Yamaha DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station - Product Review

Yamaha DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station
Yamaha DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station. Image provided by Yamaha Corporation

Introduction To The Yamaha DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station

I get asked by readers often how they can get started in home theater without spending a fortune and having to buy lots of components. One popular solution for a minimum of hassle and cost is with a home theater-in-a-box system. Basically, such systems provide the consumer with everything they need to setup a basic home theater audio/video system, except for the television or video monitor.

One entry in this exciting product category is the Yamaha DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station.

Product Features

The DVX-S120 is anchored by a DVD/AV receiver combo unit. The DVD/CD player section is progressive scan capable and features component, S-video, and standard composite outputs.

The receiver/amplifier section contains a a fully functional 5.1 channel receiver with Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound decoding as well as Dolby Pro Logic II processing, and several proprietary Yamaha DSP (Digital Sound Processing) surround modes.

In addition, the DVX-S120 offers 6.1 channel matrix decoding by creating a virtual or phantom rear center channel. This adds more surround depth on both 5.1 and 6.1 channe1 encoded DVDs, without the need of an extra amplifier channel or a rear center channel speaker. The power output of the amplifier section is 45 WPCx5. The receiver also features an AM/FM tuner with 40 channel presets.

The receiver provides additional audio/video inputs for connection of VCR or DVD recorder, and digital audio input and output for a CD or MD recorder. Also included is a headphone jack for private listening, featuring Yamaha's Silent Cinema headphone surround. To round out the DVX-S120 package, there is a 100-Watt powered subwoofer, as well as five satellite speakers for the main, surround, and center channels.

Finally, the whole system can be controlled with the provided wireless remote control.


For set up, all the connections and cables are provided in the box, and are color coded, making setup easy. Without cracking open the owner's manual, I was watching a DVD in surround sound in about 20 minutes from the time I opened the box.

However, if you need to use the owner's manual, it is easy to understand, with good illustrations. Also, a test tone function is provided to calibrate speaker levels. Lastly, the provided remote control, front panel display, and onscreen menus made navigating through the various setup functions very easy.

Other components used in this review were a 20-inch Sony television monitor (Standard AV inputs) and an Olevia LT30HV 30-inch LCD-TV with S-Video and progressive scan inputs. Comparison DVD players used were the Philips DVDR985 DVD Recorder (progressive scan) and Pioneer DV-525 (S-video). Audio comparisons were made using a Yamaha HTR-5490 AV receiver with Optimus PRO-LX5II satellite speakers and a Yamaha YST-SW205 subwoofer. Shure E3c stereo earphones were used to evaluate the Silent Cinema feature.

Software used included excerpts from Chicago, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Kill Bill, Vol1, Passionada, Valley of Gwangi, and Moulin Rouge, as well as selected music CDs and DTS music discs.


I found that the DVD player not only played DVD-video format discs well, but CDs, CDRs, CDRWs, as well as DTS CD music discs. The DVX-S120 also had no trouble with homemade DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, and DVD+RWs.

On the video side of things, the images reproduced by the DVD player were very good, based on the type of output used. The DVX-S120 tested well on both the 20-inch Sony CRT television with standard AV inputs and the Olevia LT30HV 30-inch LCD television with S-video and Component inputs. With DVD playback, the DVX-S120 exhibited stable color, detail, and artifact control, but not quite as consistent in progressive scan mode as the performance of the Philips DVDR985 (which has Faroudja DCDi processing).

On the audio side of things, the surround stage in both the Dolby Digital and DTS modes was excellent for such a modest system. Sound direction was accurate and the sound stage was very 3-dimensional. In addition, the surround stage on multi-channel music material, such as DTS-music discs and DVD-Audio discs with a DTS or Dolby Digital layer was very good also. In terms of bass response, the subwoofer performed quite well for a compact unit. The midrange was distinct; however, the highs can be somewhat harsh on both movie/music sources.

Final Take

It must be noted that the DVX-S120 does not have SACD or DVD-Audio playback capability. However, with its DSP surround modes, and both 5.1 and virtual 6.1 channel decoding, the DVX-S120 is a very flexible unit from an audio standpoint.

Video performance is also solid from its composite, S-video, and Progressive scan outputs. DVD load time and chapter advance speed are typical.

However, on the negative side, the provided speaker wire is somewhat flimsy, the highs can be harsh at times, there is weak bass output in the Silent Cinema function, and its modest power output may not be sufficient for a larger room.

In conclusion, from the stylish design, to its ease of setup, solid DVD player video performance, and great surround sound staging, the DVX-S120 is a good performer it its price range of less than $500. This is definitely a system geared towards entry-level users and users in smaller listening environments, such as an apartment, bedroom, or office. With these perspectives in mind, I can recommend the DVX-S120 Home Cinema Station as being worthy of your consideration when shopping for a home theater-in-a-box system.

NOTE: Yamaha has discontinued production of the DVX-S120 but it may still be available used via third parties. 

Also, for comparisons with more currently available products that are similar, refer to my periodically-updated listing of Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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