THE GOOD: The Yamaha YSP-1600 has remarkable clarity and broadcasts a very wide sound stage. It also has pretty good bass for its size.  Yamaha’s MusicCast eco-system shows lots of promise.

 

THE BAD: An external subwoofer is needed to maximize the YSP-1600’s true potential which is an added expense to an already expensive sound bar.  The 1600 can sometimes sound a little bright at high volumes.

 

THE VERDICT: The Yamaha YSP-1600 has an enviable list of features such as Bluetooth, WiFi and HDMI with HDCP 2.2. Because of its detailed sound, the 1600 is a great sound bar for anyone hard of hearing. The 1600’s biggest obstacle is its price. At its price point it faces tough competition in the highly competitive sound bar arena.

 

Yamaha YSP-1600 MusicCast Sound Bar

Price: $339.15

3.3 out of 5 stars (30 customer reviews)

10 used & new available from $339.15

 

 

Yamaha YSP-1600 Review

Yamaha YSP-1600 Sound Bar

The Yamaha YSP-1600 measures a mere 2.5 inches tall, 5 inches deep and approximately 39 inches long. The low profile of the 1600 means it shouldn’t block the screens on most TVs and its sleek design should blend in with most decor. At first glance it appears to have a brushed metal chassis, but upon closer inspection the body is actually plastic, textured to look like brushed metal. The guts of the YSP-1600 are comprised of (8) 1-1/8 inch beam drivers and dual up-firing 3-1/4 inch woofers with bass reflex ports. The beam drivers are designed to reflect sound off of your surrounding walls creating the illusion of surround sound.

Yamaha YSP-1600

 

As with most sound bars, the YSP-1600 doesn’t have an overabundance of connection choices. However, it has more than most. The back of the 1600 houses a optical digital input, an ethernet port, one analog audio input, one subwoofer output and both an HDMI input and output. Surprisingly, the HDMI ports are HDCP 2.2 compliant which means the Yamaha YSP-1600 is capable of handling encrypted 4K content. This, in and of itself, is a great feature to have in a sound bar since 4K video is on the verge of taking off.

 

The remote packaged with the 1600 is a solid little remote which is easy to use. The on-screen interface of the YSP-1600 is sparse but does provide access to all of the essential sound bar features. The front display on the sound bar itself is nearly indecipherable. Instead of having a screen on the front of the sound bar that displays it’s status etc., you’re forced to decipher a series of glowing LED lights on the front of the unit to determine what the sound bar’s current settings are.

 

Setting up the Yamaha YSP-1600 is a simple process. It’s pretty much just plug and play. The 1600 has both built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and supports Apple AirPlay. Bluetooth only takes seconds to setup and get working. Tethering the YSP-1600 to your WiFi network is also amazingly simple. You can use your iOS device to copy your WiFi settings directly to the 1600 which means there’s no need to type-in long passwords. Just follow the onscreen prompts and it will be on your network in no time.

 

The real star of the show with the 1600 is Yamaha’s new MusicCast system. MusicCast is a free download from the Apple and Google Play Stores. MusicCast currently gives you access to a bushel-full of internet radio stations as well as Rhapsody, SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify. You can also use MusicCast to quickly switch between inputs on the sound bar if you need to on the fly.

 

Yamaha MusicCast

If you have multiple MusicCast devices in your house you can assign them to various rooms via the app so you can easily switch between devices and send music to each of those zones. The app even allows you to assign photos to each zone so they’re easier to identify. You can stream audio from any of the aforementioned streaming services above or you can send music directly from your iOS device. Streaming from an iPod works pretty well although I found the MuiscCast app to be somewhat sluggish at times. MusicCast also allows you to broadcast audio from any device connected to the sound bar. For instance, if you’re streaming internet radio to the sound bar you can then send that audio to a pair of bluetooth headphones or speakers.

 

Sound Quality

The Yamaha YSP-1600’s sound quality is a bit of a mixed bag. To test out the low frequency limits of the Yamaha YSP-1600 I attacked it with Edge of Tomorrow on blu-ray. The opening logo reveal at the beginning of this flick has a brutal low frequency sweep that can make stand alone subwoofers drop to their knees in submission. I almost felt bad for the 1600…..almost.

 

As expected the 1600’s dual 3 1/4 – inch woofers struggled to reproduce the ultra-low frequencies and showed signs of distortion at the very bottom. However, despite its struggles, the YSP-1600 did manage to produce some audible low frequencies which left me somewhat impressed.

 

It became immediately apparent during my viewing of Edge of Tomorrow that the strengths of the Yamaha YSP-1600 lie with its extreme detail and wide imaging capabilities. Dialogue was pristine on the 1600. Bullets pinged and popped with ultra clarity. Surprisingly, the 1600’s wide imaging capabilities meant that it sounded good no matter where I moved in my listening area. Yamaha claims that the 1600 offers a “true 5.1 surround” experience. This is a slight exaggeration. While on occasion, the 1600 did “trick” my ears into believing there were surround channels present, it definitely was not a “true 5.1 surround” experience. That being said I was impressed at how well the sound bar was able to approximate surround channels.

 

For music, the 1600 fared a little better.  Adele’s vocals on “Hello” sounded crisp and detailed. However, the mid-range on the 1600 was a little soft which resulted in Adele’s voice losing some of its sultriness and soulfulness. Lorde’s “Glory and Gore” also suffered a bit with the YSP-1600 unable to hit the low notes. While it did display some punch, it just wasn’t able to deliver the chest pounding thump that a unit with a stand alone subwoofer can. However, just like with movies the 1600 cast a wide net of sound.

 

The Yamaha YSP-1600 has various pre-programmed DPS settings that you can select depending on the audio source such as Movie, Sports, TV Program, Music, Stereo, etc. During my subjective tests with the 1600, stereo seemed to have the most balanced sound quality for music playback. The mid-range sounded slightly fuller. The Music setting sounded a tad bright which was a little fatiguing after extended listening sessions.

 

Verdict

The Yamaha YSP-1600 is a bit of good and bad. The 1600 has tons of excellent features. More than most sound bars. It also has wonderfully detailed sound with a wide dispersion. Overall, It’s virtual surround capabilities are pretty impressive. On the downside, it’s 3 1/4 – inch woofers are unable to produce satisfactory levels of bass without a subwoofer.


Where to Buy:

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