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Yamaha YAS-103 Sound Bar Preview

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Yamaha YAS-103 Sound Bar

Yamaha YAS-103 Sound Bar

Summary

  • Product Name: YAS-103
  • Manufacturer: Yamaha
  • Review Date: February 26, 2014 14:00
  • MSRP: $299.95
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • Dual built-in subwoofers for rich bass without the clutter of a separate box
  • Easy set up with a single-cable connection to your TV
  • Bluetooth wireless music streaming from a smartphone or tablet
  • Free control app available for Apple iOS and Android™ devices
  • Learning feature lets you use your TV remote to control volume
  • AIR SURROUND XTREME provides immersive surround sound
  • Clear Voice makes dialogue easy to hear
  • UniVolume keeps programs and ads at a consistent volume level
  • Built-in IR flasher ensures reliable remote control even if the sound bar blocks the IR receiver on your TV
  • Drivers - 2.5" front, 3" down firing
  • Dimensions - 35” x 4-1/4” x 4-3/4” (With stands/brackets), 35” x 3-5/8” x 4-1/2” (Without stands/brackets)
  • Weights - 8.8 lbs.

Executive Overview

There are two kinds of sound bars - standard sound bars and surround sound bars. A sound bar is a method of increasing the intelligibility of your display speakers while the surround sound bar does that but also attempts to present a full surround experience from a single bar. For most people, a sound bar is the best solution. They often put a display in a large room with lots of hard surfaces. While this might look nice, it isn't very good acoustically. The size of the room can swallow bass and the reflections can kill the user's ability to understand the dialog. Our preferred solution is a full home theater speaker system with room treatments but not everyone can, or even wants to, do this. A sound or surround bar is a good solution when all you need is a bit more volume and bass.

Yamaha's YAS-101 was a huge success for the company. This sound bar sported a single, "full-range" driver at either end of the face with two downfiring woofers for additional bass. Yamaha has decided to build on this platform with the YAS-103 by adding a number of features normally found in more expensive sound bar offerings.

yas103_front

YAS-103 with remote

To start, the YAS-103 has two 2.5" front firing "full-range" woofers. These are located at either end of the front face of the sound bar. The great distance between the two allows for the best possible stereo image and largest sweet spot. There are downfiring 3" drivers (two of them) and sidefiring flared ports for additional bass. The YAS-103 comes with removable feet for tabletop placement or brackets for wall mounting. The YAS-103 weights 8.8 pounds and is 35” by 4-1/4” by 4-3/4” with stands/brackets.

The back has a number of inputs including stereo RCA, dual optical digital audio, and a single coaxial digital audio input. The YAS-103 is compatible with Dolby Digital and DTS. As part of the new features, the YAS-103 is now Bluetooth compatible. This allows you to connect to the YAS-103 wirelessly from your portable device. Using Bluetooth Ver. 2.1 + EDR / A2DP, you can stream content to the YAS-103 and control it with Yamaha's control app. We've used this app before and it works well and only requires a Bluetooth connection and not Wi-Fi. With the app, you can adjust input selections, surround modes and other settings from Apple iOS and Android devices.

yas103_back

YAS-103 back - inputs and wall mount bracket

The YAS-103 is more than just a sound bar, however, as Yamaha has included their AIR SURROUND XTREME DSP for simulated surround sound. Also, Yamaha has included a number of convenience features that many will appreciate. Clear Voice makes it easier to hear dialog, UniVolume combats volume spikes during commercials, and Advanced Bass Extension Processing extends bass in surround mode. A learning feature allows the YAS-103 to pass-through IR signals from the front to the back of the unit (there is a flasher back there) for installations that block the IR input on your display. 

One feature we were sad to see go was a dedicated subwoofer output. The YAS-101 had a subwoofer output while the YAS-103 trades it for the RCA analog input. We can see the decision behind that as people are much more likely to need an additional input rather than a subwoofer output. 

Conclusion

Honestly, we like the YAS-103 as a sound bar solution rather than a surround sound bar. With wide placement of the full range front drivers and downfiring woofers for additional bass, the YAS-103 should present a fairly wide soundstage and large (as possible with a sound bar) sweet spot. At $300, it is certainly priced competitively considering it has Bluetooth streaming and app control. If the YAS-101 was a good seller for the AV giant, the YAS-103 at the same price should fly off the shelves.

For more information, please visit www.yamaha.com.

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About the author:

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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