I've been waiting a couple of months to review the affordable Yamaha YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector after hearing about it at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show. The YSP-1 is a great looking single-enclosure, multichannel speaker system, whose core technologies are licensed from the British firm 1 Limited—technologies that were first implemented a few years ago in Pioneer's then-$40,000 PDSP-1 digital sound projector.
Before going further, I should explain that a digital sound projector is a single-enclosure, multi-driver speaker array that uses sophisticated DSP (digital signal processing) techniques to activate various combinations of drivers to produce sound beams that deliver direct and reflected sounds to the listening area simulating the output of separate front, center and rearchannel speakers. The Yamaha YSP-1 digital sound projector includes a builtin 120 watt multichannel digital amplifier with onboard surround sound decoders, plus—get this—a 42-driver speaker array. While the YSP-1 does not include a true subwoofer of its own, it provides a line-level subwoofer output so users can add a separate powered subwoofer if they wish.
The advantages of a digital sound projector are threefold. First, you get surround sound from just "one box," though you must supply your own subwoofer. Because the loudspeakers and integrated amplifier are housed in a single box, the unsightly clutter of five speaker cabinets and associated cables snaking around your living room floor is eliminated, and the slim shape of the YSP-1 nicely complements popular flat-panel televisions. Second, the system is quite easy to connect. You can be up and running with surround sound in under 30 minutes. Finally, because the integrated amplifier is designed specifically for use with the YSP-1, the speakers and amplifier match each other quite effectively.
The YSP-1 is available only in silver with a black glossy control plate, but this color scheme works well with most displays. Measuring 41" x 8" x 5" , the slim YSP-1 is about as sexy as surround systems get; its shape and size will be catnip to minimalist home theater enthusiasts. As mentioned earlier, the YSP-1 contains a mind-boggling 42 speakers, consisting of a pair of 4.5" woofers each powered by a 20 watt digital amplifier and 40 1.5" microdrivers each powered by independent 2 watt digital amplifiers for a total of 120 watts of system power. These 42 speakers aren't just for show, because the Yamaha's unique DSP circuits focus the array's output into sound beams—created by varying the time delay, volume level and phase settings of each speaker—that are either radiated directly toward the listening area or reflected off of side and rear walls. Because a significant portion of the projector's output gets reflected off wall surfaces, you may need to reposition sound absorbing drapes, bookcases, and furniture from side and rear walls to achieve optimal performance.
The face of the unit displays a slim LED alongside volume-level and inputselection controls, as well as an on/off switch. The unit supports two analog stereo inputs, two optical inputs, one coaxial input, a composite video output for the onscreen GUI setup display, a subwoofer output, and a RS-232 connection for advanced connectivity. The YSP-1 also decodes Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS Neo:6 for music formats.
The YSP-1 has pre-drilled mounting holes on the rear of the unit for use with optional wall-mount brackets (this unit begs to be wall-mounted, but the wall mount hardware isn't included as standard). Alternatively, you can install the magnetically shielded YSP-1 on top of or below your display. The system comes with a modest set of starter cables to hook up your YSP-1, but I found that replacing the factory cables with quality interconnects, digital, and coaxial cables, improved the sound quality substantially. The remote control won't win any design awards, but it did provide all the controls necessary to set up and operate the system. My only complaint about the remote is that it should be backlit. I found that using the remote in the dark was a little challenging, although after repeated use, your fingers will intuitively move by touch to the most commonly accessed buttons. The YSP-1 can also be programmed to learn the commands of your TV and DVD player, thus minimizing the clutter of multiple remotes. There are two paths you can take in setting up the system, either EASY or MANUAL setup. I recommend EASY setup until you are comfortable with the unit, then moving on to MANUAL setup. EASY set up configures the system based on ROOM TYPE, ROOM SHAPE, and SPEAKER POSITION, while MANUAL setup allows you more complex system configuration such as ROOM EQUALIZATION, TONE CONTROLS, TREBLE and BASS SETTINGS for each channel, LEVEL ADJUSTMENT, VOLUME LEVEL SETTINGS and more.