Yamaha YSP-1100 soundbar

Yamaha has expanded its range of Digital Sound Projectors and the new YSP-1100 is a third-generation product that incorporates Yamaha’s impressive technologies, which includes easy setup and configurations such as the Yamaha Intellibeam intelligence.  Its packaging is an improvement compared to earlier Yamaha innovations, and the system boasts the ability to be as good as an entire 5.1 surround system. 

The YSP-1100 includes 42 drivers and amplifiers, together with the basic electronics that formed earlier YSP models. It comes in either black or silver, and weighs at 28.6 lbs. It costs slightly higher than the first generation YSP-1, but comes with the auto-setup function and is able to configure based on the information of the room. It has a non-removable grille cover that is carefully designed not to disrupt the intended frequency response of the system. The gloss, black lower portion of the YSP has a blue LCD screen for displays.  It fits perfectly under a 42-inch flat screen or optionally, users may choose to mount it on a wall. There are 2 sets of analog inputs, 3 digital inputs (2 optical and 1 coaxial), a subwoofer output, 2 component video inputs, 3 composite video inputs and one set of component- and composite-video outputs. However, it has no S-Video and HDMI connections. The RS-232C interface is an addition and will be used as part of a custom installation system. YSP-1100 also supports infrared (IR) signal transmissions to comply with the component requirements of its IR remote-in connector. 

Measuring at 40.6" x 7.75" x 4.5", it is specially made for flat-panel TVs in mind. It also complements well with rear-projection TVs and front-projectors.  However, due to its magnetic shielding, Yamaha cautioned that it might interfere with CRT tubes TV if positioned too close to these old-fashioned TVs. As it works by bouncing sounds off walls, rooms with bare walls will bring out the best of these systems.

Setting up the YSP-1100
Installation of the YSP-1100 is easy, however, as any other YSP systems, there are some tips for placements that will maximize the experience of the YSP. Reflective surfaces maximum at best, and preferably rooms do not include too many furniture. It can be placed above or below the TV and this elegantly designed YSP looks best for anything between 42" to 50".

Configuration is easy with Yamaha’s IntelliBeam which would optimize the sound with its ready configuration. Simply plug in the included optimizer microphone and place it on the included cardboard stand and position it at the estimated ear-level of listeners. Press for the automatic setup and more experienced users may choose to do manual set-up to tweak it to the best accuracy. The manual setup includes four main areas with corresponding sub-menus: Sound, Beam, Input and Display. As the titles indicate, setup of each component will be based on these titles. The Sound menu allows you to tweak for tune controls, subwoofer settings, mute level and audio delay. Meanwhile, the Beam menu allows you to adjust based on settings perimeter and the beam adjustment menu. Input gives the user manual control over input assignment, modes and trims. And finally the Display menu controls the front panel dimmer.

The included remote control is a handy tool as well, with basic functions for controlling a TV, DVD player or other legacy device. The downside of this remote control is that it does not have a backlighting that would help most audiophiles that enjoy their favorite music in the dark.  


Yamaha YSP-1100 silver

Sound quality
Audiophiles will be delighted with the surround mode that YSP-1100 delivers. Users will be happy with Yamaha’s technology that delivers quality sound reproduction that gives a three-dimensional feel to music. Surround processing modes include Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, DTS Neo:6 and Yamaha’s proprietary Cinema DSP technology.  The surround decoding is built-in, hence eliminating the need for an A/V receiver. 

The YSP-1100 sports 40 1.5" microdrivers and two 4.25" woofers. It also offers five Beam-Mode settings which are controllable via the remote. There are 5-Beam which produces five sound beams that bounce off the walls and produce a pseudo-surround sound effect, 3-Beam, Stereo-plus-3-Beam, Stereo (without beams reflection off walls) and My Beam, which allows users to focus the sound to one position in the room, which, however, may squash the surround spaciousness down to a mono channel of sound. It is intended for users who would like to listen to their favorite pieces during the night without waking up members of the household.

There are significant improvements to the sound quality compared to its predecessors, the YSP-1 and YSP-1000. However, the bass is still not powerful enough with its twin woofers, and some users may wish to include a powered sub-woofer for an additional oomph to the sound effects, especially for those with bigger rooms. While surround sound quality is unmatchable, users need to be careful not to tune up the volume too much lest the sounds may turn harsh. Stereo sound performance is clean and naturally balanced, and the Dolby Pro Logic II surround opens up the sound of CDs dramatically.

However, this clever system is still not able to convince users when it comes to the rear-channel effects, even though the front channels do create an engaging sound. Dialogues in movies are very clear and crisp, and well separated from the front left and right channels.

Pros and Cons
It is stylishly designed and uses 40 1.5" drivers to bounce sound off walls and create enveloping surround effects. With built-in digital amplifiers, Dolby/DTS and proprietary sound processing, and video switching features eliminate the need for an A/V receiver. YSP-1100 is easy to configure as well. An additional subwoofer may not be necessary as the lack of bass is not clearly noticeable.
However, the My Beam focus effect does not seem to deliver as advertised. There are no S-Video and HDMI connections. Plus, the rear-channel effects may not be as convincing as having real speakers at the back of the room behind the users.

The Yamaha YSP-1100 is considered a breakthrough for sound bars technology, and it replaces the AV receiver and surround sound speaker system. Although there is no HDMI port to support this system, users may find that it is not yet necessary to include as this "short-coming" can easily be overlooked by the performance that it delivers.

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