CNET First Look
Virtual surround sound on a budget, but with a catchYamaha's YSP-1400 brings the company's Digital Sound Projector technology to a budget price point, but a couple caveats keep it from being a standout sound bar.
Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET. And today, we're gonna take a look at the Yamaha YSP-1400. This is a $400 sound bar, and it's the least expensive model in Yamaha's digital sound projector line that promises a true surround sound experience from a sound bar. While it looks like a pretty typical sound bar from the outside, the design is actually pretty unconventional. There's just a small speaker grill on the center. And it covers up an array of eight 1.13-inch drivers. And those drivers are used to beam sound off of nearby walls and furniture to create the surround sound effect. There are also two legs on this sound bar, and each house a 3.5-inch subwoofer. That means there's no separate wireless subwoofer, which is good for getting rid of an extra box, but it's not great for making deep bass. The included remote is a good one. It has a solid heft, and important buttons like volume and inputs are nicely separated. Around back, there's also an IR repeater. So, if the sound bar blocks your TV's remote sensor, the Yamaha can still repeat those signals out the back. So, you can still control your TV. Also on the back are the sound bar's inputs. You get optical, co-axial, analog, and mini jack. That's plenty if you connect all of your devices directly to your TV, then connect its output to your sound bar. But with the 1400, that doesn't work as well as it usually does. The issue is most TVs actually dumb down incoming audio signals to stereo, which isn't good news for a sound bar that specializes in virtual surround. Basically, if you want the full surround effect, you'll need to connect all your devices directly to the sound bar or use a work around, like an HDMI switcher that includes an optical audio output. Neither is really ideal. Aside from the physical inputs, there's also built-in Bluetooth. So, you can wirelessly stream audio from nearly any smartphone or tablet. And there's also decoding for both Dolby Digital and DTS, which is needed for listening to those surround sound tracks. As for sound quality, the YSP-1400 doesn't quite create the true surround effects that Yamaha's more expensive YSP sound bars are known for. Now, that's not surprising as the step-up YSP-2200 has doubled the number of drivers, and the high-end YPS-4300 goes all the way up to 22 drivers. The YPS-1400 does sound considerably more spacious than the standard 2.1 sound bar, like Sony's HT-CT260. But just don't expect to hear sounds coming from behind your head. Otherwise, the YSP-1400 has a crisp and clear sound with movies, and the UniVolume feature does a great job of limiting dynamic spikes in volume. So, it's great for listening late at night. On the other hand, the lack of a separate subwoofer means you're not gonna get real deep of powerful bass-- although it still has a reasonably full range sound. So, there's a lot to like about the YSP-1400, but the big hurdle is you need a way to get it a true surround signal for it to sound its best. If you don't have a lot of devices or you're okay with using work around, it's definitely worth considering. But the average buyer will probably be better off with a simpler solution. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and this is the Yamaha YSP-1400.