Yamaha YSP-3300 Soundbar with Wireless Active Subwoofer Review

Yamaha show why they're still the soundbar kings with the YSP-3300

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12

Highly Recommended
Yamaha YSP-3300 Soundbar with Wireless Active Subwoofer Review
SRP: £999.00
When it comes to soundbars Yamaha has been something of a pioneer, developing the concept long before the market for them expanded to the extent it has. However, a combination of innovation, simplicity and increasingly poor speakers in TVs has resulted in an explosion in soundbar sales, leaving Yamaha perfectly positioned to take advantage. The YSP-3300 is one of their newest soundbars or as Yamaha prefer to call them, Digital Sound Projectors, and as such incorporates all the latest features. The soundbar itself employs 16 array speakers and 2 woofers to create a well dispersed soundstage at the front, whilst a wireless active subwoofer delivers the low end. The YSP-3300 also includes Yamaha's 5 BeamPlus2 feature for a more immersive audio experience, along with all the high definition audio formats and 10 Cinema DSP programmes. Once you include the IntelliBeam automated setup, 4 HDMI inputs, TV remote repeater and low styling, the YSP-3300 starts to look like a very tempting proposition indeed. Let's see if we can resist...

Design and Installation

The YSP-3300 is beautifully constructed with the top surface of the soundbar made of aluminium - thus providing superior rigidity - along with a high quality texture and a hairline finish, resulting in a look that is both attractive and stylish. The aluminium body also helps dampen unwanted vibrations. The sides of the soundbar have a mirror finish and it's available in either black or silver, so you can match it to your TV. The YSP-3300 might be expensive compared to much of the competition but there's no doubting the build quality, which justifies the price tag. During the review we used the YSP-3300 with a 50" Pioneer KURO, a 60" Panasonic ZT65 and a 65" Panasonic VT65 and the YSP-3300 matched them all very well, adding to the overall aesthetic. On the left hand side of the front facia of the soundbar are the infra-red remote sensors and the wireless module, whilst on the right hand side is an informative display. On the right hand top of the soundbar there are basic controls for input, volume +/- and on/off.
Yamaha YSP-3300
The soundbar itself is quite large, measuring 1,002mm wide and 161mm deep, which means it doesn't look out of place beneath today's big screen TVs. However despite the size, it also has a low style design and space in the middle for the TV stand, both of which help with easier positioning. The YSP-3300 is only 86mm high, although if you need to this can be increased to 99.5mm by adding the provided spacers. The YSP-3300 can also be wall mounted by using the optional SPM-K20 Wall Mount Bracket. Despite the YSP-3300's low styling, it's still possible that it might block the infra-red receiver for the TV's remote control, so Yamaha have included a TV Remote Repeater on the back that transmits the signal to the TV's remote to the TV's receiver, thus ensuring that the TV's operation is not affected. The soundbar itself uses 16 beam drivers at 2W each that are controlled by Yamaha's YSP technology plus two 6.5cm woofer units at 50W each that are positioned at either end of the cabinet. This combination helps deliver a wider stereo soundstage with clearly positioned dialogue and better localisation of effects.
Yamaha YSP-3300
The YSP-3300's matching subwoofer utilises the same attractive styling as the soundbar and has a large 16cm driver that can either fire sideways or downwards depending on placement. The active subwoofer includes 130W of built-in amplification and uses Yamaha's exclusive Advanced YST technology to produce clear, powerful bass. The circuit board has a proprietary grounding pattern that ensures stable current supply. The Linear Port improves sound dispersion and is designed to minimise unnecessary noise. The subwoofer uses Yamaha's proprietary AirWired technology to wirelessly connect with the soundbar, thus eliminating the need to connect cables. The wireless nature of the subwoofer makes placement easy and we had no issues connecting to the soundbar, which also made setup fast and simple. The feet of the subwoofer can be attached in either a horizontal or a vertical position which provides even greater flexibility in terms of placement. At the rear of the subwoofer are the group ID switches for wireless connection and a Link indicator LED.
Yamaha YSP-3300
At the rear of the YSP-3300 there are four HDMI inputs, which should be enough for most people, and one HDMI output with ARC (Audio Return Channel). The YSP-3300 can also pass both 3D and 4K over HDMI which affords a degree of future-proofing. We were also glad to see that the YSP-3300 passed video through without doing anything to affect the signal. There's also an optical digital input, a coaxial digital input, analogue left and right RCA inputs and a 3.5mm jack for the IntelliBeam setup mic. Finally, for custom installers there is an Ethernet port for RS-232C (RJ 12) system control, IR extension and IR in and out connectors.
Yamaha YSP-3300
The provided remote control is well made and comfortable to hold but it is surprisingly large for a soundbar. However it does include a comprehensive set of buttons including basic navigation keys, Cinema DSP presets, inputs, volume +/- and mute. There are also keys for the sound beam output method, the compressed music enhancer, the stereo and surround options, the target key, the subwoofer volume and the setup menu. One of the reasons for the remote's large size is the slide down flap at the bottom, which on the YSP-4300 includes a number of additional controls but on the YSP-3300 only includes channel level, remote repeater and ECO.

Setup

The YSP-3300 is extremely easy to setup, you just position the soundbar centrally beneath your TV, connect all your HDMI sources to it, connect the HDMI output to the TV and plug it in. You then need to position the subwoofer, plug it in and turn it on, at which point it will link with the soundbar. Then all you need to do is run the IntelliBeam setup feature by connecting the included microphone. It's best to position the microphone at ear height in the sweet spot and Yamaha include a cardboard stand in the box in case you don't have a tripod of your own. IntelliBeam is a Yamaha exclusive feature that ensures optimum multi-channel sound reproduction with accurate image location, you simply activate it and leave the room. The YSP-3300 then creates a series of test tones that it monitors and analyses with the microphone and automatically sets the best beam angles, while optimising the level and frequency response of each beam.
Yamaha YSP-3300
Yamaha YSP-3300
The YSP-3300 includes an easy to read and simple to navigate menu system that makes rest of the setup process just as easy. The first menu page controls all the Beam features, including the IntelliBeam automatic setup and the manual control of the horizontal angle, beam travel length, focal length, image location and channel out. The second page relates to the Sound features and includes the speaker level, adaptive DRC, dynamic range, matrix decoder and Dolby PLIIx parameters.
Yamaha YSP-3300
Yamaha YSP-3300
The third page covers all the HDMI features including turning the HDMI control on or off, choosing whether HDMI audio out is handled by the YSP-3300 or the TV and switching the TV input between optical digital and digital coaxial. The fourth page relates to Yamaha's proprietary AirWired feature and here you can select the iPod interlock and change the wireless group ID.
Yamaha YSP-3300
Yamaha YSP-3300
The fifth menu page relates to the front panel Display and allows you to dim he brightness, change the OSD language and select which distance units to be used in the setup. Finally there is the Information page which displays audio input information, video input information and the unit's current firmware version.

Features

The YSP-3300 decodes all the usual HD audio formats to ensure the best possible sound from Blu-ray Disc players, as well as other digital sources. It also includes Yamaha's sound beam technology which is designed to create the effect of surround sound by producing beams of sound and using advanced processing to control their directions. As a result the YSP-3300 audio is more immersive with a natural ambience, better imaging and a wider "sweet-spot" listening area. The YSP-3300 achieves its surround effect by directing sound beams off the walls to reach the listener from various angles. The main mode is 5 BeamPlus2 for 7-channel sources but in addition, there are other listening modes including 3 BeamPlus2 + Stereo, 5 Beam, Stereo + 3 Beam, 3 Beam, Stereo, Target mode and My Surround.
The YSP-3300 also includes Yamaha’s Cinema DSP technology to replicate realistic soundscapes in any room. You can select 10 different programmes, including three Movie, three Music and four Entertainment programmes. There's also the Compressed Music Enhancer which is designed to improve the frequency response of digitally compressed formats like MP3. The UniVolume feature is designed to maintain the same volume level between TV programmes and advert breaks which can be handy if you watch a lot of commercial TV stations.
When connected to a CEC-compatible TV, the YSP-3300 will turn on and off together with the TV, and you can use the TV remote unit to control the volume. CEC also provides advanced functionality with other components. There is also a memory feature that allows for storing three groups of settings for quick recall. These settings include playback mode, Cinema DSP mode and IntelliBeam measurement results. Finally there's the ECO feature which, when enabled, turns the display off and puts the unit into standby mode under various conditions, such as no input signal for 30 minutes.
Yamaha YSP-3300
The YSP-3300 also comes with the YIT-W12TX Wireless Transmitter included which is designed to wirelessly stream music from your iPod/iPhone/iPad or Mac/PC to the soundbar. The Yamaha-developed AirWired technology provides uncompressed linear PCM transmission for consistently clear, accurate sound output. We tested the wireless transmitter with an iPhone, an iPod and an iPad, as well as a MacBook Pro. In the case of an iDevice you just attach the wireless transmitter directly to the connector but in the case of a Mac or PC, you use a USB adaptor. Setting the wireless transmitter up is easy, although if you want to use it with a Mac or PC you need to set the group ID on the transmitter, the subwoofer and the soundbar to a different setting to the default one. The results were excellent with all the sources we tried and we were able to stream music without any issues.

Video Review

Audio Performance

The audio performance of the YSP-3300 was excellent, thanks in part to the size of the soundbar which delivered an appropriate amount of stereo separation. The solid build quality of the soundbar, along with the large woofers and speaker arrays, resulted in an impressively wide soundstage at the front. Music was well rendered and dialogue clear and nicely anchored to the centre of the screen. Sound effects were well placed with good localisation at the front and a surprisingly immersive sense of surround for a soundbar. The subwoofer was also highly effective, delivering plenty of low-end impact whilst integrating with the soundbar without swamping dialogue. The wireless connection between the soundbar and subwoofer proved to be very robust, with no problems related to loss of connection. The YSP-3300 was also surprisingly effective with two-channel audio, and for a soundbar, the Yamaha could deliver a pleasingly musical performance.
Yamaha YSP-3300
Yamaha's claims that their sound beam technology can create a genuine 7.1-channel surround sound experience isn't strictly true. Whilst there's no denying that the technology certainly creates a far greater sense of immersion and sound envelopment, it isn't equivalent to actually having speakers at the sides and rears. What the sound beam technology does is direct the audio at the walls to reflect the sound around and behind the listener. Whilst this certainly works at creating pseudo-surround effects, which are especially impressive coming from a soundbar, you don't have the same kind of precise localisation that you would get to with actual speakers in a 7.1-channel setup. We were able to test this by using 7.1-channel test tones which were clearly coming from the front and not from the sides or rear, as they would with a 7.1-channel speaker setup. of course, on the plus side there are considerably less wires involved with soundbar approach. The ability to direct the sound beams means that you can also target a specific point, so for example, if you are off to one side, perhaps in a dining room or kitchen, the audio can be sent over there.
Yamaha YSP-3300
Our review of the YSP-3300 coincided with watching the series Spartacus: War of the Damned on Blu-ray and it proved to be a great test of the soundbar's capabilities. The TV series has a seriously amped up sound design, with aggressive use of the surrounds and plenty of bass. The YSP-3300 did a superb job of creating an expansive front soundstage that extended well beyond the dimensions of the soundbar itself. Dialogue was crystal clear and anchored to the centre of the screen whilst the music was well rendered thanks to the stereo separation the soundbar offers. The subwoofer delivered an impressive amount of bass with a sledgehammer impact to go with the bone crunching action on screen. The low frequencies were tight, well timed and nicely integrated with the rest of the sound field. Where the YSP-3300 really surprised was with the amount of surround presence it could create, which shows that whilst the envelopment is an illusion it is a highly effective one. The atmospheric sounds of crowds or the noise effects in the many battle scenes would appear to come from the side and even behind at times, proving that the sound beams were being effectively reflected off the side and rear walls. The surround effects are nowhere near as precise as you would get with actual speakers at the sides or rear but its still very impressive for a soundbar.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Immersive soundstage
  • Flexible installation
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Attractive design
  • Extensive connections
  • Easy to setup

The Bad

  • Pricier than competition
  • Remote is cumbersome

Yamaha YSP-3300 Soundbar with Wireless Active Subwoofer Review

The YSP-3300 certainly looks the part with a large main soundbar solidly constructed from aluminium and utilising an attractive black or silver mirrored finish. The soundbar itself includes 16 array speakers along the centre and two larger woofers at either end. The added size of the soundbar means it's capable of a suitably expansive sound and doesn't look out of place with today's bigger screen sizes. However despite the larger dimensions, the YSP-3300 still has a low style design to make it easier to position in front of your TV. Although, in case the soundbar does block the infra-red receiver at the bottom of your TV, Yamaha have cleverly included a infra-red repeater so that you can continue to use your TV remote. The wireless active subwoofer uses the same attractive styling as the soundbar and has detachable feet to allow for either vertical or horizontal installation. We had absolutely no problems connecting the subwoofer to the soundbar and the wireless nature of this connection allowed for extremely flexible placement.

At the rear of the YSP-3300 are 4 HDMI inputs, which should be enough for most people, and the Yamaha can pass both 3D and 4K, providing a degree of future proofing. The remote control seemed unnecessarily large but setup was very simple thanks to an intuitive and easy to navigate menu system and the IntelliBeam feature automatically calculated the optimum soundfield. The YSP-3300 can decode all the HD audio formats and offers a number of listening modes, along with 10 Cinema DSP programmes. Other features include Compressed Music Enhancer, HDMI CEC, a memory function, ECO mode and custom installation functions. The UniVolume feature can be handy for anyone who watches a lot of commercial TV channels, as it keeps the volume of the programmes and adverts at the same level. The YSP-3300 includes a wireless adapter that uses Yamaha's AirWired technology and when attached to an iDevice or computer, allows you to stream high quality music to the soundbar.


One of the key audio features on the YSP-3300 is the inclusion of Yamaha's sound beam technology which uses directional sounds and reflections to create a more immersive audio experience. The full 5 BeamPlus2 setting takes a 7-channel source and attempts to create the actual multi-channel surround sound experience. Obviously it can't really do this because there aren't any actual speakers at the sides and rear but it does create the illusion of a more immersive sound field. We found that whilst we enjoyed the pseudo-surround created by the sound beams, we were less impressed by the various Cinema DSP programmes which were largely unnecessary. Overall the sound quality of the YSP-3300 was excellent, significantly expanding the soundstage for movie and TV soundtracks, whilst also delivering a very pleasing performance with music. The bass was well integrated, providing some effective low end impact and dialogue always remained clear and anchored to the centre of the screen.
Whilst the Yamaha YSP-3300 isn't cheap, it is an excellent soundbar and wireless subwoofer system that combines looks, design, features and performance in equal measures to create a very tempting package. If you're looking for a superb all-round performer that won't look out of place beneath today's larger screen sizes, then the YSP-3300 might be ideal and is definitely worth considering.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
8

Connectivity

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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