We take a look back at our first sighting of the soundbar, the Yamaha YSP-1, first reviewed in What Hi-Fi? back in April 2005...

We loved the idea of Yamaha’s YSP-1 from the moment we heard about it. To get proper surround sound from a neat, single speaker is the ideal for many people, and the YSP-1 came close to doing just that.

Even by today’s standards it’s a sophisticated design. It used a multi-driver arrangement and some mighty clever processing to deliver beams of sound around the room.

These beams are discrete channels of sound and are aimed so that when they reflect off a side or rear wall they appear to be located in exactly the same place as a dedicated speaker would produce. Clever stuff indeed, and it works well, provided your room is appropriately shaped and has suitable reflecting surfaces. 

The multi-driver means 40 small units are augmented by two bass drivers. Each drive unit has a dedicated amplifier; 20-watt modules drive each of the larger bass units while the 40 smaller drivers make do with two watts of power each.

It’s a complex and expensive arrangement. But, as far as surrounding the listener with sound, it does a better job than any alternative soundbar configuration we’ve heard.

More after the break

The latest generation of Yamaha’s soundbars (as typified by the YSP-2500) has evolved the original concept. Set-up is easier than ever and the addition of a dedicated subwoofer gives the overall sound an authority the original barely hinted at.

Yet at heart the YSP concept remains startlingly unchanged. We still think it’s a great concept.

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