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Yamaha YHT-940 review: Yamaha YHT-940

Yamaha YHT-940

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
4 min read
Review summary
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.


Yamaha YHT-940

The Good

Abundantly featured home-theater package; six 85-watt channels; separate five-disc DVD changer with progressive outputs; seven-piece satellite, powered subwoofer system.

The Bad

Setup ergonomics could stand improvement; slow disc swapping.

The Bottom Line

Some minor usability issues notwithstanding, Yamaha's top HTIB scores well on almost every count.

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.

This just might be the first kit we've tested that features six identical two-way, three-driver satellites; each one boasts twin 3-inch woofers and a 0.75-inch dome tweeter. Noteworthy, too, were the sats' banana jack-compatible connectors; most HTIB sats use flimsy spring-loaded connectors. The sub has an 8-inch woofer. The little guy's volume, crossover, and other controls are conveniently placed on the top of the cube's front panel.

We started our evaluations with Clint Eastwood's dark thriller, Absolute Power, on DVD. The film's edgy orchestrations kept the tension high, and dialogue was articulate and keenly balanced, putting the YHT-940 right up there with some of the best kits we've tested. It was so good that we forgot we were listening to an HTIB--and that's a compliment. All of our old favorite DVDs passed muster; the sound was consistently weighty, dynamic, and detailed.

The speakers' size limitations became evident when we pushed the volume to annoy-the-neighbors levels, but in small to medium-size rooms less than 250 square feet, the YHT-940 will sound fine. The little subwoofer performed yeoman's service, but it ran out of oomph and definition during the big battle scenes in The Thin Red Line DVD.

K. d. lang's Shadowland CD didn't sound as richly present as it did on the Onkyo HT-S667C. The considerably larger satellites of that $700 (list price) system sounded bigger and more fully developed, and the Onkyo's 150-watt sub was just plain gutsier. Returning to the YHT-940, we loaded Led Zeppelin's new live CD set, How the West Was Won. As long as we didn't go too crazy pumping up the volume, the band that invented heavy metal sounded mighty fine bounding out of the six sats and sub.

The YHT-940 is far more musical than its less expensive sibling, Yamaha's $799 YHT-740. We ran though a set of comparisons between the two kits and always preferred the YHT-940, but the margin of superiority was greater on CDs than on DVDs. If you're more of a movie than music fan, you might save some dough by buying the YHT-740.


Yamaha YHT-940

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8