Yamaha MusicCAST Digital Audio System Reviewed

Published On: April 1, 2005
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Yamaha MusicCAST Digital Audio System Reviewed

Yamaha's own music streaming system can be compared with Logitech's Transporter product and in some ways AppleTV. Read how this system from 2005 stacks up versus today's home theater AV streaming products.

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).

Read more on Page 2

nstallation/Setup/Ease of Use - Yamaha designed the MCX-1000 server to compliment traditional AN gear. With its black finish and large metal casing, it's roughly the size of a home receiver. It has a front panel text display and a variety of navigation buttons to store and retrieve music. The MusicCAST server can be connected with a video cable to a receiver ordirectly to a television with an S-Video or composite cable for optional viewing of the server menu on a TV. A built-in 802.11b LAN card sends signals to up to five clients wirelessly. The effective wireless range between the server and the client will vary depending on walls and other obstacles between the equipment, however the signal can travel a distance of 60 feet without obstructions, or an Ethernet cable can connect the server and client for long distances.

While the server is intended to blend in with a home audio system, the MCX-A10 client is designed to compliment a wall or desktop. The silver MusicCAST client has a square faceplate with a small text display in the middle. The thin depth and light weight of the MCX-A10 means it can be mounted on a wall. Another option is to place it on the metal stand included with the unit. Both the MCX-1000 server and the MCX-A10 client come with remote controls. The server uses a larger more feature rich remote and the client has a more basic remote control.

The MusicCAST MCX-A10 clients have a built-in digital amplifier that works with virtually any type of speaker system. Yamaha offers optional MCX-SP10 bass reflex speakers that compliment the MusicCAST client. Like the MCX-A10, the optional speakers can be mounted on a wall or placed on the included desktop stand. These Yamaha speakers don't offer the highest performance, but they do match the system and would work well in small spaces like kitchens or utility rooms.

Final Take - Ripping CDs into the server couldn't be easier. There is a CD Auto Store button on the front of the unit that automatically stores the music before Gracenote labels all the songs. The quality of the music files was directly related to the MP3 compression bit rate. The 160kps rate sounded very flat and unnatural. The 256kps was much better, but still didn't have the dynamics the 320kps rate had. It should be noted that the more clients that are added to the system, the more compressed the audio files must be. So a system with seven clients has no choice but to compress the files down to 160kps for transmitting purposes.

There are some apparent failings in the Yamaha MusicCAST system. First, neither the server nor clients can stream audio directly from a networked PC or an Internet music source. Also, the system cannot rip MP3 files from a CD or computer. I'm sure Yamaha limited the system in this way to legally protect copyrighted material, but it shuts down great avenues of music sources. Another deficiency with the MCX-1000 is the 80GB hard drive. However, Yamaha states that a larger capacity hard drive can be installed by authorized MusicCAST dealers.

If you currently have most of your music on your PC, this system isn't for you. There isn't a way to transfer MP3 files from a computer to the server. However, if you're looking for a convenient, albeit expensive, alternative to downloading music and organizing music files, the MusicCAST system should be of interest. It
is remarkably easy to set up and operate.

MCX-1000 Digital Audio Server
80 GB hard Drive
Controls up to 7 Clients
Gracenote CDDB Recognition Database
Yamaha AN Receiver Control with RS-232C
PS/2 Connection Port
IR Remote Control
Wireless IEEE 802.116 Network
Ethernet Connection
Two Digital Audio Inputs (1 Optical, 1 Coaxial)
Analog Audio Input
Two Digital Audio Outputs (1 Optical, 1 Coaxial)
Analog Audio Output
S-Video and Composite Video Output
17 1/8"W x 4 3/4"H x 15 5/8"D
Weight: 24.2 lbs.
Warranty: One Year
MSRP: $2,200

MCX-A10 Digital Audio Client
LCD On-Screen Display
IR Wireless Remote Control
Wireless IEEE 802.116 Network
Ethernet Connection
Analog Audio Input
Analog Audio Output
S-Video and Composite Video Output
Speaker Output
Subwoofer Output
Composite Video Output
8 1/4"W x 8 1/4"H x 31/8"D
Weight: 4.4 lbs.
Warranty: One Year
MSRP: $600

MCX-SP10 Digital Audio Speakers
Bass Reflex Speakers
Wall Mountable
Desktop Bracket Mount
8 1/4"W x 8 1/4"H x 3 1/8"D
Weight: 2.6 lbs.
Warranty: One Year
MSRP: $119

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

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