YSP-1100 Listening Tests - Music
As always music is an important part of what we do here at
Audioholics. It was important, to me at least, to see how well the Yamaha YSP-1100 would handle
surround music as well as stereo. With a unique system such as this I was curious and quickly fired
up several different discs and tracks with which I was very familiar.
High Resolution 96 kHz/24-bit PCM Stereo: Jonathan McEuen
On this album (which also has surround sound tracks) I wanted to see how well high resolution stereo played back on the Digital Sound Projector. The first track "Two of Us" is a beautiful song and I felt that the quality of sound reproduction was very good. Vocals lacked any boxiness that plagues certain systems. The soundstage was pretty narrow, but this was a two-piece acoustic session. In any case, engaging Stereo +3Beam mode widened the stage significantly and recessed the vocals ever so slightly so that they were front and center, but no longer directionally coming from the exact center of the speakers (actually a nice effect).
"You Will Always Win" is another acoustic piece (the basic and successful format for this album) that really came though with solid main vocals and well-blended backing harmonies. I flipped this disc into surround mode "I just couldn't resist" and settled back to hear the differences between authentic surround and the Stereo + 3Beam mode. Wow. Immediately I could hear the natural room reverb on my right and left. Jesse Siebenberg's backing vocals too, on a more open and airy sound and the mix suddenly felt "right". I felt as though the sound was now truly in three dimensions instead of two and the Yamaha seemed to really excel at bringing through this new type of "boundary-free" surround sound.
Just a couple more songs- "Lowlands" is tied for my favorite track on this album and I have heard it now on several different loudspeaker systems in several different rooms- numerous times. The YSP-1100 put forth a very different experience, but one that again was convincing and completely without boundaries. Violins were in the room and vocals had good separation. The banjo had that solid fingering sound and the bass wasn't missing the lower midrange tonality that I experienced on other systems. If you want a more defined surround field then direct radiating speakers will deliver that to you, but the immersive feel of the Yamaha was something to behold.
High Resolution 96 kHz/24-bit PCM Stereo: Jonathan McEuen
Wow, with an immense soundstage this album really takes off. There seemed to be a slight mid-bass emphasis that is more noticeable without a sub than with one (and you really have to have a sub with this system- have we beaten that into your head yet?) "Two of Us" had a realistic guitar sound and vocals, while a tad bit sibilant, had a natural quality. If McIntosh can use a hundred and ten drivers in a single cabinet and charge $40k, I suppose it's possible for Yamaha to get $1,600 worth of excellent sound out of 42!
"Ocean" features acoustic bass and a gentle guitar intro with solid, heavily reverberant, vocals. As the reverb is natural and not an effects box, this was a good demonstration of the YSP-1100's best effort to fill my reference system with a nice, smooth and reverberant sound. It accomplished the goal and soundstaging was wide and open. Nothing seemed out pf place or forced by the system. Yamaha seems to have found a very natural method of steering the channel information where it needs to go. As with the other discs, a parallel setup was clearly superior to the corner placement- again due to the wider front soundstage which is hard to reproduce in Stereo + 3Beam mode.
Marbles on the Road
Marillion is cool. They just walk out onto stage when they play- no fanfare needed, just excellent performances and talented musicians. From the opening number, crowd noise filled the room- though it didn't quite make it behind me- likely due to the corner placement and room/wall issues. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track on this DVD is a "stage mix" where you are in the audience, so everything is pretty much up front with ambience and crowds in the "surrounds." For this type of music, the Yamaha seemed to do very well. Steve Hogarth's voice was clear and natural. Drums and cymbals came through with a nice edge and no audible distortion or lack of upper midrange. Guitars had a good clean and crisp top end and the synths seemed to exude a gentle reverb that leaked into the listening room along with the watery vocals of the first track, "The Invisible Man".
is one of my favorite tunes and man did it
sound good on the Yamaha. With the room full of Hogarth's lyrics and the melodic guitar line
following through in crisp detail I thought this was one of the coolest ways I had yet experienced
this disc. When the chorus kicked into its jazzy crescendo I felt the overall presence in the room
step up a notch. The mix took on a fuller feel and the YSP-1100 reacted to the additional surround
info and poured it into the listening environment.
DVD: Marillion Marbles on the Road (parallel placement)
On this disc the surrounds were not changed as much- crowd noise was still well-place and evident from the opening of the song through each interlude. The front imaging, again, was much more convincing and realistic. The 5Beam mode is clearly a winner here and it does amazing things with music DVDs. As Marillion's Steve Hogarth sings the opening track in his sultry voice, bass and synthesized guitar effects permeated the room and generated a very full mix. As I skipped to "You're Gone" I realized that I hadn't really checked out the DSP modes of the YSP-1100. I tried out the various Music modes and made some notes (you can switch back and forth from each mode and "Off" quite easily):
Concert Hall: Adds more front channel information into the surrounds and also adds a reverberant delay. The front vocal is a bit less "centered" with the DSP on and it seems to get sent, to a greater degree, into the left and right channels.
- Jazz Club: Vocals remained anchored in the front center of the soundstage, though they were pulled a tad into the surrounds. Guitars were more present in the surrounds and the soundstage appeared to be a bit wider overall. It is a good effect and does seem to recreate a more "live" environment without bringing in too mush reverb.
- Music Video: This DSP mode seemed to almost squash the sound a tiny bit. In a sense it decreased the sound stage and the overall fidelity- which I suppose would blend quite well with many of today's pathetically obtuse and poor quality music videos. This mode had the least effect on the original sound.