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4 out of 5 stars
Yamaha ATS-1010BL Factory Refurbished Front Surround System
Price:$139.95 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2012
Verified Purchase
I felt it was important that I write this review as I saw very few mentions of the B-Stock/Refurbished items in the previously existing reviews.

Let me break down my purchase process for this sound bar.

Personally, I would have much rather bought a full 5.1 or greater surround system with a proper receiver, but my better half was unwilling to deal with the size of a receiver or wires and extra speakers for a proper surround system, which left us with the option of a good sound bar. Being that a decent 5.1 Onkyo system was available at the same time for less than the cost of this and many other 'good' sound bars I was unwilling to pay the 'new' price, so the fact that this came in-stock from Amazon in a B-Stock / Refurbished option was a definite life and sanity saver.

In choosing this sound bar I went to a local big-box electronics/appliance chain that had all of the options I was considering set up and ready to test.

My options were:
1: Yamaha ATS-1010BL
2: Sony HT-CT150
3: Samsung HW-E450
4: Sony HT-CT260
5: Samsung HW-E350

My requirements were few. It basically needed to have better sound than the built-in speakers on my LG HDTV, have an optical input and cost less than $180.

These requirements immediately disqualified the Sony HT-CT260 although I kept it in the running mostly because it had excellent sound and was on sale at the local chain where I was testing these items out at. It was over budget and that did eventually lead to me removing it entirely from my consideration, although had I the additional budget it would likely have been a strong contender. Once considering adding a separate sub to the Yamaha it would put both the Sony and the Yamaha in the same class, likely moving the Yamaha slightly ahead because of clarity of sound, especially in music.

The Sony CT150 was another I considered however, but I found the sound from the actual bar to be quite muddy and unclear, especially when compared to the Yamaha, although the sub was definitely sufficiently powered.

Third, the Samsung E450 was a good sounding bar for the price, but the included sub was definitely underpowered. Why is this important you ask? Especially when considering the Yamaha has no separate subwoofer. The reason this is important is because the Yamaha has a built-in sub, and even includes an output on the bar for an external sub that I may later add. The sub for the Samsung is not replaceable as it is wireless and synched to the system.

Fourth, the Samsung E350. This was simply underpowered overall. Bass was non-existent and it sounded very tinny when compared to all of the other systems.

So why did I choose the Yamaha?

The reasons are these:

First, the sound was excellent and very clear without being tinny, especially for a bar that has no external subwoofer, however the option to add a subwoofer in the future is definitely appealing to further bolster the lows provided by the system.

Second, the capability of the bar to learn the volume and power from my existing TV controller was an obvious benefit. Rather than having to use the deck-of-cards style remote or even a larger remote that I would have to reprogram for my TV and Cable was an added benefit. Reprogram one thing with guaranteed functionality rather than 2 things with questionable functionality while losing capability.

Third, I simply like the styling of this device, the Sony HT-CT260 is very strange looking with its octagonal bar design, and the CT150 is just boring looking. I have no issues with the aesthetics of the Samsung soundbars.

Finally, the price, especially that of the B-Stock/Refurbished one was right on par. Cheaper than all the rest and still including a 1-year warranty was an obvious benefit. The sound from it is superb and it is impossible to tell that it was not sold as 'brand new'.

There are some minor cons to this device.

First, if you're looking for HDMI, this doesnt have it, although I would argue that if HDMI is that important to you, you should be looking for a true receiver and speaker system.

Second, the virtual surround option that this sound bar supplies can be nice, but you must be sitting directly in front of it. In addition, if there is a lot going on (such as an action scene in a movie), it can lead to some muddled sound. I've found that since our seating is off-center, leaving the bar in stereo provides clearer sound.

Finally, though not a con in my book, is the lack of a subwoofer. If you absolutely require one, you can purchase it separately, although I feel that it is not a dire need with this bar as it provides sufficient bass until I find one that is in my price range and am ready to purchase it.

With all of these things in mind, I feel this was definitely a worthwhile investment, especially considering the price and ability to later add on a sub, to provide the best of both worlds. The clarity of sound of a higher-end sound bar, as well as the bass of an included subwoofer.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2013
Verified Purchase
Very unhappy with this allegedly "refurbished" product. There was no remote, no manual, no cable, and not even any proper packing. Just the speaker dropped into the box with some packing bubbles. I don't know if this is due to Yamaha or Amazon, but it not the product as described here.

I haven't had time to test it yet, nor have I contacted Amazon for a replacement, so I may update this later. For now, extremely disappointed and feeling ripped off.

Update:
-------
I contacted Amazon to exchange this "refurb" for a new one. This was completely painless (other than me choosing to scrounge up some better packing material). Amazon sent another unit immediately, and arranged for UPS to pick up the old one. This took only one business day: I contacted Amazon on Friday and received the replacement on Monday. That is truly excellent service, kudos to Amazon.

I'm also happy to report that the second unit is exactly what I wanted. It appeared to be in new condition, with all original accessories and factory packaging. Everything works correctly. The sound is quite good for what it is. No, it's not suited for a real home theater, but it is a huge step up from typical TV speakers.

I have one complaint. One of the key reasons I selected this speaker is that Yamaha claims to support remote control learning, i.e., one can program it to work with the TV or satellite remote. This is important to me because I don't want yet another remote cluttering up our bedroom. I want the simplicity of controlling volume using the same remote I normally use.

Unfortunately, the learning programming feature doesn't work very well. I'm using this on a Samsung television with a DirecTV receiver. This speaker apparently cannot be programmed properly for either remote. It would not recognize the Samsung remote at all. I tried several times, but the speaker didn't respond.

The DirecTV remote does work ... almost. I was able to successfully learn Power and apparently Volume. When I tried to use Volume, however, only the Volume Down side worked. When I pressed Volume Up, it still turned the volume down. So, I tried to reprogram only Volume Up. It worked, turning up the speaker correctly. Sadly, Volume Down also now turned the volume up. I tried several times but could only get one of the two to work.

Plan B: the DirecTV remote is partly programmable. I tried to program it to send Yamaha codes. This didn't work either. None of the Yamaha codes worked with this speaker.

I found on the Internet that the problems with Samsung and DirecTV remotes is well know. I consider this a significant design deficiency. Given the popularity of Samsung televisions, and the millions of DirecTV remotes in the wild, both should be fully supported. I am deducting one star for this defect.

There is a happy ending, however. One of the links I found led back to an Amazon review for a similar Yamaha speaker, reporting the same issue with the DirecTV remote. One very helpful person, "Brian B.", responded with detailed instructions on how to program the DirecTV remote to control the Yamaha. I have no idea how he learned the procedure or where he got his codes, but they work! We can now control Volume Up, Volume Down, and (partially) Mute. Here is that review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3O4GRRULJXFUG

The only glitch for us is that we can use Mute to silence the speaker, but not to restore it. We have to use Volume Up instead. That's a minor issue.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2013
Verified Purchase
I rarely buy refurbished products. In this case the one-year Yamaha warranty won me over; most refurbished products I've seen come with only a 90-day warranty. Unfortunately I didn't get one of the refurbished units that are indistinguishable from new. Mine was well packed, but it didn't have the transparent sticky film still attached, and there are noticeable scratches and fine scrapes on the sound bar's black plastic finish. I also noticed that the optical cable lacked the plastic caps that so many reviewers remind you to remove. Initially the cosmetic damage disappointed me, but it's only noticeable on close examination for signs of previous use. If I'm just watching TV or admiring my smart purchase from more than two feet away, it looks great.

What convinced me to keep this sound bar, of course, is the sound it puts out. I have a 39" Sharp Aquos LC-39LE440U TV (keep reading for further comments related to this TV model), and the improvement in sound the Yamaha sound bar provides is incredible. The bass is more than adequate for my needs, providing a cinema-like entertainment experience. I'm playing an R&B CD on it as I type this, and the music sounds great as well. I found setup to be quite straightforward; all features work as described. Some channels I watch blast commercials at an excessive volume. That has always annoyed me to no end -- to no end until now, that is, because this sound bar's remote has a "UniVolume" button that eliminates the problem. When I first set the sound bar in front of my TV, the TV didn't respond very well to its remote because the sound bar was blocking the signal. As soon as I activated the sound bar's TV remote control signal transmission feature, that problem was solved too. I didn't need to use the audio delay control, because all of my video played in sync with its audio on the first try.

The trickiest part about setting up the sound bar was figuring out how to get the sound from all of my entertainment devices to play through it. My Sharp Aquos TV has three HDMI jacks, but the sound bar has none. The sound bar does have two optical inputs (labeled TV and BD/DVD) and one coaxial digital input (labeled STB). My TV has a coaxial digital output, but this output DOES NOT put out the sound brought in via the HDMI connections (Sharp's instruction manual verifies this; I have no idea if it is industry standard behavior -- comments, anyone?). Essentially, this meant that I needed to get the sound to the sound bar from sources other than the TV. Fortunately, my cable box and DVD player have optical outputs. I'm planning to buy a cheap Sony Blu-ray disc player that has a coaxial digital output. That will cover me for Blu-ray disc viewing of course but also for using services like Amazon Instant Video, i.e., my remaining TV audio needs. As for the buttons on the Yamaha remote, I'll have to press STB to hear sound from the Blu-ray/streaming video player, BD/DVD to watch anything from my DVD player, and TV to hear sound from my cable box. This setup won't be 100% intuitive for my parents when they visit, but that's nothing new, and I'm sure they'll be able to cope!

If you think you want this sound bar I say go for it--it has far exceeded my expectations.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2013
Verified Purchase
This is more than good enough if you want to de-clutter and use a single equipment to play audio for your TV. Just make sure that the internal sub-woofer is turned "ON" as is the case when I just got mines. Was reading the manual that came with it to try and turn it on with no success. Eventually found an updated manual with a correction as to which buttons to press to turn it back on. Not the kick @$$ bass of a Bose but like I said more than good enough. Bought it refurbished like new from Amazon Warehouse Deals and have no regrets.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2013
Verified Purchase
As a music and movie lover who lives in a second floor apartment with early-to-bed neighbors, I was desperately on the hunt for a compact sound system that rocks during the day and plays clear quiet voices at night. I am SO HAPPY with this purchase.

The dual driver subwoofer packs just enough punch to drive home clear, kicking bass without hearing enraged wall pounds from the neighbors (though I'm sure if I turned it to its full potential, I might have some angry calls on my hands). My music sounds better on this sound bar than it does on my Jambox, in my car, or even on my $70 headphones.

At night I watch a lot of Netflix and previously had a lot of issues hearing what the heck people were saying on my TV's speakers. I would turn up the volume to hear the voices, and then, inevitably, a bunch of loud crescendos and screams would startle me into a panicked hunt for the remote to turn everything back down. The Uni Volume and Clear Voice settings on the ATS-1010BL have solved this incredibly annoying problem! I hear voices clearly without having to blast the volume, and those horror-movie scare sounds are now equalized properly with the volume of everything else. Finally, I can watch Supernatural, Criminal Minds, and all my other favorites without one finger on a volume rocker.

The height of the sound bar would be my only complaint. I imagine if it's mounted on a wall, the size is not a big deal, but when it's placed on the same surface as your TV, there are potential problems to be had. The sound bar, with its feet installed (which you will need if you're not wall-mounting), is tall enough to obstruct the bottom of my large flatscreen TV. This makes it harder to line up the sensor to turn the TV on and off, etc. but is not a deal breaker. Fortunately, it is not so high that it is obstructing the picture.

I always get a little skittish about "Refurbished" products, but I've had my Refurbished ATS-1010BL (which I bought from Amazon's Deal-of-the-Day) for a few weeks now and experienced no problems whatsoever.

Anyone looking for a compact sound system that packs a punch, has clear sound, but won't simulate an earthquake unless you're specifically trying to create one, this is an EXCELLENT buy for your money (especially when it was Deal-of-the-Day).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2013
Verified Purchase
The product is okay. A low cost sound bar that is marginally better than most built in sound systems. But to register this product, just to access tech support questions or download a full manual, Yamaha obnoxiously demands access to an online account. For gmail, for example, it wants:

More info

View your name, public profile URL, and photo

View your gender and birthdate

View your country, language, and timezone View your private Buzz posts

Create and manage posts

View and manage your list of Buzz followers and people you follow

View your email address

View, manage, and create contacts and groups in your address book

Even after that, it demands you post personal financial and personal information. Even when I chose "other," it flashed back to that screen and demanded specifics about "other." My first and last yamaha product.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2012
I bought this instead of going for a full surround system because I didn't want to deal with running wires. I figured i'd give it a try and if I wasn't satisfied try a ZVOX or something else. Given some of the negative reviews I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality. Let's be clear, this is not and will never be surround sound, no matter how hard they try to convince you it is. There is no discernible surround quality that I could hear. But that said, it absolutely blows away the speakers on my Samsung 46" LCD, which is really what I was looking for to begin wtih.

The bass is not that rich, but it is there and the voices are very clear. I don't hear the "tinny" quality some others have mentioned, but if you like a booming bass, you should look elsewhere. I find a heavy base distracting when I'm watcing a movie, so this is a very nice alternative.

The set up is ridiculously easy and I really appreciated that they included the optical cable in the box. The lack of HDMI ports, while not a huge deal for me, could be annoying. I have everything connected to the tv though so it isn't really a factor for me.

The unit looks good and is short enough that it doesn't block the remote sensor on the TV, though Yamaha has dealt with that well with the pass-through.

One thing I like is that the unit has a connection for a separate sub woofer. I own a nice one, so I connected it, but I found for just watching TV, i really don't need it.

The bottom line is for less than $200 this will greatly improve the sound on your TV and won't cause you any headaches with the set-up. If that's what you're looking for then I'd say definitely buy this. If you're looking for cheap surround sound, don't bother, this isn't it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
Verified Purchase
Super nice sounding and looking, a huge improvement over the lame entry level sound bar I replaced (I wish I would have been tuned into this Yamaha bar from the start). Easy to set up and use with very good bass response (for not having a sub, which I have no room for). I have no idea of what the competition is at this $ level, but I'd be surprised if anyone makes a better sounding bar at this price--I'd buy this again without hesitation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
Verified Purchase
I ordered this "factory refurbished" unit when Amazon put it on sale under "Today's Deals". I've ordered factory refurbed items in the past, but Yamaha's definition of factory refurb must be different from everyone elses. The soundbar arrived with the faceplate looking like someone had dragged it accross concrete. Which is pretty bad for an item that has a black, glossy finish. I just put it back in the box without trying to hook it up. Yamaha should be embarrassed for trying to resell this item in this condition. Judging by all the other single star reviews, I'm not alone here. My advice is, stay away from the factory refurb.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2013
Verified Purchase
Same issue as the other negatives...scratched up unit, no remote, manual, optical cable, completely a waste of time. I could have spent the $40 more to get a brand new one.

Disappointed Amazon...
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