Yamaha YSP-1 First Impressions
Years from now home theater enthusiasts may be reading whole articles on the available models within the Digital Sound Projector category. For the present though, there exists only the category-defining Yamaha YSP-1, a brilliant marriage of compact form with simply amazing multi-channel synthesis capability.
When we first heard Yamaha's demonstration of the YSP-1 at the 2005 CES we were fairly impressed. I remember noting at the time that the demo space had no roof. So the ambient noise level that is CES was at its usual 75DB or so. In fact, that was one of the most striking aspects of this demo. Instead of trying to construct an acoustically-correct sound room for their demo Yamaha's crew seemed to have wanted to do the exact opposite. Construct a topless room with simple, hard walls made of 1/2" ply. There were large openings at the two back corners through which dealers could walk in and hear the demo. Hmmm... what was up?
And the demo... I had heard demos like this in years past with any number of electronic-only methods of phase alteration and what-not that could throw simple sounds like birds chirping up and behind you - provided you sat in an exact sweet spot. So given the high ambient SPL from the CES crowd-noise and what seemed like a "parlor trick"-style demo on first listen, I was kinda-sorta impressed but not overly so.
Then, listening a bit longer while still facing forward I began to notice the spread of the rear soundstage. Sure the content was the usual thunder storm or chirping birds in a forest, but the sounds were definitely not coming from a tinny little HTIB speaker mounted to the wall. Rather, the sound was spread out, maybe four feet wide over my left and right shoulders. And it seemed to exist, not glued to a speaker source on the wall, but floating out in the open space behind me. It was audibly located perhaps a foot forward of the plywood-wall, open-ceiling juncture.
Two other interesting and new-to-me surround phenomena seemed to be taking place. First, because of the open ceiling, CES' ambient crowd-noise now became the ceiling! The YSP-1's surround sound did not blend with the crowd-noise. Instead, the surround image stayed fixed within the confines of the four-wall plywood room.
Secondly, the quality of the bird tweets and thunderstorm seemed to sound much more like the real thing. Since the whole Audioholics crew was hearing this demo at the same time, I tempered my enthusiasm for the moment while we politely requested a sample for review.