Surround yourself with just one speaker

Yamaha’s newest soundbar promises 3D surround sound from just one sleek design

Having created the very market of soundbars, Yamaha is no stranger to the concept but this one left us scratching our heads too.

A single speaker that promises to fulfil your 3D surround sound dreams, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X et all! Well, it’s down to science and the YSP-5600 uses a lot of physics and a lot of digital signal processing to bend the laws of physics. Behind the rather chunky exterior lie an array of micro drivers, each with their own 2-watt digital amplifier and a DSP unit to help it reproduce only a certain kind of sound, only in a certain direction. When you add up all the 44 micro drivers and the two midrange drivers, you get a potent combination of direct, reflected and simulated surround sound. 

Yamaha uses sophisticated technology known as beam steering, originally derived from aerospace research and still in use in the Sukhoi fighter jets. It allows the user to control sound waves like a beam of light, governing its dispersion and reflection to create the desired effect. The partnering app makes it much easier to understand this phenomenon using simple visuals of a listening room and a couch and how the sound is reaching your ears after bouncing off surrounding objects to create a pseudo 3D effect.

Of the 44 micro drivers in the array, 12 are devoted to recreating the height channels of a Dolby Atmos signal (or DTS:X) and these are facing upwards towards the ceiling to help create the illusion. Various facets of this black magic can be controlled like focal length of the beam, angle of beam and of course, individual levels. The resulting sound does have the gimmicks required to impress, especially when you hear a fly-by in Unbroken and the anti-aircraft shells are going off all around you. Resolution is acceptable but we would’ve liked more bite in dynamics although when you consider that a single speaker is processing so much information on the fly, you tend to ignore the minor limitations. 

Connectivity is generous too, with four HDMI inputs, two optical inputs, analog inputs, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Subwoofer out, USB and RS232. All you need is a Blu-ray player and you’re good to go. For its asking price of ₹1,50,000 minus the subwoofer, the YSP-5600 is the perfect solution for a bedroom or second system where absolute objectification of sound isn’t paramount and its more of the quick fix you’re looking for.

Set-up in under an hour, you could enjoy 3D surround sound virtually anywhere and that is something we can live with.