Can Yamaha's sound projection actually surround the listener?
What is the Yamaha YSP-2500?The Yamaha YSP-2500 soundbar sits in the middle of the company's digital sound projector range, above the YSP-1400 and beneath the YSP-3300. It has been designed to match larger screen TVs and not only incorporates sound projection technology but also a matching wireless active subwoofer. Sound projection is designed to give the listener a more immersive audio experience by bouncing sounds of the side and rear walls to create a sense of surround envelopment. The Yamaha includes a host of other features such as HDMI, Bluetooth, IntelliBeam setup, a menu system, a full remote control, an IR repeater and a remote app. That's a decent selection of features and with equally as impressive specifications and a retail price of £699 at the time of writing (June 2015), is the YSP-2500 a potential Best Buy? Let's find out...
DesignThe YSP-2500 uses a classic soundbar design and is essentially a long rectangular chassis that sits on top of big sturdy feet. That's not necessarily a bad thing, after all if it ain't broke why fix it? Unlike Samsung's latest soundbars, the Yamaha is designed to be used with larger flat screen TVs, whilst its black brushed metal finish and 51mm height help to make it unobtrusive. The build quality is excellent, with the front and top of the YSP-2500 made of aluminium, which is rigid and non-magnetic, preventing unnecessary vibrations. The soundbar can be wall mounted and a handy template is included for this purpose.
On the left hand side there is a useful and easy-to-read display that identifies the input, the volume, any DSP modes, the Beam selection and various other features. On the top right hand side there are some basic controls and beneath them there is a headphone socket and a connector for the IntelliBeam setup microphone. All the other connections are at the rear of the YSP-2500. In the middle of the soundbar between the front inputs and the display there is an array of sixteen 2.8cm speakers that have been precisely arranged to improve sound dispersion and create the beams of sound that bounce around the listener.
The YSP-2500 certainly looks the part, with great build quality and an attractive design.
Connections & ControlAs we mentioned in the previous section, aside from the headphone socket and IntelliBeam microphone connector, all the other connections are at the rear. Here you'll find a generous selection of HDMI sockets, with three inputs and one output. The YSP-2500 supports HDMI 2.0, which means it can pass 3D and 4K 50/60p, whilst the HDMI output also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). There are also two optical digital inputs, a coaxial digital input and an analogue input. Although the YSP-2500 comes with its own wireless subwoofer, there is even a subwoofer output in case you wanted to use a different model.
As mentioned in the Design section, there are some basic controls on the soundbar itself for volume up/down, inputs and power on/off. All the other functions are handled using the provided remote control, which is probably the most comprehensive controller we've seen for a soundbar. There are buttons for selecting the various inputs, as well as navigation controls for the menu system, changing the volume, muting the sound and adjust the subwoofer level. You can also select different Cinema DSP modes, Beam options and surround options.
As with many of Yamaha's other soundbars you also have the option to use their excellent Home Theatre Controller remote app, which is freely available for iOS and Android. All you need to do is pair your smart device to the YSP-2500 you have all the same controls available as on the provided remote control. The graphical interface is well designed and intuitive to use, making it easy to setup and control the soundbar from your phone. Whilst you can still setup and adjust the Yamaha from the menu system, some people might find the more attractive icons on the app easier to follow and understand.
This is one feature-packed soundbar with almost as many setup options as a Yamaha receiver!
Yamaha YSP-2500 Unboxing Video
Features & SpecsThe YSP-2500 is certainly a feature-packed soundbar and the biggest selling point is its use of Yamaha's proprietary sound projection or YSP. This technology generates beams of sound by combining the soundbar's sixteen speaker array into groups via digital signal processing and reflects them off the walls of the room. The idea is to create a realistic surround effect with the sound coming from the left, right and even from the rear to simulate a full 7-1-channel setup.
Since the acoustic properties of a room, such as its size, shape and even the type of wall material used, differ from environment to environment, Yamaha provide a specialised microphone to measure the characteristics, along with a handy cardboard stand to support the mic. The volume and angle of the beams, the focal lengths, the route lengths and other fine adjustments are automatically matched and optimised to the listening point. As a result you can easily achieve the optimal performance for your room by following the simple instructions on screen.
IntelliBeam searches for the locations in the room where sounds are reflected to the microphone and performs adjustments to obtain the optimum balance depending on these reflection points. The YSP-2500 offers six Beam modes, so you can choose the one that best suits the source you are listening to. The modes include 5 Beam+2, which reproduces 7.1-channel surround sound, 3 Beam, which widens the listening area and Stereo + 3 Beam, which is for music. By using the remote app, you can make fine adjustments to the beam angles and volume to customise the sound.
Another of Yamaha’s proprietary features is their sophisticated CINEMA DSP technology which is designed to create realistic soundscapes in any room. You can select 10 different programmes, including three Movie, three Music and four Entertainment programmes. CINEMA DSP programmes are created by recording actual sound field data in performance spaces around the world, then applying sophisticated digital processing techniques to replicate them.
In terms of other features the YSP-2500 includes the previously mentioned active subwoofer, which uses two 10 cm woofer units and a 75W analogue amplifier. Its rigid body is designed to lower unnecessary resonance, whilst the circuit board uses a grounding pattern that ensures stable current supply. It's also wireless, so aside from the power cord there's no need to connect cables, thus making setup and placement easier. It can also be installed vertically or horizontally, making the sub even more flexible.
The YSP-2500 also includes built-in Bluetooth with support for aptX audio coding, allowing you to stream full bandwidth audio from your smartphone or tablet. In addition, a Bluetooth standby mode provides the convenience of having the soundbar turn on and off automatically. The Yamaha can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, it is CEC compatible, provides a compressed music enhancer, includes a UniVolume feature, audio delay and a TV remote repeater if the soundbar is blocking the TV's IR receiver.
The IntelliBeam microphone makes setup easy and the remote app allows for plenty of customisation.
YSP-2500 Sound QualityYamaha are often well ahead of the game when it comes to technological advances and the Japanese manufacturer were producing soundbars long before the market in them grew exponentially. They also pioneered the idea of height speakers decades before Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D came along. In the case of Dolby Atmos, there has been a lot of discussion around their upward-firing speakers, which bounce sounds off the ceiling to simulate overhead speakers. Once again Yamaha were there first because that's exactly what their sound projection technology is doing, although instead of the ceiling, they're using the side and rear walls to simulate a full 7.1-channel surround setup.
The incredible thing about the technology is that it actually works and although it could never fully replace a real 7.1-channel system, it does create a genuine sense of surround envelopment. Of course the big advantage of the YSP-2500 is that it achieves this with minimum amount of wiring and space. All you need to do is place the soundbar beneath your TV (on a stand or wall mount), connect your devices, connect your TV and plug it in at a wall socket. The subwoofer is wireless so all you need to do is find a convenient wall socket for that and you even have the option of positioning it vertically or horizontally. Then all you need to do is run the IntelliBeam setup using the provided microphone and handy cardboard stand.
There's no doubt that it's easier than installing and wiring up a full 5.1- or 7.1-channel setup and the results are certainly more aesthetic from the perspective of 'partner-approval'. There are a few caveats though. Firstly for the technology to work you do need solid walls for the sounds to bounce off, so if you have french windows or an archway in your side walls that could be a problem. You also need to avoid things that might diffuse the sound like book cases and radiators. However the system can make adjustments for the position of the soundbar and you have the option to install it in a corner. The other point to make is that this technology is simulating a 7.1-channel system, so you don't actually have sounds emanating directly from the sides and rear and you can't bounce lower frequencies.
However taking all that into account and, after careful setup, the results are quite impressive, with the YSP-2500 creating a wide and open front soundstage and a genuine sense of surround envelopment. We found that music and effects were well positioned across the front and dialogue remained clear and centred on the TV. When watching the majority of TV programmes the priorities are the front three channels and the Yamaha performed admirably in its primary function, whether we were watching documentaries, chat shows or the news. Once we moved onto TV dramas the soundbar's ability to create a more immersive experience really came into is own and the comic book heroics of Agents of Shield or the new-age action of Sense8 were effectively reproduced by the sound projection technology.
One thing that really impressed us was the subwoofer performance, which was subtle and we mean that as a compliment. Too often the subs included with soundbars and all-in-one systems are just boom boxes that deliver a low-end effect that lacks any real character or integration. We found that with the YSP-2500 the included subwoofer delivered surprisingly effective bass that supported the overall sound without dominating or sounding boomy. To put it through its paces we tried the YSP-2500 with bass-heavy Blu-rays such as Pacific Rim and Godzilla and the soundbar/subwoofer combination did a good job of delivering all the low frequency action.
Whilst we were impressed with the overall performance of the YSP-2500, it is worth remembering that the surround sound it creates is a simulation and as such a film like Gravity will reveal its limitations. That's because Gravity has a lot of very directional sounds with dialogue in particular moving around the room in 360 degrees. Whilst the Yamaha could give some sense of a wider soundscape, it couldn't actually steer the audio around the room like a genuine surround sound system would. However Gravity is an exceptional case and for most films the sound projection technology works very well.
Finally another area where the YSP-2500 proved quite adept was with music. We doubt that these days most people even bother to sit down to listen to music critically, let alone on a soundbar, but if you do you might find the Yamaha a surprise. It certainly created a nice soundstage for music, with good clarity and plenty of detail. The sixteen drivers handled the mid-range and high frequencies well, whilst the subwoofer delivered the low-end with a pleasant sense of restraint. Overall the Yamaha YSP-2500 proved to be a highly effective all-round performer that is ideal for TV, movies and even music. We've reviewed a lot of soundbars over the last few years and the YSP-2500 is easily one of the best sounding in its price bracket.
Yamaha YSP-2500 Video Review
The audio quality is excellent and for most rooms the sound beam technology really works.
- Excellent audio quality
- Sound beam technology
- Feature packed
- Attractive design and finish
- Great build quality
- May not suit every room
Yamaha YSP-2500 Soundbar Review
Should I buy one?If it's a soundbar that you're after then you'll be hard pushed to find a better performer for the money than the Yamaha YSP-2500. The company's long association with soundbars shows through in every aspect of the YSP-2500's design and there's an effortlessness to the performance that only comes from experience. The looks are classic soundbar, the build quality is excellent and the finish is very attractive. The YSP-2500 comes packed with features including a matching active wireless subwoofer, three HDMI inputs and one output, a full remote control, IR repeater and a highly effective remote app. There's also support for ARC, 3D, 4K and a full menu system; whilst setup couldn't be easier thanks to an included microphone and the IntelliBeam feature.
In terms of its actual performance the YSP-2500 really delivered the goods, producing a wide front soundstage that filled our room with sound. There was a nice sense of precision the sound with music and effects positioned effectively across the front and dialogue remaining focused on the screen. The mid-range and high frequencies were handled well and the subwoofer was surprisingly subtle for a soundbar package, integrating smoothly and never dominating. The sound projection technology works really well in terms of creating a sense of surround and whilst it can't fully replace a proper multi-channel system, it is more convenient. The surround effective will be dependent on the characteristics of your room but the YSP-2500 certainly delivers on its promise.
What are my alternatives?This really depends on what you want in your lounge but if you're looking for a genuine surround experience then you could certainly pick up a receiver and speaker package for a similar amount of money. Of course this will involve running cables around the lounge and convincing the rest of the household that additional speakers are worth it but it is an option. However if you're convinced that a soundbar offers the best solution for you then you'll struggle to find one that delivers better performance and features for the price. If you use LG's Music Flow multi-room system then the more expensive HS7 is certainly an option and if you have a curved panel then Samsung's HW-J7500 will match your TV better. However whatever you decide, Yamaha's YSP-2500 is definitely a tough act to follow.
Ease of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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