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Yamaha YHT-S400 Soundbar - No space? Want Home Theater Surround Sound?

I own a high end Yamaha receiver and love it.  As a result I like to follow what they are doing.  I noticed this.


Yamaha YHT-S400 Soundbar HTiB

Now, what we have here is a Digital receiver that claims 7.1 Surround sound using one speaker, commonly placed above or below your flat screen TV.  While this isn't unheard of, there is a new addition that I haven't seen before.  The Subwoofer is built right into the receiver.   Below I've included the features as stated from Yamahas' website, followed by my review of the product.




Advanced Features

    * UniVolume keeps volume during TV programs and commercials at the same level
    * HDMI CEC functionality
    * Built-in FM tuner
    * iPod compatibility via optional Yamaha Universal Dock YDS-11
    * Bluetooth compatibility with Yamaha Bluetooth® Wireless Audio Receiver (YBA-10)
    * Compressed Music Enhancer and four surround modes

Convenient Placement

    * World's slimmest Sound Bar* (2" high) can be placed in front of most TVs
    * Feet can be adjusted horizontally and vertically, for use with TVs from 32" to 50"
    * Subwoofer-Integrated Receiver allows one-cable connection

    * No additional speakers needed
    * According to Yamaha data collected in July 2009.

HD Sound Quality

    * HD Audio compatibility (Linear PCM)
    * 1080p-compatible HDMI (3 in/ 1 out)
    * Digital amplifier built-in (250W total power: 50W x 3 + 100W subwoofer)

Surround Realism

    * Yamaha’s Exclusive AIR SURROUND XTREME
    * Yamaha exclusive 24kHz HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function)
    * Yamaha exclusive Extended Stereo for well-defined sound location



Looking at the features it doesn't even appear to support TRUE HD/DTS HD or any of the new formats; it accepts PCM audio enabling it to play the raw data but it uses "Air Surround Xtreme"(just sounds whacked) to play it.  It does claim to perform 7.1 surround (with realistic rear sound)but in my experience with other 1 speaker systems claiming this, the only people who give them good reviews are the people who wasted their money on them.  Lets be realistic the bar is 2 inches high meaning the 3 speakers inside are less than 2 inches high each.  I should be less critical though, this has been designed for those who want simple plug in and press play technology and it is just that.

In my opinion and experience, nothing beats having solid power and separate speakers.  However the unfortunate fact of the matter is that apartments and others dealing with minimal living space have no choice but to use such systems.  With that in mind it appears to be using some new tech called UniVolume-to level volume so thing don't get louder at times and quieter at times (essentially so you dont have to keep adjusting the volume during explosions, then quiet dialogue).  This tech appears to be the same feature that nearly every receiver has, called dynamic range.  Thing is I've noticed some receivers are better than others(in some the feature shouldn't even be listed, you can adjust it but it does nothing).  With that being said, maybe Yamaha has perfected this feature.  My Yamaha receiver I can attest to, it does the job.   The space saving is the major redeeming factor as it is the smallest sound bar ever made.  It does have 3 HDMI ports which was more than I expected. Also, you don't have to hide all the wires with this system you only have to connect 1 speaker wire.

If this is what you're looking at, make sure you test in thoroughly in a similar space to that you're going to install it in. Need a home theater in a box? I would still choose the Onkyo surround HTIB I previously posted.  However if you just can't or don't want to deal with speaker wires and prefer the one speaker system.  This is an excellent choice.