Yamaha’s new turntable offers best of both worlds, and a short tonearm

The confusing thing about Kumazawa-san’s position is that there’s an anti-skate device on the turntable. Well, it confused me anyway.

The big attraction of the Vinyl 500 to non-purists is Wi-Fi, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, AirPlay, Bluetooth and MusicCast compatibility. Turntables that work in with wireless whole-of-home systems straight out of the box are rare. Turntables that plug and play are also rare and this one goes about as close to it as a turntable can go.

Set up is easy. For a turntable. Unpack — there’s lots of unpacking — and follow the instructions. Nice to see owner’s manual rather than a quick start guide. It took me 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid of the anti-skate, it’s just a dial that you set to match the tracking force of the stylus. A stylus is supplied, fitted in a headshell that can’t be connected incorrectly. No one at Yamaha seemed to know if additional headshells are available.

The reason for the short tonearm is unclear, but it doesn't hurt the sound.

The reason for the short tonearm is unclear, but it doesn’t hurt the sound.

Analogue sound is achievable by running an RCA cable to the amplifier and throwing a switch to ‘phono’. A by-passable phono pre-amp is built in. Through the phono connection the sound is sharply defined, beautifully balanced and undeniably analogue. I started with a very old Chieftains record with lots of short, sharp bodhran drum at the bottom and fiddle, uilleann pipes and tin whistle up high. Great soundstage, tremendous realism, a joyful experience. Stanley Turrentine, who is so good on sax he makes it sound easy, followed, and lots more. Gorgeous detail, a real pleasure.

Use the phono connection, however, and none of the network stuff operates. So slide the switch back to line-out. It all sounds fine, but I guess it would have sounded better if I hadn’t spent so long listening to records. One complaint: The arm doesn’t automatically lift at the end of the record.

I think this and its cheaper, non-networked sibling (the $599 TTS303) will sell like cold beers in Marble Bar.


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