The YSP-1400 is your entry-level ticket to Yamaha's world of digital sound projectors
Performance & Conclusion
To begin, we tested the Yamaha YSP-1400 using our MP3 test tracks. Unfortunately, the YSP-1400 does not have a USB port, so we could not just plug in our USB flash drive. However, the YSP-1400 does offer Bluetooth connectivity and so we streamed the music from our notebook to the YSP-1400 via Bluetooth to play our MP3 test tracks. The problem with this, however, is that streaming music over Bluetooth degrades audio quality as the tracks need to be compressed (of which bear in mind that MP3 itself is a compressed audio format). As a result, performance invariably suffers. Even so, this will be a good chance to evaluate the YSP-1400’s ability to handle music and also its Bluetooth streaming performance since that is how it's specced.
Pairing the Yamaha YSP-1400 to any Bluetooth-enabled device is a cinch. Simply press Bluetooth on the remote control and the speaker will go into pairing mode, thereafter just identify the YSP-1400 on your Bluetooth-enabled device and you are good to go.
We begin our testing with The Eagles’ Hotel California, a perennial audiophile favorite, and immediately a couple of things were clear. Despite the dual built-in subwoofers, the YSP-1400 has weak bass, as the bongo drums on the introduction sounded meek and lacked punch and urgency. In addition, while the YSP-1400 had a sufficiently wide soundstage, actual stereo separation was quite poor, and this was apparent during the dual guitar solos towards the end of the track. On the plus side, Henley’s vocals were clear and well textured, and the guitars sounded nice and bright.
Adele’s Melt My Heart to Stone sounded smooth and warm, but again, the YSP-1400 weak bass performance was evident as the song is punctuated with heavy drums. This prevented it from getting a higher score.
Elements of Life is fast trance track with heavy drums and beats and given the YSP-1400 disappointing bass performance, it was not surprising to see that it failed to garner a higher score. On the flip side, the speakers did exhibit good speed and the bass can be tweaked, but at the expense of a slightly more muddied sound.
Finally, Sail on Soothsayer is a fast instrumental track by the guitar virtuoso Buckethead and the YSP-1400 showed that it has a decent balance of dexterity and finesse to handle the fast and delicate phases of the track. In addition, the guitars sounded bright, clear and had a good sense of transparency.
Overall, the YSP-1400’s performance on our MP3 test tracks was good, vocals were dealt with admirably and it had a big yet clean and clear sound. Additionally, it has a warm sound signature that was quite richly textured. Even so, we felt that its bass lacked punch and that it also sounded a little hollow at times. On top of it that, it also exhibited poor stereo separation, despite having a wide soundstage. Additionally, it sounded a tad hollow at times and could do with a little more finesse in handling mids and highs.
|Hotel California - The Eagles||7.5|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||8.0|
|Elements of Life -Tiesto||7.5|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||8.0|
We tested the YSP-1400’s cinematic chops using the Blu-ray discs of Michael Jackson’s This Is It and the movie Superman Returns. While music is a primary component of This Is It, the show also features lots of dialogue, giving it a good mix. On the other hand, Superman Returns is your standard cinema fare and will give the YSP-1400 the chance to demonstrate its surround sound performance.
On This Is It, the vocals were once again very nicely handled as they were easily audible and clear. The YSP-1400 features Clear Voice, which raises the volume of dialogue and narrations, but we never once felt the need to enable it. On a whole, the YSP-1400 performance on This Is It was good, as the YSP-1400 seems to be best suited for pop songs and its big sound lends it well for more cinematic material. However, we did feel that bass was lacking, but that could be easily rectified by increasing the bass levels a tad - doing so added more punch and oomph to the viewing experience. But even so, the YSP-1400 did sound a little hollow again at times.
The YSP-1400 did not disappoint on Superman Returns as its big sound meant that it is best suited for watching movies, where it is more about the atmosphere and, for lack for a better word, 'feel'. Turning the DSP settings to Movie and turning the bass up a couple of notches yielded the best performance for us. Also important is to configure the YSP Position settings to optimize the surround sound performance. But even after doing so, we felt that the YSP-1400’s surround sound effects were very minimal and not ideal. If you were not listening out for it, we would not be surprised if you missed it. Furthermore, despite much tweaking, the two 'rear speakers' never did quite sound as if they were behind us - more like next to us. This is typical of most sound bars of this category or lesser, so it's not surprising.
|Michael Jackson's This Is It||7.5|
A Basic Sound Bar
All things considered, the YSP-1400 is a decent entry-level addition to Yamaha's revered line of digital sound projectors. Performance on a whole was decent and even though it was lacking oomph in the bass department, that could easily rectified by increasing the bass level by one or two steps. What is quite puzzling, however, is that despite its wide, enveloping sound, we found that stereo separation was quite poor and that its surround sound effects was faint, which is disappointing because Yamaha’s digital sound projectors are renown for their surround sound effects. Nevertheless, the YSP-1400 will not disappoint most mainstream non-discerning users, especially if it is going to be used primarily for movies.
At this juncture, we would like to emphasize and point out that the Yamaha YSP-1400 is just a single piece sound bar that's actually competing against multi-piece sound bars that are priced similarly or less. In its form, Yamaha has managed to incorporate dual woofers, which we applaud them for clever design and execution. This would mean the YSP-1400 can easily outperform most entry-level sound bars that are also single-piece units.
Even so, bass performance wasn't as powerful as one might hope for it to be because of its small 8.5cm drivers. This translates to having twin 3.5-inch woofers, which is not quite the same as a single large 6.5-inch woofer that you would find in standalone subwoofer units that are bundled in several sound bars starting from about $400. Furthermore, dedicated subwoofers have a larger enclosure to use to their advantage and house more powerful electronics to bring about the oomph required. Of course the audio performance and quality of these systems may not be in the same rank as a Yamaha digital sound projector, but we're just stating where the mismatch in expectations can occur with regards to bass performance of the YSP-1400 and its price point. It is nonetheless one of the more powerful sound bars without a dedicated subwoofer that will offer you a somewhat acceptable level of bass; and that is where you are paying a premium for its design and audio characteristics in a single-piece unit.
Performance aside, we also like the YSP-1400 for its fairly compact design, and at just under 10cm thick (that's including the feet, which double as the woofers), it also means that it should fit in front of most televisions easily. The IR repeater functionality is also a nice touch and ensures the sound bar is a good match for any TV. We also liked that it offers Bluetooth connectivity, but being able to pair with only a single device can be problematic especially if you want to also use the Home Theater controller app to control the speakers. Also, the YSP-1400 should really have offered HDMI and USB connectivity to make it versatile, but we understand that these options are not yet standard for entry-level sound bars in the market.
At S$799, the YSP-1400 is also substantially cheaper than anything else in Yamaha’s YSP lineup of digital sound projectors. The next step up, the YSP-2200 retails for more than double the amount - S$1699 to be exact - and even higher end models like the YSP-3300 and YSP-4300 are S$2339 and S$2799 respectively. It is also comparatively cheaper to older Yamaha models that we have reviewed like the YHT-S401, but then the latter features a standalone subwoofer/receiver unit and has better overall performance. Even so the YSP-1400 represents decent value for money for anyone who is looking for a decent single speaker solution to enhance their movie-watching experience.
All in all, the Yamaha YSP-1400 is well worth considering and is a good starting point for anyone who is looking to get well designed and integrated sound bar from a renowned audio specialist brand. As a single-piece sound bar, it's actually a very decent performer. However, just don’t expect the same type of surround sound performance of Yamaha’s more illustrious digital sound projector offerings.
Before we end the review, here's a note for bargain hunters: Look out for special offers that come up from either Yamaha or the consumer electronics store giants like Courts, Best Denki, Harvey Norman, and others. Depending on the sale season, you might even find the Yamaha YSP-1400 going for as low as just S$659, such as the current National Day offer. From our experience, these offers are not strictly limited to this period and they might recur occasionally. So stay sharp to get the right deal.