This week we tested the Yamaha MusicCast R-N602 multiroom stereo receiver. Designed for dematerialized music, this receiver features WiFi and Ethernet network connectivity as well as a Bluetooth receiver. CD-quality and studio-quality (DSD) files, iPhone, internet and FM radio stations, Spotify, Qobuz, vinyl records… the Yamaha R-N602 is an uncommonly versatile model.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: technical specs
The Yamaha R-N602 receiver delivers up to 2×80 W (from lows to highs) into 8 Ohms with minimal distortion. This model benefits from ToP-ART technology, present on all high-end hi-fi models in Yamaha’s AS range (Yamaha A-S1100, Yamaha A-S2100, Yamaha A-S3000). This symmetrical channel design favors a nuanced and precise sound restitution. At the heart of the R-N602, a DAC–namely, a Texas Instruments Burr Brown DSD1791–is paired with digital inputs (S/PDIF, USB) and network controllers (WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth). This DAC handles stereo PCM audio stream up to 24 bits/192 kHz, as well as DSD up to 5.6 MHz.
A plus: the TI BB DSD1791 DAC natively processes DSD signals, without first converting them to PCM.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: design
The Yamaha R-N602 inherits the esthetic qualities of the brand’s AS hi-fi range and thus evokes a stereo receiver from the 80s, with a brushed aluminum front panel fitted with large buttons and potentiometers. A wide LCD display shows information about the track being played, including the track title, artist, internet radio station, source, etc.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: MusicCast technology
The Yamaha R-N602 receiver is compatible with MusicCast, the brand’s own multiroom network protocol. However, the technology’s multiroom function is not its main advantage–rather, the possibility to listen to a wide range of online music streaming services, as well as audio files (PCM up to 24/192 and even DSD) stored on connected devices sharing the home network with a smartphone in hand, is the real reason why MusicCast technology is so appealing.
In practice, MusicCast is a software program integrated into the Yamaha R-N602 receiver and controlled via the Yamaha MusicCast CONTROLLER mobile app which is available for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. This app can replace the IR remote control provided with the receiver, since it can be used to power the receiver on and off, in addition to selecting the different inputs and adjusting the volume settings.
Spotify and Qobuz online music streaming services are supported by Yamaha MusicCast and integrated into the mobile app. The receiver can also tune in to internet radio stations and connect to DLNA servers. As a reminder, a DLNA server is an audio file sharing software program installed on a computer (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), a NAS, or a set-top box. Serviio and Plex Media Server are two examples of DLNA freeware.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: compatible sources
Via the Yamaha MusicCast CONTROLLER mobile app, it is possible to listen to:
- audio files stored on a DLNA server
- Files stored in the memory of a smartphone or tablet (apart from DSD)
- Spotify (subscription-based streaming platform)
- Qobuz (subscription-based streaming platform)
- Napster (subscription-based streaming platform)
- Juke (subscription-based streaming platform)
- Nationwide and worldwide internet radio stations (MP3 and AAC formats)
The receiver can be used as a remote sound card for Apple computers, as well as any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Audio stream is limited to 16 bits/44.1 kHz and is lossless (CD quality). The iDevice can be used to control the receiver’s volume, with a maximum volume limited to -20 dB by default. This limitation, as well as the ability to control the receiver’s volume via the iDevice, can be deactivated.
Does your smartphone or tablet run on Android? No problem, as the Yamaha R-N602 implements the DLNA streaming protocol. In other words, for the majority of playback apps integrated into Android devices (including the MusicCast CONTROLLER app), audio files can be sent to the receiver over the home network without any loss in quality. Files can be streamed by a computer with a DLNA-compatible software program installed (Foobar2000 with the UPnP/DLNA output module, Windows Media Player, etc.).
The R-N602’s Bluetooth receiver is compatible with the SBC compression (universal) and superior quality AAC (featured on iPhones, iPods and iPads) protocols. As a reminder, Bluetooth wireless transmission implies lossy sound compression; we thus recommend using a WiFi connection (MusicCast/DLNA or AirPlay).
The Yamaha R-N602 receiver is equipped with an FM and AM analog tuner. It is possible to listen to the full range of analog radio stations. The device can save up to forty stations, the number of memory slots is shared with network favorites (internet radio stations, audio files on the home network). The tuner seemed to be highly sensitive in an urban area.
There are four digital inputs: two Toslink optical inputs and two RCA coaxial inputs. An HD TV, set-top box, CD player, DVD player, or Blu-ray player can all be connected to the Yamaha R-N602. The highest-supported resolution is 24 bits/192 kHz in PCM format. As the receiver is not equipped with a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder, you must set your TV or Blu-ray player’s digital output to diffuse sound in stereo PCM.
There are four analog inputs, one of which is paired up with an RIAA preamplifier, making it possible to connect the receiver to a record player (with an MM cartridge).
USB Type A input
Compatible with iPhone and iPad, the receiver can play music stored on these devices as well as receive information from iOS apps. As such, an iPhone can be used to transmit WiFi connection settings to the domestic network. The receiver can also play WAV (PCM), AIFF, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC and DSD (2.8 and 5.6 MHz) files stored on USB flash drives and DAPs in FAT16 or FAT32 format. USB hard drives are handled if their power consumption does not exceed 5 W.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: convenient functions
Two pairs of speakers can be connected to the Yamaha R-N602 and used separately or simultaneously. It is important to keep in mind that the A+B mode implies a reduction in power delivery. Using this mode to bi-amp two speakers (equipped with a bi-amplification terminal) is thus not recommended. To get the most out of a pair of speakers, simply using either the A mode or the B mode is the best solution.
For a handful of years, Yamaha has been fitting its hi-fi receivers with a “variable” loudness control. As a reminder, the loudness mode, which was very popular in the 70s and 80s, serves to put a noticeable accent on lows and highs in order to compensate for the ear’s relatively low sensitivity to these frequencies at low volume. Yamaha’s take on the variable loudness mode operates in the opposite manner: lows and highs remain untouched while mids are more or less emphasized. This variable loudness control offers a convincing and practical advantage when watching action films late at night.
This mode applies a reduction or gain of -10 to +10 dB for each individual input. Practical for ensuring an equal volume when switching from one input to another.
This mode, accessed via the receiver’s LCD display and remote control, allows the user to adjust the device’s default volume when it powers on.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: test conditions
We connected the Yamaha R-N602 receiver to Klipsch Heresy III speakers with Viard Audio Silver HD12 cables. We then connected the receiver to the local network with an Ethernet cable. As soon as we pushed the Connect button on the receiver’s front panel, Yamaha’s MusicCast CONTROLLER app immediately detected the device. During our test, we listened to FLAC files (streamed from a smartphone) and DSD files (stored on a USB flash drive). We also watched films using the receiver’s optical input for the sound.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: listening impressions
Weighing in at nearly 10 kg, the Yamaha MusicCast R-N602 has the most interesting weight/power ratio of its category. Paying attention to the receiver’s weight is important as it gives us an idea of the size of its transformer and, thus, its power capacity. In this regard, the Yamaha R-N602 is directly comparable to the Yamaha RX-V681 7.1-channel home cinema receiver. If the first of its qualities we mention is its power, it’s not without reason as this receiver is as authoritative and nuanced as a high-quality hi-fi amplifier.
Lows: responsive, tight and generous, with a nuanced dynamic range
Mids: without emphasis yet textured and capable of rendering human voices with skill. Low-mids full of details.
Highs: Precise and soft, extending high up into the upper frequency range
The three registers are well integrated and we were pleased by the results as we listened to tracks from our jazz, classical and pop collections. We found the Yamaha R-N602 to be versatile and excellent for watching films and TV series, notably The Crown (NetFlix) whose dialogues were restituted with striking realism.
Yamaha MusicCast R-N602: conclusions
What we liked: the musicality, the variable loudness function, the design and the finish, the reactivity to the app’s commands
What we would have liked: the ability to play DSD files from our smartphone via the Yamaha MusicCast app
The Yamaha MusicCast R-N602 is not a home cinema receiver disguised as a hi-fi receiver. Its streaming functions are a plus, without being the only argument in its favor, as the solid amount of power supplied to the amplification stage constitutes its key advantage. It is thus an excellent choice in view of its functional and technical qualities, for any type of music and especially for diffusing the sound of an HD television or Blu-ray player. Easy-to-use, the R-N602 takes special care of the listener’s ears. We found it to be a good match for the Klipsch Heresy III and it can competently use its 2 x 80 Watts to power demanding floorstanding models (JBL ES80, Elipson Prestige Facet 14F, Klipsch RP-260F and B&W 684 S2, for example) and, evidently, compact speakers (with Q Acoustics 3020, Dali Zensor 3, Focal Aria 906 at the top of the list).French