the cheapest of their sound bars, yet still packs an audio punch that is most certainly a notch above any TV’s built-in speaker system. But the real question is whether it will play complement to your big screen investment.
Housed inside the glossy black box are two 2-1/2” cone speakers with a dual-driver (3” cones) subwoofer. It’s all driven by a built-in digital amplifier with a total output of 120w. On the right side of the box is a bass reflex port to help with the lows, which Yamaha says is shaped like a trumpet bell to help reduce wind noise and ultimately improve sound quality.
The YAS-101 is far from a feature rich soundbar, though Yamaha was sure to include a few of the standards. These include compatibility with Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound, a clear voice option to raise the level of the dialogue and a Univolume option that maintains a consistent volume between different channels, scenes or even commercial breaks. They’ve also tossed in a mini, yet underwhelming remote and an optical Toslink cord. The front is adorned with your usual buttons, such as volume, power and input and includes a few glowing LED indicator lights. The rear boasts a system connect port to play nice with other Yamaha gear, two optical inputs, a sub out and 1 coxial digital connection.
The YAS-101, like all soundbars is designed to be placed in front of the TV or mounted just below it on the wall using the built-in “keyholes” – you’ll just want to remove the feet before doing this. In the event you place the soundbar in front of your TV and cover up your display’s IR port, the YAS-101 is capable of passing on the commands to the TV. That said, the soundbar is also capable of learning your TV’s remote control power and volume functions with a few key presses.
In the event you’re looking for some added lows, the YAS-101 has a subwoofer input for adding extra oomph to your audio experience. But as far as I’m concerned Yamaha’s soundbar produces a fair amount of bass, especially considering its rather slender size. Though, the only way I could experience it, was by cranking the subwoofer volume to maximum.
Sonically the YAS-101 is very capable given its low price tag and size. However, it most certainly won’t replace a full home theater system for a variety of reasons. Why? Its amplitude and spectrum is sound is some what limited. I had no problems watching TVs and movies, but I most certainly was left yearning for more. I also wasn’t able to detect, as in hear, any surround sound, virtual or not, so for all intents and purposes it served as a set of stereo speaker to my ears.
I also tested the YAS-101 with a variety of music and was impressed with the playback quality. In fact, I almost preferred the YAS-101 when I had jams pumping through it. Bass response was sharp and the room felt full with sound, unlike my TV’s speakers, which are tiny and anything but a practical resolve to listening to tunes. That said, placing the YAS-101 on a counter, as opposed to wall hanging it, should improve the bass output since its woofer is of the downward firing ilk, giving it something to reflect off of.
For $250 I really can’t complain or wax poetic about Yamaha’s YAS-101. It’s easy to operate and while it won’t replace a full home theater setup anytime soon, it’s a great add to any TV in a bedroom or a place that can’t support a larger setup.
Yamaha YAS-101 Soundbar Bottom Line: Christen Costa 3.5 5.0 Good bang for buck, looks nice, but don’t ditch your surround speakers since this won’t be able to match or replace that audio experience.
- Good bass response considering its size
- Well built with a black glossy piano finish that gives it a high perceived value
- Easy to setup and use
- No detectable surround sound
- Subwoofer must be cranked to 100% to hear it