By Ben Bowers
on 9.12.11

Most TV speakers have the acoustical chops of a cowbell orchestra. We put up with them simply because alternatives are pricey, bulky, and a pain in the ass to install in a clean and proper manner. The Yamaha YAS-101BL Front Surround System improves on these common drawbacks in several ways. It’s relatively easy on the wallet and designed to provide 120 watts of 7.1 audio from a single soundbar and built-on 60-watt subwoofer. Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 surround-sound decoders are embedded, while a UniVolume feature maintains a constant volume, effectively muffling blaring slapchop salesman during commercial breaks. Integrated IR learning and a rear-facing IR blaster make the device remote-friendly too, since the YAS-101 can relay IR signals to the TV in the event it’s blocking the set’s main IR eye. Measuring 35 inches by 4.25 inches (or 4.75 inches on a stand), it’s perfect for smaller bedroom TVs. Inputs a are little slim with room for two optical and one coaxial — but for $300, it’s not too shabby.

Buy Now: $300

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