In the land of the soundbar, Yamaha is king. Having effectively created the category back in 2004, the company has been holding onto the throne ever since, with few imitations proving as technically ingenious as the company's original Digital Sound Projector design. The YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projector is Yamaha's slimmest soundbar yet. It's available now for around £750.
Out of the box, the YSP-2200 stands just 79mm tall. If needs must, you can whip off the feet so it's only 50mm high. Measuring 944mm wide, it's intended for a 40- to 46-inch TV.
Packaged with the YSP-2200 is the NS-SWP600 subwoofer -- the two have been designed to work together. It's important to position the subwoofer in close proximity to the YSP-2200, as this really helps to knit the two sound sources together. Helpfully, the subwoofer has been designed to fit in a standard equipment rack, so you can place it under your TV too. Alternatively, you can stand it vertically nearby on stabilising feet, which come in the box.
Connectivity is good. The YSP-2200 has three HDMI inputs and one output -- all 3D-friendly. It also has phono stereo inputs, a composite video out, a trio of digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial), plus a dedicated iPod connector that works with the optional £60 YDS-12 dock. Yamaha also offers an optional Bluetooth receiver for about £90, the YBA-10, should you have a mobile that you'd like to pair directly with the system.
Bounce that sound around
The secret to Yamaha's sound-projection technology lies in the 16 steerable beam drivers, each one of which is driven by its own 2W digital amp. With another 100W routed to the subwoofer, you get a total claimed power output of 132W.
Once the system is connected up, you'll need to calibrate all of those little drivers. Bundled in the box is a cardboard tripod and IntelliBeam calibration mic, letting you optimise the direction of the steerable beams. Alternatively, you can junk the cardboard, balance the mic on your own head and just keep really still and quiet.
After going through this set-up routine, the system should be ready to create persuasive surround sound. As the YSP-2200 works by reflecting sound off the walls and ceiling, your listening room will play a large part in its success. Ideally, use it in a relatively small living room.
You can make additional tweaks to the calibrated result to account for personal taste. We found ourselves coming back to tame the subwoofer level.
Big sound, small box
The YSP-2200 works with both stereo and multi-channel sources, and offers a host of post-processing modes.
While the YSP-2200 doesn't disgrace itself in stereo, we can't imagine anyone buying it for a two-channel experience. It's much better to engage one of the many Digital Signal Processing (DSP) modes available and spread the love.
Yamaha has a long history of best-in-class DSP signal processing, and that legacy is maintained by the YSP-2200. There are eleven different programmes on offer, including 'sci-fi', 'adventure', 'concert hall' and 'jazz club'. All make subtle changes to the width and depth of the soundstage.
The system doesn't disappoint when playing music from a connected Blu-ray player. The beam drivers are articulate and precise. Fed skippy pop, the YSP-2200 creates a mushroom cloud of crispness that belies the size of the console itself. A CD of lazy late-night jazz is equally engaging. It seems almost impossible to believe the cloud of sound is emanating from the sliver of a bar beneath the TV.
Rockers may be less enamoured. The NS-SWP600 subwoofer lacks the finesse of the main console. It's neither tight nor terrifically deep.
Most users will use the YSP-2200 to create cinematic surround sound. It accepts native DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD bit-stream audio, and it does a cracking job with both.
A 5.1-channel test sequence, comprising widely panned birdsong, convincingly places sound effects high and low, near and far. It's a remarkable demonstration that confirms both the quality of the drivers and the accuracy of their directional steering.
Action movies, which, once again, call heavily on the subwoofer, lack the visceral slam that a more conventional system might deliver, but there's no doubting the authenticity of the surround-sound experience.
If you're looking for an ingenious alternative to a conventional all-in-one home-cinema system, Yamaha's YSP-2200 should be high on your audition list. Don't be dissuaded by the quoted 2W amp specification. This system is loud. Indeed, you'll struggle to find anything else this slim that's able to throw sound so wide. We have some reservations about the quality of the subwoofer, but, overall, this is an accomplished system.
Edited by Charles Kloet