After having gone through an entire month of floorstanders, satellites and receivers; each wrapped in their own box, it was refreshing to find the entire package in one box. That’s the fun of HtiBs (Home Theatre In A Box), something that plenty of manufacturers who care about the masses love to build. Yamaha is no new kid in this 5.1 entertainment market segment and they are here this time with their YHT-196 HTiB.
Out of the Box
There is something to be said about the design efforts required to get five satellites, a full-size AV receiver and a subwoofer, all in one cardboard box. In this case, Yamaha did the compartmentalizing so tightly that once we saw it, we didn’t want to remove the speakers from their place. Nevertheless, once we started unveiling the satellites, we realized after removing the first two speakers that they were all identical with curvy boxes and no sharp edges on them. The bottom edge of the satellites has been given bass reflex slots, to allow them some bass extension probably.
Dimensions of the Yamaha YHT-196 AV Receiver
The centre looks like its part of the same set primarily because of its black gloss finish. It is long, like any conventional centre channel, although its length doesn’t support that bottom reflex slot. As for the subwoofer, it has been kept with the same plastic built quality as the other drivers in its family. Its size looks to be a lot larger than what might be needed to help support the rest of the smaller five channels. Thankfully, Yamaha hasn’t fallen for that horizontal subwoofer that most HTiB manufacturers are putting out. As for the AV receiver, it looks to be about as solid as any Yamaha standalone receiver. Its back panel does look a lot emptier than other receivers because its speaker terminals aren’t built to support any speaker types other than ones powered by strip wire.
If you were to look at the specsheet’s collective figures, which are basically what the YHT-196 can do in tandem, you’ll find the frequency range it can deliver is between 30Hz to 25kHz. Although the subwoofer is a little larger than expected, it only comes sporting a passive 6.4” driver. So that 30Hz lower end might be a bit of a stretch when we look at the literal performance of this system. At the same time, the power this subwoofer gets is entirely from the AV receiver, which has been stated to deliver 100W of power when just one channel is driven. This would be about 30-40W per channel when all six channels are driven, which would seem sufficient for the satellites but probably not quite enough for the subwoofer to pump 30Hz out of its driver with sufficient push. Then again, this system isn’t aimed to satisfy the strict listeners who demand specsheet results; it is for the simple man looking to expand their sound entertainment experience. Sometimes that could just mean getting surprised at having sound come from behind you!
Dimensions of the Yamaha YHT-196 Front speakers
All the satellites come sporting a 3” full-range driver, that’s including the centre channel, although I believe that would mean the centre channel’s entire length is being wasted. Usually there’s an extra driver in there to give the dialogue channel that much more power and spread. But for serving as fronts and the surrounds, this should be sufficient to make any HTiB well worth the money. The heart of this system is its AV receiver and it’s capable of doing a lot more than you’d expect from a six channel amplifier that’s been boxed in with six speakers and the price tag is still under Rs 25,000. It has all the features of any mid-level receiver, such as HDMI 3D pass-through, all the Dolby and DTS surround decoders (including their HD versions found on blu-rays) and several more DSP related options that help with your stereo sound stream. As for connectivity, it doesn’t have all the new Apple connectivity options like support for AirPort and so on, but it does have enough HDMI inputs and digital audio inputs to make you happy. It would’ve been nice to see a USB port on it, primarily because any person buying an HTiB in this price bracket would also be a fan of watching DivX films off their pendrive.
Dimensions of the Yamaha YHT-196 Centre Speaker
This has to be one of the simplest AV receiver remotes I’ve had the pleasure of using. Everything is in its right place, which means that you don’t have to keep hunting for relevant buttons. This is a boon when you are engrossed in the movie and don’t watch to shift your eyes from the screen or turn on the lights and disturb the atmosphere. Things have been slotted into categories with enough real estate to let your fingers feel the separation between the categories. The volume and the navigation buttons have been kept at the bottom end of the remote, again, a very easy place to find them. Its performance is flawless and it gave us no reason to complain.
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
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