Buena Park, Calif. â€” Yamaha is shipping a new type of home audio component said to simplify the operation of connected music sources and home-theater components.
The launch coincides with the launch of Yamaha's revamped MusicCAST wireless multi-room-audio system.
The neoHD components include the $599-suggested YMC-500 media controller, which is loosely based on an AV receiver, but its front panel sports only an on/off button and one large control wheel. It features FM tuner and incorporates five-channel amp, surround decoders, virtual surround technology, HDMI and IR-repeater connections, USB port, and connections to an optional iPod dock and Bluetooth transceiver. A second version, the $799 YMC-700, adds Ethernet port and embedded WiFi to stream music from the Internet and networked PCs. A third version, the $799 neoHD System 2.1, bundles the YMC-500 with a 2.1-speaker system to deliver virtual 5.1 surround.
All three models serve up a simplified onscreen icon-based user interface to a connected TV. All come with embedded database of IR codes to control connected TVs and sources from a handheld IR remote, also with a minimal number of control buttons. IR codes not embedded in the Media Controller can be learned by the device.
Here's how the controllers' interface works:
After a consumer hits the remote's power button, the Media Controller and connected TV power up. The TV screen presents the user with three choices: watch, listen or play. After selecting one of the choices, the display then prompts the user to choose among more specific activities, such as watch live TV, watch a movie, listen to a CD, and the like. Next, icons for the requisite A/V components appear on the screen, including icons for a Blu-ray player, CD player, cable box, iPod and game console. Once the user selects a component, the component automatically powers on.
To connect with A/V components in the home, all three devices feature one HDMI output to a TV, three HDMI inputs and three IR outputs to control up to six IR-controlled sources in the A/V equipment stack, the company said. Also to connect to source components, the controllers feature two component-video inputs, one composite-video input, one analog-audio input, one digital coaxial input and one digital optical input. A proprietary dock output connects to an optional $99-suggested Yamaha iPod dock or to an optional $129 Yamaha Bluetooth transceiver. A USB port connects to USB-equipped sources such as non-iPod MP3 players and USB drives.
The YMC-700 adds Ethernet port and embedded Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g to connect directly to the Internet to stream free Internet radio stations and the Rhapsody subscription streaming service. This DLNA-certified controller also connects to networked PCs to stream PC-stored music and photos. It also plays iTunes AAC files via TwonkyMedia Server Software.
For surround-sound playback, the YMC-500 and YMC-700 features five speaker-level outputs and a preamp-level subwoofer output. Embedded surround decoders, according to supplied literature, are Dolby TrueHD and DTS Digital Surround. The controller in System 2.1, though featuring five speaker outputs, connects to a bundled 2.1-speaker system and uses Yamaha's AirSurround Xtreme technology to deliver a virtual 5.1 surround field.
To simplify setup, the controllers feature Yamaha's automatic YPAO surround-sound calibration.
Other features include Adaptive Dynamic Range Control to make low-volume sounds audible during low-volume passages in a movie or song. Compressed music enhancer restores high frequencies lost when music is compressed.