MusicCast systems and solutions exist in plenty. From the inexpensive or cheap, like Chromecast from Google, to the (very) expensive. Somewhere in-between, a choice for me.
The starting point
For some time I’ve been wanting to have a music-cast or streaming setup for a pair of active speakers (inbuilt amplifier) in our living room. Something flexible, adaptable. Something easy to use. With decent (or better) sound quality.
Our speakers are on the wifi network, and have internet radio integrated. One can hook up pods, pads, phones, and a variety of digital or analog auxiliary devices, with cable.
Additionally, which usually is the case with wifi related speakers, you can stream music from a NAS (network storage device) on the wireless network. All well and good, but it’s not very user friendly. A lousy and (far too) cheap remote doesn’t help the least bit.
By the way, the scenario would not have been much different with a (analog) amplifier and a set of speakers. Minus, of course, the network/wifi capabilities of the active speakers.
MusicCast research & criteria
After a bit of research on various solutions, from $$ too $$$($) I narrowed it down by defining a few criteria. Didn’t want, or need, an expensive, sophisticated solution. The streaming format most likely would be the biggest limitation or weakest link anyway. Some friends have elaborate setups, and seemingly happy, but for me it would be a waste of money.
Secondly, didn’t want to spend a huge wad on technology that very likely would be outdated in a matter of months or, at best, a few years. And, with my speakers, even though they re really brilliant for their value, would also be a limitations.
MusicCast choice & solution
Finally, I landed on Yamaha WXAD-10. Not the cheapest but a product in the lower end of the price spectrum. Claimed to deliver excellent sound quality. Supported by a easy to use app for iPhone/Pad or Android, permitting streaming from various types of digital media.
The box, small and inconspicuous by design, has gotten several good/decent reviews, one such you may read here. Might lack some features, but none we will miss in this household.
The rear has basic digital/analog ports, that should cover all needs.
We use Spotify for the most part. I’ve had Spotify access since before it went public (got a test account for free during the beta period). The software has improved significantly over the years, and the sound quality, well maybe not top notch (Tidal has HiFi mode) but good enough for us.
installation, setup & verdict
Received in the mail and time to set it up. Which was very easy. very straight forward. The box has its own Wifi for setup purpose, all you have to do is to install the Yamaha MusicCast app from either GooglePlay or iTunes. Then just follow instructions.
All set I turned on Spotify, found some well known songs and was instantly blown away. The WXAD-10 clearly was a perfect choice for us. Now the household can easily access and play music from their own devices.
If you’re considering to get a cheap music-cast system, with good sound quality, well look no further OR consider this unit.
Update: ca 2 weeks later
I’ve now had the Yamaha WXAD-10 musiccast box for around 14 days, give or take. During this time I’ve listened to a lot of different music styles, from the electrical, and electronic, over to more acoustic.
In all respects and regardless of music, the musiccast box continues to impress. What strikes me as fascinating is with what pondus and musicality sound is delivered, via the digital/analog converter circuit, to the speakers.
That you can get this quality of sound for the modest price it sells for is pretty amazing. I’ve listened to 10 times more expensive solutions elsewhere. With almost ten times more expensive loudspeakers than ours.
This solution does it for me. I don’t need more, don’t need anything to play louder, or better. Should perhaps mention that, some decades back, I worked in the HiFi business. I’ve had a tremendous amount of equipment, some of if ridiculously expensive and refined.
Speaking of quality or value for the money, the current solution puts itself somewhere on the top.
Room matters, tremendously
Yes it does. In fact the listening room may account for more than 60% of the outcome. If acoustics is not good, if higher volume causes rumble, standing waves, or imbalanced sound picture, there is really no point in going overboard with investments.
Bookshelves with books in a room have a huge impact on damping, there also sound quality and acoustics. That, besides of all wood, probably is one reason why the results is so good in our room. It doesn’t matter, low or high volume, the frequency balance is excellent.
If you have a room with lots of books/shelves, and like to listen to music well, keep it. Take it away and your room may change character, drastically.