|Price: Price: $1,900 (YSP-4100); $300 (YST-SW315)) yamaha.com/yec|
|• (40) 1½-in beam drivers; (2) 4½-in woofers; 120 watts (total) amplifi er; decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks; Dolby PLIIx processing; Sirius satellite radio-ready
• YST-SW315 subwoofer: 10-in woofer; 250-watt amplifier
• Dimensions + Weight Soundbar: 40½ x 81/8 x 3½ in; 22 lb
• Subwoofer: 13¾ x 17 x 15 in; 42 lb
In Yamaha’s parlance, it’s a Digital Sound Projector — and the YSP-1400 soundbar does have a distinctive look, with an expansive punched-metal grille, loads of essential control buttons, and an informative display. Its back panel is as complex as that of some A/V receivers. For example, there are no fewer than four HDMI inputs (along with an HDMI output). There’s even a jack for an FM radio antenna, and it’s Sirius XM-ready. Simple metal brackets are used for stands, and an optional SPM-K30 wall mount ($80) is available. A full-featured remote is included.
This soundbar’s features are quite extensive; suffice it to say that the lengthy owner’s manual is supplied on a CD-ROM. Most important, it employs 40 individually powered tweeters and two individually powered midrange drivers. This array is used to create “beam modes” that can convey sound-field width and depth that few other soundbars can hope to match. The YSP-4100 also provides some extras that you might not expect from a soundbar. First, it includes a PDX- 50TX wireless iPod dock. This docks your iPod and transmits its output at a range of around 66 feet to the soundbar. Moreover, the PDX-50TX is powered by the iPod; you get about 10 hours of airtime from a fully charged ’Pod. Other extras include the PDX-50BC iPod charging cradle and the SWK-W10 wireless subwoofer kit, which receives subwoofer audio data from the soundbar and outputs it to any powered subwoofer, also with a range of about 66 feet. The iPod dock and subwoofer kit are pretty slick. But, of course, they effectively increase the price of the YSP-4100 package. So make sure you intend to use them before picking this system.
Before auditioning the Yamaha YSP-4100, I plugged in the supplied microphone and ran the IntelliBeam auto- setup routine, which optimized frequency response/ channel delay for my listening room and seating position. That small chore quickly completed, I settled in for some quality listening.
I have reviewed several Yamaha soundbars and have never been disappointed with their fidelity; the YSP-4100 was no different. Powerful piano chords on Duffy's "Mercy," from Rockferry, were conveyed with real clout, while the more subtle brass stabs were crisp and punchy. The hard-hitting snare on this track had plenty of bite but did not cross the line into harshness. Phoenix's "1901," from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, is filled with musical nuances such as finger-licking guitar picking, dry vocals, and bouncy synths, and the YSP- 4100 excelled at reproducing all of these details.
The beam modes in Yamaha's Digital Sound Projectors are their claim to fame. I've been blown away when hearing these in other Yamaha soundbars, and I got the same exciting result here. The sound field created by the array of independently powered drivers extended well beyond the bar to either side of my listening position, with some cues coming from behind me. Yamaha isn't overstepping when it calls these soundbars "sound projectors." Simply remarkable.
Yamaha also sent along its YST-SW315 subwoofer. This full-featured model has a down-firing 10-inch driver and items such as a continuously variable highcut filter and phase-reversal switch so that its output can be precisely matched to the soundbar. It was an easy task to plug the SWK-W10 wireless soundbar kit to the sub and run my usual setup procedure. The sub provided a rock-solid foundation for the muscular lead guitar in Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," from Only by the Night. Likewise, bass guitar and drums sounded authoritative in Phoenix's "Lisztomania," with good upper- bass punch. This is a reasonable pairing, but given the bar's spectacular performance, you might consider springing for an even better subwoofer.
Big-canvas movies like 3:10 to Yuma and The Dark Knight were gloriously reproduced by the YSP-4100. Whether it was the spatial effects of the off-camera chugging of a steam locomotive or footsteps echoing in concrete jungles, its beam modes performed brilliantly, creating a wide and deep sound field. The bar's sound field is not as enveloping as a true 5.1 speaker system, but it certainly spreads far and wide. Other soundtrack attributes such as dialogue intelligibility and music score reproduction were also first-rate.
Since Day 1, Yamaha has been known as a leader in soundbar technology: The ability of its Digital Sound Projectors to project a realistic surround sound field is unmatched. If you're looking for a good soundbar and have the cash but not the time to research your purchase, just get a Yamaha. You won't be disappointed. The YSP-4100 is yet another successful entry in the company's soundbar lineup.
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