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Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component SystemAch5 / Benjamin ZemanWhat We Like
Good audio quality with heavy bass
Solid Bluetooth connectivity
Speakers are separate from center unit
Compact designWhat We Don't Like
Buttons and volume knob feel cheap
Antennas look ugly and out of place
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component System is an inexpensive and compact home stereo system with decent sound quality. It combines a simple and unobtrusive design aesthetic with big sound and a wide range of options for music sources.Buy on EBayBuy on Abt.com3.8
Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component SystemAch5 / Benjamin ZemanBuy on EBayBuy on Abt.comin this articleExpandDesignSetup ProcessConnectivitySound QualityPriceCompetitionFinal VerdictSpecs
The product reviewed here is largely out of stock or has been discontinued, which is reflected in the links to product pages. However, we've kept the review live for informational purposes.
We purchased the Yamaha MCR-B020BL so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component System is a compact home stereo with a lot to offer. Yamaha isn't a stranger in the home audio market and is known for quality, high-end stereo amplifiers like the Yamaha A-S1100 and for their standalone speakers. Unlike Bose, who specialize only in the high-end audio market, Yamaha also has many more affordable stereo systems to offer.
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL is one of their more “budget” systems, and we were pleasantly surprised that it doesn't lack a punch when it comes to big sound in a small form-factor.
We took a look at the Yamaha MCR-B020BL's design, connectivity and audio quality. For an inexpensive system that covers a wide range of music source options, this little stereo could definitely be worth the price.Ach5 / Benjamin Zeman
Design: Simple and functional
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component System has three main components: one center unit and two standalone speakers. The center unit measures 5.6 x 7.1 x 11 inches and weighs four pounds. Each speaker measures 5.6 x 4.8 x 10.2 inches and weighs almost three pounds, so the entire system is pretty hefty (about ten pounds total).
All of the controls are on the center unit, including a USB charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a slide-out CD tray. The LCD display provides the time and all the system information.
This display is bright, so if you are sensitive to light it may be too bright to use the stereo as an alarm next to your bed. Both the CD tray and the volume knob have a cheap feel to them, as it's clear Yamaha just used less expensive parts to keep the overall cost down. (We also would have preferred a front-loading CD slot instead of the tray.)
We were pleasantly surprised that it doesn't lack a punch when it comes to big sound in a small form-factor.
The buttons, which also feel like they are on the cheaper side, are all analog so you can feel and hear them when you press down. Unlike some other compact home stereo systems we tested, like the Bose Home Speaker 500, the Yamaha MCR-B020BL does have an on/off button.Bose Home Speaker 500 Review
The headphone jack and USB charging port are both located on the top of the center unit which means your cables are going to stick straight up in the air when plugged in. We thought this was a poor design choice and would have rather seen those ports on the front on the unit. The USB port is a standard 5V 1.0A that can charge any of your portable electronics. We did find the port very handy when using a headphone amp or connecting one of our portable music players with the built-in aux input.
On the back there are inputs for AM and FM radio antennas, which are both provided with the system. The antennas have zero aesthetic appeal and stand out like a sore thumb. Luckily, we found that we didn't need them to pick up our local radio stations.
The 3.5mm auxiliary input is also located on the back of the unit, which is inconvenient for anyone who uses a music player without Bluetooth and needs to have a device plugged in at all times.
The speakers are wired with standard red/black cable. For a compact, Bluetooth-enabled bookshelf system, we would have preferred 3.5mm jacks for the speakers like you would find on most modern surround audio systems, simply for the purposes of cable management.
The exterior of the unit scuffs very easily—fingernails or even a set of dry hands will leave visible marks. Overall though, the design isn't that bad for the price and it's aesthetically very neutral.Ach5 / Benjamin Zeman
Setup Process: Like so many stereos before it
Unless this is your very first stereo,the Yamaha MCR-B020L Micro Component System is quite easy to get up and running. Everything is labeled well and it was actually a little nostalgic setting up a system with speaker wire and those red and black terminals again.
The Bluetooth was totally solid and has some pretty good distance at 33 feet. The LCD displays the name of the device you are connected to and you can control everything through your device, on the center unit, or with the remote. We tested all the other source options and even dug an old CD out to test the CD player with.
We appreciated how easy and intuitive it was to get our music playing on this little Yamaha system—we honestly didn't even need the manual.Ach5 / Benjamin Zeman
Connectivity: It's just solid
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL has lots of connectivity options and they were all pretty solid. Everything was super easy to get up and running regardless of where our audio was coming from.
The Bluetooth connectivity worked great with Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac devices. It was also the only device we tested that stayed connected on a Chromebook through a whole Netflix episode of “DC's Legends of Tomorrow” (our current binge show). Unfortunately, like many ChromeOS devices that don't play well with Bluetooth, the system would still disconnect after a while.
We tested the Yamaha headphone output with several sets of headphones and noticed the audio sounded a little muddier and quieter than other systems we've tested—Yamaha must have used a cheaper headphone chipset to cut costs. Any set of headphones with a higher impedance, likely 20 ohms and over, would benefit from a headphone amp. Even a set of lower impedance 18-ohm Sennheiser Momentum headphones that we tested with didn't sound as good as they did on other systems.
The AM/FM signal was nice and strong. We even tried sticking the stereo in a closet and bringing it down to the basement, but the signal strength remained great.Ach5 / Benjamin Zeman
Sound Quality: Better than expected
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL isn't going to win any awards for its sound quality, but we were surprised by it's minimal distortion at high volumes and the impact of it's punchy bass.
At the Yamaha MCR-B020BL's price point, we didn't expect audiophile-quality sound—before we tested it we were actually a little skeptical the system would sound good. Yamaha definitely proved us wrong. With the added bonus of being able to angle and place your speakers how you would like, this stereo has decent sound quality for the price.
The Yamaha MCR-B020BL has that deeper, punchy low-end you would expect from a less expensive system.
We tested a variety of music genres, podcasts, YouTube videos, and Netflix shows. Being able to move the speakers let's you widen or contract the soundstage however you like. A lot of our favorite live concert recordings benefited from a wider soundstage, helping us feel like we were actually there in the crowd. Bass heavy music sounded better with a narrower soundstage when we placed the speakers closer to the center unit.
The entire frequency range sounded just a tiny bit dull in comparison to the high-end systems we tested, which had very crisp mids and highs. And with high-end systems, the bass frequencies are more clear and well defined while the Yamaha MCR-B020BL has that deeper, punchy low-end you would expect from a less-expensive system.Ach5 / Benjamin Zeman
Price: A well-priced stereo system
At $199.95 (MSRP), the Yamaha MCR-B020BL is a very affordable entry-level home stereo system. We all agreed, this stereo is priced well for what you get. There are better options in this price range if you don't need the CD and AM/FM capabilities, but as far as all-in-one systems go, this stereo is certainly a contender.
Some of us haven't used CD's or listened to the radio in a long time, and if you don't need those extra options, a lot of other systems in this price range will have slightly higher-quality speaker drivers that might clean up the bass a little more. In that case, it makes sense to buy a system that's designed around higher-quality components for the features you actually use.
As far as all-in-one systems go, this stereo is certainly a contender.
Competition: Yamaha MCR-B020BL vs. Yamaha MCR-B043
There are so many competitors on the market in the Yamaha MCR-B020BL's price range that it's hard to know how to choose. Yamaha's own MCR-B043 desktop audio system actually addresses many of our design complaints and has a similar form-factor. At $279.95 (MSRP), the MCR-B043 isn't much more than the MCR-B020BL and you may be able to find one for only $50 more than the MCR-B020BL.
The MCR-B043 is a slightly upgraded model that includes all the same bells and whistles and has the same output power as the MCR-B020BL. The control buttons, headphone jack and USB are all located on the front of the center unit. Yamaha as also opted for a CD slot instead of a CD tray.
The aux input is still located on the back of the unit though, accompanied by an FM antenna connection and the speaker terminals. The MCR-B043 doesn't have an AM antenna option, so if you happen to listen to a lot of AM radio then this system may not be for you.
The Yamaha MCR-B043 also comes in four different color options: black, white, red, and blue.Final Verdict
A great little stereo for anyone on a budget.
Overall, we found the Yamaha MCR-B020BL Micro Component System to be priced well for what you get and most listeners will be happy with the sound quality. Aside from a few design complaints, it's a good inexpensive option—though we'd recommend looking into the slightly-upgraded Yamaha MCR-B043BL if you have a little more to spend.