The Yamaha YAS 101 sound bar has been out for a while. When the YAS 101 first came out it offered a unique design. The first sound bars that were released several years ago had thin enclosures that offered above average sound quality. Later designs included a separate subwoofer that help give sound bars a fuller and richer sound. However, the addition of a subwoofer meant that users had to find a home for the large black boxes somewhere in their room. The Yamaha YAS 101 was one of the first designs to incorporate the subwoofer within the sound bar enclosure. This design is starting to catch on as evidenced by Bose and Zvox, both of whom have done something similar with their pedestal designs. The Yamaha YAS 101 doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that some models have such as bluetooth, but it makes up for this by offering admirable sound quality.

 

 

Yamaha YAS 101 Design and Features

The Yamaha YAS 101 is shiny, very shiny. The slender frame of the 101 is encased in a high gloss finish which gives the unit a quality look and feel. The Yamaha YAS 101 measures about 35″W x 3.5″H x 4.5″D and weighs a little over 9 lbs. A closer look at the 101 and you’ll find that it has two 3 inch woofers and two 2.5 inch full range drivers. The front of the Yamaha 101 is clean, uncluttered, and has the normal accoutrement of buttons on the front which includes controls for; volume, input select, and power.

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Unlike some of the more recent entries in the sound bar arena, the Yamaha YAS 101 doesn’t include bluetooth or offer AirPlay support. However, a feature it does include is an IR repeater. Despite what TV manufacturers would lead us to believe, most people do not hang their TVs on their walls. Most of us use a TV stand of some sort to set our flat paneled TVs on. That being said a re-occuring problem with sound bars is that they often block the IR receiver on TVs when they are placed on the same stand as the TV. The YAS 101 alleviates that problem by including an IR repeater so if you press a command on your remote for the TV, the 101 will automatically relay the signal to the TV via a set of IR blasters positioned on the back of the 101.

 

Turn the Yamaha YAS 101 around and you’ll uncover what may the biggest weakness of the unit. Connectivity options for the 101 are a slightly limited. If you look at the back, you’ll see that it offers only 2 optical digital inputs and 1 coaxial digital inputs. The 101 does not include HDMI and more surprisingly, it doesn’t include any analog connections. The remote for the 101 is serviceable. It includes all of the buttons you would need to control the unit. The button layout could be better, but it works.

 

Yamaha YAS 101 Performance

The Yamaha YAS 101 with it’s built-in subwoofer does provide a surprisingly good amount of bass. With it’s small enclosure the amount of bass it can provide at high volumes is limited in comparison with a unit with a separate subwoofer. Taking that into consideration, the 101 provides a nice thump at normal volume levels. To test out the Yamaha 101 we used three of our favorite blu-rays; Star Trek: Into Darkness, Master and Commander and The Avengers. All of these movies are heavy on action so we thought they would give the 101 a proper shakedown.

 

Right off the bat we noticed that the Yamaha YAS 101 has a nice full sound. The bass it produces isn’t room shaking, but it’s above and beyond what most TV speakers can offer. The overall sound quality was well balanced. The 101 never seemed overly bright and dialogue came across as detailed and accurate. On some of the most intense action sequences the Yamaha YAS 101 wasn’t able to deliver the same gravitas that a beefier system is capable of but it performed well. One of the things we did notice is that the 101 may struggle in larger rooms, but if you plan on placing it in a small to medium sized room it should perform well. Yamaha’s Air Surround Xtreme mode offered a wider sound field. While not providing a true surround experience, the widened sound field of the Surround Xtreme mode was more enveloping. The UniVolume setting also evened out the sound so there weren’t any jarring volume increases when we were going from different audio sources. This is especially helpful when watching TV.

 

Conclusion

The Yamaha YAS 101 is a nice sounding sound bar. Any one that’s tight on space may want to give the 101 a good close look. Although it doesn’t have the punch that a system with an exterior subwoofer does, it still provides ample amounts of bass. The 101 sounds great in small and medium size rooms, but if you’re dealing with a larger room you may want something that provides a little more oomph like the Harman Kardon SB 16, but expect to pay more. The omission of bluetooth may be a negative for some, but the inclusion of an IR repeater will be far more useful for most.

 

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