When it released the original Digital Sound Projector in 2005, Yamaha was one of the first mainstream manufacturers to dabble in the burgeoning virtual surround-sound field. Since then, the company's products have been the benchmark in the single-speaker surround field. Not content to rest on its laurels in the face of increasing competition, Yamaha's just announced three new models, which make up the third-generation of the Digital Sound Projector line. All three are designed to deliver a wider soundstage than earlier units, and include new 5-Channel and "My Surround" modes in addition to standard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding modes. While they can be used in conjunction with AV receivers, each model is essentially a fully functioning home-theater-in-a-box, so you can just connect your sources (DVD, cable/satellite, game consoles, etc.), and be good to go. The big step-up feature for 2007 is the addition of HDMI connectivity to the two top-of-the-line models. Details are as follows:
- Yamaha YSP-900 ($900, August 2007): The entry-level Sound Projector utilizes the same basic 21-driver design (plus two woofers) of the YSP-800.
- Yamaha YSP-3000 ($1,200, August 2007): While it utilizes the same 21-plus-2 housing as the 900, the YSP-3000 adds HDMI connectivity (two inputs and one output), a built-in FM tuner, an iPod interface (via Yamaha's YDS-10 iPod dock), and XM satellite radio compatibility (with the addition of an XM Mini-Tuner and subscription),
- Yamaha YSP-4000 ($1,800, October 2007): The flagship 2007 Digital Sound Projector (the follow-up to last year's YSP-1100) uses a similar 40-plus-2 driver arrangement. It includes all the features of the YSP-3000, plus the ability to upscale analog video inputs to 720p/1080i resolution via its HDMI output.
To complement the trio of new Digital Sound Projectors, Yamaha is offering two matching subwoofers, the 130-watt YST-FS150 ($280) and the 100-watt YST-FSW050 ($200). Both sport down-firing active woofers and slim designs that are less than 7 inches high.
If the prices of the new Sound Projectors are beyond your budget, consider the new YAS-70. The $600 unit utilizes a "1.1" design--front speaker plus subwoofer--to deliver a similar virtual surround experience as its big brother's. It lacks the built-in DVD player of the Philips HTS8100 SoundBar, but we're hoping it'll be a worthwhile alternative to the Sharp SD-SP10--a great inexpensive 1.1 system that was never widely released.
Look for competing single speaker virtual surround speakers from Soundmatters and Zvox (among others) in the upcoming months, as this flat-panel-friendly audio solution continues to gain in popularity.