There are surround sound bars and then there are true 5.1-channel sound bars. Yamaha happens to tackle both of these categories by making different sound bar products that target different price points. Choosing between these two categories is crucial because there is a fine line that separates the good from the great. But things can get even more complicated when there are sound bars like the Yamaha YSP-1400 which is a true surround sound bar that is priced around $100 higher than standard sound bars. High performing sound bars go well above $500 so the YSP-1400 definitely had to make some sacrifices. Knowing these sacrifices is important in determining if this Yamaha YSP-1400 is a good purchase.
The YSP-1400 is a very different kind of sound bar stylistically. Rather than having a smooth a sleek design like the lower-end Yamaha sound bars, the Yamaha YSP-1400 has a more robust look with the LED lights pushed to the side and some speaker grille taking the center. The power button, volume controls and input selector can be found on the far right.
The Yamaha YSP-1400 falls under the category of sound bars that have the subwoofer built in for space-saving and easy-setup purposes. But this sound bar takes a very interesting approach in integrating these subwoofers. The two feet that support the sound bar actually have speaker grilles too and house the down-firing 3¼-inch subwoofers. This means that you won’t be able to remove these stands if you need to lower the sound bar if it is blocking the bottom part of the display. But on the upside, this design choice makes the YSP-1400 one of the most futuristic looking sound bars.
If the stands are an issue, you can still mount the Yamaha YSP-1400 to a wall despite the fact that it weighs around 9.5 pounds. Mounting is surprisingly simple because the package includes a full size template. With this template, you can really get an idea on how the YSP-1400 will look when it is mounted to the wall.
The back of the sound bar might leave some audiophiles and consumers asking for more though. You can only find a single digital optical input for the TV and a single digital coaxial for the Blu-ray player or other media player. Other than the analog inputs, 3.5mm jack and subwoofer out, there is nothing else. An HDMI port would be a fine addition to a sound bar of this class.
Bluetooth makes up for the lack of connectivity so you can send tunes to the Yamaha YSP-1400 for playback from all kinds of devices. This isn’t just limited to modern smartphones and tablets since a number of feature phones, laptops and other media players that have Bluetooth too. Having a mobile device that runs Android or iOS does help though because you can download the free HT Controller app and use the mobile device as a secondary remote control. This remote control app has a pretty friendly interface and it has this nifty Beam Positioning feature that lets you set the dimensions of your room and position of your sound bar so it can generate a proper test tone. There is also a Bluetooth standby mode so you can reduce electricity consumption while keeping the sound bar open to pair with mobile devices.
The TV remote control can serve as an alternate remote to the YSP-1400 as well although you must tinker with the learning function so the sound bar can recognize it. The results and difficulty in getting the job done varies depending on the type of remote control.
The minimal amount of connection ports may also be seen as a feature as it keeps the setup absolutely minimal. Like other Yamaha sound bars, an optical cable is included along with batteries for the remote control so you can set up the sound bar immediately and take advantage of the audio improvements right away. Dedicated surround sound systems will always sound better but they require far more effort to set up especially in small rooms.
Still it is important to gauge how well the Yamaha YSP-1400 performs because there are competing sound bars that have the same objective. The YSP-1400 positioned as a more affordable sound bar that has the same Digital Sound Projector technology as Yamaha’s more advanced products. It removes the “virtual” part of surround sound by delivering a truer experience with the aid of the eight 1.125-inch array speakers. The end result is a sound experience that is far more immersive than other sound systems that take virtual approaches but still falls short when compared to an actual 5.1-channel setup that consists of 5 separate speakers. There is a setting that adjusts the intensity of the subwoofer but even at the lowest setting, the bass comes up real tight and powerful for movies and music alike. Your mileage will vary depending on the type of TV content you watch but for the optimized content, listening with the YSP-1400 is quite the spectacle. There are clearly some sound bars that sound superior but they are more expensive due to their advanced internals.
You also get to choose from four CINEMA DSP programs like you normally would in an AV receiver. The Movie, Music, Sports and Game settings may sound explanatory but you should try each setting yourself to see which enhancement works best.
It is highly doubtful that a single sound bar can best a traditional surround sound setup. But Yamaha’s efforts in keeping the package simple while upping the audio quality is commendable. The Yamaha YSP-1400 is easily one of the best sounding systems that only consist of a single component. If you need that kind of setup simplicity and desire exceptional sound quality and Bluetooth connectivity for under $500, consider the YSP-1400 in your short list.
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