Yamaha's latest foray into the virtual surround sound world is the YSP-1, a sleek and stylish unit that Yamaha claims can deliver full 5.1 channel sound all from the one component. That means less speakers and less clutter around your lounge room, but with the same cinema sound experience.
The YSP-1, which can be mounted either below or above your screen of choice, works by intelligently bouncing sound off walls to recreate a full surround sound set-up. It achieves its audio ventriloquism through an amazing amount of tech hidden behind its grille - 42 separate digital amplifiers, 40 four centimeter full range sound beam drivers and two woofers all work in unison to achieve the surround effect.
Yamaha says the YSP-1 uses digital sound projection technology to focus sound into beams, which are then directed at and reflected off walls so listeners hear sound from the front, sides and back. At full surround sound, the YSP-1 projects five beams around the room, but it can also work in stereo mode (two beam) and three beam mode. The YSP-1 will obviously work best if it's on a wall directly facing the user, but if you need to place it diagonally on a corner, a combination of the stereo and three-beam modes will still recreate five channel sound.
The YSP-1 is compatible with Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6. At the back it offers two optical, one coaxial digital and two analog inputs, a subwoofer output, and RS-232C interface.
At AU$2499, the Yamaha YSP-1 isn't cheap. Some of Yamaha's own home theatre in a box kits costs significantly less, and you get a receiver and/or DVD player thrown into the mix as well. If you crave style and an uncluttered home theatre space, however, that price premium could well be worth it. You'll also probably need a dedicated sub to handle those low frequencies.
Some virtual surround sound kits leave a lot to be desired, but from early reports Yamaha has a definite winner on its hands with the YSP-1. If style and simplicity are high on your list, then the YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector deserves a test run.