Yamaha MusicCAST Digital Audio System Reviewed

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It's great to see companies like Yamaha develop new audio products to feed the growing need for convenience. Sure, we all want great sounding equipment playing music around us all the time, but if we have to program a computer to do it, why bother? The Yamaha MusicCAST Digital Audio System opens up a world of flexibility and convenience for music lovers.

Additional Resources
Read a review of Logitech Transporter Music Server.
Read more Yamaha reviews including music servers, AV receivers, soundbars and more...

The MusicCAST system stores music from compact discs digitally on a hard disk drive in a central location and wirelessly transmits the music to other areas of the home or office.

The MusicCAST system consists of two components, the MCX-1000 server and MCX-A10 client. The server is a component that can integrate into a home theater system and acts as storage space for music and other audio material. The server has a CD-R/RW and an 80-gigabyte hard drive to store as many as 1000 CDs of music depending on what level of compression you choose. The server can play back music and distribute it wirelessly or through an Ethernet cable to as many as seven MusicCAST clients. Each client acts as a player for the songs stored on the server and because the system transmits music wirelessly, setting up clients in different rooms around a home or office is trouble-free.

Unique Features - A typical Yamaha MusicCAST buyer wants a simple solution to listen to their large CD library throughout the house without having to configure a home network PC. With MusicCAST, sorting and managing an entire music collection is extremely simple. Music is saved to the hard drive in its original quality from CDs or external inputs in PCM form, and it is converted to an MP3 format for broadcasting to clients. The level of MP3 compression is user definable at bit rates of 160, 256k or 320 kilobytes per second. A compression rating of 160kps will store the maximum amount of music on the server, approximately 1000 compact discs, but the audio quality will be severely diminished with the highs and lows being cut off. Conversely, noncompressed PCM files are as large as the originals on the CD, giving a superior quality sound
but a storage capacity of roughly 100 CDs.

The MCX-1000 server "rips" the music from CDs loaded in the disc tray and uses the built-in Gracenote CDDB (compact disc database) to tag files with information on each song, album, artist, and genre of the music. The Gracenote database automatically assigns information to each file after it is stored on the hard drive. If an album is too new or obscure for the database, the MCX-1000 server can download new information from the Gracenote CDDB website by connecting the Ethernet port to a network with an Internet connection. Information can also be changed or added manually by plugging a PS2 keyboard into the front of the server.

The MusicCAST client is like having a jukebox in every room in your home. MusicCAST provides instant access to your massive library of songs and play lists can be created to compliment a special occasion or a get-together, or enjoy selections from your entire CD collection at random. The server is able to send music to eight different locations allowing up to seven independent clients to be used with one server system. Each server can play different music simultaneously. Therefore, if your kids want to listen to their Death Rock in their bedrooms, your spouse wants to hear Mozart in the kitchen and you want Bluegrass in the garage, everyone can get their way and be happy.

Not only can you store music, but also you can play CDs and MP3 encoded CDs through the system. Better still, you can create CDs using the built-in CD recorder. By selecting a whole disc or just selected tracks, the MCX-1000 records linear PCM music saved on the hard drive to blank media at speeds up to eight times. The recorded selections are deleted from the hard drive after the copying procedure to comply with the Serial Copy Management System (SCMS).

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