Yamaha YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector (silver) review:

Yamaha YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector (silver)

Use the YSP-1 with an A/V receiver if you like, but since it runs off of built-in digital amplifiers, feel free to hook it up directly to your TV's stereo line output jacks or directly to a DVD player. Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS Neo 6 round out the YSP-1's surround-processing suite.

We'll start by accentuating the positive: the YSP-1's surround "projection" abilities were impressive, and we were happy to note the placement of surround effects were stable over a range of positions on our listening couch. Under ideal conditions and expert setup, we expect the YSP-1 will provide fully enveloping surround sound. We're less sure about the YSP-1's sound quality; it didn't measure up to what we expect from what (once you add the subwoofer) is a $2,000 speaker package.

The Saw DVD depends on a vivid surround mix to convey much of the film's raw primal fears, and the YSP-1 credibly put us in the midst of the onscreen mayhem. But we found the aggressive tonal character of the YSP-1's sound resulted in ear fatigue over the course of a DVD. When we eased back on the volume, we enjoyed the sound more.

The YSP-1 couldn't do justice to Metallica's St. Anger CD; Lars Ulrich's thundering drums and James Hetfield's screaming guitar and vocals lacked the impact we want from Metallica. Duke Ellington's big-band jazz fared better, but we felt the YSP-1's lightweight sound was comparable to a $500 speaker package (and this was with our NHT SW10 subwoofer pumping out the bass). A brief shoot-out with Niro's 1.1 Pro II single speaker/subwoofer/amplifier system ($990) placed the YSP-1's strengths and weaknesses in perspective. The YSP-1 produced more believable surround effects, with greater imaging precision, but the 1.1 Pro II's richer tonal balance was apparent on DVDs and CDs. The Niro's setup routines require absolutely no technical aptitude; it's a total no-brainer.

We suspect that a well-trained installer could eke out superior performance from the YSP-1, but most buyers will experience something akin to what we heard. That said, a lot of folks will buy the YSP-1 for its plasma-friendly design, advanced technology, and the money and space savings afforded by eliminating the A/V receiver from your home theater. We strongly recommend an in-store audition before buying the YSP-1 so that you can weigh the pros and cons yourself.

What you'll pay

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