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Yamaha SRT-1000 review: Realistic surround sound from a compact speaker base

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The Good The Yamaha SRT-1000 offers the best simulated surround sound of any sound bar at its price level. Dolby and DTS decoding help it sound excellent with movies and decent with music. The speaker is well-built and attractive, with plenty of usability features such as easy-to-access cabling, and the subwoofer out is a welcome addition.

The Bad Music mode is poor. More expensive than many sound bases.

The Bottom Line The Yamaha SRT-1000 offers discreet looks, an astoundingly wide soundstage and plenty of features, upping the ante for the sound base speaker category.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 8
  • Value 9

Review Sections

Things are heating up in the sound base market -- speakers designed to sit under your TV -- with some strong releases in 2014 from manufacturers such as Pioneer and JBL . Yamaha has decided to throw its weight around in the category by releasing its first model, the SRT-1000.

Unlike most sound bases, it's designed to give "true" surround sound using dedicated surround drivers. And it kinda works. The effect is the next best thing to actual speakers placed around your room.

In fact the SRT-1000 does very little wrong. It offers smart design and a number of handy features, and really shakes things up in this nascent category. If you want to watch movies in surround but don't want to go the receiver and discrete speaker route, and don't mind spending a bit extra, the Yamaha offers both convenience and great performance.

In Australia, you can grab the SRT-1000 for AU$649, although you may shave a little off that price if you shop around online.

Design

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Yamaha SRT-1000 is a compact sound base that can support up to 55-inch TVs. It sports a low-slung look, not unlike the LG SoundPlate , and measures 30.75 inches wide by 3 inches tall (though the beveled top makes it appear slimmer) and 14.6 inches deep.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit is constructed predominantly of solid MDF rather than plastic, a new and welcome trend for sound bars and stands, while the front panel is protected by an attractive metal grille. The front also contains the main controls including source selection and volume as well as the unexpected inclusion of dedicated source indicators -- almost unheard-of on products like this.

Sarah Tew/CNET

While the inputs are at the back of the cabinet there is also a convenient hatch built into the top of the unit which means you don't need to get behind your TV unit to plug new things in.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is a step above most sound bar offerings in that it's an actual remote, not a credit card-size toy. There are even pictograms to explain the different sound options.

Features

The SRT-1000 is Yamaha's first sound base, and features Yamaha's own Digital Sound Projector technology to bounce signals off the side and back walls in an attempt to give you a more localized surround effect.

We give the SRT-1000 a lot of credit for attempting to break through the performance barriers common to all sound bars and bases. What do we mean by barriers? All 'bases funnel the sound of five speaker and subwoofer channels through a single speaker cabinet, and lose most of the room-filling sound, dynamic range and deep bass that you get from bona-fide 5.1 channel speaker/subwoofer systems. The SRT-1000 gets more of that sound than any other sound base in its price class.

Most sound bars, and sound bases for that matter, are simple stereo affairs, and while many offer surround-like modes they're more "wide" than true surround sound. The Yamaha SRT-1000 is the first sound base we've seen to bring "true" surround technology in a compact, affordable package.

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