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Yamaha Micro Component System

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Oct 29, 2012
Category: Home

Reader Review: "The Yamaha system is the best I’ve ever heard, and easy for a low-tech person such as myself to install. When my high-tech brother visited and said ‘What’s this?’ and popped his iPhone in to test it, his only comment was ‘Wow!’ Great system, great price for a boatload of features. Had to thank you!”


"Without music," Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "life would be a mistake."

I agree. I wake to music, occasionally work to it, and, at night, turn to it for comfort and inspiration.

When it comes to music, the last thing on my mind is technology.

Plug-and-play — that’s my mantra. Pop in a CD, hit one button, and there’s music. Slip an iPod or iPhone into the dock, hit play, and there’s music.

These are humble wishes.

But not easy ones to fulfill.

Last year, we bought a Panasonic SC-HC37 Compact Audio System. It’s a thin, sleek object, with quality design — a clean black face and a motorized sliding door. Could not be simpler. Hit CD and the door opens so you can insert a CD. Hit iPod and the door opens in the opposite direction so you can insert your player. Hit a button. Go.

The sound was crisp. That is, crisp within reason — this is a $109 device. And the design was sane — the door kept dust away from the technology. But the Panasonic’s design strength was also its weakness — the door jammed. You would think that a tap here or a push there would get it back on track. But no. To open the door, we finally had to rip it off. And after that, the thing was dead.

We moved on. To a Sony. We hadn’t bought a Sony product in years, but the brand has a legacy overhang. So we chose a Sony CMT-LX20i Micro Hi-Fi. At $94, it looked like a righteous buy.

Important words: “looked like.” In the Amazon photo, the Sony looks solid. It is anything but. If the plastic were thinner, it would be paper; if the fabric covering the speakers were even slightly less substantial, it would be gauze. And who thought it was a good idea to have a CD slot that opens at the top so the guts of the thing can collect dust?

You don’t get free shipping on the return of the Sony. But it was worth $14 to get that piece of junk out of the house.

Back in research mode, I made the Amazon tour. In the $100 to $150 range, nothing looked better. I unglued myself from this chair and went to a store. Amazon had not failed to offer a decent selection — at these prices, every small system sucked.

We are now the proud owners of a Yamaha Micro Component System. It cost $350. It’s worth it. [To buy the Yamaha system, click here.]

The Yahama is all about function: CD player, FM radio, iPod and iPhone dock. The CD slot is an opening on the front, safe from any dust that doesn’t come from a sandstorm. It has features I don’t care about — a clock timer, a sleep timer, inputs for other devices — but they don’t complicate the essential functions.

The Yamaha comes in many colors: dark gray, brown, dark blue, red, white, orange, dark green, light blue, light gray, pink. If we owned that nifty beach house on Nantucket I dream about –- the one that looks like the architect trained at Crate & Barrel — I’d buy it in red. I live in a building that dates from 1929. I chose dark gray.

It sounds great. It works. And it looks like a legitimate piece of technology. Sitting next to an Apple laptop, it doesn’t look like the poor cousin who’s been invited up to the country house for one weekend every summer. In fact, it looks very much like a product Apple would make.

Though Apple would, of course, double the price.