Back in 2003, Yamaha launched a network audio system called MusicCAST which was all about enjoying network stored media all over the home.
Speakers and amplifiers were part of the line-up and were easily installed using Wi-Fi and cabled connections.
In 2015, the next reboot and rebirth of the MusicCast brand will arrive from Yamaha.
This time, with a whole new twist on the concept of network audio and how easy it should be to stream not just a user’s music collection, but all the sound in the home.
The new line-up features over 25 new products, some of which are already in the marketplace.
All of Yamaha’s AVRs from the RXV-79 and RXA-50 series will support MusicCast and all of its features. Not only this, but there will be wireless speakers, soundbars, soundbases, active Hi-Fi Speakers, component systems, traditional two-channel Hi-Fi and many more products coming over time.
Yamaha has made a huge commitment to MusicCast both from a manufacturing stance, but also from the point of view of R&D; this will be part of Yamaha’s DNA for a long time to come.
MusicCast goes beyond just a music collection: it’s not just about playing music off a NAS drive or songs on a smart device.
While it’s capable of performing these tasks with aplomb, where it gets really clever is sharing audio across devices.
For example, send the audio streaming going into the HDMI inputs on a soundbar over to a wireless speaker.
Or even simply send the DAB radio from a lifestyle system to a soundbase. In short, any input on any MusicCast device can be shared to any other MusicCast device.
Let’s take the humble AV receiver as an example; this is no longer just a home cinema powerhouse, it’s a network hub with audio sharing capabilities.
Every device in the MusicCast eco system will feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with most having an Ethernet connection as well.
Bluetooth will be able to support incoming signals from something like a smart device, but also can output a Bluetooth signal to something like a pair of headphones or a wireless Bluetooth speaker.
Looking at a real world usage, imagine a user watching some sport on TV, with the audio coming through their soundbar.
The user wants to continue listening in the garden, so they simply pair the soundbar to the Bluetooth speaker and the sound is just transferred, no matter what the content is.
MusicCast can send any surround sound or hi-res content over Bluetooth and automatically down-sample or down-mix the sound to accommodate.
Taking the high-ground
Talking of Hi-Res, all MusicCast products will also support Hi-Res audio such as 192/24 FLAC, WAV and AIFF as well as 96/24 ALAC and some of the higher end products will support DSD up to 5.6MHz as well.
Not forgetting of course that if you have a high end product (let’s say one of the new RXA3050 AVENTAGE AV receivers) in the home that can receive DSD 5.6MHz signals, you could link that product to another one and send the audio across, regardless to whether that other product can support DSD or not as MusicCast will down-sample to the appropriate level automatically.
But how to hang it all together? Installers will be glad to hear, there’s an App that’s free to download for Android and iOS devices called the MusicCast controller.
It’s really quite simple to use: one tap to select your room, one tap to select your source and potentially a third tap to select your audio.
You can link rooms together, adjust settings per room, control master volumes and view album art.
It’s all been designed, developed and implemented completely in-house by Yamaha and there’s a big list of extra features we will be adding over time so expect updates on a regular basis as time goes on.
Installers looking to sell the products in bundles will be glad to there will also be package deals available for MusicCast; the trio or the duo pack.
The Trio pack contains an ISX-80 wireless lifestyle speaker, a WX-030 entry wireless speaker and a YSP-1600 Soundbar, ready to install out of the box.
The Duo pack contains an ISX-80 lifestyle speaker and the WX-030 entry wireless speaker.
A couple of decent options to get involved right away and with a saving offered if you’re buying one of the packages.
Potentially the most exciting product to come out of Yamaha’s engineering lab is the new flagship YSP-5600 soundbar.
Designed to be very thin and tall, like the YSP-5100 if you can remember it, this new take on the concept lends itself to custom install very well.
Wall mounting is easy with an optional bracket and there will be a subwoofer included in a package if desired.
The best part about this soundbar? It will be the first one on the market with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, making it a really interesting proposition to someone who wants object based audio, but doesn’t want separates.
The soundbar has 44 speakers inside and uses Yamaha’s beam bouncing technology to bounce sound beams off the wall and also off the ceiling to give the ‘height’ aspect.
It will also be part of MusicCast, have HDMI, HDCP2.2 and a wireless subwoofer kit included in the box so you could use your own subwoofer if you wanted or use the one Yamaha has tuned it with.
So how do you get started using this system as an installer? Well the first step is to source some product – the manufacturer will be selling through its certified dealer-base and most of the product will be available from September time.
However if you’re already stocking, selling or installing Yamaha’s AV receivers they’ll automatically get a firmware update from August 20 which will enable MusicCast.
As an installer, if you’re already specifying Yamaha’s products (like AV receivers) you can simply use MusicCast as an extra bonus.
You can even use the extra zones on higher end AVENTAGE receivers as ‘rooms’ within the App so these can be controlled independently, just like they were extra products.
From that point, integration is usually the next step. Yamaha’s products will have IP and IR codes available shortly after launching so you can program them into your existing solutions.
There’s also an ongoing project to add Control4 drivers for all AVENTAGE AV receivers as well as other products in the MusicCast line-up so they can be integrated easily.