The distinguishing “new” feature for this stereo receiver is the addition of Bluetooth technology for streaming music. Coupled with Yamaha sound quality and an attractive price, the R-S202 can be a young audiophiles (I’m talking to you, college boy) ticket to Musicville.
Yamaha R-S202 Stereo Receiver
- Improved circuitry design
- Bluetooth® for streaming from your favorite music server
- Full 40 station FM/AM preset tuning
- Brushed aluminum faceplate and clean design
- Speaker selector for dual systems
- Easy to use remote
- Headphone jack
I know we have a tendency to focus on high-end, multi-channel receivers with Dolby Atmos and complex bass management schemes, but let’s not lose sight of the final goal: Enjoying the music. Yamaha has been making receivers for many decades and when I was in college, you could always spot the Yamahas on the racks at the audio shop because that had orange fluorescent displays. Of course, back in the days, stereo was King and CO2 tape decks were the rage. The R-S202 carries on that Yamaha tradition of great sound at an affordable price and has been updated for streaming via Bluetooth.
(8 ohms, 40 Hz-20 kHz, 0.2% THD)
AM/FM preset tuning
(2.4 GHz spectrum)
Yamaha, Stereo Receiver, Receiver Reviews 2016
It has been a long time since I reviewed a stereo receiver. No DAC, no bass management, no GUI for speaker setup, no distance or speaker leveling software, no video processing, no sound processing, just stereo. The front panel is simple and uncluttered.
Sporting large push buttons for tone controls and input selection, small buttons for presets, tuning FM mode and memory and speaker selection, the R-S202 has a clean faceplate in black brushed aluminum. In the back of the unit you get analog inputs for a CD player and 2 more unassigned for other devices. There is a set of line/outs for recording in the analog domain. The spring clips allow for 2 sets of speakers (A/B or A+B).
The clips will accept bare wire up to 16 gauge and pin terminals. At this price point, that’s not unexpected. The fluorescent display is easy to read from across the room and is white, not the orange like from the 80’s. The black brushed aluminum face is clean and looks smartly dressed. If you use the headphone jack, you must turn off the speakers by deselecting speakers A/B.
The plastic remote is fairly basic with a myriad of tiny buttons that are not backlit. It also has the ability to control a Yamaha CD player. Be aware, there is no App to control the R-S202, so you will either love the remote or replace it with a Harmony.
The updated feature of this receiver is Bluetooth. Being able to stream my music from phone makes this product step up to another level. I know that many of you have streaming devices that already feed into your home systems, but for someone starting out into the first foray into having quality system, this simplifies a lot of things.
It has been so long since I have set up a stereo system, that I had almost forgotten the simple joys of listening to music in 2 channels. All you really “need” to enter musical Nirvana is a receiver like the R-S202 and some inexpensive (I did not say cheap) speakers. Some new Elacs Debut B5s would pair well with this receiver. So would other nice bookshelf speakers like Pioneer SP-BS22-LRs, Zu Audio Cubes or Omens, if you have the coin. We live in an age where for under $500 you can get a nice entry level sound system. With many of the newer generation of budding audiophiles going off to school this fall, why not have a killer sound system on the cheap?
Setting up the R-S202 only took me a few minutes to wire up a spare pair of speakers I had lying around and I was streaming music in no time. Pairing my iPhone 6 to the receiver was quick and easy. There was a certain feeling of liberty not having to set speaker levels and distances, fiddling with bass management, or running an auto-EQ program. And once I had the speakers positioned correctly for imaging, it was just me in my favorite chair listening to some great music.
The first impression I had with this receiver was with its ability to reproduce the full range of the music. I was surprised that the sound had very good bass. The middle range was full without over emphasis and the treble was sweet, without harshness. I ended up hooking my Revel F12s up to the Yamaha and the sound quality was still very good. The F12s have two 8inch woofers/tower and the R-S202 had no trouble driving them to very loud levels.
Here are some examples of the music I tested with the R-S202. The Doors: Riders on the Storm, with it hopping bass line, wide soundstage with thunder from over the horizon, tinkling rain and Morrison’s unmistakable voice, I have listened to this song over many years and find it relaxing and intimate. This is great headphone stuff, but on a good stereo sound system, it can still transport you back in time.
The R-S202 did not overplay any specific frequencies, but provided a detailed natural soundscape. I could easily detect the quiet whisper of Jim singing along with himself. Bass was virile, but controlled and not overpowering. When I compared the Bluetooth stream with the CD version, it was difficult to tell the two apart.
Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612) wrote secular and sacred antiphonal music for the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice. The two choir lofts face each other in the chancel and are separated by a 40 foot space. The acoustics in that church are phenomenal. Instruments, correctly positioned, can be heard with perfect clarity at distant points. A single string player could be set against a large group of brass players and still sound perfectly balanced.
In Ecclessis has two boys choirs (left and right), one men’s choir and a full set of brass players in between. The R-S202 was able to cast a believable soundstage with depth and width, capturing the true acoustic space as recorded by those remarkable CBS engineers. The reverberation and seven second decay were well reproduced by the Yamaha.
Streaming Pandora via my iPhone was also quite enjoyable. Because there is no video processing with the R-S202, my phone provided the video interface I need to navigate through the music. Simple and convenient, I spent hours listening to music that fit my mood. I found the reception of the FM tuner to be mediocre at best. I live 35 miles north of Boston and was not able to pull in as many stations as my Emotiva UMC-200 could. Maybe a better antenna than the one supplied would help.
With its Ease Of Use And Bluetooth Technology, THE YAMAHA R-S202 Makes a Great Choice for The Budding 2 Channel Enthusiast
- Good sound quality
- Easy setup
- Bass quality is solid and punchy
- Backlit remote
- Apt-X Bluetooth
- Better FM reception
So, with my few weeks of having the R-S202 in the equipment rack, I was able to relive a bit of my youth and enjoy the sounds of plain old vanilla stereo again. I had almost forgotten what a simple pleasure it was to setup two speakers and just listen to music. No fancy DSP or bass management schemes. No APP to download. Just hookup a CD player or turntable and listen to the music. Bluetooth streaming is easy, convenient and sounded fine for everyday listening. Yamaha has taken a decent stereo receiver and made it eminently more useful and enjoyable. I recommend this receiver if you are starting out as a newly initiated audiophile. It is easy to use and easy on the ears. At this price, why would you say no?