Yamaha MCR-140 Review

Yamaha’s MCR-140 Micro Audio system goes above and beyond a typical iPod dock with a wireless transmitter that lets you take your iPod with you.
Yamaha’s MCR-140 Micro Audio system goes above and beyond a typical iPod dock with a wireless transmitter that lets you take your iPod with you.
Yamaha’s MCR-140 Micro Audio system goes above and beyond a typical iPod dock with a wireless transmitter that lets you take your iPod with you.

Highs

  • Supports multiple external connections
  • CD Player, USB and FM/AM Tuner on board
  • Superior wireless iPod sound quality

Lows

  • Bulky wireless iPod transmitter
  • Limited wireless range

Performance

Before we did any serious listening to the MCR-140, we decided to take the wireless transmitter for a spin. Since the transmitter is a plug-and-play device, we didn’t have to do any pairing, as you do with most Bluetooth devices. After a few minutes of walking around we learned that as long as you’re in the same room as the receiver, the sound quality was on par with a wired connection. Since this wireless adapter doesn’t use Bluetooth technology, there is no compression of the signal so what you hear is essentially the same as or close a hard connection to the receiver. Unfortunately, once we strayed into another room or allowed any other bulky object to obstruct our line of sight with the MCR-140, we lost the signal entirely. So, while the wireless transmitter will allow you to take phone calls or adjust audio tracks and volume from the comfort of your couch, desk or bed, it will not let you carry on about the house with your phone on you. That’s of little consequence since the transmitter is a little too bulky for pocketing your device anyway.

We appreciate the fact that the MCR-140 powered itself on when we connected our iPhone to the wireless adapter and began to play music. Likewise, it powered off when we were done. Also, when we received a phone call, the MCR-140 paused the music, and restarted when the phone call was ended. Another nice touch is that the volume control on our iPhone actually adjusted the volume of the receiver and not just the output level of the iPhone. Unlike many wireless iPod adapters, the MCR-140 wireless unit sends out a digital audio signal (PCM) instead of an analog signal with varying volume levels. The result is sound that is always clean and never overdriven.

Once we were done playing around with the MCR-140’s wireless capability, we sat down to critique its sound quality. For our testing purposes, we used a selection of 5 different tracks with versions on CD, iPhone and a thumb drive in WMA format.

Generally speaking, we felt the MCR-140’s sonic performance was good, but not great. Bass response had more presence and impact than we anticipated but the upper end of the bass range was a little too prominent and gave some of our tracks a bloated sound. Midrange response was on par or better than most devices in this price range, but lacked a presence that we had hoped to hear from the 4” speakers. The only true disappointment was the high frequency response. Though we were happy to hear that the Yamaha didn’t have an overly aggressive or screeching quality to its treble, we did hear a lot of grit and some distortion. The effect was much more noticeable at close range than from a distance but we consider it an issue since many desktop systems end up, you know, on a desktop and at a close proximity to the listener.

Conclusion

Yamaha’s MCR-140 offers more features and connectivity than most iPod docks and an art-deco appearance that should appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Its sound quality, while not without its limitations, is good enough for most listeners to appreciate. Also, the wireless adapter is a nice thought and provides superior sound quality when compared to many other wireless options, but its bulkiness and limited range make it more of a novelty than a practical feature. If wireless playback isn’t all that important, we suggest considering the step-down model MCR-040, which is $100.00 less and offers all of the same features minus the wireless adapter.

Highs:

  • Supports multiple external connections
  • CD Player, USB and FM/AM Tuner on board
  • Superior wireless iPod sound quality

Lows:

  • Bulky wireless iPod transmitter
  • Limited wireless range

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