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Yamaha YSP-900 review

Does what it promises - surround sound from one box Tested at £600

Our Verdict

Extraordinary, in that it actually delivers on its promise, and is tonally more complete than its forebears

For

  • Effective surround performance in smaller rooms
  • value

Against

  • Can struggle to fill larger spaces
  • occasionally a little ‘cuppy’ with dialogue

Ever since the original Yamaha YSP-1 broke cover back in April 2005, we've been fans of the company's Digital Sound Projector concept.

The idea – an instant home cinema system in one speaker box, to which you simply connect source components – is just so compelling it couldn't help but impress, and the third-generation YSP-900 here, and the YSP-1100, are the best versions yet.

The salient point of Digital Sound Projection is this: unlike every other ‘virtual' surround sound system we've heard, it actually works.

The effect is a little room-dependent: in a space draped with curtains and full of books, or in an improbably large living room, you'll find the surround leaves a little to be desired. But for the majority of homes and majority of users, Yamaha's concept really does work: instant surround sound without speakers – and more to the point wires – all round the room.

More wraparound sound with Yamaha YSP-900
Compared to its forebears, the YSP-900, designed for use with 32in screens, is less brittle at higher volumes, and seems even more effective at wrapping surround audio around you.

It can sound a little ‘cuppy' with dialogue, especially when compared to its bigger brother, and more constrained dynamically, but the convenience and ease of use are pretty persuasive.

The speaker is small and light enough to be wall-mounted, or used on a stand, under just about any flatscreen display. There's automatic set-up, on-screen displays, and a respectable array of audio and video inputs. You can also hook in an active subwoofer, which we'd recommend in larger rooms.

Should you buy one?
It depends on your needs: these Yamahas are the best of their type, but they're not as effective as ‘real' home cinema kit. But if you're after neat, convenient and highly effective surround sound with minimal fuss, they're definitely worth a long look.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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