Now that Yamaha's home cinema kit seems to be stealing the show a little from some extremely strong competition, it's good to see that the company is making a proper fist of its hi-fi components too.
Just look at the CD-S700. If we didn't know any different, we'd think that this was a very expensive CD player. The stunning mix of retro and modern looks gives this machine immense aesthetic appeal.
The streamlined loading mechanism has a super-smooth motion that's eerily silent. The loading drawer looks like something from another planet when fully extended. Your CD sits on a saucer-shaped tray, held in place by four little teeth.
The streamlined remote control adds to the experience by emitting a satisfying little ‘click' every time a button is pressed.
Connectivity on the Yamaha is standard for an entry-level machine with one minor exception. The USB input on the front of the player allows you to connect an MP3 player and play back music files encoded in MP3 or WMA digital formats.
More after the break
But, the CD-S700 can't rely on features alone to get a decent star rating. The inevitable question has to be, how does it actually sound?
A lack of timing, pace and rhythmResolution and bass weight are acceptable enough for the money. But rhythmically, the Yamaha sounds blatantly inferior to its rivals.
Where other players are pacey and capable of holding a beat, the timing of this machine is very vague. Listen to Beethoven's Symphony No.5 on the NAD C545BEE player, then switch over to the Yamaha and the music immediately shifts down a gear, throwing the timing off track in the process.
You find yourself urging the Yamaha to pick up the pace and follow a more natural rhythm, but it just ends up sounding rather ploddy and pedestrian.
Spin Kanye West's Love Lockdown and where other players hit every bass note with precision, snapping the music into place, the CD-S700 wavers, unsure of where to plant its feet.
The ‘Pure Direct' button on the front shuts down the player's digital audio output and turns off the display.
Yamaha claims this feature allows the player to output the highest sound quality possible, and we did hear a slight improvement in the smoothness of the treble – but not enough to change our star rating.
Yamaha has obviously gone to great lengths to make the CD-S700 look the part, but we'd be willing to sacrifice some of the aesthetic niceties for greater sound quality.