Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 Review: The modern turntable
The Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 (TT-N503) has the form factor of a typical vinyl turntable, but at the same time comes with some modern wireless technologies, allowing you to enjoy it even for those who have never seen such a device before. And the ability to connect headphones, speakers and receivers is another nice feature.
The Yamaha MusicCast VINYL 500 has a belt drive and the disc spins at 33.3 and 45 rpm. The disc itself is aluminum stamping. The turntable comes with a 9 ” straight arm with an MM cartridge. The table is covered with black varnish, the turntable itself is mounted on four vibration-isolating legs. For fans of wires, there are RCA outputs (built-in phono stage, switchable).
However, the main feature of the Yamaha MusicCast VINYL 500 is the presence of a Wi-Fi module and the ability to connect to various streaming services like Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora, TIDAL, Napster and others from which you can stream music. At the same time controlling both the bass line and fine tuning various aspects of the vinyl sound. In addition, Yamaha has also developed a proprietary MusicCast mobile app that allows you to configure a variety of settings and features regarding music playback on this player.
It is also worth noting the ability to connect systems 2.1 and 5.1 – the device supports the connection of up to 20 independent speakers, so it can serve as a media center. In this case, the user can choose directly whether to play music via Wi-Fi, or directly from the service. In addition, the user can also use the built-in Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay, which will make streaming music even faster, easier and more intuitive, while not depriving the possibility of alternative choices.
All in all, Yamaha’s new turntable boasts a truly unusual set of features and functionality, with the VINYL 500 coming in attractive glossy black and white, as well as a range of accessories and optional tools.
When CDs came along, many audiophiles simply added a digital turntable to their analogue kits, although some have said goodbye to vinyl forever – as do old revelers who recklessly exchange an old wife for a young one. We know how it ends.
Then, for many years, analog gramophone recording remained one of the indispensable attributes of the High End – in one crystal castle with lamps, horn acoustics and other objects of worship. But this era has passed, the vinyl renaissance has begun: the production of budget turntables and remake records has resumed. And they are bought by young people who have never dealt with mechanical sound recording before. This has become a stable trend, and it is clear that it is forever like a fashion for mechanical wristwatches, less accurate and more expensive, but evoking pleasant emotions in many.
What does all this historical excursion have to do with the protagonist of this publication, the Yamaha MusicCast VINYL 500 player? The most direct, because its appearance is a sign of the next era: the vinyl player is turning into a natural element of the modern system, becoming its own in a new world inhabited by wireless speakers, network players, streaming services and mobile applications. Not just standing next to it, but tightly integrated into the network. Before Yamaha, as far as I know, no one dared to do this.
At first glance, it is an extremely simple budget turntable, pure mechanics with a manual microlift and no hitchhiking. It looks laconic, graceful and even elegant – thanks to the black lacquer finish. Straight arm with removable shell, simple downforce setting with counterweight, anti-skating spring (which was considered cool when I was young). An unnamed MM head from Audio-Technica with a recommended pressure of 3.5g is all there is to know about it. The needle is most likely with a conical sharpening, but there is simply no exact information on this. Lightweight aluminum platter with felt mat, belt driven by DC motor. Electronic stabilization of speed without the possibility of manual adjustment (not counting the two holes for a screwdriver on the bottom). Two speeds – 33 and 45, are switched by a button. In general, affordable classics. If, of course, do not pay attention to the inconspicuous indicator with two LEDs on the right – they show the activity of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless interfaces. But at first they do not burn, so you can overlook it.
But if you go to the rear of the turntable, you find an Ethernet network connector – this is already something new for vinyl. Nearby is a toggle switch that controls wireless adapters (by default, they are in standby mode and wait for a command from the mobile application, but you can also disable it). Analog connectors – two pairs of RCA, phono stage output and directly from the head, between them – a switch. There is also a micro-USB service connector, but the user probably won’t need it – the firmware is updated online using a mobile application. As you can see, there is no USB output for connecting to a computer and digitizing records. And rightly so: vinyl should be listened to, not copied digitally. Power supply – from an external 12 V adapter, a very wise decision: effective protection of sensitive analog circuits from interference generated by a transformer,
And now I will reveal the terrible truth: in fact, the MusicCast VINYL 500 is a network player, a streamer installed in the body of a vinyl turntable. Naturally, inside there is a built-in MM-phono stage and ADC, which converts the analog signal to digital for further transmission over the network. Although no one forbids connecting a device by analogy to an amplifier and just listening to records. Or stream Bluetooth music or streaming services from your smartphone to it, all with the free Yamaha MusicCast Controller app. It is the main thing here, it is the same “soft” power that turns a classic electro-mechanical analog device into a modern network component. However, in order to fully realize the capabilities of proprietary technology, you need at least one more device with its support. And we found it.