The Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 is a device with a specification sufficiently odd that when it is described to you, it will result in you either making a slightly confused facial expression whether you want to or not or that same face lighting up when you realise that Yamaha has made exactly what you need. This is because the Music Cast Vinyl is both a turntable and a fully fledged network streamer.
It's a very capable streamer too. The MusicCast platform that Yamaha has developed is an extremely clever one. It can play your own stored files, integrate with a wide selection of streaming services, offers internet radio access and allows you to connect via AirPlay. You can also control multiple devices throughout a home via a single, well designed control app. This might be an odd place to find a network streamer but it’s not an afterthought.
The turntable section is belt driven and offers electronic speed selection which is always a welcome touch. The Yamaha has a steel platter with a thick felt mat providing the commensurate damping. An unusual tonearm that combines a straight armtube with a detachable headshell is fitted along with an Audio Technica moving magnet phono cartridge. An internal phono stage is fitted, meaning you can simply connect the Yamaha to any free input on your amplifier. There are connections to bypass this internal phono stage but using them means the streamer section can no longer be used.
This means you would miss out on the party piece of the MusicCast Vinyl 500 though. As well as doing all the normal things you might expect a streamer to do, you can also put a record on and send the signal wirelessly to other MusicCast devices in the house. It’s seriously clever and made all the more fun because unless you know the Yamaha can do this there are few clues to suggest it can. Aside from a little wireless and Bluetooth status LED, it’s a conventional and handsome looking turntable that is finished to a high standard.
Judged purely as a turntable, the Yamaha is a good if not truly spectacular at the price; the unavoidable aspect that the whole cost of the unit includes items that are not directly involved in vinyl replay means it will lose out to similarly priced models that are purely turntables. The MusicCast Vinyl 500 gets all the basics right though. There’s no unwanted noise and the pitch stability is very good. The output from the internal phono stage has plenty of gain which means that your amp won't struggle to give you your desired volume level when listening to records.
There’s an appealing flow to the presentation which combines with a lush tonal presentation and forgiving top end to sound consistently engaging. It isn’t the most intense performance going but it balances being able to let great pressings sound good without showing up poorer ones. The streaming section is able to deliver a fine performance too. Again, the way that the MusicCast Vinyl 500 goes about making music is less about relentless, in your face urgency than it is refined, spacious and wholly effortless musicality. Importantly, there is the wherewithal for high resolution material to not only be played but actually deliver on the promise that it offers?
And the vinyl streaming? It’s hard to avoid the feeling of it being a truly odd way of enjoying a record but it is stable, easy to use and it works an absolute charm. The most impressive aspect of the whole function is that some of the character of the turntable does genuinely survive the wireless transmission process and it does sound meaningfully different to simply streaming the same song via an on demand service. If you genuinely see yourself doing this on a regular basis, it’s hard to argue that the Yamaha is anything other than rather good at it.
Living with the MusicCast Vinyl 500
The Yamaha makes use of a setup procedure developed for the whole MusicCast family and it works a charm. Once on the network, it is stable and simple to use via the app. The turntable side is logical and hassle free to set up and the business of playing records on it is simple and confidence inspiring. Black and white piano lacquer finishes are available.
If you already have a digital front end, it is unlikely that the Yamaha will make sense to you but, as a way of killing two birds with one stone it has a unique appeal, bolstered by the fact it does both of those things very well.
White Lies As I Try Not To Fall Apart
The Yamaha is able to take this wonderful but indifferently recorded album (on both vinyl and digital) and smooth off the rough edges enough to ensure it is a thrilling and entertaining listen.
Dead Can Dance Dionysus
This is an album that relies on space and scale to sound as it should and the Yamaha is adept at ensuring that both are available, allowing it to unfold like the narrative journey the artists intended it to be.
Stream this landmark eighties album over the network and you can revel in the fact that the Yamaha manages to keep the sweet quality of the original vinyl pressing that was lost in the more aggressive digital remaster.
The TechHive review team found that the Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 a nearly perfect marriage of classic vinyl and some of today’s best music-streaming technologies, praising the feature of being the first turntable that can stream vinyl records to MusicCast wireless speakers, Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Devoted to Vinyl said that the Vinyl 500 offered good sound, a simple operation and that its digital integration made it feel like one of the more truly modern turntables on the market. While Forbes were a tad critical of the price of the turntable and a pair of MusicCast 20 wireless speakers, the reviewer said that the package was a compelling option and the best wireless record listening option they had tested to date and that the turntable speaker package made for a compact setup compared to a traditional stereo and (obviously) greatly reduced the need for wires.
If you need a digital and an analogue source, the Yamaha offers both, packaged in such a way to leave you with the elegance of a turntable fronted system. It’s a fascinating device but one that delivers in performance terms too.