The YSP-1 does not support analog multi-channel inputs, although stereo analog inputs can be used to play high-resolution stereo recordings. I used the YSP-1's STEREO mode to listen to the CD version of the Atlanta/Spano recording of Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony [Telarc]. On the "Scherzo: The Waves" movement of that symphony I noticed that the YSP-1 produced a deep soundstage that placed the orchestra and choir several feet behind the speakers, with left-to-right imaging that extended several feet to either side of the speak-
er. This sound "outside the box" phenomenon is great to hear from a onebox speaker design. I also noticed that, through the YSP-1, strings and choir voices sounded a bit thin compared to the Niro Reference System (reviewed in AVguide Monthly, Issue 15). As I predicted in the Niro review, and confirmed again with the YSP-1, there appear to be inherent tradeoffs in "one box" surround systems, where designs deliver either good image width and soundstage depth, or fullbodied tonality on instruments and voices—but, for some reason, not both sets of qualities at once. The YSP-1's tonal balance was a bit forward across the upper midrange and treble region. The midrange was a little constricted and never quite able to bloom. When pushed to its limits, the YSP-1 exhibited an iciness in the treble that made the system sound a little unforgiving, but when played at moderate levels the treble "ice-pick" effect was negligible. Movie playback is the main area where the YSP-1 excels. On Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl [Disney] in FIVE-BEAM mode, the sword fighting scene in the blacksmith's workshop between Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner was engaging. Swords had a metallic "ka-ching," the furnace fire had a bassdriven spew, and the balancing act on the wooden planks had a realistic wooden creak that immersed me in the action. Toward the end of the scene, Will throws Jack's sword against the shop door, and the resulting "Krack! Boing!" sound of metal on wood had respectable dynamics and tonal balance. Another scene in the movie has the pirate ship Black Pearl in a battle with the British frigate Interceptor. Cannon blasts were thunderous and extended throughout the mid to lower bass, and wooden shrapnel had good surround panning. At random times during movie playback, a bell or a hoof beat would suddenly come from the sidewall or from behind me, and it was as if a keyhole had opened briefly into an adjacent world. Though these moments were enjoyable, I did note that when a sound beam radiated off the wall, its tonality lost weight and warmth, and ended up sounding a bit thin. Directly radiated sound beams were better weighted than the beams bouncing off the walls (no pun intended). The YSP-1 made up for these tonal deficiencies with a hugely expanded soundstage and robust dynamics. You won't have to sit in the "sweet spot" to enjoy movies and music, as most every listening position is a good one. Sitting too close to a rear wall, however, can hinder rear beam clarity. I recommend sitting at least 4 feet from the rear wall for optimum surround intelligibility.
Using the YSP-1, you will be able to enjoy multichannel audio from just about every form of video entertainment, including cable and satellite television shows, video games, and most importantly, movies. Although you will be able to take full advantage of surround sound from multiple sources, I wouldn't recommend getting rid of your reference surround system all that soon, since the multichannel (and stereo) music capabilities of the YSP-1 are just not there yet. But I would say that the system's movie playback quality is definitely an eye opener, and with its sleek design the YSP-1 won't be an eye sore.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Yamaha YSP-1 digital sound projector. This "one box" speaker system is sleek and refined and will be right at home next to your flat-screen monitor. It's hard to find fault with a speaker system that simulates surround sound quite well and is easy to set up. Yamaha should be applauded for bringing the cost of digital sound projector technology from the upper $40K range to an affordable-for-the-masses $1200. If a "one box" solution would be a good fit in your home, I recommend auditioning the YSP-1 digital sound projector at a local dealer; it certainly caught my attention.