When it comes to sound bars, Yamaha is best known for their pricey and powerful models. Despite the high price tag, critics praised models like the Yamaha YSP-5100 for their excellent sound quality and virtual sound processing. Yamaha’s next big step is to tackle mainstream consumers that don’t exactly have $1,000 to spare on a sound bar. Yamaha has responded by launching the Yamaha YAS-101 and Yamaha YAS-201 models. The YAS-201 is the Yamaha’s cheapest sound bar that comes with an active subwoofer.
For a budget product, the Yamaha YAS-201 looks sleek and elegant. The glossy piano-black finish gives the sound bar a premium edge and should pair nicely with any modern TV display. The included template for drill holes also enables you to hang the sound bar to a wall. A nice idea in creating a minimal setup involves wall mounting your TV and hanging the sound bar just below it.
The active subwoofer that comes with the YAS-201 has its own amplifier making the sound bar as a whole superior to the YAS-101 in terms of surround sound projection. It has a pretty standard design but you have better flexibility when it comes to placement since it wirelessly links to the sound bar.
Another nice component that is built into the sound bar is a TV remote repeater. This addition lets you place the sound bar right in front of the TV even if it blocks the display’s sensor. You should be able to use your TV remote since any infrared signals get forwarded to the obscured sensor. With the learning function, you can use your TV remote to operate the sound bar as well. Wireless transmission utilizes Yamaha’s own in-house technology called yAired. yAired keeps the signal transmission in its lossless state so it sounds as if your mobile device is wired directly to the sound bar. It also properly synchronizes the sound with movie visuals.
Compared to some of the cheaper sound bars, the Yamaha YAS-201 actually has fewer features since the main goal of this sound bar is to provide great audio fidelity at a budget price. This isn’t the sound bar to get if you are looking for expanded connectivity like HDMI ports and Bluetooth. The YAS-201 only features 2 digital optical inputs so you have to rely on your TV’s ports if you want to hook up other components.
If you want to stream audio from your iPod, iPhone, iPad or ordinary computer, you need to purchase the Yamaha YIT-W12 wireless transmitter which unfortunately costs $59. Also take note that the adapter isn’t compatible with any iOS devices such as the iPhone 5 equipped with the new Lightning port. On the upside, audio quality isn’t sacrificed if you take the wireless streaming approach.
The Yamaha YAS-201 is a step down from sound bars with superior audio quality like the Yamaha YSP-4300. But YAS-201 still sounds very impressive thanks to the way the sound bar was constructed. The dual 2-1/8” cone speakers are equipped with large magnets to churn out very clear sound. Unlike the cheaper YAS-101, there is no built-in subwoofer since a discrete one is included. This wireless subwoofer reproduces deep bass a lot better as it uses Yamaha’s proprietary Advanced YST II technology. This technology cancels out impedance by making the speaker and amplifier work in unison. As a result, the power consumption is a bit higher (17 watts for the front speakers plus an additional 45 watts for the subwoofer).
The other included technologies also help boost the audio experience. This includes support for DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital formats which allow any movie soundtracks that use multiple channels to sound really lively. You can even recreate a 7.1-channel environment without adding dedicated surround speakers using the Air Surround Xtreme technology. This virtual sound field really works and you can notice distinct effects that move smoothly as the movie progresses.
UniVolume is also a helpful addition if you frequently switch channels or input sources. This technology tries to balance the volume levels so you won’t be overwhelmed with unexpectedly loud sounds after switching source. This also remedies the annoying issue of loud commercials. This is a nice plus for all those late night listeners that want clear dialog even at lower volume levels.
For a sound bar that does not have built-in Bluetooth functionality, $449 is a bit pricey. There are already sound bars that come with wireless discrete subwoofers and are priced at $299. But if you want superior audio quality over extra stuff, the Yamaha YAS-201 is still a worthy consideration. It is the little brother of the Yamaha YSP-2200 which costs twice as much. Yamaha’s own YAS-101 is another good product with nice audio quality and the same limitations but the YAS-201 is the better choice if you need that deeper bass.
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