Yamaha unveils MusicCast, a high-fidelity multi-room audio system that will have 20-plus components by year's end

Will support for high-definition audio streams be enough to break Sonos’ iron grip on this market?

Yamaha is the latest consumer-electronics manufacturer to challenge Sonos in the multi-room audio market, resurrecting its MusicCast brand to launch a whole new line of components for streaming music around the home. By year’s end, Yamaha says it will have more than 20 MusicCast products to offer, ranging from inexpensive powered speakers, to sound bars for the home theater, to high-end AV separates. Owners of the some of the company’s most recent mid-range AV receivers will be able to add MusicCast support with a firmware update today.

Yamaha is wisely exploiting one of Sonos’ few weaknesses: Support for high-definition audio. Where Sonos products can support audio bit streams with up to 16-bit resolution and maximum sampling rates of 48kHz (that’s roughly CD quality), Yamaha says its MusicCast will be capable of streaming 24-bit Apple Lossless files with up sampling rates up to 96kHz, and 24-bit FLAC, AIFF, and WAV files with sampling rates as high as 192kHz.

Most MusicCast models will also support “single-device playback” of DSD streams up to 5.6MHz. (DSD—Direct-Stream Digital—was developed by Sony and Philips for the Super Audio CD platform. SACD was introduced in 1999, and never achieved mainstream commercial success, but it is prized by audiophiles for its fidelity.) Yamaha’s system can stream a DSD file over a wireless network to one MusicCast device—you won’t be able to link multiple units together in this mode. Other codecs—including MP3, WMA, and even MPEG4—will also be supported.

yamaha musiccast wx 030
Yamaha’s WX-030 speakers, $250 each, will be its entry-level MusicCast component.

MusicCast will operate on your existing wireless network, but it will support only 10 zones. That’s more than enough for most homes, but a Sonos network can support as many as 32 zones (more if some are hardwired). Unlike Sonos, however, Yamaha says all MusicCast products will also support streaming music over Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate): From a Bluetooth device (such as a phone or tablet) to a MusicCast product, and from a MusicCast to a Bluetooth product (headphones, speakers, etc.). There is no support, however, for the popular Bluetooth codec AptX codec.

Yamaha MusicCast app Yamaha
Yamaha’s MusicCast system can stream music to up to 10 rooms, which can be linked or set to play different music.

MusicCast is controlled by a smartphone/tablet app that will also tap into streaming-music services such as Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius XM, and Spotify, as well as a broad range of Internet radio stations via vTune. Other services, such as Apple Music and Tidal, presumably fall into the “and more to come” category that Yamaha mentions in its press materials. Yamaha also points out, however, that support for Bluetooth means you can use any streaming service you want, provided you don’t mind tying up your smartphone or tablet.

As with a Sonos system, you’ll be able to play different music in each room, or link rooms together so they’re playing the same music (with the DSD exception I mentioned earlier). Being able to keep multiple rooms playing the same music tightly synchronized is an area in which Sonos excels, so it will be interesting to see how Yamaha fares on this count.

The app will also be able to access music stored on devices that are connected to MusicCast products. Yamaha mentions turntables, CD players, and game consoles, so I presume this means the music from those sources can stream over the MusicCast network, but I don’t think the app will be able to control those sources barring something really clever (such as support for CEC over HDMI).

MusicCast hardware

Yamaha plans to introduce a MusicCast Sound Bar (the $500 YSP-1600) and a MusicCast TV Speaker Base (the $600 SRT-1500) in September. Both of those speakers will include Yamaha’s excellent Digital Sound Projector technology, which delivers true surround sound using multiple speakers inside a single cabinet. It’s been a while since I heard one of Yamaha’s YSP speakers, but my last experience was marvelous. December see the introduction of the MusicCast Sound Bar (the $1700 YSP-5600), which will support both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology. Each of the sound bars will be outfitted with HDMI 2.2 to support 4K TVs and sources.

yamaha musiccast ysp 1600 Yamaha
The Yamaha YSP-1600 sound projector will support MusicCast for music as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for home theater.

If all that’s too rich for your blood, Yamaha will ship the stand-alone MusicCast Wireless Speaker, $250 each, in October. This will be a two-way design (woofer and tweeter), with a large passive radiator to increase bass response. It can be set on a tabletop or hung on the wall using the thread mount in the back of the cabinet (provide your own brackets). If you find those speakers too low-fi, Yamaha will ship its NX-N500 powered monitor speakers in December ($800 per pair), or you can pick up the $650 R-N602 dedicated MusicCast receiver in October and provide your own speakers.

If you already own one of Yamaha’s recently launched RX-V 79 or Aventage RX-A 50 Series AV receivers, you can install a new firmware update today that will add MusicCast support. And finally, for those who crave separate components, Yamaha will ship its $3000 Aventage CX-A5100 preamp/processor in September. This companion to Yamaha’s monstrous MX-A5000 11-channel amplifier (also priced at $3000) will add Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, HDCP 2.2, and balanced subwoofer outputs to that receiver’s bag of tricks.

yamaha musiccast r n602 Yamaha
Set up Yamaha’s R-N602 MusicCast receiver and you can supply your own speakers.

The multi-room audio space is getting increasingly crowded, but Yamaha’s product announcements look compelling—to me, anyway. It will be interesting to see how much traction the audio company gains with consumers who seem increasingly satisfied with listening to low-fidelity music. Sonos’s least-expensive speakers sell for $200, and not a few friends and family have told me they think that’s too expensive.

I look forward to reviewing several components in Yamaha’s MusicCast ecosystem, so stay tuned!

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags music

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Brown

TechHive (US)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?