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Yamaha NX-N500 - To Be or Not To Be

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 4.2 Speakers

aarmath

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
89
Points
18
Location
Mumbai, India
This pair of Yamaha active speakers has been by far the most contentious Yamaha product for me leaving with mixed feelings.
Mixed feeling although leaning more towards the positives.

The speakers are pretty heavy as is expected of Yamaha's detail to quality.
The speakers, although, marketed as Near-Field, can easily fill up a decent living room (20 feet × 20 feet) with great audio sonics. Since this is a paired speaker setup, it does NOT require a pre-amplifier. BUT each speaker has to be connected separately to the mains power line.
To ensure the correct separation of signals between the left and right audio channels, the left speaker (when you face the speakers) houses all control logic and audio input interfaces as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. A balanced audio cable & an ethernet cable serve as connecting umbilical cord between both the speakers to ensure audio is playing correctly as intended on each channel speaker.

At the very basic - Your home should have Wi-Fi-enabled Internet connectivity. There is a slight learning curve to harness the abilities of these speakers to their maximum potential.
Because this product is clearly aimed at those folks who love everything Streaming Digital & use their smartphones/tablets to control this music system using Yamaha's MusicCast app.
Which means Spotify, Tidal AND... well, that's about it for us folks in India.
Because Amazon Music & the rest of the Indian apps like Gaana, Saavn etc. are NOT integrated. More on that later.
But integration of Spotify & Tidal is top notch. BUT remember - The ability to stream Spotify on this device requires you to be a premium Spotify user & have an always-on Wifi-enabled Internet connection. Because even if you have downloaded Spotify audio tracks to your phone, you CANNOT stream the tracks to the speakers if you dont have WiFi enabled Internet connection. That's Spotify not allowing you to stream the music locally for valid commercial and security reasons.
Now here's a quirk - The NX-N500 has ethernet connection. And it works supremely well for...
- Controlling the speakers through the MusicCast app.
- Streaming local music files from your PC. (Use SERVIIO multimedia server. It's way more friendly than Windows Media server.)
This is also one way of playing DSD (DSD 64, 2.6 Mhz) files natively on the speakers.
- Internet radio.
- Switching between different audio input interfaces.
- Powering the system On/Off.
- Connecting the NX-N500 to your WiFi network.

BUT via Ethernet, Spotify streaming strangely does not work. The moment you use Wi-Fi & presuming there's free-flowing Internet, the Spotify app on your phone/tablet/PC will happily detect the NX-N500 speakers should you want to stream Spotify audio on the speakers.

Coming to inputs - The speakers (specifically the left speaker that has the control logic) sports all the audio digital inputs of SPIDF/TOSLINK (From anything that has a SPIDF out like your cable set top box, CD transport etc.), USB for DAC capability for playing audio from your PC (You require to install the requisite software driver on your PC). This audio USB interface will allow you to output DSD files natively from your PC using a compatible software audio player like FooBar 2000.

& a normal stereo Jack-in for AUX (Great for piping out analog music from your personal media player or say an audiophile mobile phone like the LG V30+ etc.).

Of interest for me was the SPIDF/TOSLINK in, because I connected a Google Chromecast Audio into it with astounding results. NOTE - This is how you will be able to stream and play your Amazon Music, Ganna, Saavn, Wynk etc. using Google Chromecast Audio.

At the onset, the audio quality, using the speaker's internal DAC is good. Just as you would expect from a studio speaker. Relatively flat and forward sounding. You can tweak the audio via the MusicCast app that offers Bass and Treble settings. Thats about it.
These speakers are NOT for DJ music-level output neither are you expected to pump up the volume for bass heavy musoc and expect the speakers to deliver. They assuredly will not. Because physically there is only so much a speaker with relatively-small Woofer cone & dome tweeter can pump out the music. Ergo, if you decide to play Pantera, Anthrax with very fast bass drumming, dont expect these speakers to keep up, especially at high volumes. Because they will sound distorted.
BUT.... Play Jazz, Pop, hell, even Heavy Metal at listenable volumes and you will be richly rewarded.

Now if you use FooBar 2000 software audio player on the PC and download the DLNA/UPnP component from FooBar's website, Foobar's output will actually give you an option to pipe out Foobar's output to the NX-N500, which are DLNA certified. Aye, Yamaha, really went out of their way to ensure that these speakers have everything going for it when it comes to all things Networked & Streaming.

Now remember a few lines ago, I spoke about the Google Chromecast Audio? NOW, this gem when connected via the NX-N500's SPIDF/TOSLINK input can REALLY get the speakers kicking. If the native ESS Sabre DAC in the Yamaha is good, the Google CCA's audio sonics infuse new life into the speakers. Especially when you play Spotify (& other streaming services that only have Chromecast option) on the CCA as well as use it with FooBar 2000 player, the audio is pretty sublime on the speakers. Also Foobar has equalizer settings that some of you may want to play around with. Basically you are close to getting that elusive "sparkle" in these speakers.
This is a testament to the active bi-amplification power amp circuits (using MOSFETs) that are rated as Class AB. Credit to Yamaha for sporting high quality heat sinks to dissipate heat from the amplifier circuits.

Please note, that the NX-N500 is a self-contained hardware ecosystem. In the sense you cannot connect an external preamp and control the speakers. All of that preamp logic is inside the speakers.
So lets say - You dont have a PC and you use your smartphone/tablet to interface with the speakers, theres an amazing software player called Neutron Music Player. Available on iOS and Play store, this player is perhaps the only one that comes with awesome networking capabilities as well as outputing processed digital music as a stream to the Yamaha NX-N500 speakers. Neutron also gives access to a plethora of equalization settings, sample rates et al to fiddle around with. The end result of the audio sonics from the speakers is astounding to say the least.

All in all the NX-N500 on its own is a pretty amazing music system on it's own. But there are fundamental aspects like reduced frequency response (57 hz - 14 khz). Yes, 14 khz, that's it!
Now, it may not be a bother for the masses, BUT when you compare this setup with say an Oppo 105D + Yamaha A-S2000 (preamp) + Yamaha B2 (power amp) outputting to a pair of Wharfedale Dentons, the NX-N500 is left far far behind.

But I guess that is the point - An investment of Rs. 3 lakhs vs Rs. 70,000 (last I checked) for a decent Hi-Fi grade, NETWORKED pair of audio speakers makes the Yamaha NX-N500 a worthy contender in the living room space with all the bells and whistles of a discrete rack music system.

Have a great day guys,
Aaron
 
Last edited:

mshifi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2012
Messages
936
Points
63
Location
hyderabad
This pair of Yamaha active speakers has been by far the most contentious Yamaha product for me leaving with mixed feelings.
Mixed feeling although leaning more towards the positives.

The speakers are pretty heavy as is expected of Yamaha's detail to quality.
The speakers, although, marketed as Near-Field, can easily fill up a decent living room (20 feet × 20 feet) with great audio sonics. Since this is a paired speaker setup, it does NOT require a pre-amplifier. BUT each speaker has to be connected separately to the mains power line.
To ensure the correct separation of signals between the left and right audio channels, the left speaker (when you face the speakers) houses all control logic and audio input interfaces as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. A balanced audio cable & an ethernet cable serve as connecting umbilical cord between both the speakers to ensure audio is playing correctly as intended on each channel speaker.

At the very basic - Your home should have Wi-Fi-enabled Internet connectivity. There is a slight learning curve to harness the abilities of these speakers to their maximum potential.
Because this product is clearly aimed at those folks who love everything Streaming Digital & use their smartphones/tablets to control this music system using Yamaha's MusicCast app.
Which means Spotify, Tidal AND... well, that's about it for us folks in India.
Because Amazon Music & the rest of the Indian apps like Gaana, Saavn etc. are NOT integrated. More on that later.
But integration of Spotify & Tidal is top notch. BUT remember - The ability to stream Spotify on this device requires you to be a premium Spotify user & have an always-on Wifi-enabled Internet connection. Because even if you have downloaded Spotify audio tracks to your phone, you CANNOT stream the tracks to the speakers if you dont have WiFi enabled Internet connection. That's Spotify not allowing you to stream the music locally for valid commercial and security reasons.
Now here's a quirk - The NX-N500 has ethernet connection. And it works supremely well for...
- Controlling the speakers through the MusicCast app.
- Streaming local music files from your PC. (Use SERVIIO multimedia server. It's way more friendly than Windows Media server.)
This is also one way of playing DSD (DSD 64, 2.6 Mhz) files natively on the speakers.
- Internet radio.
- Switching between different audio input interfaces.
- Powering the system On/Off.
- Connecting the NX-N500 to your WiFi network.

BUT via Ethernet, Spotify streaming strangely does not work. The moment you use Wi-Fi & presuming there's free-flowing Internet, the Spotify app on your phone/tablet/PC will happily detect the NX-N500 speakers should you want to stream Spotify audio on the speakers.

Coming to inputs - The speakers (specifically the left speaker that has the control logic) sports all the audio digital inputs of SPIDF/TOSLINK (From anything that has a SPIDF out like your cable set top box, CD transport etc.), USB for DAC capability for playing audio from your PC (You require to install the requisite software driver on your PC). This audio USB interface will allow you to output DSD files natively from your PC using a compatible software audio player like FooBar 2000.

& a normal stereo Jack-in for AUX (Great for piping out analog music from your personal media player or say an audiophile mobile phone like the LG V30+ etc.).

Of interest for me was the SPIDF/TOSLINK in, because I connected a Google Chromecast Audio into it with astounding results. NOTE - This is how you will be able to stream and play your Amazon Music, Ganna, Saavn, Wynk etc. using Google Chromecast Audio.

At the onset, the audio quality, using the speaker's internal DAC is good. Just as you would expect from a studio speaker. Relatively flat and forward sounding. You can tweak the audio via the MusicCast app that offers Bass and Treble settings. Thats about it.
These speakers are NOT for DJ music-level output neither are you expected to pump up the volume for bass heavy musoc and expect the speakers to deliver. They assuredly will not. Because physically there is only so much a speaker with relatively-small Woofer cone & dome tweeter can pump out the music. Ergo, if you decide to play Pantera, Anthrax with very fast bass drumming, dont expect these speakers to keep up, especially at high volumes. Because they will sound distorted.
BUT.... Play Jazz, Pop, hell, even Heavy Metal at listenable volumes and you will be richly rewarded.

Now if you use FooBar 2000 software audio player on the PC and download the DLNA/UPnP component from FooBar's website, Foobar's output will actually give you an option to pipe out Foobar's output to the NX-N500, which are DLNA certified. Aye, Yamaha, really went out of their way to ensure that these speakers have everything going for it when it comes to all things Networked & Streaming.

Now remember a few lines ago, I spoke about the Google Chromecast Audio? NOW, this gem when connected via the NX-N500's SPIDF/TOSLINK input can REALLY get the speakers kicking. If the native ESS Sabre DAC in the Yamaha is good, the Google CCA's audio sonics infuse new life into the speakers. Especially when you play Spotify (& other streaming services that only have Chromecast option) on the CCA as well as use it with FooBar 2000 player, the audio is pretty sublime on the speakers. Also Foobar has equalizer settings that some of you may want to play around with. Basically you are close to getting that elusive "sparkle" in these speakers.
This is a testament to the active bi-amplification power amp circuits (using MOSFETs) that are rated as Class AB. Credit to Yamaha for sporting high quality heat sinks to dissipate heat from the amplifier circuits.

Please note, that the NX-N500 is a self-contained hardware ecosystem. In the sense you cannot connect an external preamp and control the speakers. All of that preamp logic is inside the speakers.
So lets say - You dont have a PC and you use your smartphone/tablet to interface with the speakers, theres an amazing software player called Neutron Music Player. Available on iOS and Play store, this player is perhaps the only one that comes with awesome networking capabilities as well as outputing processed digital music as a stream to the Yamaha NX-N500 speakers. Neutron also gives access to a plethora of equalization settings, sample rates et al to fiddle around with. The end result of the audio sonics from the speakers is astounding to say the least.

All in all the NX-N500 on its own is a pretty amazing music system on it's own. But there are fundamental aspects like reduced frequency response (57 hz - 14 khz). Yes, 14 khz, that's it!
Now, it may not be a bother for the masses, BUT when you compare this setup with say an Oppo 105D + Yamaha A-S2000 (preamp) + Yamaha B2 (power amp) outputting to a pair of Wharfedale Dentons, the NX-N500 is left far far behind.

But I guess that is the point - An investment of Rs. 3 lakhs vs Rs. 70,000 (last I checked) for a decent Hi-Fi grade, NETWORKED pair of audio speakers makes the Yamaha NX-N500 a worthy contender in the living room space with all the bells and whistles of a discrete rack music system.

Have a great day guys,
Aaron
Nice review
 
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