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CNET First Look
Yamaha YAS-101Yamaha's YAS-101 is a great budget sound bar, with an excellent design and a helpful feature for dealing with remote signals, although it's light on connectivity.
Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET and we're gonna take a look at the Yamaha YAS-101 sound bar. Now, there are a ton of budget sound bars on the market right now and they can all start to look the same but the Yamaha here is actually worth checking out. It's $250 and Yamaha made two smart design choices with the YAS-101. The first is a longer back. It has a built in IR repeater. So if you're sound bar is blocking your TV's remote sensor, the Yamaha actually shoots the signal alpha back to your TV. Now that's a great solution to a problem that a lot of people have with sound bars and it's actually the first products we've seen that has that kind of feature. The second smart move is that the Yamaha has a built-in subwoofer instead of a separate sub. That cuts sound and the clutter even more because even though most sound bars have wireless subs these days, you're getting where of another box in your living room. And even without the separate subwoofer, the YAS-101 actually sounds pretty good when you compare it to other budget sound bars. We have it stacked right up against the Energy Power Bar which has a separate sub and while the Energy did make more base, the Yamaha actually sounded better overall especially on movies and TV shows. A budget sound bar is never gonna replace a real home theater system but it does make a big difference over the built-in speakers on your TV and for a lot of people, that's gonna be good enough. The main draw-back on the Yamaha is connectivity. There are only three digital inputs on the back. There are no HD line inputs and no analog audio inputs. Now, you could still use devices that only have HDMI or an analog audio connection but you're gonna have to route everything into your HDTV first. So the Yamaha is not gonna work if you wanted to make a direct connection. It also doesn't have any wireless audio streaming features like Bluetooth or Airplay which is showing up on a lot of sound bars now. So if you wanna stream music directly from your smart phone or tablet, you're gonna need another device to use with the Yamaha. Still, those shortcomings are pretty minor and overall, the Yamaha YAS-101 is one of my top sound bar picks. That solid sound quality, the helpful remote control signal pass through and the convenient built-in sub all for $250 which is a pretty great deal. I'm Matthew Moskovciak for CNET and this is the Yamaha YAS-101.