When it was released back in late 2007, Yamaha's YSP-4000 sound bar system was favorably reviewed by our sister site CNET, which praised its sound quality, considering that it was a single-speaker setup. Of course, it also pointed out how expensive the system was at $1,800. Now, Yamaha is releasing a pair of follow-ups that it hopes will better the performance of the YSP-4000while matching that same stratospheric price tag.
The company uses 40 separate "beam drivers" to output surround-sound audio (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS HD High Resolution) from the single unit; obviously, the center channel is directed at the center of the room, while the other channels are sent bouncing off the walls to create a sense of space to the sound. The YSP-4100 also comes with a pair of woofers with separate amplifiers, while the YSP-5100 (pictured above) matches the YSP-4100 and adds a pair of tweeters with dedicated amps. Either comes with four HDMI inputs, an integrated FM tuner, and support for Sirius XM Satellite radio.
The sound bars come with a couple of other useful features. Yamaha's UniVolume levels the sound while you're watching TV and a commercial hopes to blast out at a louder volume than the show that's on. Also cool is the yAired feature, which allows the systems to play content wirelessly from an iPod or iPhone. It requires a small transmitter to be connected to your Apple portable, but the Yamahas obviously come with it.
But unless you have a high-end HDTV, you're probably not in the market for one of these. The YSP-4100 matches its predecessor's $1,899.95 price tag, and the YSP-5100 is even pricier at $2,199.95. If you need even more punch, you can add a wireless subwoofer for yet more cash. Both are shipping this month for those who can afford the space-saving stylishness these sound bars offer.