The Yamaha YHT-S401 Home Theater Package is a unique offering and is poised to provide virtual 7.1 surround sound from two compact, easy-to-place components. Unlike other soundbar offerings that come with a soundbar and a wireless subwoofer, this one comes with a soundbar and its own 100-watt subwoofer which includes an integrated receiver with switching for up to three components.
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The Yamaha YHT-S401 Home Theater Package is made of left, centre and right front speakers placed in a slim and elegant audio bar that will fit nicely in front of a TV set. It measures 31.5 inch long x 3.1 inch tall x 3.1 inch thick, and suffice to say these dimensions point to a very nicely sized soundbar. It tips the scales at only 3.3 pounds, so it is pretty light as well. The soundbar is given a glossy black finish and it will definitely blend in well with any TV or in any living room. It comes with an adjustable rotating stand thus allowing the height to be adjusted to one’s liking. Moving on to the AV receiver cum subwoofer unit, it is one large and bulky device which is seen in its dimensions, 17.1 x 5.4 x 14.3 inch. It is also rather heavy as it weighs close to 8kg. The subwoofer is designed in such a way that it can be placed either horizontally or even vertically. The system also comes with a remote control.
The front of the Yamaha receiver shows that is a two in one device as the left side has the volume controls, source selection, power button and 3.5mm headphones jack, while the right hand side is where the subwoofer bass reflex port is. Also on the left was the USB port that can be connected to a portable music player or a storage device. On the back of this device is where the connection options and ports are found. The highlight has to be the extra speaker connections available. This means in the future, the Yamaha YHT-S401 soundbar can be incorporated with other audio devices. Apart from that, there are four HDMI ports, whereby 3 of them are input while the other one is output. This means no switching is needed with your TV. Support for ARC is also available on the Yamaha YHT-S401 Home Theater Package so no additional cable is needed to hear the audio from the TV. Other inputs include digital optical, coaxial and analog audio.
The audio bar comes with two of Yamaha’s very own technologies called Air Surround Xtreme and Music Enhancer. The Air Surround Xtreme gets this sound bar to reproduce 7.1-channel surround sound with quality imaging and presence. Meanwhile, Music Enhancer is there to do some algorithms to get the best out of low grade sources like MP3s that have been encoded at low bitrates. Another feature that Yamaha has included with the Yamaha YHT-S401 audiobar is Clear Voice. This is a technology that is supposed to enhance the audio experience by improving the quality of the soundbar when it handles dialogue and narration.
Setting up the Vizio VHT215 Home Theater Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
Placement of the two units is very important as the receiver cum subwoofer is where all the inputs are. In simple terms, both of these units have to be TV-centred meaning some space has to be made to that equipment rack under the TV so that the subwoofer can be properly placed. As mentioned earlier, this unit can be place horizontally or vertically, therefore the decision is up to the user based on space constraints. The adjustable feet on both the Yamaha YHT-S401 soundbar and the subwoofer unit should also help in terms of getting the right placement for them. Once all that is done, setting it up is pretty easy. If all the wires are hooked up correctly, then with the remote, all other controls can be easily adjusted from the comfort of the couch.
First the Yamaha YHT-S401 home theater’s ability to handle music was tested, and it was pretty impressive. For instance, when tested with one of the hardest tracks to reproduce i.e. Sail on Soothsayer, the sound bar had no problems dealing with track apart from the slightly flat bass. However, just by changing the EQ settings, the bass problem was gone. Songs that had a lot of beats on the other hand were also dealt with well as it was able to handle peaks and the lows. The mids and trebles were also tested using another track and Yamaha YHT-S401 soundbar once again had no issues as it dealt with the dynamics of the song very well.
Testing the system with Blu-ray is a whole different ball game and the Yamaha YHT-S401 home theater package was once again put to test. This time with a movie and the 7.1 channel audio system that Yamaha claims this device can produce was put to test. From the tests, the soundbar was definitely able to produce a soundstage that was both wide and expansive, but to say it replicates a 7.1 surround system is not true. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the audio bar failed to perform while dealing with movies; it still does a great job. The background music was dealt with well while it also had no problems with bass. Music played using Blu-ray was also tested and the Yamaha YHT-S401 does a great job once again. Bass was once again flat but it can be dealt with by changing the Bass EQ setting to +1. Otherwise, everything else was spot on.
Pros and Cons
The Yamaha YHT-S401 soundbar was a great performer with its brilliant audio quality. It produced nice natural tones. The connection options were also exceptional with 4 HDMI ports. The option to add extra surround speakers is also brilliant.
No wireless capability is a big blow for the Yamaha YHT-S401 home theater system. It also feels a little too bulky.
The Yamaha YHT-S401 has proven that it can handle all kinds of audio with minimal flaw and for a mid level sound bar that is very impressive. The fact that it is selling for only $999, at least $150 cheaper when compared to its competitors, and trouncing them all at the same time with its performance makes this a sure buy for those on the lookout for an upgrade to their audio system.