YAMAHA MUSICCAST VINYL 500
This highly skilled wireless-turntable-cum-musicstreaming hub has only minor niggles
The only turntable that can stream its sound to every room over Wi-Fi, or
nearby over Bluetooth
Yamaha has updated the traditional hi-fi, belt-driven record player with wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, but it can also work as part of a Wi-Fi Yamaha MusicCast multi-room system. And it can act as a music streaming hub that can add Spotify, web radio and more to any existing hi-fi setup. There’s a lot going on here.
First up, this is one of the most convenient turntables we’ve ever encountered. Placement is easy, especially if you’ll use it wirelessly – we just plonked it on a sideboard. The belt drive, cartridge and counterweight are all simplicity itself to attach, for once. Even better, it’s easy to pair Bluetooth speakers, because Yamaha has an app, unlike rivals from Cambridge Audio and Pro-Ject. You can even switch between 33rpm and 45rpm with just a button.
As well as the Bluetooth connectivity, there are phono level and line level outputs. The former is great if you have a pre-amp, which will tend to give better sound, the latter if you value convenience. The sound quality of the deck in general is very good – not one to get audiophiles purring, but there’s plenty of oomph and decent handling of dynamics.
If Yamaha had stopped here, you’d have a near-perfect turntable for the 21st century, although the absence of aptX Bluetooth, let alone aptX HD, may concern some users. However, Yamaha has also included compatibility with its MusicCast platform, and here some slight frustration creeps in. If you have MusicCast speakers or receivers, you can beam the sound of your vinyl across the house over Wi-Fi, and get noticeably improved sound compared to Bluetooth. If you don’t, the app also lets you use the Vinyl 500 as a streaming hub into your wired stereo setup, so you can listen to Tidal, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Spotify and more. It can also receive AirPlay 2 streams, and can be controlled over Alexa.
This is all great in principle, and audio and connectivity are excellent over Wi-Fi. But the MusicCast app is slow and buggy. And we know lots of people would like to output to AirPlay 2 (or Chromecast or Sonos), but for a variety of technical and other reasons, that’s not possible.
No matter. What you’re getting here is a record player that, in terms of performance and build quality, is worth its asking price before you get on to all the streaming embellishments – but they could be a tad more polished.