Yamaha YHT-S400 Soundbar HTiB First Look
- Product Name: YHT-S400
- Manufacturer: Yamaha
- Review Date: January 04, 2010 02:00
- MSRP: $599.95
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
System Frequency Response 35 Hz–20 kHz Front Speaker System: NS-BR300 Type Acoustic Suspension Driver 1-1/2" x 3-3/4" cone x 3 Dimensions (W x H x D) 31-1/2" x 2" x 2-3/4" Weight 3.4 lbs. Subwoofer-Integrated Receiver: SR-300 Maximum Power Front Speaker System 50 W x 3 (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD) Subwoofer 100 W (3 ohms, 100 Hz, 10% THD) Type Bass Reflex Driver 5" cone woofer Dimensions (W x H x D) 17-1/8" x 6" x 14-1/4" Weight 19 lbs.
How compact can Home Theaters in a Box (HTiBs) get? Yamaha is pushing those limits with the new YHT-S400 Soundbar, receiver, and subwoofer solution. Yamaha has combined its thinnest soundbar with a combo receiver/subwoofer. That's right a receiver and subwoofer in one box.
The soundbar included with the YHT-S400 is the thinnest in its arsenal at only 2 inches high and 2.75 inches deep. The speaker can be wall mounted or shelf mounted. The feet can be adjusted vertically and horizontally or removed depending on the user's needs. The speaker measures 31.5 inches wide which is just about perfect for most 50" flat panels.
The YHT-S400 soundbar is not like the digital projector offerings from Yamaha. While the digital sound projectors use a vast array of small drivers to bounce sound around the room for a simulated surround effect, the YHT-S400 soundbar has three drivers in an LCR (Left, Center, Right) configuration. Instead of bouncing sound around the room, they use DSP (Digital Signal Processing) in the form of Air Surround Xtreme to simulate surround sound. This is a "phasy" solution that changes the phase of the drivers to fool the listener's ear into thinking sound is originating from someplace other than the speaker. This type of technology has been around for a long time and is highly dependent on the quality of the speakers for optimal effect.
The driver configuration with the YHT-S400 soundbar consists of three 1.5" by 3..75" cones (presumably oblong in shape) being pushed by 50 watts each. Of course, that 50 watts is at 1kHz and with 10% THD (or only slightly overdriven). The speaker weighs only 3.4 pounds so should be no problem to hang on a wall even with just drywall anchors. The acoustic suspension design means no ports.
The receiver/subwoofer combo of the YHT-S400 is certainly unique. We don't often see those two peices of gear mated. This is not just because the last thing you want in a receiver is something to shake the internals loose, but also because receivers are meant to be put on shelves, often in cabinets. That is usually the last place you'd want to put a sub. But if space is at a premium, well... we'd still find a way to make it work but that's why we're Audioholics and would never consider such a system.
But for those that aren't and are, we suggest that you keep the YHT-S400's receiver on an open shelf preferably as far away from boundaries as possible. With the front port of the bass reflex design, you'll at least not have to worry about keeping it off the wall. But side boundaries may create bass bloat. That being said, Yamaha may have had in-cabinet placement in mind when they designed the YHT-S400 and could be counting on it when they rated the system down to 35Hz. Honestly, they only gave the total frequency response without any qualifications do don't be surprised if the system doesn't perform in your room as well as you'd expect (it will probably outperform what we expect but we don't expect much).
The sub part of the receiver consists of a 5" driver pushed by 100 watts of power (again rated with 10% THD). On the receiver side, you've got 3 HDMI inputs and one output and a number of sound enhancement modes. From Yamaha's feature list, it is clear that the YHT-S400 won't decode any of the newer HD audio formats but will accept them via HDMI (meaning it has version 1.3 inputs). Of course, legacy Dolby Digital and DTS modes are decoded natively. The enhancement modes include the already mentioned Air Surround Xtreme for pseudo-surround, UniVolume for maintaining a consistent volume across content (basically to keep commercials from blowing you out of your seat), Compressed Music Enhancer for all your MP3 needs, and a handful of other DSP modes. While the packaging may make it sound like the YHT-S400 is iPod and Bluetooth compatible out of the box, these actually take additional add-ons. This is standard operating proceedure for Yamaha and is in place with most of its receiver offerings.
While it is sort of obvious that we dissapprove of mating a receiver and a subwoofer, the rest of the YHT-S400 package sounds pretty good. The soundbar should work well under most flatpanels (though it probably looks best under a 50") and the receiver has enough functionality for most first time buyers. As long as the sub doesn't rattle the shelf too much, buyers will probably be impressed. The downside to the convenience of this (or most for that matter) HTiB solution is that there is no ability to upgrade. If something goes bad, you're pretty much stuck replacing the whole thing. For $600 retail, you better be sure this is the solution you want to live with for a long time. If not, better to look at one of the other offerings by Yamaha (or others) that can be expanded as your tastes and your budget changes.