DAB tuning on the CRX-M170 is conventional and fast. As soon as you've plugged the system together, attached the DAB antenna and switched the unit on, you can be listening to digital broadcasts in a few seconds.
As with most DABs, the CRX-M170 autotunes itself to all available DAB broadcasts in the UK. Station selection is a simple process of scrolling through channels using the smaller wheel on the front of the mini system. If you've used any modern car radio, DAB or otherwise, you'll be right at home here.
Playing CDs on the CRX-M170 is equally straightforward and familiar. If you want to plug in a tape deck, or other external sources, the unit cycles between these inputs via a clearly labelled Source button.
All UK DAB radio broadcasts can be received on the CRX-M170, but your success in tuning into these stations depends on your aerial positioning and geographical location. In London we could receive over 100 DAB stations on the CRX-M170. These are automatically stored as presets.
FM listening is slightly different because presets must be manually stored according to your favourite channel positions. You toggle between bands by pressing a predictably labelled Band button and station information changes during DAB broadcasts if you press the Info/Text Mode button. DAB broadcasts include plenty of extra information alongside the audio -- this might include the name of the band currently playing, or information on a live sporting event. The CRX-M170 scrolls this information across its LCD screen during a transmission.
The CD player is a familiar affair, with shuffle, repeat and program functions available via the bundled remote control.
Audio performance on the CRX-M170 is impressive for a mini system. Where we're used to hearing a slightly strained effort from smaller units, the Yamaha is pleasingly refined. The low end was bolstered by the YST-SW011 subwoofer we were provided for review, but a good pair of stereo speakers should be able to do the unit justice as well. Tweaking the tone controls slightly allowed us to neutralise the sound a little to compensate for the boxy room we tested the unit in, and overall tone and definition were very good.
Auditioning Drain You by Nirvana demonstrated a good kick to the system at higher volumes -- again, the subwoofer pushed everything harder than a simple two-speaker set-up might be able to deliver. Listening to The Distance by Cake, there was excellent separation between different parts of the drum kit, and the song sounded accurate in comparison to how our reference system produces it. The CRX-M170 falls slightly short of a good separate DAB and amplifer set-up in the same price range -- around £200 -- but for integration and convenience, Yamaha offers a tempting proposal with this system.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide