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New Yamaha Digital Sound Projectors add HDMI

Yamaha's third-generation Digital Sound Projectors add a panoply of new features, including support for HDMI video connectivity.

Yamaha YSP-4000 Digital Sound Projector
The YSP-4000 is the flagship model in Yamaha's third-generation Digital Sound Projector lineup. Yamaha

When it released the original Digital Sound Projector in 2005, Yamaha was one of the first mainstream manufacturers to dabble in the burgeoning virtual surround-sound field. Since then, the company's products have been the benchmark in the single-speaker surround field. Not content to rest on its laurels in the face of increasing competition, Yamaha's just announced three new models, which make up the third-generation of the Digital Sound Projector line. All three are designed to deliver a wider soundstage than earlier units, and include new 5-Channel and "My Surround" modes in addition to standard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding modes. While they can be used in conjunction with AV receivers, each model is essentially a fully functioning home-theater-in-a-box, so you can just connect your sources (DVD, cable/satellite, game consoles, etc.), and be good to go. The big step-up feature for 2007 is the addition of HDMI connectivity to the two top-of-the-line models. Details are as follows:

  • Yamaha YSP-900 ($900, August 2007): The entry-level Sound Projector utilizes the same basic 21-driver design (plus two woofers) of the YSP-800.
  • Yamaha YSP-3000 ($1,200, August 2007): While it utilizes the same 21-plus-2 housing as the 900, the YSP-3000 adds HDMI connectivity (two inputs and one output), a built-in FM tuner, an iPod interface (via Yamaha's YDS-10 iPod dock), and XM satellite radio compatibility (with the addition of an XM Mini-Tuner and subscription),
  • Yamaha YSP-4000 ($1,800, October 2007): The flagship 2007 Digital Sound Projector (the follow-up to last year's YSP-1100) uses a similar 40-plus-2 driver arrangement. It includes all the features of the YSP-3000, plus the ability to upscale analog video inputs to 720p/1080i resolution via its HDMI output.

To complement the trio of new Digital Sound Projectors, Yamaha is offering two matching subwoofers, the 130-watt YST-FS150 ($280) and the 100-watt YST-FSW050 ($200). Both sport down-firing active woofers and slim designs that are less than 7 inches high.

If the prices of the new Sound Projectors are beyond your budget, consider the new YAS-70. The $600 unit utilizes a "1.1" design--front speaker plus subwoofer--to deliver a similar virtual surround experience as its big brother's. It lacks the built-in DVD player of the Philips HTS8100 SoundBar, but we're hoping it'll be a worthwhile alternative to the Sharp SD-SP10--a great inexpensive 1.1 system that was never widely released.

Look for competing single speaker virtual surround speakers from Soundmatters and Zvox (among others) in the upcoming months, as this flat-panel-friendly audio solution continues to gain in popularity.