Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projection System - Review

A Twist on the Sound Bar Concept

Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projection System
Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projection System. Photo from Amazon

The Yamaha YSP-2200 looks like a typical sound bar/subwoofer pairing, but this system takes a different tact by employing digital sound projection technology. With 16 individual speakers (referred to as beam drivers) housed in a single, central, unit and an external subwoofer, the YSP-2200 produces a surround sound home theater experience. The YSP-2200 features extensive audio decoding and processing and is also 3D and Audio Return Channel compatible. Also, using optional docking stations, users can plug their iPod or iPhone or a Bluetooth adapter. After reading this review, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile for a closer look at the Yamaha YSP-2200.

Digital Sound Projector Basics

A Digital Sound Projector outwardly looks like a sound bar, but instead of just housing one or two speakers for each channel within a single cabinet, a digital sound projector utilizes an entire panel of extremely small speakers (referred to as "beam drivers") each powered by its own 2-watt amplifier. The number of beam drivers housed in a digital sound projector can number from 16 up to 40 or more depending on the unit - The YSP-2200 provided for this review houses 16 beam drivers, for a cumulative total power output for all the beam drivers of 32 watts.

During setup, the beam drivers direct sound to specific locations or wall reflection to create a 2, 5, or even 7 channel system. To create the surround sound listening environment, the sound is projected in "beams" for each channel from the assigned drivers. Since all of the sounds emanate from the front of the room, the setup process calculates the distance from the sound projector unit to both the listening position and the surrounding walls in order to provide the optimum beam direction to create the desired surround sound listening experience.

In addition, the digital sound projector houses all needed amplifiers and audio processors, and, in the case for the Yamaha YSP-2200, the sound projector unit also house the amplifier that provides power for an external passive subwoofer. For a complete technical rundown on digital sound projection, with specific emphasis on the YSP-2200, check out the Yamaha YSP-2200 Developer's Story (pdf).

Yamaha YSP-2200 Product Overview

General Description: Digital Projector unit (YSP-CU2200) with 16 "beam drivers" combined with a Passive Subwoofer (NS-SWP600).

Core Technology: Digital Sound Projection

Channel Configuration: Up to 7.1 channels. Setup options: 5BeamPlus2, 3BeamPLUS2+Stereo, 5 Beam, Stereo+3Beam, 3Beam, Stereo and My Surround

Power Output: 132 watts (2 watts x 16) plus 100 watts supplied to the subwoofer.

Beam Drivers (speakers): 1-1/8 inches x 16.

Subwoofer: Two front-firing 4-inch drivers combined with the front port (bass reflex design).

Video Processing: Direct pass through of the video source signals (2D and 3D) up to 1080p resolution, NTSC and PAL compatible, no additional video upscaling.

Audio Inputs: (in addition to HDMI): Two digital optical, One digital coaxial, One set analog stereo.

Video Inputs: Three HDMI (ver 1.4a) - Audio Return Channel and 3D-enabled.

Outputs (video): One HDMI, One Composite Video

Additional Connectivity: Yamaha Universal Dock connection for iPod ( via optional YDS-12), Bluetooth Compatibility via Bluetooth® Wireless Audio Receiver, (With optional YBA-10), Wireless iPod/iPhone Compatibility via Yamaha Wireless Dock System (YID-W10).

Additional Features: Onscreen menu system, front panel LED status display.

Accessories Provided: Detachable subwoofer feet, User Guide on CD-ROM, Demonstration DVD, remote control, digital optical cable, Intellibeam microphone, IR flasher, digital coaxial audio cable, composite video cable, subwoofer speaker wire, warranty and registration sheets, and cardboard stand for the Intellibeam microphone (see supplementary photo).

Dimensions (W x H x D): YSP-CU2220 37 1/8-inches x 3 1/8-inches x 5 3/4-inches (height adjustable). NS-SWP600 Subwoofer - 17 1/8-inches x 5 3/8-inches x 13 3/4-inches (horizontal postiion) - 5 1/2-inches x 16 7/8-inches x 13 3/4-inches (vertical position).

Weight: YSP-CU2220 9.5 lbs, NS-SWP600 subwoofer 13.2 lbs.

Hardware Used for source and comparison:

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93 used to play Blu-ray, DVD, CD, SACD, DVD-Audio Discs, and streaming movie content.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System Used for Comparison: Klipsch Quintet III in combination with Polk PSW10 Subwoofer.

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs: "Across The Universe", "Avatar", "Battle: Los Angeles", "Hairspray", "Inception", "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2", "Megamind", "Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief", Shakira - "Oral Fixation Tour", "Sherlock Holmes", "The Expendables", "The Dark Knight", "The Incredibles" and "Tron: Legacy".

Standard DVDs used included scenes from the following: "The Cave", "Hero", "House of the Flying Daggers", "Kill Bill" - Vols. 1/2, "Kingdom of Heaven" (Director's Cut), "Lord of the Rings Trilogy", "Master and Commander", "Moulin Rouge", and "U571".

Streaming Movie Content: Netflix - "Let Me In", Vudu - "Sucker Punch"

CDs: Al Stewart - "Sparks of Ancient Light", Beatles - "LOVE", Blue Man Group - "The Complex", Joshua Bell - Bernstein - "West Side Story Suite", Eric Kunzel - "1812 Overture", HEART - "Dreamboat Annie", Nora Jones - "Come Away With Me", Sade - "Soldier of Love".

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - "Night At The Opera/The Game", The Eagles - "Hotel California", and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - "Uninvisible".

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - "Dark Side Of The Moon", Steely Dan - "Gaucho", The Who - "Tommy".

Installation and Setup

Unboxing and setting up the Yamaha YSP-2200 system is easy. The entire package consists of three components: the YSP-CU2200 Sound Projector Unit, the NS-SWP600 Passive Subwoofer, and a wireless infrared remote control.

The sound projector unit is intended to be placed on a shelf or a stand in front, above, or below a flat panel LCD or Plasma TV. This unit also has large retractable feet that allow the user to physically raise or lower the position of the unit so that it doesn't block the TV's remote control sensors or the bottom of the TV screen if placed in front of the TV. Also, if you prefer a lower profile in front of your TV on a shelf, you can remove the retractable feet and replace them with four attachable non-skid pads that are provided.

On the rear of the main unit, there are three HDMI input connections for connecting source devices and one HDMI output that is used to connect the sound projector to your TV. However, an additional composite video connection must be made between the sound projector and the TV in order to view and use the sound projector's onscreen menu system.

One additional connection that must be made is between the sound projector and the provided passive subwoofer. Since the amplifier for the subwoofer is housed in the projector unit, a physical connection, using speaker wire (provided) must be made between the sound projector and the subwoofer. I felt somewhat disappointed with this part of the installation as an increasing number of sound bar systems now employ wireless self-powered subwoofers, which not only makes the extra clutter of a connection wire unnecessary but frees the subwoofer for more flexible room placement.

After placing the YSP-CU2200 Sound Projector Unit and the NS-SWP600 Passive Subwoofer in your room, you can now begin the setup process. Both manual and auto system calibration options are provided. However, the best option, especially for the novice, is to use the automatic setup option.

Whether using the automatic or manual setup options, you must place a provided Intellibeam microphone in your primary listening position (either on the supplied cardboard stand or a camera tripod). Using the onscreen menu, you are then prompted to start the setup process and are instructed to leave the room while process performs its tasks.

Using a series of self-generated test tones, the sound projector calculates all the needed parameters (horizontal angle, beam travel length, focal length, and channel level) to provide the best surround sound listening results. After the process is completed, you can disconnect the setup microphone and also have the option to go in manually and make any setting changes. You can also rerun the auto-calibration process up to three times and store the settings into a memory for later retrieval.

If you have your source components connected, you are now set to go.

Audio Performance

The YSP-2200 has built-in decoders and processors for most Dolby and DTS surround sound formats. After the designated surround format decoding or processing takes place, the YSP-2200 then takes the decoding or processing signals and directs them through the digital sound projection process so that each channel is directed properly in accordance with how you set up the YSP-2200.

Using primarily the 5 Beam and 5 Beam + 2 setup, I found that the surround sound result was very good, although not a precise as a system using dedicated speakers for each channel. The front left and right channels were placed well beyond the physical borders of the projector unit, and the center channel was accurately placed. The left and right surround sound were also well directed to the sides and slightly to the rear, but I felt the Plus 2 back channel result was not as effective as when using a system with dedicated surround back channel speakers.

One of the test cuts that illustrated the sound beaming ability of the YSP-2200 was the "echo game" scene in "House of the Flying Daggers" where dried beans are bounced off vertical drums located in a large room. The YSP-2200 did well on the front and side effects, but the detail in the side to rear effects when all the beans are released at once was a little dull in comparison to the dedicated 5-speaker system I used for comparison.

I found that the two-channel stereo reproduction, specifically from CDs, were imaged well, but the depth and detail were a little dull. For instance, the breathiness of Norah Jone's voice on "Don't Know Why" from the CD "Come Away With Me" exhibited a slight dullness in the midrange and a slight "hiss" on the end of some vocal lines. Also, the character of the acoustical instruments was less detailed that the Klipsch Quintet speaker system used for comparison.

On the other hand, I did find, although the character of the sound was the same, the YSP-2200, to my surprise, did very well reproducing a fairly accurate 5.1 channel sound field when feeding SACD and DVD-Audio signals via the HDMI output of the OPPO BDP-93 Blu-ray Disc player. Good examples of this were the SACD 5.1 channel mix of "Money" from the Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and the DVD-Audio 5.1 channel mix of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" from "A Night at the Opera".

With regards to the subwoofer's performance, here I found that it did well in providing the necessary low-frequency complement to the sound projector unit, but it wasn't a stellar performer, the low frequencies were there, but there was drop-off at the very low end and, although not overly boomy, the bass was not that tight. This was especially illustrated on CD cuts, such as Heart's "Magic Man" and Sade's "Soldier of Love" CDs, both of which have extreme low-frequency segments. However, it must be noted that many subwoofers have various degrees of difficulty reproducing the lowest bass on these cuts accurately, which makes them good test examples.

Video Performance

There isn't much to say regarding video performance of the YSP-2200 system, as the video connections it provides are pass-through only and the there is no additional video processing or upscaling capability present. The only video performance test that I conducted was to make sure that YSP-CU2200 unit did not negatively impact video source signal pass-through. To do this, I compared direct source to TV connectivity vs connection through the YSP-CU2200 unit and found no visible difference in image quality displayed on the TV used.

On the other hand, one video connection inconvenience is that in order to access the onscreen display menu of the YSP-CU2200, you must connect a composite video cable from the YSP-CU2200 unit to your TV. In other words, you need to have both an HDMI connection and a composite video connection from the YSP-CU2200 in order to pass through both HDMI video signals and the onscreen display menu functions.

It must also be noted that only HDMI video sources can be connected to the YSP-CU2200 unit, so if you have a VCR, DVD player, or another source component that does not use HDMI, you will have to make a direct video connection from that component to your TV, and then connect the audio separately to the YSP-2200 system using one of the additional digital optical or analog stereo input connections.

What I Liked About the Yamaha YSP-2200 System

1. Innovative technology for producing a surround sound experience.

2. Sounds good for movies - puts out more sound than you would think for its size.

3. Automatic setup procedure makes installation easy.

4. Reduces home theater connection clutter.

5. Allows multiple setup preferences (Stereo, 5 channel, 7 channel) to be stored in memory.

6. Stylish, slim profile, design complements LCD and Plasma TVs well.

What I Didn't Like About the Yamaha YSP-2200 System

1. Subwoofer not self-powered.

2. Subwoofer not wireless.

3. Sound Beaming does not work as well in larger rooms or rooms with open sides.

4. No video processing functions.

5. Only accepts video components with HDMI connections.

6. Requires a composite video connection from the sound projector to the TV in order to view and use the onscreen menu system.

Final Take

I have had the opportunity to both observe and experience digital sound projection since its first introduction in the U.S by 1Limited, through its product development throughout the years by Pioneer (2003), Yamaha (2005), and Mitsubishi (2008). Sound projection technology is definitely innovative and provides a good option for experiencing surround sound for those that don't what the hassle of setting up individual speakers and laying speaker wire.

The Yamaha YSP-2200 performed well overall, especially with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, providing a good surround sound experience that is a step above what you get from most sound bar systems and is definitely a worthwhile alternative than settling for a TV's onboard speaker system. Also, if you are casual music listener, the YSP-2200 also does fairly well, but more critical listening does reveal some shortcomings.

It must be pointed out that the YSP-2200 performs its surround sound tasks better in a smaller room environment. While the YSP-2200 has a more impressive sound output than you might think, given its size, if you have a larger room where the rear wall is far from the listening position, the YSP-2200 might come up a little short with rear surround effects. However, Yamaha does offer several other digital sound projector systems that can serve well in a larger room environment (Check out Yamaha's entire Digital Sound Projector Lineup). The other consideration is that the sound beaming technology works better in a room shape that is closer to a square and is fully wall-enclosed. If your room is open on one or more sides, you will experience less directional surround sound effectiveness.

All that being said, the Yamaha YSP-2200 is definitely worth consideration, especially when you note that a fairly accurate surround sound experience originates from just two points: the digital sound projector and subwoofer. The Yamaha YSP-2200 and Digital Sound Projectors, in general, occupy an interesting position in the execution of the surround sound experience between the typical sound bar and a dedicated system with individual speakers for each channel.

For a closer look at the features and connections of the Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projector system, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile.

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