If you want the best possible sound-bar experience out there -- and don't mind paying as much as you would for a cheap used car, and living with a sound bar that's bigger than most adult's legs -- the Yamaha YSP-4100 is an excellent option, with superb sound and numerous helpful features.
Sound bars don't get better than this. The Yamaha YSP-4100 is as large as it is because the bar houses an integrated subwoofer, a digital sound processor and numerous sound drivers and includes 40 -- yes, four oh -- speakers that are directed by Yamaha's Intellibeam technology to place surround-sound effects more precisely than any other virtual surround-sound system, with excellent audio quality to match. Only the MartinLogan Motion Vision (*Est. $1,500) comes close to delivering the same experience, reviewers say, though that sound bar lacks the Yamaha's bells and whistles.
Bulky, but beautiful. There's no two ways around it: At over 40 inches long and 8 inches deep, the Yamaha YSP-4100 is big. Very big. However, reviewers appreciate its looks, and an automated calibration function will have you up and running smoothly in minutes. The sound bar is chock full of ports for all your connection needs, as well. While a subwoofer isn't included -- and not all think one is necessary -- Yamaha does put an adapter into the box that lets you wirelessly connect any subwoofer to the YSP-4100.
More features than you can shake a stick at. No sound bar comes close to matching the Yamaha YSP-4100 feature-for-feature. The sound bar includes HDMI ports with full 3D pass-through and audio return channel support, digital decoders for Blu-ray audio, a satellite-ready FM tuner, the ability to upconvert analog video signals to 1080p for HDMI output, IR pass-through and wireless iOS device compatibility with an optional adapter.
Premium, but powerful. The sound bar is insanely expensive, but it's also insanely capable. It's up to you to decide if that's a worthwhile exchange.
Make no mistake: The Yamaha YSP-4100 is one of the most expensive sound bars you can buy. But for that price, you get the best-sounding, most feature-packed single-box home-theater solution available. The Yamaha YSP-4100 sits firmly at the top of the sound-bar market, both in price and performance.
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The Yamaha YSP-4100 earns a strong rating at CNET. Cost is an obvious negative, as is height, because the system is tall enough that it could become an issue if placed in front of a stand-mounted HDTV. Still, Matthew Moskovciak says that this Yamaha sound bar is one of the few that "actually does a credible job of creating virtual surround-sound effects." Sound quality is very good with movies and music, with enough bass that a subwoofer, though helpful, isn't absolutely necessary.
Review: Yamaha YSP-4100 Review, Matthew Moskovciak, June 9, 2010
2. AudioVideo Revolution
Though Todd Whitesel doesn't rate or rank the YSP-4100, he is sufficiently impressed to say he highly recommends it despite the high price. Unlike some, he suggests that a subwoofer is essential to enjoy everything that the sound bar has to offer.
Review: Yamaha YSP-4100 Digital Sound Projector Review, Todd Whitesel, July 27, 2010
3. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision
Like all of What Hi-Fi?'s reviews, this critique of the Yamaha YSP-4100 is very brief, but it touches on all the major highlights and lowlights of the sound bar. The editors at this U.K-based site award it a perfect 5-star rating, saying "it offers a great mix of performance, features and usability."
Review: Yamaha YSP-4100, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Not Dated
This brief review is features-based with no sign of hands-on testing. Still, Robert Silva is impressed enough with the potential of the Yamaha YSP-4100 to place it first on his list of top sound bars, ahead of some that he's clearly put through their paces. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Best Sound Bars, Digital Sound Projectors, and 3-in-1 Speakers, Robert Silva, Not Dated