Design and Installation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Excellent sound quality
- Immersive soundstage
- Flexible installation
- Wireless subwoofer
- Attractive design
- Extensive connections
- Easy to setup
- 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.
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.