Since the iPod speaker dock has gotten wildly popular, desktop component audio systems (A.K.A. micro systems or executive desktop audio systems) haven’t gotten a lot of attention. Perhaps their lack of popularity is due to the flooding of iPod speaker docks into the market and the resulting lack of display-shelf room; or maybe it’s because these oft expensive systems have frequently lacked the right combination of features, style and sound quality to appeal to consumers..
With the MCR-140, Yamaha aims to stand out from the crowd and steal a little spotlight for the likes of compact audio. By including a CD player, wireless iPod capability, USB input, 1/8” external jack and AM/FM tuner and into a low profile, custom iPod color schemed package, this unit boasts everything that many iPod speaker docks miss. Here, we test the MCR-140 to see if it earns its $400.00 sticker price.
Out of the Box
Pulling the MCR-140 out of the box was a rather unceremonious affair. Because the component system is comprised of just three pieces and a couple of accessories, there isn’t a whole lot to go through; but that seems to be point. The MCR-140 is easy to set up and simple to use.
The MCR-140 is stylishly dressed to match your iPod’s color. The review sample we received was orange, but there are nine other colors to choose from, each matching the Apple’s color palette. The top and front face of the main unit is fitted with a colored panel as is the front face of the speaker’s cabinets. The CRX-140 (CD receiver) measures in at 4-3/4″ x 7-1/8″ x 12-1/8″. Each speaker measures 4-3/4″ x 4-5/8″ x 11-1/4″. Included with the component system is a wireless iPod transmitter, a thin, compact remote control and an FM antenna.
The main unit’s front face includes a CD tray, power button, three different input jacks, volume control, input button and a few others for CD playback. The LED display is dimmable for use in a bedroom but is otherwise bright enough for use in an already brightly lit room.
After connecting each speaker to the back of the CD receiver and plugging it in, the MCR-140 was ready to go. Simple.
Along with its color, the MCR-140’s streamlined design helps to give it a modern, unobtrusive look that should be a good fit for a wide variety of décor. By making the speaker cabinets as deep as the receiver and using a single, 4” driver, the speakers share the low height of the CD receiver but maintain enough internal volume to support good bass response. Each speaker is powered by a 15 watt per channel digital amplifier that, along with Yamaha’s YST servo technology, should produce big sound from the 4” speakers.
The MCR-140’s set-up menu can be accessed only by remote control and offers adjustments for bass, treble and balance. There are also sections for setting the clock, sleep timer and a power saving mode. Outside of setup, you can use the remote to advance through folders and tracks on your iPod, control the CD player, access AM/FM radio, save radio station pre-sets, turn on the sleep timer, adjust or mute the volume and power the unit on or off.
The included wireless transmitter is like a lounge chair for your iPod or iPhone. It cradles your iPod from the back and the underside so that it can be placed atop the MCR-140 for charging and non-wireless iPod playback. That’s a good thing for a couple of reasons: The transmitter eliminates the need for multiple adapter plates that match various iPods and, since the transmitter operates off your iPhone battery, you’ll need to be able to charge it without necessarily interrupting music playback. The downside: it’s bulky.
The MCR-140 can also accommodate another iPod, any other portable media player or a laptop computer through either the 1/8” connection or USB jack. It will also play back Windows Media Audio files or streaming digital audio via USB.