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Hardware Review Yamaha YSP-5600 Dolby Atmos Sound Bar - Official HTF Review

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Sam Posten, May 22, 2016.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Yamana YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X™, paired with Yamaha NS-SW300 Subwoofer HTF Review

    http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/digital-sound-projector/ysp-5600_u/
    http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/speaker-systems/subwoofers/ns-sw300_w/?mode=model

    With the recent release of Dolby Atmos formatted disks over the past 12 months or so the drum has been beating for me to actually put this capability in my home, to experience it for myself, and decide if it’s really the quantum leap that it has been touted as. The problem in doing so is an extreme reluctance on my part to spring for the expensive challenge of fishing wires through walls to ensure that an Atmos powered receiver (which, uh, I don’t have) can feed the gaggle of extra speakers which are necessary to enjoy this format. Oh, and my theatrical Atmos experience has ruined me for anything less than 2 front and 2 back height channels too, and none of even the top end receivers on the market support 5.1.4 channels, let alone the 7.1.4 channels that I’d like to get set up if I’m going to go through the pain of busting through walls and studs to pull wires. And leaving wires exposed along floor boards isn’t an option for me either, unless we’re talking about my home office where the wires are hidden behind desks. But until I recently updated my office set to 4K (my first Ultra panel!) my office was limited to 2.1 surround (tho I confess there’s a modest 5.1 surround setup in there for my PC gaming rig).

    So these disks continued to stack up until I saw a glimmer of hope that might allow me to experience Atmos without the hassle of running wires or the expense of adding additional speakers and a new receiver: Yamaha and others have started shipping soundbars (ugh, right?) that have arrays of mini speakers packed inside to ‘throw’ the sound in different directions to mimic the effect of having physical speakers around the listening position. Neat! That might just work at least in my office, and it would let me pair Atmos and 4K too! We reached out to Yamaha and they were nice enough to send a unit for us to review.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3030.3147/

    On its arrival I immediately second guessed my ability to fit it into my office space.

    Hey, it’s NOT THAT THIN!
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/50806_12073_1.3201/

    The boxes are huge (Yamaha paired the 5600 sound bar with their SW30 Sub to ensure full coverage of sound) and heavy. Unpacking was easy but there are a LOT of parts in there, and manuals for features like the Musicast which I was not intending to take significant advantage of. I’ve got terrific setups for music already, both wired and Bluetooth, and my focus with the 5600 was entirely on movies with surround sound. Apologies if you were hoping to hear more about that in this review but it simply wasn’t part of my use for these devices.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3037.3150/
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3039.3151/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3040.3152/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3042.3153/

    I unpacked the 5600, paired it with my Visio P-50 4K/Dolby Vision enabled panel and also hooked up the Samsung 8500 UHD disk player. The funky part of my setup is I’m fully HDR enabled through Dolby Vision but Vizio has not released the HDR10 support for this set as promised so I can’t watch HDR disks yet. Soon I hope!

    Shultz was suitably impressed with seeing the 5600 in front of the panel but for me sitting back, there was no way that I was going to be happy with it.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3053.3159/

    Also, reading through the instructions it became clear that the office simply was not going to be an optimal place to run this device acoustically. 60 degree sloping walls would have been bad enough but the space is simply too small for the Intellibeam mic to function well enough to set the speakers up in a balanced enough way for effective surround sound.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3068.3173/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3048.3156/

    So, on to plan B. I lugged the whole kit down to my family room and plopped it in front of my ancient DVD-era Paradigm speaker setup. 15+ years later they are as crisp and clean as the day I got em, but they don’t support Atmos without rewiring and adding in a half dozen more of them. Also, I still ‘only’ have a 1080P Plasma in that room, so no pairing Atmos and 4K, bummer.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3066.3171/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3056.3162/

    There was plenty of room on the shelf for the Yamaha 5600 and a convenient corner to put the SW30, so we were off to the races with a more traditional room for the sensor to work its magic. That process involves unwinding an extremely long cable to allow the mic to sit atop your prime listening area, my setup had it positioned just left of my typical seat position but I checked it in all 5 other couch spots we generally use in the room and the results were pretty symmetrical in all of them.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3071.3176/
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3081.3186/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3074.3179/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3064.3169/

    Then the fun began. I dug through a bunch of “best Atmos tracks” threads on line and pulled the disks from my library that had them, and ordered a couple more I didn’t already have. In all I watched clips from over a dozen Atmos powered films and enjoyed 4 of them so much while sampling that I watched them all the way through again despite having seen them multiple times already in ‘regular’ 5.1 surround. I also watched a few 5.1 faves like Gravity to see how they’d hold up and even gave The Gong Show’s DTS Mono track a listen. There IS an Atmos Gravity Blu out there but good luck getting ahold of one, it’s $75 used. I’ll wait for the UHD thanks!
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3118.3203/

    UHD Atmos
    Expedables 3
    Mad Max
    Enders Game
    Amazing Spider Man 2

    Bluray Atmos

    John Wick
    San Andreas
    Jupiter Ascending
    Mad Max
    (Still to be seen: The Hunger Games box set!)

    Bluray DD/DTS
    Purple Rain
    Gravity
    The Gong Show (Mono)

    Ultimately I came to the following, consistent conclusion: The front stage audio field is VERY wide and enveloping. It’s far more engaging than any other soundbar I have listened to on that fact alone. Additionally, the rear channel imaging was surprisingly effective. You can definitely pinpoint data coming from left and right behind you. It’s not a gimmick, the YSP 5600 really does do full surround sufficiently well that I can recommend it if you absolutely must stick with a soundbar instead of putting an array of individual speakers around the room. It doesn’t match the quality of a full discrete 5.1 setup of course but it will do if you have that limitation.

    On the Atmos front tho I have to say I found the height effect VERY subtle and felt that the data from these channels was subsumed into the front left and rights and I could not tell a difference between those two elements. I know for sure that they are going from specific individual speakers within the bar because you can hear them ‘light up’ from different areas when doing speaker calibration checks, but the ‘wash’ of audio seems to come from the front rather than the roof more often than not. Now, you have to understand that I have only heard Atmos theatrically and in a very controlled mock home setup during Dolby demonstrations, I don’t have a home Atmos setup I can compare and contrast it with, so you’ll have to count that in my evaluation.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3091.3196/

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/img_3077.3182/

    In that respect I was a little let down but not surprised. I imagine there are perfectly shaped rooms where the YSP 5600 really can bounce the sound around enough to give the full Atmos effect but mine was not one of them. For that reason, I’d caution readers to not pin their hopes on getting rid of full surround arrays and having all their sound needs met with just a single speaker (and sub). But for those who are in the market for a high end soundbar that can really do a great, wide, front sound stage backed with an entirely passable job of putting phantom surround speakers behind you, the 5600 is definitely your go to solution. Maybe you will find the height speaker data more realistic than I did, there is no way to tell but to give it a whirl yourself, but going in you need to know that Yamaha has a very specific set of room parameters that work well, and if yours are outside that the effectiveness decreases correspondingly.

    There were a couple of other factors that I found issue with as well. First, there are a number of dialogue normalization / equalization set up options to pick from without much of an explanation, I found the most aggressive option to be the one I chose most often, but it boosted voices too much in some films. You will have to play with it to see which you liked best. I typically would turn that stuff off but it really was needed with this soundbar, perhaps because off of the other sounds are originating right next to where dialogue is coming from, potentially drowning it out.

    Second, I found the menus to be a bit terse and unfriendly. At one point I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t displaying that I was actually getting Dolby Atmos data, and just getting Dolby Digital. Other owners chimed in to my request on another board that I needed to enable PCM mode on my UHD deck to make that work. A non-enthusiast would never have even known they weren’t getting real Atmos data and would have just gone on expecting that it was working right. 15 years after we first started having these problems with DVDs I am still mystified about choosing between Bitstream and PCM a lot of times. It’s one of the worst issues with our hobby when it rears its head because it honestly doesn’t even make sense if you know about it.

    The SW30 wasn’t supposed to be the main point of this review but I’ll note it pairs well with the YSP-5600 and the cable that lets you turn the both components off with a single click is a nice touch. They both also power on via the CEC scheme if your panel supports that. While watching in my office I was completely satisfied with it, and it was surprisingly capable of filling the family room, tho I definitely prefer my existing 12” sub for those duties. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the cost. The 5600 lists for $1699.99 but you can find it on Amazon for $1599.99 regularly. The SW-30 lists for $549.99 and is that price on Amazon right now. You can add a ‘wireless’ sub kit that lets you put the sub anywhere in the room, but you still have to power it. That goes for $149.99 too.
    http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YSP-5600-Music-Sound-Dolby/dp/B016B44AP4
    http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-NS-SW300PN-20-160-Powered-Subwoofer/dp/B00FRET3IY
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017H13CK4

    That’s an astonishing $2300 or so if you buy all three pieces. It might be challenging to put together a full 5.1.2 speaker package plus receiver for that, but doing so will give you a lot more flexibility, accuracy and expandability if you do so. You also have to pull a lot of wires through walls to make it right. It’s a big tradeoff you’ll have to consider. If you need to cut costs somewhere I’d think hard about the accessories. The $549 for the SW30 sub in particular, there are a lot of less expensive options out there, and a variety of 6, 8, 10 and 12 inch coned subs near or below that price range. I’m running without the wireless sub adaptor myself and suspect the vast majority of buyers will be too.

    As noted above I did not test this combo as a Bluetooth sound set, and I will also note that while Yamaha claims that DTS:X support is coming soon, it was not part of my testing nor do I even know if I have any disks with that surround format included.

    As for my own Atmos aspirations, I’m going to say that while the YSP-5600 is a terrific Sound Bar, it’s not going to meet my very specific desires to squeeze all that Atmos has to offer in my own home. I’ll keep trying tho and will soon have to consider getting a professional to help me get the wiring work done to make it a reality.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/0b86a55d55e344bb9f9ebc8c455aa49f_12075.3199/
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/media/c2b6b7df6747469e83a66d18eb808694_12075.3202/

    YSP 5600 Specs:
    Output Channel 7.1.2-channel
    Output Power 128 W total power: 88 W array speakers + 40 W woofers
    Standby Power Consumption 0.3 W (HDMI control OFF, Network Standby OFF), 2.0 W (HDMI Control OFF, Network standby ON, Wi-Fi ON)
    Beam Drivers Vertical sound beam speaker array: 1-1/8" x 6 beam drivers x 2 (L / R) Horizontal sound beam speaker rray: 1-1/2" x 32 beam drivers Woofer: 4-1/2" x 2 woofers
    Woofers 4-1/2” x 2 woofers
    Dimensions (W x H x D) [without stands] 43-1/4” x 8-3/8” x 3-5/8” [with included stands] 43-1/4” x 8-1/2” x 4-3/4”
    Weight 25.8 lbs
    Input / Output HDMI 4 in (Input 1: HDCP 2.2) / 1 out (HDC P2.2, ARC)

    Digital Optical 2 in
    Digital Coaxial 1 in
    Analog Audio 1 in
    Subwoofer Output Yes
    HDMI 4K Pass-through Yes (60p)
    x.v.Color Yes
    3D Pass-through Yes
    ARC Yes
    CEC Yes
    Auto Lip-Sync Yes
    CINEMA DSP Movie - 3 (Sci-Fi, Adventure, Spectacle)
    CINEMA DSP Music - 3 (Music Video, Concert, Jazz Club)
    CINEMA DSP Entertainment - 4 (Sports, Talk Show, Drama, Game)
    Listening Mode 3D SURROUND, SURROUND, STEREO, TARGET Playback mode, My Surround
    Compressed Music Enhancer Yes
    Audio Formats Dolby Atmos Yes
    Dolby TrueHD Yes
    Dolby Digital Plus Yes
    Dolby Digital Yes
    Dolby Digital EX Yes
    DTS:X Yes (via a future firmware update)
    DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
    DTS-HD High Resolution Yes
    DTS Digital Surround Yes
    DTS-ES Yes
    DTS 96/24 Yes
    LPCM Yes
    Connectivity Wireless Music Streaming Yes (with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi)
    Wi-Fi Yes (IEEE802.11b/g/n, Radio Frequency Band 2.4GHz)
    AirPlay Yes
    Bluetooth Version/Profile (Version) Ver. 2.1 + EDR (Codec) Receiving: SBC, MPEG4-AAC / Transmitting: SBC
    Ethernet Yes (100base-T, 10base-T)
    IntelliBeam Yes
    On-Screen Display Yes
    On-Screen Display Languages - English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese
    ECO Mode Yes
    App Control Yes

    SW30 Specs
    Driver - 10” cone
    Output Power - 250 W
    Frequency Response - 20-160 Hz
    Advanced YST - Yes
    High-Efficiency Power Amplifier Yes
    Twisted Flare Port Yes
    BASS (Bass Action Selector System) Yes
    Auto Standby Yes
    Standby Power Consumption 0.3 W
    System Connector Yes
    Bass Action Selector Switch Yes
    Phase Control Yes
    Aluminum Front Panel No
    Power and Volume Switch Yes (front panel)
    Dimensions (W x H x D) 13-3/4” x 14-3/8” x 16-1/2”
    Weight 39.7 lbs.
     
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