Yamaha WX-021 Review: Accessible and practical

e87c06db00a20b3dc571daf6e64e35fc
TOTAL SCORE:

Japanese Yamaha continues to develop its MusicCast multi-room system and introduces the middle device in the line – the Yamaha WX-021 speaker. You can connect the Yamaha WX-021 speaker to your home network using either an Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In addition to supporting MusicCast multi-room technology, the speaker is ready to work with streaming services Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody, as well as SiriusXM radio. The maximum signal quality that Yamaha WX-021 supports when streaming over DLNA is 24-bit / 96 kHz in Apple Lossless and 24-bit / 192 kHz in FLAC, AIFF and WAV formats.

Yamaha wx 021 32.jpg

Thanks to its simple design, the Yamaha WX-021 system fits perfectly into almost any interior. Convenient buttons on the top panel are used to control the operation of the device. Dust-proof mesh grill covers the front and side speakers.

MusicCast was developed from the ground up by Yamaha with the aim of achieving a stable and reliable multi-room system, as well as equipping it with modern functionality. As we mentioned, one of the more interesting features of MusicCast is that it can include any compatible Yamaha components. That is, you can simply build a system from the components you have, instead of purchasing a set of new equipment, and you will not be tied to any specific set.

Yamaha wx 021 72.jpg

MusicCast technology is integrated into many Yamaha models, including soundbars, AV receivers, wireless speakers and hi-fi systems. This means that to create a multi-room system, you do not need to buy a specific set of equipment and it can be assembled from available compatible components. And even if you haven’t thought about building a multi-room audio system, but you have several Yamaha units with MusicCast at your disposal, you can try to compose it just for fun. Simple integration within the same network is a prerequisite for a modern multi-room system, as well as support for the latest high-resolution audio formats, as well as convenient control. MusicCast has all of the above, plus excellent flexibility in use, which makes it very attractive.

All Yamaha appliances equipped with MusicCast support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This ensures the interaction of components within the system – to create it, you can use an existing Wi-Fi router, or connect equipment directly to each other. The system is also easy to set up: all you need to do is download the MusicCast app to your smartphone or tablet. Then you connect compatible audio components to your existing network and pair them with your smart device. It is quite simple and, if desired, you can constantly increase the number of components in the system. MusicCast allows you to listen to music in any room with the appropriate Yamaha equipment and control it with one single application.

Yamaha wx 021 4.jpg

All MusicCast components have built-in Wi-Fi (2.4GHz, 802.11 b / g / n) and DLNA 1.5 support, so they can access network storage devices and receive signals directly via Bluetooth and AirPlay. It also means that you can listen to music from a source connected to one of the MusicCast components through any other. For example, you are listening to TV through a Yamaha soundbar, and then you need to go to another room, and if it has an active MusicCast speaker installed, you can continue listening to the soundtrack of the TV program.

Due to the fact that MusicCast components are equipped with built-in Bluetooth modules (2.1, EDR / A2DP, AVRCP), various devices – speakers or headphones – equipped with BT can be connected to the multi-room system. By connecting them to MusicCast, you can stream the music signal to them from any of the system’s components. MusicCast supports digital audio up to 192 kHz (PCM) as well as DSD up to 5.6 MHz. There is compatibility with all common formats, including WAV, MP3, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, FLAC and it is possible to use the services of Spotify, Napster, Juke, Net Radio to expand the capabilities of the system.

yamaha_app_1.jpg

The Equalizer (EQ) function in the MusicCast control app allows you to adjust frequencies to suit your music preferences. Treble, middle and bass levels are individually adjustable.

You can play any audio files from your smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth or AirPlay. You can play music from music apps, radio apps, or video hosting sites like YouTube ™.

The Yamaha WX-021 is equipped with the latest Bluetooth technology for more convenient wireless audio streaming. You can stream music from the Yamaha WX-021 to Bluetooth-compatible speakers or headphones for private listening.

Yamaha wx 021 5.jpg

For all those home theater enthusiasts, the MusicCast 20 can be used as rear speakers, replacing the need for surround speakers. Connecting wirelessly to the MusicCast AV Receiver means there are no extra speaker cables around the room. With Alexa voice control integration, all you have to do is ask. MusicCast 20 provides full compatibility with Amazon voice communication devices. With the MusicCast app, two MusicCast 20 devices can be paired – left and right – for a stereo effect with a wider audio coverage.

The Yamaha WX-021 and 50 speakers represent the latest addition to their respective lineup. MusicCast is currently Yamaha’s most ambitious program yet. It involves not only releasing wireless models, but also integrating this technology into a wide variety of AV equipment. This made it possible to build scalable and expandable systems based on compatible Yamaha devices, and also prompted other manufacturers to start developing something similar. But Yamaha is not standing still. Today, MusicCast can be found, for example, in an 11.2-channel AV processor, an all-in-one turntable, and an electronic piano.

yamaha_musiccast_1.jpg

The MusicCast 20 and 50 are a good starting point for MusucCast if you are not planning on purchasing other Yamaha models with this technology just yet. But the new products have other advantages as well. All models with MusicCast have a wide range of features, but the MusicCast 20 and 50 speakers somehow managed to expand this list. However, all of the above will not matter if the speakers sound bad. We will now check it out.

Parameters and design

The MusicCast 20 and 50 are all-in-one powered speakers and while they can operate in a variety of modes, the most important thing is that they are self-contained. Both speakers are based on the same decoders, which is good. Both speakers are capable of receiving 24-bit / 192 kHz digital signal in all major formats. The speakers provide for a wired network connection (Ethernet connector), but most users will probably be more interested in a wireless connection. In this case, it provides support for dual-band Wi-Fi 2.4 / 5 GHz.

yamaha_musiccast_2.jpg

Yamaha has worked hard to expand the list of supported services MusicCast 20 and 50. There are Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer and Deezer Hi-Fi, Spotify and Juke. Support for the Alexa voice system is also provided. You can stream your music signal to the MusicCast 20 and 50 using Bluetooth 4.1 with AAC or AirPlay. Of course, the list of functions of MusicCast 20 and 50 also includes Internet radio, if all of the above seemed a little to you.

As part of a multi-room system, the speakers can be used individually or in a “group”. At the same time, they can send a signal from other components of the system – for example, sound from a TV to a speaker located in another room. It’s comfortable. Two of these speakers can be used in stereo pair mode. Plus, if you have a compatible Yamaha AV receiver or soundbar, the MusicCast 20 and 50 can also be turned on as wireless rear speakers. The younger model can even be hung on the wall, as it has a corresponding mount.

yamaha_musiccast_3.jpg

The MusicCast 50 is, in my opinion, an optimally balanced solution in terms of size. Yamaha has fully equipped the MusicCast 50 with various features. There are linear (on RCA connectors) and optical inputs, so in principle this speaker can be used in conjunction with a TV instead of a soundbar.

The MusicCast 50 has a stereo design, albeit housed in a single cabinet. The speaker is equipped with two 10 cm woofers and two 2 cm soft dome tweeters. The maximum power of the speaker amplifiers is 2 x 35 watts.

The MusicCast 20 has a monaural configuration and is equipped with a 9 cm woofer and a 3 cm tweeter. In this speaker, each radiator is connected to a separate amplifier.

Yamaha wx 021 7.jpg

In addition to improving performance over the previous MusicCast speakers, the 20 and 50 models have a redesigned design that is more attractive. On the top panel of their body there is a row of buttons that allow you to switch inputs, control playback, and put the speakers in standby mode. This is a good solution in my opinion. The ability to directly control the speakers (and not just through the application) provides convenience on-line use.

Unlike other MusicCast devices I’ve dealt with, the MusicCast 20 and 50 turned out to be quite moody. The speakers were not as predictable and stable as, for example, the Yamaha WX-AD10 I had at my disposal. I hope that these shortcomings will be eliminated in the next firmware version.

Yamaha wx 021 76.jpg

Nevertheless, structurally, both speakers are very good. Dense, high-quality plastic with a soft-touch coating in the places where you will most often touch the case, makes a pleasant impression. The touchpad is responsive and the base coating ensures the speaker remains stable on any surface.

How were the MusicCast 50 and 20 tested?

Both speakers were connected to a Huawei B311 wireless router, through which they had access to the Melco N1A NAS driver, as well as various services. Bluetooth was tested using the Essential PH-1 smartphone and AirPlay was tested using the iPad Air. Additionally, the MusicCast 50 was further evaluated when connected via an optical input to an LG 55B7 TV. We used Lossless and High resolution FLAC and AIFF files, Tidal, Spotify, Deezer and Qobuz services, internet radio, and in the case of MusicCast 50, TV programs as test material.

Sound quality

In general, connecting the MusicCast 50 and 20 to a wireless network is quite simple and does not take long.

Despite the fact that both speakers are built on the basis of the same type of technical solutions, there are very interesting differences between them. Let’s start with the MusicCast 50. This speaker has two main features. It is capable of sounding more powerful than one would expect for its size and reproduces something similar to stereo sound. Of course, systems consisting of two speakers (for example, the Klipsch R-41 PM) form a true stereo picture, but if you do not make such a comparison, the MusicCast 50 also performs better than most competitors.

The column has shown itself well as a soundbar. The MusicCast 50 reproduced dialogue with clarity and articulation, and added depth and weight to the sound that the TV’s built-in speakers lacked. The bass boost function allowed us to raise the low frequency level, but at the same time the overall uniformity of the sound was disturbed, so I decided to turn it off.

Yamaha WX-021 1.jpg

The MusicCast 20 is slightly different from the older model. At its cost, it looks more attractive in terms of quality / price ratio, especially since two MusicCast 20s in a stereo pair will cost you less than one MusicCast 50. So if you don’t need additional inputs, this may be a better buy. At the same time, MusicCast 20 has a livelier and more captivating sound than the older model. One such speaker will easily sound a small room like a kitchen, but a couple will make up a full-fledged stereo set with good sound. I also did not like the bass boost mode of this speaker – its two bass radiators do an excellent job without any help.

Conclusion

MusicCast technology is unprecedented in terms of expandability and flexibility, but it is presented as an optional feature in expensive models. The MusicCast 50 and 20 offer to make the multi-room experience more accessible and practical. Yes, these speakers are not without flaws, both in terms of software and sound. However, their functional equipment, as well as the expandability of systems based on them, are impressive. The MusicCast 20 looks better than the older model, but both deserve our recommendation.

Login and read the rest, ad-free!

Subscribe to Tech Week

One week $0.75

  • Unlimited access to all reviews and news.
  • NO ADS! - all ads will be disabled.
  • Cancel at any time you like
  • UNLOCK ALL ARTICLES $0.75

    Only $0.75/week and get full access. Billed $3/month and you can cancel whenever you like.