The full-sized, component-grade A/V receiver; separate single-disc DVD player; and hefty, 50-watt, powered subwoofer of Yamaha's YHT-24 home theater in a box (HTIB) have the look and feel of a $900 to $1,000 kit. But this model sells for just $699. The only downside is the less than stellar sound quality of the YHT-24's satellites. The full-sized, component-grade A/V receiver; separate single-disc DVD player; and hefty, 50-watt, powered subwoofer of Yamaha's YHT-24 home theater in a box (HTIB) have the look and feel of a $900 to $1,000 kit. But this model sells for just $699. The only downside is the less than stellar sound quality of the YHT-24's satellites.
We could easily fill the remainder of the review with a rundown of the YHT-24's features. Yes, you'll find all the usual suspects here: Dolby Digital and DTS, plus Yamaha's cool Cinema DSP with 26 surround modes. The receiver delivers 65 watts to each of five channels and employs discrete power transistors, rather than the more typical integrated-circuit chips, so it can accommodate 4-ohm speakers, which are more difficult to drive. We liked the easy-to-adjust bass and treble controls and the AM/FM tuner, which offers 40 presets. And the mellow orange displays on both the DVD player and the receiver won't sear your eyeballs during night-time home-theater sessions.
The YHT-24's connectivity quotient is generous: it has 5.1 DVD-Audio/Super Audio CD (SACD) inputs and plentiful audio, A/V, and digital audio inputs, but no digital audio outputs. There's also a set of front-panel-mounted A/V inputs, which make it easy to plug in a video camera or video game console. The receiver doesn't include a phono input or S-Video connections, but the DVD player's rear panel is decked out with composite, S-Video, and component outputs that can go straight to your TV.
The five handsome, black-plastic satellite speakers are bona fide two-way speakers, with 3-inch woofers and 0.5-inch Mylar dome tweeters. All five speakers are magnetically shielded, so they can be placed near a TV without degrading the picture or damaging the set. Instead of supplying precut speaker wires, Yamaha packs along a single long coil of speaker wire; you'll have to cut and strip that piece into five wires, but at least you'll wind up with the exact lengths you need.
Two remotes are supplied, one for the receiver and one for the DVD player, but they take some getting used to; the buttons never seem to be where you expect them to be. The receiver has a two-year warranty; the DVD player gets one year of protection.
The weakest link
In our listening tests, the YHT-24's subwoofer sounded powerful and tight on John Mellencamp's new CD, Cuttin' Heads. Unfortunately, the bass-shy satellites didn't quite jell with the subwoofer, so Mellencamp's voice sounded hollow and thin. The satellites are the weak link in this kit.
Cruising through the newly remastered Apocalypse Now Redux DVD, we discovered that the YHT-24 could play fairly loud. The film's surreal jungle surround effects were appropriately big and spacious, but the sound grew harsh as the decibel level increased. Dramas, such as Thirteen Days, fared best. The picture quality from the DVD player on the color-saturated Apocalypse disc was impressive, but the player probably isn't a good match for larger, high-end TVs.
Persnickety listeners won't be impressed by the YHT-24, but it sonically trumps Sony's svelte . Considering the robust build quality and the value of Yamaha's components, upgrading the sound by adding better satellite speakers as your budget permits might be a viable strategy. You might also take a look at the , which has really nice satellites in the box.