The first thing to note is that whilst many cheaper soundbars provide basic stereo sound, the YSP-2500 creates a 7.1 surround sound effect. How? It has sixteen small speakers hidden behind it’s front grill, which bounce beams of sound off the walls of your living room to create the surround effect. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer to add bass to your experience.
Features & Specification
Alongside the surround sound and wireless subwoofer already mentioned, the YSP-2500 has 3 HDMI inputs (and one output), two digital optical inputs, one digital coaxial input, and even a socket to add an additional / alternative subwoofer. The HDMI sockets are 2.0 / ARC and allow you to pass through 4K and 3D video, as well have being able to be controlled by your TV remote. Which is just as well as the remote is very dull. If you do need to control setup or the advanced features such as sound modes, then there’s also a very handy app available for iOS and Android which works well and is really easy to use.
Other than that, the soundbar supports a host of surround sound formats and also has bluetooth aptX to stream high definition audio from your phone.
Taking it out of the box, the first thing you notice is that it’s a lot bigger than you expect if you’ve been looking at supermarket soundbars. Saying that, it’s still surprisingly small compared to other high end sounders, and less likely to block IR sensors on your TV. As an added bonus, the large feet on the bottom of the speaker are removable and can be replaced by small feet, making it shorter still. It also comes with a very handy, easy to use template too if you’d like to wall mount it.
Length wise, this YSP-2500 is suited to being used with larger TV’s. Whilst you can start using it with 50” screens, I’d personally recommend using it with 55”+ size screens purely from an aesthetic point of view.
The speaker itself is solidly built and has a nice, premium finish. To the left of the front, it has simple display which tells you which inputs are selected and the volume. There’s a couple of input selector and volume buttons on the top, two discrete sockets on the front for headphones and the set-up mic, and everything else is behind.
The wireless subwoofer still needs to be plugged into the mains, but otherwise you're free to position it where you like in your living room, and it isn't bad looking either. It’s slim and can be positioned either standing, or lying flat, which makes it even more flexible.
First thing to note is that set up is really super duper easy. You plug in the mic which is included, plop in on a cardboard stand which comes with it, put that in the viewing position. Tell it to start, leave the room, and come back 3 minutes later after it’s made a variety of strange noises. That’s it. Yamaha really are very good at auto set up on all their AV gear.
Coming back to it’s performance. If you’ve never used external speakers before, you’ll immediately be left wondering why not. It’s a night and day experience compared to any TV’s built in speakers. Everything sounds 1000% better. The subwoofer also works seamlessly with the main speaker to create the missing depth, and there’s a general improved ‘ambience’ to the sound. If you’re used to a decent separates system, and speakers, then you’ll still be surprised that you’re not sacrificing much. It’s only if you’re used to higher end equipment, that you’ll notice a drop in sound quality.
The one thing everyone’s asked me is, does the surround sound work? I’m afraid it’s a bit of a yes / no answer. I’m used to using a 5.1 speaker set up and no matter how clever Yamaha is in bouncing sound beams off walls, it’s not as good as the real thing. Saying that, it gives a pretty good go. Whilst some people were amazed by the surround sound effects of the YSP-2500, I personally felt it didn’t give the same directness of a 5.1 speaker system, but did create and enveloping sound scape which did bring you into what you were watching. That may partially be down to the lay out of my living room, which has a number of curtains which reduce the amount of surfaces sound can be bounced off. Sound doesn’t bounce off soft furnishing or windows that well compared to walls, and it’s worth noting for all similar soundbars if you’re exploring such an option. One other factor to consider is the size of your living room. This will work excellently with your average size living room, but starts to lose its potency in large rooms.
I really enjoyed watching a variety of films and programmes. The star of the show was the subwoofer, which was well balanced and had good control over the sound. It’s musical performance though is best described as pleasant. Although you can improve the overall sound of music being streamed from your phone, by adjusting the direction of the sound beams, I found that some sounds in the music sometimes went ‘missing’ so I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Otherwise, whilst not as good as a dedicated pair of stereo speakers, if you simply want to play music, and not worry about the fidelity of it, then the YSP-2500 does a decent job playing music and doesn’t draw any attention to any shortcomings.
The Yamaha YSP-2500 is both attractive and well built. It has a great list of features, but part of me was wishing it also had built in streaming services such as Spotify/ Deezer / Google Play etc. It wasn’t a significant niggle, as I could still stream music from my phone, but would become an issue if I received calls etc.
At £700, this isn’t a cheap option. I know plenty of people who wouldn’t spend that on their TV. What this is is an excellent option for people who want to enjoy their TV viewing by improving the audio experience, without cluttering up the living room with extra boxes and cables. At a push, I could probably buy a better sounding separates system for the same price, but it lacks the simplicity and elegance of the YSP-2500, and therefore it still makes an excellent choice.