No space? No problem: Check out Yamaha’s epic $1,700 Dolby Atmos surround sound bar

At a small press event this week Yamaha unveiled an impressive new multi-room audio system called MusicCast, which encompasses 20 components rolling out over the next few months, including AV receivers, speakers, and sound bars. One of the more intriguing pieces Yamaha showed us at the event was a striking new sound bar loaded with dozens of drivers, and boasting Dolby Atmos support called the YSP-5600.

Constructed around a 44-speaker array of Yamaha’s beam drivers — and towing a whopping $1,700 price tag — the YSP-5600 is the kind of all-in-one home theater monster that only Yamaha could dream up. The bar’s miniature drivers (each just a touch over an inch in diameter) are employed throughout Yamaha’s so called “sound projector” lineup to create accurate immersion for those who prefer a less intrusive surround sound solution than heaps of wires and mounted speakers. But the YSP-5600 takes things even further than its predecessors.

To create 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos surround imaging, the bar boasts six “height channel” speakers on each side, which follow the same method as more traditional Atmos speaker designs, mimicking overhead speakers by bouncing sound off the ceiling. Yamaha’s sound projector line of products have been taking aim at surfaces from the front of the room to simulate traditional surround sound for some time now, but the Atmos channels lump in a “hemispheric” dimension for a whole new level of immersion.

The height channels combine with an arsenal of 32 front-loaded beam drivers. The system uses a controller app and microphone to sonically assess your home theater room, and adjust for an optimal surround sound experience. While Yamaha’s sound projection tech isn’t quite the same as a traditional surround sound setup it’s also not really virtual surround either, using real sound waves that sneak up behind you, or bounce off the sidewalls for a realistic experience, though its effectiveness is at the mercy of obstructions in your room.

Along with Atmos, the YSP-5600 will be upgradeable via firmware to support DTS’ flavor of overhead surround, DTS:X. And immersive surround sound is just a taste of the wide selection of bells and whistles that come loaded in this luxury-class bar.

As part of the new MusicCast system, the bar is compatible with up to 10 total speakers or receivers, all of which can be controlled via a centralized app to playback virtually any sound source in unison, or multiple sources individually. Like all MusicCast components, the bar also supports high-resolution audio at up to 24bit/192kHz, able to stream a wide variety of lossless audio files, from FLAC to DSD. The system also sports Bluetooth, Airplay, and even 4K UHD video passthrough at 60p via the HDMI connection. Other features include a variety of DSP settings, and Yamaha’s Clear Voice dialog enhancer.

Although the YSP-5600 is also loaded with dual 4.5-inch woofers, one thing it doesn’t have is a wireless subwoofer — surprising for a sound bar with such a mighty price tag. However, those who want to beef up the bass can attach their own wired subwoofer or, for an extra $150, add a wireless sub kit to the package.

Yamaha’s new behemoth of a bar is still mostly under wraps, launching in the U.S. in December. But you can bet we’ll be going ears-on with the bar as soon as possible to see how far Yamaha’s sound projection can take us — so stay tuned.

A version of this post also appears on our “brother site” The Manual.

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