Yamaha's MusicCast Merges Home Theater and Whole House Audio

Yamaha MusicCast System Illustration - 2015
Yamaha MusicCast System Illustration - 2015. Images provided by Yamaha Corporation of America

Wireless multi-room, or whole house audio, has made a lot of inroads in recent years, with SONOS being the most well-known option. However, there are other options, including Samsung's Shape, Denon's HEOS, DTS's PlayFi, Apple Airplay, Qualcomm's AllPlay, NuVo Gateway, DLNA, and more...

Yamaha's MusicCast - Old Name - New System

Back in 2003, Yamaha introduced a functioning wireless multi-room audio system called MusicCast, but a lot has changed in both the multi-room and wireless connectivity universe since that time, so, as a result, Yamaha delivered a total revamp of its MusicCast concept for today's multi-room audio needs.

MusicCast Core Features

  •  Wireless audio platform that allows users to send, receive, and share music content from/to/between a variety of compatible Yamaha components that will include home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, soundbars, and powered wireless speakers. MusicCast is a closed system, meaning that its features and compatibility are only guaranteed to work with Yamaha MusicCast-labeled devices. In addition, it is important to point out that the new MusicCast system and products are not compatible with Yamaha's previous version of MusicCast.
  • Controlled via an App that can be downloaded to compatible iOS and Android devices. The MusicCast App is separate from Yamaha's iOS and  Android AV Controller App, but you can navigate between the two for more comprehensive control of home theater components.
  • Designed to work with compatible products connected to a local Wifi network (although if your router provides both Ethernet and Wifi options, compatible devices connected via Ethernet will work with the system also).
  • Incorporates Bluetooth (both sending and receiving).
  • Works with Apple Airplay.
  • Supports Hi-res Audio playback for compatible products. If a product is not Hi-Res audio compatible, MusicCast will down-convert to 48kHz (about CD quality) for playback on that device.
  • Compatible with internet radio and streaming audio content that is accessible via the MusicCast App (Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM and Rhapsody). However, you can also stream, via Bluetooth, to the MusicCast system, any streaming service that your iOS or Android phone has access to.
  • Compatible with external content sources that are connected to a compatible home theater/stereo receiver, such as Turntables, Audio Cassette Decks, Blu-ray Disc/DVD players, or other audio source devices.
  • Cannot send 5.1/7.1 channel audio from a MusicCast-enabled home theater receiver to external playback devices, but is able to provide a 2-channel mix-down for multi-room or multi-zone distribution. Also, MusicCast does not provide the ability to provide wireless surround sound speaker functions in a home theater speaker setup.
  • DLNA compatible. This means that MusicCast can access and distribute audio from DLNA certified devices, such as PCs, NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives, and media servers.

In addition to the above core features, the MusicCast platform can also be integrated with Echo Dot via either wired or wireless connection, and, beginning in fall of 2017, Yamaha will be adding MusicCast support for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, including Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV.

Getting Started With MusicCast

Using MusicCast is easy. Here is what you need to have and do:

  • Purchase a MusicCast-enabled Yamaha Home Theater Receiver, Stereo Receiver, Home Theater-in-a-Box System, Sound Bar, Wireless Streaming Amp, Powered Network Speaker(s), or Powered Network Speaker(s)
  • Connect your MusicCast-enabled product to your home network (via wired or wireless internet router)
  • Download the Yamaha MusicCast Controller app to a compatible smartphone or tablet.
  • Turn on your MusicCast source/playback device(s)
  • Click on the MusicCast Controller App icon on your smartphone/tablet.
  • Press the "connect" button your MusicCast device (refer to device user manual for any additional steps that may be required for your product model).
  • Once the MusicCast Controller App verifies your connected device(s), you are set to go.

Yamaha MusicCast Products

To expand the practicality of MusicCast, Yamaha provides firmware updates for several now-older products, which include the following:

  • RX-V479 through RX-V779 Home Theater Receivers
  • AVENTAGE RX-A550 through RX-A3050 Home Theater Receivers
  • YHT-5920 Home Theater-in-a-Box System.

Examples of Yamaha Products through 2017 that have MusicCast capability built-in include:

  • RX-S601 Slim-Line Home Theater Receiver
  • R-N402/602 Network Stereo Receivers
  • AVENTAGE CX-A5100 AV Premap/Processor
  • RX-V481 through RX-V781 Home Theater Receivers
  • RX-V483 through RX-V683 Home Theater Receivers
  • AVENTAGE RX-A660 through RX-A3060 Home Theater Receivers
  • AVENTAGE RX-A670 through RX-A3070 Home Theater Receivers
  • WXA-50 Wireless Streaming Amplifier
  • YSP-1600/2700/5600/ Sound Bars and SRT-1500 TV Speaker Base/
  • WX-010 and 030 Remote Wireless Bookshelf Speakers
  • NX-N500 Powered Monitor Speaker

The Bottom Line

There are several wireless multi-room audio systems available - However, if you own a Yamaha home theater receiver, stereo receiver, sound bar, or home theater-in-a-box system, check to see if offers the MusicCast feature. If so, all you have to do is buy one, or more, Yamaha wireless satellite or powered network speakers, and you can expand your music listening experience far beyond your main home theater or music room.

The limitations of MusicCast are that it is not compatible with wireless speaker products from other systems (such as HEOS, DTS Play-Fi, or Sonos) and that you cannot use wireless MusicCast speakers as main or surround sound speakers for a home theater receiver.

If you are looking for information on a home theater setup using wireless speakers, check out: The Truth About Wireless Speakers For Home Theater.