Yamaha YHT-S400

Truly space-saving, Yamaha's YHT-S400 will no doubt appeal to those after home theatre minimalism. Thankfully, it sounds a great deal bigger and convincing than its meagre dimensions suggest.

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We were recently impressed with Yamaha's YAS-71 soundbar with its Air Surround Xtreme technology and now it's been joined by a different take on the discrete home theatre system solution; the YHT-S400.

Combining the world's slimmest soundbar (according to Yamaha) and an integrated AV receiver/subwoofer, the YHT-S400 means home theatre system building without masses of boxes. All you need to add are suitable video sources and a TV monitor, and away you go. However, does it deliver the sonic goods as well as its more conventional soundbar cousin?

Design and features

Yamaha's been a bit clever here incorporating a fully active 100-Watt subwoofer into a standard-sized AV receiver component, with a downward-firing 5-inch (130mm) driver and front facing bass reflex port. This arrangement aids bass reinforcement with placement; typically say, on an AV rack or shelf. Additional on-board digital amplification delivers 3x 50 Watts to the soundbar speaker, which comprises three 10x 4cm drivers.

At just 50mm in height, the slimline soundbar tucks neatly beneath most TVs and virtually disappeared below our 42-inch plasma. Its feet can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, or removed altogether to suit placement under most 32- to 50-inch screens. And with the AV receiver tucked away the Yamaha system does a veritable disappearing act — perfect for those who prefer hardware discretion as opposed to the usual boxfest and cabling everywhere.

The receiver itself offers fairly decent connections with three HDMI inputs and a single out. It's not a full-blown unit though and doesn't come close to the features and specs of your typical AV receiver. There's no on-board video decoding, for example, nor is there any processing of the main surround audio formats although it will accept linear PCM HD audio via HDMI from a suitable source, ie, Blu-ray player. It does have a couple of surround tricks of its own though — namely Yamaha's 24kHz HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) which "scientifically" aims to convince your ears the sound is multi-directional. The other is an Extended Stereo mode that is said to give the impression that the soundbar is, in fact, a pair of loudspeakers some two metres apart. Listening modes comprise "Movie", "Music", "Game" and "Sports" plus a button on the small remote marked "UniVolume" ensures volume levels during TV program and commercial breaks are kept the same.

Accessories for the YHT-S400 include a floor stand and pedestal if your TV is not wall mounted, plus Yamaha's optional YDS-11 iPod dock and YBA-10 wireless Bluetooth audio receiver can both be integrated.


A 5-inch subwoofer doesn't exactly instil impressions of limitless bass and in practice the YHT-S400 isn't going to be felt by your neighbours in the next street, but, closer to home, its subliminal effects are far more noticeable. We were genuinely surprised at just how much bass this arrangement mustered, and actually found ourselves turning down the subwoofer level during loud and bass-heavy movie passages. OK, so it doesn't have the sheer extension, pace or control of a larger dedicated active sub, but for something that's been shoehorned into the tiny space it occupies, it produces ample low stuff to give action movies clout, or music plenty of substance and drive.

But the YHT-S400 doesn't perform at its best straight out of the box — it needs some consideration setting it up properly; especially the channel output levels. The centre channel, which delivers all-important movie and TV dialogue, can all too easily be swamped and sound muffled unless its output is given a good nudge in the settings. We found it only really sounded suitably prominent with a +4 (out of six) lift. There's no auto-calibration microphone or software on-board the YHT-SW400, so it's something you'll have to do by ear, but believe us, it makes all the difference spending a while experimenting with the levels for both movie or TV listening.

In Movie mode the YHT-S400 combination and the black magic that is Air Surround Xtreme do a convincing job that there's more speaker kit surrounding your lugholes. As with all soundbar set-ups, surround effects' presence isn't as obvious as actually employing rear speakers, but you definitely get a good sense of ambiance and spread from the soundbar. A few things help with this — namely, a blatantly surrounded engineered packed-to-the-rafters soundtrack, solid side walls and a bit of faith on behalf of the listener. It's all too easy to dismiss this sort of home theatre system as a phoney; true enough, there are plenty of poor examples out there, but Yamaha continues to surprise and conjure up decent pseudo surround sound. Musically, it'll never sound as good as a decent conventional stereo system; however, that's not to say the YHT-S400 doesn't provide adequate involvement with all things musical — it does, albeit on a background sort of level.

This breed of home theatre system isn't going to suit all AV applications and tastes. It's for those who want surroundish sound without all the extra hassle of speakers and wires. Plenty of soundbars now offer this singular speaker solution, but this Yamaha duo packs a bit more of a punch with its niftily integrated subwoofer/AV receiver box. This too is great; as long as you're not after gargantuan bass and the sort of AV control/processing that requires constant user manual reference and/or help from online geek forums.

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Jack posted a review   

The Good:Music, Movies and Games sound spectacular. Great Value

The Bad:Need to play with settings to make it sound right. TV sounds pretty average

So glad I bought this. It sounds much larger than it actually is. However it sounds pretty average out of the box so you need to play with the settings. Once you do though you will be very satisfied.

If you're short on space but want big sound this should definitely be on your radar.


Richard posted a comment   

The Good:good

The Bad:?

I going to buy one this week i found one for $683 at artarmon goodguys.
thats the cheapest iv found so far.



Bud1945 posted a review   

The Good:compact and good performance

The Bad:nothing really

Just bought an LG 55" led/lcd, and am very happy with it. Only problem is the typical tinny sound of flat panel tvs. I didn't want speakers and wires going everywhere and found this system on the net. I tossed up between this and a Bose 2.1 system, but decided on this for price and the fact it is a 3.1 system. Very happy with my choice-it has great bass for its size and sound quality is excellent. Those wanting true surround sound would be better served by a conventional system, but this is a great alternative for those with a lack of space and no desire for clutter. I have not experienced any vibration problems from having the sub/amp in my entertainment unit. Some posts have been asking where to buy it in Australia. Check on Ebay and type in the make and model-place in Victoria has them


Mike posted a comment   

The Good:Everything abt it

The Bad:fullfils all my needs

I wanted something small, compact and neat, and it fits in perfectly, was after the Phillips HTS7140, cause it had the inbuilt decoder but then my DVD, PS3 and TV have build in decoders. Well the last philips soundbar was editors choice on cnet so checked it out and the yahama stood out in terms or clarify, and knowing Yahama as a brand didn't think twice.. was easy to setup, although its bit old fashioned menu orientated on the system rather than the latest onscreen setups but nothing to complain, as it was straight and easy, but would like to know from the Sr posters whts the best setup for each channel in the scale of 3-6 on the system...cause sometimes there is too much bass or nothing at all...i know it depends on wht u play and how u have placed it but good to know where and how others have set up...i have my tremble at 4, Bass at 5 and surround on 5, sounds good but is there a better balance???

For me, for A$650, i couldn't ask for more and being a Yahama product, i can be assured tht it would be of quality, why will Yamaha put there name at steak and sell this product for this long if it didn't preform well??? its been in the market for more than 2 yrs, so guess its well received globally...i have no regrets buying it, anyway am hardly a week old user, like to hear from the Sr Boys who have used it for longer and of wht they think.


BATMAN posted a review   


The Bad: Manual setup, not enough Instruction.



papsie8 posted a comment   

where can i get one cheap? i really like the sound of them


Mike posted a reply   

Jus picked up one from GG Dande for $649 on boxing day, not the best or the worst. fits my needs and am happy.


nenito2k posted a comment   

VERY important news:

YAMAHA has made this soundbar (and the YSP 4100)3D ready via a firmware update. THAT is very good news, just have a look at their site and please let us know if all works good!

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User Reviews / Comments  Yamaha YHT-S400

  • Jack



    "So glad I bought this. It sounds much larger than it actually is. However it sounds pretty average out of the box so you need to play with the settings. Once you do though you will be very satisfie..."

  • Richard


    "I going to buy one this week i found one for $683 at artarmon goodguys.
    thats the cheapest iv found so far.


  • Bud1945



    "Just bought an LG 55" led/lcd, and am very happy with it. Only problem is the typical tinny sound of flat panel tvs. I didn't want speakers and wires going everywhere and found this system on the n..."

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