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Yamaha, a mass market favourite, always has a lot of AV options across a wide price-bracket. If the brand has high-end HT Systems and speaker packages then it also has AV products for AV aficionados who are on a shoestring budget. Here, we have reviewed the budget YHT-299, that is modestly priced at Rs 40,000. This may not be the modest amount after all for quite a few people out there, but with the decreased rupee value we have to appreciate and say that this is the new budget that all audio and videophiles must now save for. 

Yamaha YHT-299

Yamaha YHT-299

 

 

OUT OF THE BOX

In terms of looks, this type of design and exterior finish has been done by Yamaha a number of times before. As home-theatre progresses into newer worlds, we expect better designs and more colours to be introduced other than the standard black range. However, we at AV MAX and designers alike have always been a fan of curved loudspeakers, because of the inherent acoustic properties and reduced internal standing waves. No sharp edges means less re-radiation of sound back into the room and so on.  Moreover, the net cover on all the loudspeakers also provides the required protection from external elements, but it’s the glossy black finish that you will have to take care of from smudges and finger prints. The AV receiver is a strong beast too, its top metal perforated finish looks neat and good, and the font display area also has less buttons, which makes it look more mature and high-end.

The AV Receiver in YHT-299 set

The AV Receiver in YHT-299 set

 

 

TECHNOLOGY

With HT Systems, the primary hub of technology is the AV receiver, as this is where all the latest innovations, wireless applications and home-theatre technology can best find its home. The AV receiver in this system is the HTR-3066, a 5.1 AV receiver that comes along with an YPAO* calibration microphone to assist setting up the entire HT system.  The AV receiver is capable of dishing out up to 70 watts of power per channel when two channels are driven. The AV receiver boasts of discrete amplifier configuration, this is where the power supplies are separated from the processing circuits to keep the audio output as pure as possible. The HTR-3066 possesses four HDMI outs at the rear and is capable of transferring 3D and 4K video signals thus ensuring its compatibility with future 4K flat panels. In terms of connectivity, it is to be noted that the speaker terminals for the centre and surrounds have spring type terminals. However, the front channels have rotary type binding posts which are indeed commendable as this is very rarely seen on budget based HT Systems and individual AV receivers.   

 

Coming to the satellite loudspeakers, the fronts and the surrounds share the same design and driver components, each of them possess 2.75” full-range capable of handling a power in flow of up to 30 watts each. The centre channel, too, has a 2.75” full-range driver with similar power handling capabilities. All the five satellite loudspeakers have spring type cable terminals, so you cannot attach broader gauge loudspeaker cables to them. Instead for the review, we made use of the thin colour-coded loudspeaker cables that came along with the HT system. The subwoofer contains a 6.5” front firing driver and a side firing bass port. On the rear of the subwoofer, you will find a single RCA input and a volume control knob. So, all crossover controls have to be done from the AV receiver itself. The entire HT system has a frequency response of 30Hz-25 kHz, and from the AV receiver’s setup menu you can cross the subwoofer and the five satellite loudspeakers anywhere between 40Hz to 200Hz. However, a crossover point above 120Hz is best recommended by us as the full-range satellite loudspeakers will not perform well closer to the 100Hz mark.

REMOTE CONTROL

The remote control of the YHT-299 is similar to controls of other HT systems from Yamaha like YHT-196 and AV receiver RX-V471. The only difference here was that with more buttons this controller looked a little cramped up but the presentation and use of sober colours to differentiate between the buttons is what did the trick. The controller is light in weight and there were no hassles while using it too. 

Back-panel for the AV Receiver in YHT-299 set

Back-panel for the AV Receiver in YHT-299 set

 

 

PERFORMANCE

The YHT-299 is a small HT system, the fronts and the surrounds are smaller in size as compared to the centre channel. Ideally, setting up the entire HT system and placing the loudspeakers in their respective positions was a quick job. Once all the connections were done, I made use of Yamaha’s Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) to calibrate the entire system. I switched on the AC, and hit the enter button on the remote control and immediately stepped out of the room. This was done to achieve accurate settings and in no time the calibration was done. The AV receiver now knew exactly where each loudspeaker was placed in the room and also the levels of each individual loudspeaker were automatically gauged and adjusted by the YPAO. The highlight of the YPAO is that it also highlights a particular loudspeaker if it is incorrectly connected to the AV receiver (phase).

 

Now, it was time to check the mettle of the Yamaha budget HT system.  To begin with, I started off with the Blu-ray of ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’.  Firstly, a HT system is all about dynamics and here, I am talking about natural dynamics and not enforced ones where for a moment there is silence and the next minute all hell breaks loose and there is a lot of noise in the room. There was a high-level of slam in the sound of the YHT-299, the louder and busy moments of the movie were handled exceptionally well by the small satellite loudspeakers. In moments where the scenes commanded subtleness in expression and a quiet background because there were dialogues, I must say that the natural mid-range immensely improved the entire movie watching experience. The dynamics as I said before are important and thanks to the solid and open sound of the five loudspeakers, the movie created a deep impact on me, not to mention that the finesse in rendering the dialogues was really good and also the deep roaring bass of the giants was a wonderful full-range experience. The subwoofer knew exactly where to stop delivering more bass into the room, this pace in the bass and immediate disappearing act of the low-frequencies is really commendable.

 

Satellite speakers in the YHT-299 set

Satellite speakers in the YHT-299 set

 

 

Next, I moved on to the Blu-ray of ‘Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles’. This is a phenomenonally fantastic sounding Blu-ray, and with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound mix (96 kHz/24bit), we knew that we were in for a musical treat. The concert starts off with two simple instruments that have a lot of harmonics in them, an acoustic guitar and John’s voice. John’s voice that was emanating from the centre channel did not sound strained; instead, it had brilliant timbral richness in it. The acoustic guitar, too, had superb intelligible sound, the overall clarity of the guitar and the high resolution sound instantly created a deep emotional bond with me. I just couldn’t stop myself from touching the remote control and going back again for an encore of the first few opening songs, especially “Stop This Train”. 

 

Subwoofer in YHT-299 set

Subwoofer in YHT-299 set

 

 

Later, I went ahead to try on the Blu-ray of ‘Star Trek’ too. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel revealed what it takes to make a 5.1 multichannel setup sound spacious and wide. In action scenes of the movie, you get a chance to experience the seamless performance of the fronts, the surrounds and the modestly powered subwoofer. There was no absence of low-mid energy during any of the fight scenes, and at a time when someone would think that small loudspeakers are not capable of recreating a big wholesome sound, they should take time to listen to the YHT-299. The high-frequency sounds that emanate from the small satellite loudspeakers has a lot of air and sparkle, and it is equally coupled with a solid low-mid region to give you a powerful impact of the sound without missing out on any of the details that exist in the scenes. To put it simply, the multichannel experience of the YHT-299 was astonishing.

WHAT SAY AV?

At Rs 40,000 price-tag, the YHT-299 provides a 5.1 soundstage that is wide and open. The HT System exudes high-quality sound, accurate bass extension of the subwoofer and, the mid-range reproduced by the full-range five satellite loudspeakers is smooth, detailed and the highs never appear harsh to the ears. The driving force of this HT system is the HTR-3066 AV receiver which is capable of delivering enough power outflow that the on-screen action scenes call for. The displays are detailed and the system has efficient control over every loudspeaker in it. This is where you get a chance to experience the sound of a big band/orchestra in its most fitting manner. It takes the multichannel experience a few notches up because on the whole the entire HT System sounds spacious, snappy and full of life.

 

Back-panel for the Subwoofer in YHT-299 set

Back-panel for the Subwoofer in YHT-299 set

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

HTR-3066 (AV Receiver)

POWER OUTPUT 70W (2 Channels Driven)

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION (THD) 0.09% (20Hz-20 kHz, 2 Channels Driven)

FREQUENCY RESPONSE 20Hz-20 kHz

 

NS-B20 (Fronts and Surrounds)

DESIGN Full Range 

DRIVERS 1x2.75” Full-range Drivers

FREQUENCY RESPONSE NA

NOMINAL IMPEDANCE 6Ω

POWER HANDLING 30W

SENSITIVITY 83dB

WEIGHT 0.48Kg  

DIMENSIONS (HXWXD) 6.92”x4.52”x3.46”

 

NS-C20 (Centre)

SENSITIVITY 84dB

DIMENSIONS (HXWXD) 3.97”x11.45”x4.05”

WEIGHT 0.68Kg

 

NS-SW20 (Subwoofer)

DESIGN Active Bass reflex

DRIVE UNITS 1x6.5” Bass Driver

FREQUENCY RESPONSE 30Hz-200Hz

POWER 50W

NOMINAL IMPEDANCE NA 

WEIGHT 7Kg

DIMENSIONS (HXWXD) 10.39”x10.31”x11.77” 

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