The YSP-900's no-frills feature set is most evident when you check out its rear panel: there are just two stereo analog inputs; a subwoofer output; and, for surround sound sources, two optical, and one coaxial digital input. The YSP-900 doesn't switch video signals, so video connections between your sources, such as Blu-ray, DVD, and cable box must be made directly to your TV (or an AV receiver).
The YSP-900, like all of the other YSP speakers we've tested to date, is capable of projecting a large, immersive soundfield. No other brand's single-speaker surround systems are even close, so Yamaha YSP speakers are state of the art in that regard. That holds true for listeners seated directly in front of the YSP-900 and listeners seated off to the sides of the couch. We could even stand up and walk around the room, and the sound remained spacious. Also, while the speaker can be used without a subwoofer, it won't produce any deep bass. We used a Yamaha YST-FSW100 sub for most of our listening tests.
The Ratatouille Blu-ray Disc demonstrated the YSP-900's tasty sound. The pitter-patter of the rats' feet scampering across the fancy French restaurant's kitchen floor was perfect, as was the hiss of the gas flames, the thick burble of simmering soups, and the plops of ingredients dropping into the large pots were all realistic. Dialogue was nicely balanced.
While the Flyboys Blu-ray Disc made greater demands on the speaker, the aerial ballet of the World War I war planes swooping across the sky sounded pretty good. The rat-tat-tat of the planes' machine guns was appropriately fierce, but when some of the planes crashed and burned, the YSP-900's dynamic range limitations were obvious. Part of the blame can be attributed to the Yamaha YST-FSW100 subwoofer--it didn't have the sock of Polk's PSW111 sub--and the YSP speaker was overtaxed by the war film's highly dynamic special effects. When we heard the speaker straining, we turned the volume down and that did the trick. Surround spatiality is excellent, but judged purely on a sound quality basis; the YSP-900 was less clear than Polk's SurroundBar 50 single-speaker surround system.
We next listened to CDs, and while we liked what the surround processing did to "open up" the sound, pushing it out to the sides of the room, the YSP-900's sound was better--clearer and cleaner--in stereo.
We think the YSP-900 might be the go-to choice in the YSP line. Yes, the YSP-3000 offers more features, including HDMI switching, but even if you have a DVD or Blu-ray player with HDMI, you can send the video straight to your TV and use the digital audio connections to enjoy the YSP-900's sound. Sure, you'll lose out on some of the extra resolution available on Blu-ray's Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, but the difference isn't significant on a system like this. Sonically, the YSP-900 and YSP-3000 are pretty much the same thing; the larger YSP-4000 sounds better, but not as good as Polk's SurroundBar 50.