We were recently impressed with Yamaha's YAS-71 soundbar with its Air Surround Xtreme technology and now it's been joined by a different take on the discrete home theatre system solution; the YHT-S400.
Combining the world's slimmest soundbar (according to Yamaha) and an integrated AV receiver/subwoofer, the YHT-S400 means home theatre system building without masses of boxes. All you need to add are suitable video sources and a TV monitor, and away you go. However, does it deliver the sonic goods as well as its more conventional soundbar cousin?
Design and features
Yamaha's been a bit clever here incorporating a fully active 100-Watt subwoofer into a standard-sized AV receiver component, with a downward-firing 5-inch (130mm) driver and front facing bass reflex port. This arrangement aids bass reinforcement with placement; typically say, on an AV rack or shelf. Additional on-board digital amplification delivers 3x 50 Watts to the soundbar speaker, which comprises three 10x 4cm drivers.
At just 50mm in height, the slimline soundbar tucks neatly beneath most TVs and virtually disappeared below our 42-inch plasma. Its feet can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, or removed altogether to suit placement under most 32- to 50-inch screens. And with the AV receiver tucked away the Yamaha system does a veritable disappearing act — perfect for those who prefer hardware discretion as opposed to the usual boxfest and cabling everywhere.
The receiver itself offers fairly decent connections with three HDMI inputs and a single out. It's not a full-blown unit though and doesn't come close to the features and specs of your typical AV receiver. There's no on-board video decoding, for example, nor is there any processing of the main surround audio formats although it will accept linear PCM HD audio via HDMI from a suitable source, ie, Blu-ray player. It does have a couple of surround tricks of its own though — namely Yamaha's 24kHz HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) which "scientifically" aims to convince your ears the sound is multi-directional. The other is an Extended Stereo mode that is said to give the impression that the soundbar is, in fact, a pair of loudspeakers some two metres apart. Listening modes comprise "Movie", "Music", "Game" and "Sports" plus a button on the small remote marked "UniVolume" ensures volume levels during TV program and commercial breaks are kept the same.