We're big fans of home-theater-in-a-box systems that include separate receivers and DVD players because they usually deliver better sound than all-in-one receiver/DVD combo kits. Yamaha's top-of-the-line 6.1-channel YHT-940 HTIB is one such multipiece offering. The system, which lists for $999, more than lived up to our expectations.
The look, the feel, and the feature sets of the YHT-940's receiver and DVD changer are as good as comparably priced separate components and notably above what we've come to expect from typical HTIBs. But hold the applause for a sec; we have a few nitpicks.
On one hand, the YHT 940's basic setup routine is fairly straightforward, but we strongly recommend plowing through the more advanced routines if you're interested in getting the best sound out of this system. For some strange reason, Yamaha's engineers opted for a "large" default setting for the left and right speakers, but since the speakers are relatively small, you'll have to delve into the menus to correct the oversight. And the YHT-940 lacks onscreen menu displays, so the procedure isn't as user-friendly as it ought to be.
More groans: The changer's disc-loading mechanism isn't the quickest to get moving; you'll have to wait 16 seconds before you hear a note of music. After you finish playing a CD or a DVD, you can't just hit Play to restart the disc. No, you must first punch the Disc Skip button on the remote so that the changer will search for the disc.
You get two nicely designed remotes, one for the receiver and one for the DVD changer, but most folks will want to keep things simple and stick with the receiver's remote, which controls both components. Button logistics are above par.
The receiver hosts six 85-watt channels and a complete selection of surround processing modes: 6.1-channel Dolby EX/DTS ES, as well as Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo:6. The seventh channel--the .1 in 6.1--is handled by the compact, 100-watt, powered cube subwoofer.
Connectivity options are in the same league as those of better $500 receivers on the market. Most HTIBs, even on high-end models, don't offer goodies such as component-video switching, 5.1-channel SACD/DVD-Audio inputs, 6.1-channel preamp outputs (allowing you to hook up an external power amp), and A/B speaker switching--but the YHT-940 does. Digital audio and A/V connectivity can support numerous external sources, and this HTIB even lets you control a second stereo system in another room.
The progressive-scan five-disc DVD changer sports the usual complement of audio and video connections. The changer spins CDs, CD-R/RWs, and MP3-encoded CDs, as well as all the standard video disc formats except DVD-RW. It cannot play back DVD-Audio or SACD discs, however.