The Good Yamaha's single-speaker surround system features 21 1.5-inch "beam" drivers, two 4-inch woofers, built-in digital amplifiers, and proprietary surround processing; eliminates the need for an AV receiver; 1080p HDMI switching; FM radio and XM radio capability; autosetup with the supplied microphone.
The Bad Skimpy connectivity; no onscreen setup menu via HDMI; lacks the dynamic oomph of an equivalently priced 5.1 channel system; lacks finesse on two channel music; you'll probably have to add a subwoofer.
The Bottom Line If you can look past its limited video capabilities, the Yamaha YSP-3000 is an otherwise recommendable single-speaker solution for home theater buyers who don't want a traditional 5.1 channel surround system.
Yamaha Digital Sound Projector YSP-3000
Editors' note: As of July 2008, Yamaha has released a follow-up product, the YSP-3050. That model is almost identical to the YSP-3000 reviewed here, but it offers the noteworthy upgrade of analog-to-digital HDMI video conversion.
Editors' note 11/12/2009: The rating of the Yamaha YSP-3000 has been changed since publication to better reflect its value compared to competing home theater systems.
Now that almost every audio company is selling a "surround bar"--that is, a single, long speaker that attempts to mimic the enveloping sound of a real 5.1 system--it's easy to forget just how new the technology is. Yamaha was the first to roll out a consumer-oriented sound bar back at CES 2005, and CNET declared the Yamaha YSP-1 a "Next Big Thing" finalist and went on to give a solid rating. The issues we had on the YSP-1 are pretty much the same ones we have with all surround bars--they're usually expensive and don't sound that great with music.