- Yamaha MusicCast multiroom enabled
- Wi-Fi, Apple Airplay and Bluetooth streaming
- 24-bit 192 kHz High Res Audio compatible
- Services: Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, Juke, Qobuz DLNA support
- Burr Brown DAC
- Manufacturer: Yamaha UK
- Review Price: £149.00
Hands-on with Yamaha’s new music streaming system
WHAT IS THE YAMAHA WXAD-10?
The Yamaha WXAD-10 brings streaming and multiroom audio skills to offline music systems. It works with anything that has an analogue input: if you have an old stereo that you don’t fancy throwing out in place of online music, then this is the solution.
The WXAD-10 is the latest entry in Yamaha’s MusicCast range of network-connected devices. Internally, Yamaha has nicknamed it ‘the Add’, since that’s just what it does: it’s an extension for your existing active speakers or micro hi-fi unit.
YAMAHA WXAD-10 – FEATURES AND DESIGN
A streamer lives and dies by what it can do, so I’ll start with the services the WXAD-10 supports: Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, Juke and Qobuz. Yamaha has said it will bring Amazon Alexa compatibility to all its MusicCast devices in 2017, so you’ll probably get Amazon Music too.
If you’re not subscribed to any of the above then you can also use Apple AirPlay, and Bluetooth to play your own files. DLNA support means that you can stream music from local NAS drives.
All sources are controlled by the MusicCast app. I’ve used this before, and it’s one of the best control apps out there. It’s clean designed and responsive UI comes close to rivalling the mighty Sonos app in terms of ease of use.
It also handles multiroom audio in a similar way. Other MusicCast products such as AV receivers and portable speakers show up on a big list; you just tick where you want your music to play. The Yamaha WXAD-10 uses a Burr-Brown DAC compatible with hi-res audio: FLAC, WAV and AIFF up to 24bit/192kHz, plus 24bit/92kHz ALAC.
With those huge file sizes, it’s just as well that there’s an Ethernet socket alongside the built-in Wi-Fi. The only outputs are analogue: 3.5mm and RCA. The unit is powered by USB. All the cables are included, along with a mains adapter.
On the design front, the WXAD-10 is a little unremarkable, but that’s fine because you don’t really need it to draw attention. The small box has a footprint barely larger than that of a passport. Its size, alongside the dark grey paint job, ensure it will be a subtle addition to your desk or shelf.
Build quality is fine; the box feels light and hollow. It isn’t something I’d want banging around in my rucksack, however.
YAMAHA WXAD-10 – PERFORMANCE
So is this streamer any good? I was treated to a listening demo of a WXAD-10 unit, hooked up to an old Yamaha MCR-B043 micro hi-fi system.
The same tracks were played from an iPhone, first streamed through the WXAD-10, and then with the phone directly hooked up via 3.5mm auxiliary input. And then again through the WXAD-10.
I’m a firm believer in listening to music through hard-wired sources, but from my limited test I felt the WXAD-10’s wireless performance was no worse than plugging the source directly into the stereo. If anything, I believe streaming performance was better.
I’d put this down to the WXAD-10’s DAC being better than the micro system’s internal one. What I heard through the WXAD-10 was clearer and more detailed.
I was then shown the multiroom element: a portable speaker on the same network was selected on the MusicCast app, and suddenly the same music was playing on both systems. If you want multiroom skills for your audio, I can say this system works very smoothly indeed.
This was only a limited demonstration, but I came away impressed. I’ll be testing the audio performance far more thoroughly for my final review.
YAMAHA WXAD-10 VS GOOGLE CHROMECAST AUDIO VS SONOS
Admittedly, there’s very little here that’s entirely new. We already have the Google Chromecast Audio to bring streaming smarts to offline music systems. Then there’s the fact that multiroom audio has been Sonos’ party trick for years.
What the WXAD-10 offers, then, is a good balance of cost, convenience and features. The Yamaha boldly steps into Sonos’ multiroom domain by offering an interface that appears to be just as smooth and easy to use.
Yamaha hasn’t confirmed the price of the WXAD-10, but I’ve been told it’s aimed at the mass market and will cost less than the premium Sonos systems. If you have a decent stereo already, it makes sense to spend a little to upgrade it rather than replace it entirely.
The Google Chromecast Audio has price on its side – it’s unlikely that the Yamaha will be able to compete with its £30 price – but it also has limitations. Its multiroom system is a faff, since it doesn’t let you select which speakers you want. You have to create speaker ‘groups’ first, which is hardly spontaneous. Plus, the Yamaha enjoys some features missing on the Chromecast – namely Ethernet, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay and 24bit/192kHz hi-res audio support.
Everything I’ve seen of the Yamaha WXAD-10 leads me to one conclusion: this device strikes a happy medium between the cut-price Chromecast Audio and the luxurious Sonos systems. What you get is a clever way to refresh tired old audio systems with today’s most popular networked features. If Yamaha gets its pricing right, the WXAD-10 could be a real winner.
Where to buy Yamaha WXAD-10: https://www.abtec.co.nz/product-search.php?keyword=wxad&category=&brand=&search=