Yamaha YHT-S400 Home Cinema Sound System - Yamaha YHT-S400

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We were expecting a veritable telephone exchange of sockets on the back panel, but the selection is surprisingly stripped down. It caters mainly for the needs of this system and doesn’t spare a great deal of thought for future expansion, but Yamaha probably wanted to keep things simple and in any case, there’s more than enough to start you off.


Most importantly, you get three 1080p-capable HDMI inputs and one output, letting you switch between your various hi-def sources, plus optical digital and analogue stereo audio inputs. The front and centre springclip speaker terminals are found here, and in the box you’ll find a single speaker cable that combines the left, right and centre cables, with colour-coded strips on each section. It’s just a shame Yamaha didn’t include extra speaker terminals for those that may want to add rear speakers in the future.


It’s also worth mentioning that you can play music from iPods and Bluetooth devices through the YHT-S400 using the optional YDS-11 iPod dock and YBA-10 Bluetooth wireless audio receiver.


Yamaha has always been an audio pioneer and as such has loaded the system with a plethora of sound modes to enhance your listening pleasure. The key feature for this system is Air Surround Xtreme, a ‘virtual surround’ mode that aims to replicate the experience of real rear speakers. Yamaha claims its system allows you to distinctly identify sounds behind you, as well as enjoy clear separation between the front and centre channels. Given that it was one of the first companies to dabble in ‘front projection’ technology, we’re inclined to believe them – but let’s reserve judgement for now.


Among the other audio tech is the Compressed Music Enhancer for boosting the quality of MP3/WMA playback and Extended Stereo, a new technology that makes it sound as though the front speakers are much wider apart than they really are (two metres apart, in fact). Completing this impressive array is UniVolume, which maintains a consistent listening level no matter how intrusive the adverts get.


Although the SR-300 can decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals, it can’t decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, which means you’ll need a Blu-ray player that can output these HD audio formats as a linear PCM stream via HDMI – luckily most current Blu-ray decks offer this feature.


Despite the lack of an onscreen setup menu, it’s easy to make those all-important audio adjustments. Hit the Setup button on the remote and a menu appears on the receiver’s front display panel. You can set the levels of the centre, surround, front and subwoofer channels, adjust the bass, treble and delay and configure the HDMI sockets. The remote is smaller than most receiver handsets but decent button placement makes it comfortable to use. Particularly useful are the dedicated keys to activate the various sound modes and the separate subwoofer volume controls.