Yamaha Adds Streaming Amp and Preamp To Audio Product Line

Yamaha WXA-50 Streaming Amp - WXC-50 Streaming Preamp
Yamaha WXA-50 Streaming Amp - WXC-50 Streaming Preamp. Images provided Yamaha Electronics Corporation
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Wireless Audio Gains Ground

Wireless and Whole-House Audio is definitely gaining in popularity with platforms such as Sonos, HEOS, Play-Fi, FireConnect, and Yamaha is definitely staking its claim in that product category with its MusicCast System. To further their wireless audio mission, Yamaha has announced two additions to its audio product line, the WXA-50 Streaming Amplifier and WXC-50 Streaming Preamplifer.

WXA-50 Streaming Amplifier

To start, at its core the Yamaha WXA-50 is a two-channel integrated stereo amplifier that incorporates traditional amplifier features.

The WXA-50 has a compact cabinet that can be mounted horizontally or vertically, a stylish front panel which also includes a large classic-style volume control, and touch sensitive control buttons.

Power Output

The power output capability for the Yamaha MXA-50 is stated as 55 wpc. This was obtained using a 20Hz to 20kHz test tone range using an 8 ohm load with a .06% THD. For more details on what the stated power ratings mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications

Connectivity

The WXA-50 incorporates several physical connection options, such as a set of analog RCA stereo inputs and one digital optical audio input. Also, there is a set of analog stereo outputs that can be used a  recording loop - or to connect the WXA-50 to an additional amplifier.

There is also a subwoofer output that allows connection to Powered Subwoofer, if desired.

For speakers, there is a set of traditional left/right channel speaker terminals (4 to 16 ohm impedance compatible).

However, there is more. In addition to traditional amplifier features and connectivity, Yamaha offers the following non-traditional integrated stereo amplifier features:

Audio Processing

The WXA-50 also provides some additional audio processing capabilities that are designed to get the most out of different types of audio content.

For example the Compressed Music Enhancer ups the quality from compressed music sources, such as MP3's.

The Volume Adaptive EQ control maintains the proper relationship between high, mid, and low frequencies, regardless of volume level. What this means is that if you turn down the volume. Normally, when you turn down the volume, its often results in loss of bass and subdued highs. To counter that effect, the MXA-50 has the ability to reduce that effect so that the frequency range you hear at normal volume levels, will still be heard when the volume is turned down.

Advanced Bass Extension is also provided. What this feature does is compensate for loss of bass response that often occurs when using small or in-wall speakers.

Finally, the Direct Mode eliminates all audio processing from input sources, so that what goes in, is what comes out - if that is your preference.

USB

A rear panel USB input is provided for connection of USB flash drives.

Network Connectivity and Streaming

Network connectivity is included, which allows streaming of audio files stored on a PC and access to Internet Radio services (Pandora, Spotify, vTuner, Rhapsody and Sirius/XM).

WiFi/Ethernet/LAN, Bluetooth, as well as Apple Airplay connectivity are also built-in.

Hi Res Audio

Hi-Res Audio playback compatible via local network and compatible USB devices.

MusicCast

A big bonus on the WXA-50 is the incorporation of Yamaha's latest version of its MusicCast multi-room audio system platform. This platform enables each receiver to send, receive, and share music content from/to/between a variety of compatible Yamaha components that include home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, sound bars, and powered wireless speakers.

This means can be used for controlling a multi-room audio experience using compatible wireless speakers, such as the Yamaha WX-30 MusicCast - Buy From Amazon.

Also, using Bluetooth, you can not only stream stream music content directly to the WXA-50 from compatible devices and hear it on its own speakers, but the amplifier can further distribute that Bluetooth-sourced music to other MuscCast-enabled speakers that may be located throughout the house.

In addition to sending music to compatible wireless speakers, other MusicCast-enabled home theater receivers or source devices can send audio through the network to the WXA-50. What this means is that you can hear wireless, or network-sourced, audio on traditional wired speakers.

For more details on the MusicCast System, read my previous report.

Control Options

Although the WXA-50 comes with a remote control, additional control convenience is available via Yamaha's free downloadable MusicCast App for compatible iOS and Android devices.

WXC-50 Streaming Preamplifier

The second unit be added to Yamaha's audio product line-up for 2016 is the WXC-50 Streaming Preamplifier.

What the Preamplifier designation means is that the WXC-50 is not the same as a stereo receiver, or an integrated amplifer. As a Preamp, the WXC-50 does provide source inputs, switching, and audio processing, and as well the USB, streaming, MusicCast, and control features as the WXA-50 described in details above, but it does not have its own built-in amplifiers or speaker terminals.

In other words, to connect and power speakers in an audio setup that includes a preamp (such as the WXC-50) you have to add an additionally-purchased external amplifier, or individual power amplifiers for each channel.

  Also, in the case of the WXC-50, another option is to bring an old stereo or home theater receiver into the modern age by connecting the WXC-50 into an old receiver's available audio inputs and add all those great network, streaming, and MusicCast features without having to purchase a new receiver.

What You Don't Get On The WXA-50 and WXC-50

What is interesting about the WXA-50 and WXC-50 is that as much as they do offer, there are audio features that they don't have. For instance, there is no input provided for connection of a traditional turntable (although newer turntables that have their built-in phono preamps can be used). Also, there is no way to physically connect a pair of headphones in into either the WXA-50 or WXC-50.

It is also important to point out that even though both units provide a digital optical input, it is not Dolby or DTS compatible - it is only compatible with 2-channel PCM signals, so if you are connecting the digital optical output of your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player to either unit, you must set the output to 2-channel PCM. Of course, if you have a CD player that has a digital optical output, you don't have make any further adjustment as CDs only supply 2-channel PCM audio when using that output option.

In addition, since both the WXA-50 and WXC-50 are designed as audio-only products, they do not provide any video pass-through connections. If you are going to use either unit for listening to audio from your DVD/Blu-ray Disc player, cable/satellite box, or media streaming, you need to connect the video output of those devices directly to your TV and make a separate audio connection to the WXA-50/WXC-50.

More Info

The Yamaha WXA-50 is initially priced at $449.95 - Official Product Page - Buy From Amazon

The Yamaha WXC-50 is initially priced at $349.95 (available August 2016) - Official Product Page - Buy From Amazon

Official Yamaha WXA-50/WXC-50 Product Announcement