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Since the advent of Plasma and LCD, big-screen TVs can fit just about anywhere you stick them. However, it’s an entirely different story when it comes to home theater systems. They generally require more space and a true surround sound experience takes some time to set up. 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. Like the Sony HT-ST5000 – Best Atmos Soundbar.
Yamaha’s YAS-101 is the cheapest of their soundbars, 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 a 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. Speaking of subwoofers, learn all about the best subwoofers. 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 connecting the port to play nice with other Yamaha gear, two optical inputs, a sub out, and 1 coaxial digital connection.
Related: If you like this soundbar, you might be interested in our Yamaha Yas 203 Sound Bar With Wireless Subwoofer Front Surround System review.
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. They’re nothing like the finest floor-standing speakers, which take up considerable space.
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 the maximum.
Related: Also check out our Vizio SB4021M A1 Home Theater Sound Bar review.
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 of sound are somewhat 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 speakers to my ears.
I also tested the YAS-101 with a variety of music and was impressed with the playback quality. I almost preferred the YAS-101 when I had jams pumping through it. Bass response was sharp and the room felt full of 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 addition to any TV in a bedroom or a place that can’t support a larger setup.
Bottom line: Good bang for the buck, looks nice, but don’t ditch your surround speakers since this won’t be able to match or replace that audio experience.