Entering the big door
Although joining the market for active wireless speakers with a slight delay, Yamaha shows a clear intention to spoil the entertainment of the biggest rivals, offering an extremely versatile and talented kit at a very affordable price.
Active speakers, which have built-in amplification, have existed for decades as a hi-fi category, and it can be said that they have been experiencing a different youth in recent years. The development of digital audio and the absolute dominance of streaming, as the most widespread way of playing music, are most responsible for this. Namely, if you add a D / A converter and a network player to the active speakers, you get a multi-purpose all-in-one audio system, easy to use and very powerful in capabilities, and at the same time discreet and reduced to only two components. The Japanese giant is obviously aware of the market importance of modern active speakers, so it was in no hurry to present its debut, wanting to design well and offer users a complete and elaborate hi-fi system.
Outside and inside
By size, the Yamaha NX-N500 is one of the smaller rack speakers. Compact cabinets look very solid and have an excellent finish, while the rounded edges make them even more discreet and less burdensome for the environment. The matte black color of the cabinet contributes to the modern and decent appearance, and if you still want something more vivid, the NX-N500 are also available in a modern white edition, as well as in a classic walnut finish.
Despite the presence of numerous modern technologies inside the cabinet, the front panel reveals little of the complex nature of these speakers. The two-system topology consists of two speaker units in a classic setting, and the mid-bass diaphragm, executed in white, attracts attention. The manufacturer states that this unit, with a diameter of 127 millimeters, is made of A-PMD (Advanced Polymer-injected Mica Diaphragm) technology, which is taken from the prestigious Soavo series, and that it provides strong and expressive bass. Above it, below the protective metal mesh, is a tweeter with a dome-shaped membrane 25 millimeters in diameter, which creates sound up to a frequency of 40 kilohertz, and is housed in a fairly large rectifier, which contributes to fluid and precise reproduction. In addition, a discrete LE diode is placed on the periphery of the left tweeter, which serves to signal the status of the device, while a remote control sensor is seamlessly integrated into the mid-bass unit.
David Bowie’s voice on the album “Heroes”, which we know well, sounded just right – recognizable, expressive and with plenty of small variations in tonality.
The cabinets, made of medium-density MDF and equipped with additional reinforcements, house amplification, which Yamaha claims was made in discrete technology and in class AB, unlike many rivals that use class D. Bi-amping means that each speaker unit uses a separate amplifier, so the mid-bass unit has a power of 24 watts, while a 20-watt amplifier was used to start the tweeter. Both speakers are equipped with their own amplifiers, and a balanced connection is used for signal transmission, which is far more resistant to environmental interference.
The LED and the remote control sensor indicate that the left speaker is assigned the role of the main unit, which means that a set of connectors is located on its rear panel. So, both speakers have in common that there is an external amplifier cooler on the back, a small bass reflex aperture, an IEC socket for a detachable power cable, an XLR connector for balanced signal transmission and an RJ45 port for a control connection, and on the left speaker present analog 3.5mm and digital optical input, USB-B port for direct connection to a computer, Ethernet port for connecting to a local network and antenna for wi-fi and Bluetooth. In addition, on the left speaker we find four buttons, which are used to turn on, select the source, establish a direct wireless connection and connect to the control application, with a switch that can turn off wireless (wi-fi and bluetooth) completely if not used, as and a circular gain command, or maximum signal gain. All of the above means that the left speaker houses a 32-bit digital-to-analog converter ES9010K2M from the well-known American manufacturer ESS Technology, which accepts 384 kHz / 32-bit PCM and DSD256 (11.2 MHz) via an asynchronous USB connection, while the optical input is limited at 192 kilohertz and 24 bits. Additionally, the built-in streamer is made according to the DLNA 1.5 standard and supports everything – from compressed MP3 and WMA formats, up to 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC and WAV files and DSD128 resolution.
Use and sound
Due to its compact dimensions, the NX-N500 is not a problem for positioning, so between 20 and 30 centimeters from the rear wall will be enough for uninterrupted operation. The accessories include everything you need, including power and speaker interconnect cables, a voluminous printed manual, and a small remote control equipped with the most important functions. However, to access all the options, it is necessary to reach for the MusicCast Controller application, which we know well from previous tests. In addition to adjusting the sound parameters and connecting these speakers to a larger multirum system, the app provides playback and volume control, as well as additional options such as firmware updates over the network. The application also provides centralized access to all sources of music content – from local online audio libraries, through online music services, to numerous Internet radio stations. The interface is well-designed and intuitive, and the response is fast and without downtime, so Yamaha’s MusicCast Controller deservedly gets the highest ratings and is one of the best apps we’ve tried.
Although the power of 44 watts per channel and the declared range of 54 hertz to 40 kilohertz on paper do not seem too convincing, these active speakers in practice leave an impressive impression. We will say right away: their essence lies in the perfect harmony of the speaker units, as well as in the perfectly coordinated amplification. The tonal balance is therefore very well balanced and the NX-N500 sounds balanced and mature, with noticeable linearity when increasing the volume. The color is homogeneous from top to bottom, without deviations in any part of the spectrum, and the neutrality is such that the little Yamahas can be envied by much more expensive members of the same species. With a little experimentation around positioning and rotating the speakers, we managed to get a nicely spread stage, with the presence of layering in depth, but also while maintaining a good enough focus. Also, the NX-N500 have proven to be quite capable of providing complete reproduction in a living space of 20 square meters, and their size and power indicate that they are intended for use in small and medium-sized rooms.
There is no filigree outline of the finest finesse in the treble range, but the NX-N500 provides a good insight into many details, in a measured and unpretentious way. Unlike the typical Yamaha sound signature, which is generally analytical, with pronounced details and a slightly brighter side, these speakers surprised us with a different approach: the treble is airy and airy, but much softer than we expected and more pleasant to listen to during longer intervals. David Bowie’s voice on the album “Heroes”, which we know well, sounded just right – recognizable, expressive and with plenty of small variations in tonality. The NX-N500 also faithfully conveyed the overall melancholy atmosphere of this release, but also showed versatility during the display of undisguised enthusiasm in the song “V-2 Schneider” and in the painting of the ambient landscape in “Moss Garden”.
The only conditional weakness can be found in the lowest part of the spectrum in the form of the absence of the deepest bass, so the NX-N500 will not provide the strong subwoofer that is expected in some songs. The bass is precise and fast, so they do a great job as deep as they go, while maintaining a homogeneous display and tonal uniformity with the rest of the spectrum. On the other hand, massive shock is really rare in speakers of this size – whether in passive or active version – and it is much more important that the speakers are sharply cut at the appropriate frequency so as not to spoil the overall sound image by trying to reproduce what they can not.
In the end, we have to conclude that Yamaha surprised us very positively with the first ones in the category of active wireless speakers. If you are not obsessed with the deepest bass, you will find that their sound is quite neutral, and the presentation is complete and extremely pleasant, with true musicality and a clear insight into the details. Even for a much larger amount of money in this category, it is difficult to find a more competent kit – we remember Canton’s active speakers Smart GLE 3 (HF 97), which at a 50 percent higher price provide more in the subwoofer range, but are inferior in everything else. compared to the NX-N500. In addition, we are pretty sure that for less than 800 euros, which is how much it is necessary to set aside for the NX-N500, a more capable and better harmonized hi-fi system than separate components cannot be assembled. Add to that a virtually perfect and comprehensive application, as well as Yamaha’s proverbial sophistication down to the smallest side options, and it’s clear that the NX-N500 is an exceptional solution for a modern and versatile true hi-fi sound system.
Yamaha MusicCast NX-N500
A contextual snag: 2 x 44 W.
Frequency range (-10 dB): 54 Hz – 40 kHz
Analog inputs: 1×3.5 mm
Digital inputs: x optical and USB-B
Network connection: LAN and wi-fi
Topology: 1×127 mm mid-bass, 1×25 mm tweeter
Remote control: yes
Additionally: bluetooth, AirPlay
Dimensions (WxHxD): 170x285x238 mm
Weight: 6.2 / 5.7 kg
Price: 790 euros
Source: Hi-Files by www.hi-files.com.
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