The Yamaha YSP-5600 Dolby Atmos Digital Sound Projector

Immersive surround sound without a lot of extra speakers

Soundbars or Sound Bases are extremely popular tools for improving the sound from a TV or entertainment system. A growing number of users are opting for these compact, affordable sound systems for a more convenient and less cluttered multi-speaker setup.

However, one of the drawbacks to soundbars is the diminishing of the surround sound experience. While convenient, these systems just don't provide as immersive a listening environment as traditional home theater systems.

To counter that problem, Yamaha's YSP-5600 Digital Sound Projector provides a possible solution.

Yamaha YSP-5600 Closed and Open Views
Yamaha

Our Findings

What We Like
  • Digital Sound Projection technology produces immersive surround sound without extra speakers.

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible.

  • More connections than most soundbars.

  • Integrates with Yamaha's MusicCast wireless audio system. 

What We Don't Like
  • Requires a closed room and flat ceiling for best results. 

  • DTS:X may require firmware updates. 

  • External subwoofer not included, though can be added.

  • More expensive than most sound bars.

Digital Sound Projection: A Quick Explainer

Digital sound projection is an audio platform that uses an array of small speaker drivers (each with its own amplifier) housed in a single cabinet that looks like a sound bar or sound base. The "beam drivers" (tiny speakers) project sound with directional accuracy from the front to the main listening position as well as to the side and rear walls of your room. The sound bounces back into the listening space to create a realistic 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound field.

Provided you have a closed room and flat ceiling that allows for good sound reflection, a digital sound projector can provide a convincing surround sound listening experience.

How Digital Sound Projection Is Applied to the YSP-5600

With the YSP-5600, Yamaha adds an additional twist to digital sound projection technology by adding vertical channels. 

What this means is the YSP-5600 can be configured for a 7.1.2 channel setup that meets Dolby Atmos requirements. For those not familiar with Dolby Atmos speaker layout terminology, this means that the soundbar will project 7 channels of audio in the horizontal plane, along with a subwoofer channel and two vertical sound channels.

The YSP-5600 encases the room in a bubble that provides listeners with a fully immersive surround sound listening experience from compatible Dolby Atmos-encoded content. This includes most Blu-ray Discs, but if you have a compatible smart TV, you may be able to access some Dolby Atmos-encoded content via online streaming.

To make the setup easier, a specially provided plug-in microphone is provided. The soundbar generates test tones that are projected into the room, during which the microphone picks up the tones and passes them to the 5600. Special software in the 5600 analyzes the tones and adjusts beam driver performance to best match room dimensions and acoustic properties.

Yamaha YSP-5600 7.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Setup
Yamaha

What Else You Get 

Channel Configuration, Audio Decoding, and Processing

As stated above, the YSP-5600 provides up to 7.1.2 Channels (7 horizontal, 1 subwoofer channel, 2 height channels). The YSP-5600 has built-in audio decoding for several Dolby and DTS surround sound formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. (DTS:X may need to be added through a firmware update.)

Additional surround sound support is provided by Yamaha's DSP (Digital Surround Processing) Modes (Movie, Music, Entertainment), as well as additional listening modes (3D Surround, Stereo). A Compressed Music Enhancer is provided to improve sound quality on digital music files, such as MP3s.

Speaker Complement

The YSP-5600 includes a complex array of built-in beam drivers, which are very small speakers.

There are 44 beam drivers (12 tiny 1-1/8 inch and 12 1-1/2 inch speakers), each powered by their own 2-watt digital amplifier, as well as two 4-1/2 inch 40-watt woofers. The total power output for the system is stated as 128 watts (Peak Power). All of the speaker drivers are front-facing, with the vertical firing drivers located near each end of the unit.

Audio Connectivity

There are abundant audio connections that include two digital optical, one digital coaxial, and one set of analog stereo inputs. There is also a subwoofer line output provided for connection to an optional external subwoofer, if desired.

With regard to the subwoofer output feature, the YSP-5600 also has a built-in wireless subwoofer transmitter. To use this feature, users have the option of purchasing the Yamaha SWK-W16 Wireless Subwoofer Receiver Kit, which can connect to any subwoofer. Yamaha suggests its NS-SW300 but any subwoofer will work.

Yamaha YSP-5600 Digital and Analog Audio Connection
Yamaha

Video Connectivity

For video, the YSP-5600 provides 4 HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, 3D and 4K pass-through with HDCP 2.2 copy-protection (necessary for compatibility with 4K streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray disc sources) and ARC compatibility. There is no information regarding HDR compatibility.

Yamaha YSP-5600 HDMI Connections
Yamaha

Network and Streaming Features

The YSP-5600 also includes both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, local network content access, and internet streaming (such as Pandora, Deezer, Rhapsody, Spotify, Sirius/XM, and TIDAL).

Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth are also included. The Bluetooth feature on the YSP-5600 is bi-directional. This means that you both stream music directly from compatible source devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as stream music content from the YSP-5600 to compatible Bluetooth headphones or speakers.

MusicCast

A big bonus feature is the incorporation of Yamaha's latest version of its MusicCast multi-room audio system platform. This platform enables the YSP-5600 to send, receive, and share music content between a variety of compatible Yamaha components, including home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, soundbars, and powered wireless speakers.

This means that not only can the YSP-5600 be used for improving the TV sound experience, but it can be incorporated into a whole-house audio system.

Yamaha MusicCast - Lifestyle and Diagram
Yamaha MusicCast - Lifestyle and Diagram. Images provided by Yamaha

Control Options

For control flexibility, the YSP-5600 can be operated by the included remote control, or via compatible smartphones and tablets using the free Yamaha Remote Controller App for iOS or Android. In addition, it can be integrated into a custom control setup via its IR sensor in/out and RS232C connection options.

Yamaha YSP-5600 Control Connections
Yamaha

The Final Verdict

The YSP-5600 definitely signals an advance in the soundbar concept. Having experienced Yamaha's Digital Sound Projection technology since its original introduction some years ago, we can confidently say it's an effective platform for providing a surround sound experience without the hassle of a separate home theater receiver or individual speakers. But it is definitely more expensive. With a suggested price of around $1,500, it's more in line with what many receiver/speaker setups cost than a traditional soundbar.

Also keep in mind that even though the incorporation of Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MusicCast are nice bonuses, if you want the full home theater audio experience, you still need to add a subwoofer at extra cost.