Pity the poor subwoofer, a vital component of any home theater system worth its salt, but usually a big black cube that you try to hide out of view as quickly as possible. So give Yamaha some credit for thinking outside of one box—and into another. Its new YHT-S400 soundbar system makes an intriguing design decision: It packs a subwoofer into its A/V receiver, which manages to sexy up both parts of a system that typically gives all the flair to the soundbar itself.
These days, subwoofers are often a wireless component of a home theater system, which means you can generally place them anywhere in your room. But placing the subwoofer into a rack-size component like the YHT-S400 does makes it even easier to store, though the result is funky looking enough to make you think about putting it on display. None of this matters if the 100-watt sub doesn't deliver sufficient bass for hip-hop or action flicks, however. Time will tell on that matter.
The YHT-S400 also comes with a few features that it hopes are an equal draw. The soundbar is just two inches tall and has removable feet that can be adjusted either horizontally or vertically. The UniVolume feature adjusts the sound from TV programming so commercials and the actual show you're watching output at the same volume, while Yamaha is touting its Air Surround Xtreme technology as topping the competition at providing "truer" virtual surround sound from its two pieces. You can also adjust the sweet spot for the surround sound effect merely by adjusting the balance setting.
Again, this looks great on paper or posted on blog sites, but the proof is in the audio pudding. If you can't wait for some reviews to roll in, the YHT-S400 is available now for $599.95.