YSP-4000 Listening Evaluation and Conclusion
I connected my Denon DVD-3910 via optical into the YSP-4000 and left the HDMI connection going to my Denon AVR-2307CI (which is powering my RBH TK-5CT tower mains, TK-515C center, and Axiom QS-8 surrounds). I connected the Axiom EP500 directly to the YSP-4000 which gave it a bit of an advantage while doing the direct comparisons - especially for movies. This setup allowed me to switch quickly between the YSP-4000 and my reference system by only hitting the mute button on both remotes at the same time. I used the AVIA center channel test tones and RS SPL meter to level match both speaker sets.
DTS CD: Don
Henley: The End of the Innocence
This was one of the oddest DTS CDs I'd ever reviewed in that it had two flavors of audio quality - Audio Nirvana and Audio Nervosa. The tracks that are good are REALLY good while the tracks that aren't… well they REALLY aren't. Needless to say, I will occasionally stick in this CD just for the Nirvana songs. The first track, "The End Of The Innocence", is probably one of my favorite songs to show off my system with because people immediately "get" it. The envelopment is so convincing, so realistic that it literally makes listening to the song in any other way sort of a travesty. That is why I choose this track to see how well the YSP-4000 would perform.
Honestly, not well. The way I had everything set up, I could literally flip between the two speaker systems with the press of two buttons. But I didn't need it. The difference between the 5.0 speaker system and the YSP-4000 was night an day. While the 5.0 system enveloped me with sound and presented clear vocals and instrumentations, the YSP-4000 seemed thin and lifeless. The highs were muted, the vocals recessed, and even with the addition of the sub (which the 5.0 didn't have), the bass seemed hollow and fake. Even later when I set up the YSP-4000 in a different room, I experienced many of the same problems (though the envelopment was much better). In my experience, the YSP-4000 just doesn't have what it takes for multi-channel music.
Bang & Olufsen Vol. XIII – The Sound of Perfection
Not wanting to give up on the YSP-4000 for music all together, I stuck in one of my favorite stereo CD's. While the differences between the 5.0 system and the YSP-4000 were night and day on the multi-channel music, with a stereo CD (and playing in stereo), the YSP-4000 held its own. The soundstage was narrower (as one might expect from a single speaker solution) but the sound quality was nice. I sound myself enjoying the stereo experience enough that I didn't want to switch it off. Once I did, the 5.0 system's extra-wide soundstage impressed me as did the fuller midrange but not so much that I felt the YSP was lacking. I would have little problem using the YSP-4000 for stereo music reproduction
The last movie in the Spiderman series (Spiderman 3 never happened as far as I'm concerned), I love to use this one for surround sound testing. The scene where Doc Ock is in the hospital and they are about to cut off his arms (Chapter 17: Horror Hospital) is full of dedicated surround effects that either makes or breaks the scene. As I flipped between the 5.0 system and the YSP-4000, I was impressed with how well the YSP-4000 held up. While the dedicated surround effects were muted and a bit diffused, the overall sensation of surround was presented well. I had such a good time watching this scene that I just kept it playing and finished off the movie. That happens a lot to me.
I also flipped between the surround modes. As expected, the 5-Beam was having a hard time getting the sound all the way around me. The My Surround mode presented a more enveloping experience though the surround effects were much more diffuse. What I knew should be off my left shoulder ended up generally behind me. I imagine in a different room you're going to find that your preference might be different. To test this, I took the YSP-4000 briefly into my bedroom which has all four walls (I didn't move the sub). There isn't a display in there so I just had to listen to the movie. Sure enough, the 5-Beam presented an astonishingly convincing surround experience. While in my normal room the 5-Beam sounded like all the sound was in front of me, here, it was as if I had installed a full fledged surround system. Obviously, the YSP-4000 is really geared toward a room like this.
If you are a fan of those cheesy martial arts movies they used to show after Saturday morning cartoons, you're probably going to like Seven Swords. The plot is thin (to the point that you wonder if they just left something out of the translation), the characters two-dimensional, and the weapons varied. You spend the whole movie wondering just what is going on other than the one thing you are sure of - lots and lots of people are dying. In many different limb-rending ways. You know you've got campy-martial-goodness when one of the bad guys beheads someone with an umbrella. There ought to be a drinking game.
The real surprise of this movie (which probably indicates that someone is taking this movie WAY too seriously) was the DTS soundtrack. Of course it is only for the Mandarin/Cantonese language track but that's OK. I prefer subtitles anyhow. The YSP-4000 had no problem enveloping me in sound especially during with the music and general background effects. Again, much like Spiderman 2, the dedicated surround effects were diffused using the My Surround mode. As I switched between the 5.0 system and the YSP, it was clear that some of the sounds that were supposed to be directly over my shoulder were just generally behind me. The vocals and front three channels were all presented very convincingly.
The YSP-4000 was placed in an environment that I would never suggest. To say that it has been pushed to its limits is probably an understatement. But did the YSP-4000 pass? In my book - yes… for movies. There are some seriously cool features of the YSP-4000 like one of the easiest setups I've ever had to do, the super convenient My Beam, and the single speaker(ish) solution. Are you going to need a DVD player or other source? Yes. Are you going to need a subwoofer? Definitely. But for movies, what you'll get is a convincing facsimile of surround from a single source, undeniable cool factor, and convenience galore. If your room is better than mine (which wouldn't be hard) you'll probably have a very good surround experience. Doing the duties of five speakers and a receiver, the YSP-4000's price tag seems a bit steep until you factor in the convenience factor. For those that can't, won't, or aren't allowed to run wires, that convenience is worth its weight in gold. It's also a nice way to set up a minimalist system that perfectly matches a nice flat panel TV. For those that can and will run wires and like to see their speakers, a dedicated speaker system is definitely the way to go especially in a less-than-ideal room.
Electronics Corporation, USA
6660 Orangethorpe Avenue
Buena Park, CA 90620
Yamaha Electronics Corporation (YEC), USA, based in Buena Park, California, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha. YEC offers Home Theater components and systems, featuring A/V Receivers, Amplifiers, DVD/CD, Speakers, Mini-Systems, Video Projection, as well as A/V & IT Convergence Products.
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