Yamaha’s popular entry-level sound bar, the Yamaha 101, has been respectfully retired from service. Taking its place will be the upgraded model 103, slated for release later this month.
The principal upgrade to the 103 is the welcome addition of Bluetooth streaming for wireless music playback – something that is a near prerequisite in the increasingly competitive market of supplemental home theater solutions. With the addition of Bluetooth, the 103 will also be able to take advantage of Yamaha’s wireless streaming app, which allows for remote control of select features from your smartphone, and access to a bevy of adjustable parameters.
Internally, the 103 will be almost the exact same animal as its predecessor. Like the 101, it offers 7.1 virtual surround via Yamaha’s proprietary Air Surround Extreme DSP system, DTS and Dolby decoding, dual full-range drivers, and dual down-firing subwoofers in a ported reflex design that allows for powerful bass response without the need for a separate subwoofer.
The unit also carries its predecessor’s substantial selection of input options including dual-optical digital inputs, a coaxial digital input, and an analog input. Proving it’s still in the entry-level segment, the 103 doesn’t add ARC HDMI support, which allows for easy single-remote control from your TV remote, among other benefits. However, it does have the ability to learn select commands from your TV remote, and also sports an IR repeater to pass signal along to a TV’s infrared input if the bar gets in the way – something often reserved for mid-level sound bars and above.
The bar also supports Yamaha’s Univolume system, which lowers the effect of powerful changes in volume shifts from commercials, or loud action scenes.
Perhaps most importantly, the 103 holds onto one of the most appealing features of its forebear: a low price. At $300, it is an extremely affordable way to supplement the paltry sound of your flat screen’s audio.
You can take home a Yamaha 103 for your very own before the month is out.