If you want the best sound-bar experience available and don't mind paying for it, reviewers say the Yamaha YSP-4100 (*Est. $1,700) is the cream of the crop. It's big and very expensive, but its integrated amplifier delivers strong, clear audio and an expansive virtual surround-sound field -- after you complete an extensive setup procedure. The sound bar doesn't include a subwoofer; critics say it sounds just fine without one, but sounds magnificent with one, and Yamaha includes a kit in the box that can turn any subwoofer into a wireless model.
The other selling point for the Yamaha YSP-4100 is its features. In addition to the wireless subwoofer link kit, the sound bar sports a bevy of ports (including HDMI 1.4a with 3D pass-through and audio return channel), onboard decoders for digital HD audio, a satellite-ready FM tuner, 1080p video upconversion capabilities, an automatic speaker calibration function and the ability to stream music from iOS devices with an optional adapter.
If you don't need all the bells and whistles, the slightly cheaper MartinLogan Motion Vision (*Est. $1,500) is worth a listen. It doesn't come with a subwoofer either, but experts say it produces excellent, decently chest-thumping audio just as well as the Yamaha YSP-4100. The Motion Vision has the ability to decode HD audio, but lacks HDMI ports and has a longer, slightly confusing setup.
At the cheaper end of the premium spectrum is the Yamaha YSP-2200 (*Est. $800), which is much smaller than the others and includes a discrete subwoofer connected by a 4-foot cord. The audio is great for TV and movie viewing, complete with decent simulated surround sound, and the automated audio calibration makes setup a breeze. However, the simulated surround isn't quite as flawless as the more expensive sound bars, and the Yamaha YSP-2200 doesn't play stereo music very well.