Yamaha MusicCast: What Is It and How Does It Work?

MusicCast sends home audio to every room, but there are some limits.

Yamaha MusicCast System Illustration - 2015

Yamaha Corporation of America

Wireless multi-room, or whole-house audio, has made a lot of inroads in recent years, Sonos being perhaps the most well-known example. But there are a number of others: HEOS, PlayFi, Samsung Shape, Apple Airplay, and Qualcomm AllPlay all offer ways to control and listen to music and audio throughout the home.

Yamaha MusicCast: Old Name, New System

Back in 2003, Yamaha introduced a functioning wireless multi-room audio system called MusicCast. Since then a lot has changed in both the multi-room and wireless connectivity space. To compete, Yamaha delivered a total revamp of its MusicCast concept for modern audio systems, with a particular focus on wireless usability.

MusicCast Core Features

What We Like
  • Connects receivers, wireless speakers, and soundbars to one wireless ecosystem controlled by smartphone.

  • Works with Apple AirPlay, Amazon Alexa, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, and Rhapsody, as well as any Bluetooth audio device.

  • Works with turntables, audio cassette decks, Blu-ray/DVD players, and any other physical media connected to a compatible receiver.

  • Compatible with Hi-res Audio and DLNA.

What We Don't Like
  • Closed system designed to work only with other Yamaha MusicCast devices.

  • Cannot send 5.1/7.1 channel audio from a MusicCast receiver to an external playback device.

  • Wireless surround sound only works with Yamaha receivers made during or after 2018.

MusicCast's central pitch is its wireless control. Through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, users can send, receive, and share music and audio through a host of compatible Yamaha products. Those include home theater receivers, stereo receivers, wireless speakers, soundbars, and powered wireless speakers. The downside it that it's a closed system, meaning its products and features are only designed to work with other Yamaha MusicCast devices. It's also not backwards-compatible with the older versions of Yamaha MusicCast.

Apple Airplay, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, Rhapsody, as well as any Bluetooth audio device can be played through MusicCast. Any turntables, audio cassette decks, Blu-ray/DVD players, or other receiver-based hardware can be controlled and played through speakers on the MusicCast app. (The app is separate from Yamaha's iOS and Android AV Controller App, but you can navigate between the two for tighter control of home theater components.)

MusicCast supports Hi-res Audio playback for compatible products. If a product is not compatible with Hi-Res audio, MusicCast will down-convert the signal to 48kHz, which is roughly equal to CD quality. It is DLNA-compatible, which means it can access and distribute audio from DLNA certified devices, such as PCs, NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives, and media servers.

A couple of downsides: MusicCast cannot send 5.1/7.1 channel audio from a MusicCast-enabled receiver to an external playback device, but it is able to provide a two-channel mix-down for multi-room or multi-zone distribution.

MusicCast supports compatible wireless sub and surround options, but if you want to control those devices through MusicCast you will need a MusicCast-compatible receiver.

MusicCast and Alexa

Yamaha MusicCast can be used with Amazon Alexa devices, including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV. Once set up, you can use Alexa to take control of compatible wireless speakers around the house. You can also combine MusicCast, select Echo devices, and Bluetooth for additional access and control options.

How to Install and Launch Yamaha MusicCast

Using MusicCast is easy. Once you have a MusicCast-enabled receiver, soundbar, speaker, or home-theater-in-a-box system, you can follow these instructions to get it up and running.

These instructions may vary slightly from device to device.

  1. Turn on and connect your MusicCast-enabled product to your home Wi-Fi network.

    Make sure the firmware for the MusicCast-enabled receiver or speaker is up to date.

  2. Download and open the Yamaha MusicCast Controller app on a smartphone or tablet. Follow the instructions.

  3. Select the Connect button on the MusicCast-enabled device that you'd like to control.

    Depending on the product, you may need to press and hold down the Connect button to trigger the discovery operation.

  4. On the MusicCast Controller app, select Next. The app will begin the discover process to identify and connect the MusicCast-enabled device.

  5. As instructed by the app, navigate to your phone's Wi-Fi settings and switch to the network labeled "MusicCast Setup."

  6. Return to the MusicCast Controller app, select your home WiFi network, and enter the password.

  7. Enter a location name to describe the room or device you are connecting.

  8. Select Next. If you'd like you can add a photo to indicate the room with the device you are trying to connect. You can use a stock image or a photo from your library.

  9. Select Next. Your MusicCast-enabled device is now controllable through the MusicCast app.

Yamaha MusicCast Products

To broaden the compatibility of products that work with MusicCast, Yamaha provides firmware updates for several older models, including 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.

Some Yamaha Products that have built-in MusicCast capability include:

  • RX-S601/S602 Slim-Line Home Theater Receivers
  • R-N402/602/303/803 Network Stereo Receivers
  • AVENTAGE CX-A5100/CX-A5200 AV Preamp/Processors
  • RX-V481 through RX-V781, RX-V483 through RX-V683 Home Theater Receivers
  • RV-V485 through RX-V685 Home Theater Receivers (includes MusicCast Wireless Surround)
  • AVENTAGE RX-A660 through RX-A3060, RX-A670 through RX-A3070 Home Theater Receivers
  • AVENTAGE RX-A680 through RX-A3080 Home Theater Receivers (includes MusicCast Wireless Surround)
  • WXA-50 Wireless Streaming Amplifier
  • YSP-1600/2700/5600 Soundbars and SRT-1500 TV Speaker Base
  • BAR 400 Soundbar (includes MusicCast Wireless Surround)
  • WX-010 and 030 Remote Wireless Bookshelf Speakers
  • Model 20 and 50 Wireless Speakers (compatible with MusicCast Wireless Surround)
  • NX-N500 Powered Monitor Speaker
  • Sub100 Wireless Sub (compatible with MusicCast Wireless Surround)
  • MusicCast VINYL 500 Wi-Fi Turntable

Yamaha MusicCast: The Bottom Line

There are a bunch of competing multi-room audio systems, and some of the more popular ones, like Sonos, offer a broader range of compatible products. Some also have easier-to-use apps. But if you already own a Yamaha receiver, soundbar, or home-theater-in-a-box system, MusicCast may be the most practical solution.

The limitations of MusicCast are that it's not compatible with wireless speakers, receivers, and software from competing brands like HEOS, Play-Fi, or Sonos; and you cannot use receivers made before 2018 to wirelessly control surround sound.