Best Yamaha MusicCast 50 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
Formerly avant-garde in audio connected with its MusicCast ecosystem, Yamaha had not released for over two years new speakers dedicated to wireless listening and multiroom. This shortage ends with the launch of MusicCast 20 and 50. We are testing the second here, which the manufacturer promises to have particularly taken care of the audio reproduction.
Best Yamaha MusicCast 50 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
If the acoustic design is therefore supposed to be the main highlight of the MusicCast 50 – which we will check below -, it is certainly not the case with its design. Not that this one is missed, far from it, but it is of a simplicity and a discretion which do not seek in any way to cause sensation. Construction also makes use of plastic materials that are not very glitzy, but effective. We simply recommend paying attention to the shiny surface covering the top of the speaker, relatively quick to attract fingerprints and even micro-scratches, especially in its black version.
Fortunately, it is not the shiny surface that accommodates the touch controls, but its matte periphery. These commands include direct access to four programmable favorites, on which it is possible to save either a webradio or a playlist from a DLNA / UPnP server or one of the streaming servicescompatible – cf. the “Multimedia” part of this test. Note also the possibility of activating or deactivating with one touch the alarm clock mode of the speaker. However, these commands have a major shortcoming: the absence of any reading control! This makes it impossible to pause a broadcast, or navigate between tracks other than through the MusicCast mobile app. A very surprising oversight, and quite painful on a daily basis … To a slightly lesser extent, we also deplore the omission of a remote control.
On the other hand, the connectors are a source of satisfaction. For access to network functions, the MusicCast 50 not only has a Wi-Fi interface, but also an RJ45 connector. Regarding the audio interfaces, there are two analog inputs (one on mini-jack, the other on double RCA), and an optical S / PDIF input.
However, that’s not all, because using Bluetooth can cause latency issues. “May”, said latency having proved surprisingly variable during our tests. With our test transmitter using the aptX codec, we measured a rather colossal broadcast delay approaching 400 ms. Using the speaker with an aptX-compatible Android smartphone also allowed us to confirm this measurement. However, when the MusicCast 50 has connection with an iPhone (AAC codec, therefore), the latency drops to around 250 ms; still excessive, but still much more acceptable.
Certain video playback applications are certainly capable of compensating for this latency, but with variable success. On YouTube, for example, the compensation is almost ideal, reducing the delay of the sound on the image to around 50 ms, at the limit of perceptible. On Netflix on the other hand, the compensation is excessive, and therefore places the sound ahead of the image – which our brain is unable to accommodate … In short, the results are perfectly random, which is difficult draw the slightest conclusion, if not this: we do not recommend using the MusicCast 50 in Bluetooth for viewing a video.
Since the last time we crossed paths with it (with the WX-010 ), without having metamorphosed, the MusicCast ecosystem has known discrete evolutions, numerous and welcome. For example, the excessive latency that we noted in the execution of certain commands has disappeared. Similarly, when using in multiroom, we were never faced with desynchronization problems which sometimes irritated us two years ago.
However, the configuration of these same multiroom functions is still unfortunately a little convoluted. Whether it is to combine two rooms for simultaneous broadcasting, or to configure two stereo speakers in one room, you have to carry out several operations far from being intuitive, and navigate through menus and settings with titles sometimes nebulous; we are far from the smooth and user-friendly operation that certain competitors (notably the inevitable Sonos) have been able to acquire over the years.
Fortunately, once the manufacturer have done the configuration, things get better. We particularly appreciate the ease with which we can adjust the individual level of each speaker .
As we mentioned above, the possibility is given to combine two MusicCast 50s in a stereo pair. You can also associate it with a MusicCast SUB 100 subwoofer. More surprisingly, it is even possible to connect a MusicCast 50 wirelessly to a connected Yamaha audio / video amplifier, to give the speaker the reproduction of surround back channels – even so obviously, with such a weak stereo separation, one can have doubts as to the quality of the spatialization of the rear scene that it is then capable of reproducing …
The MusicCast 50 offers two main sound reproduction modes: a “Bass Booster” mode activated by default, and a Standard mode. They both offer an interesting sound reproduction, but one that is not without flaws.
From the outset, reading the curves, we may be surprised that the “Bass Booster” mode seems to extend the bass range, but while placing the low frequencies behind standard mode. However, these measures do not say everything. Indeed, the MusicCast is distinguished by a very unusual acoustic design, positioning the vent not at the front or at the rear, but on the left flank of the enclosure. The strange consequence of this is that during the measurements in our sound lab, a significant part of the energy emitted via this vent (concentrated around 90 Hz) is not picked up by the microphone. When using the speaker in a “normal” listening room, on the other hand, the natural reverberation means that this energy is absolutely not lost,
However, not only this highlighting of low frequencies may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is accompanied in addition by a certain carelessness in the behavior of the membranes, which therefore restore serious in significant lack precision and responsiveness. Things are improving in “standard” mode. But it is the basis of the sound that we can then find a little stingy. Because of the very noticeable attenuation occurring between 80 and 100 Hz. There is a compromise that everyone will have to make according to their listening preferences.
On the other hand, in the midrange and treble, the rendering is very successful, notably benefiting from a fairly remarkable balance. By default, the rendering is quite warm, with a slight but regular leaning towards low frequencies. We can however adjust this character to suit each individual thanks to the tone settings available in the mobile application. By lowering the bass by a few notches, we manage to obtain an almost flat line, and therefore optimal transparency. If you prefer a slight V-shape to inject a little energy into listening, slightly raising the treble will do the trick; conversely, lovers of sweetness can lower both the bass and treble to obtain a reproduction rather focused on the mids.
The MusicCast 50 does not produce an enormous amount of decibels. But its power should be more than enough to sound satisfactorily in most interiors; moreover, the dynamics are never faulted, even at maximum volume. The precision and the speed of the sound message are also generally very good, with the only but notable exception of the peak of distortion which one notes between 2 and 4 kHz. If the measure may seem worrying, its impact on the sound coming to the ear is fortunately less important than what one might think. It is only when the mix becomes very busy in this spectral area (for example when particularly sharp electric guitars are heard) that one can note a touch of aggressiveness, parasitic flicker.
- Its clear and very well defined in the midrange and treble.
- Good dynamics.
- Excellent spectral balance (and customizable).
- Very complete multiroom functionalities.
- Wired connection provided.
- Spread of compatible network sources.
- Bass highlighted too much and too imprecise in “Bass Booster” mode.
- Serious a little too far back in “standard” mode.
- Distortion and flicker in the upper mids.
- No remote control, no playback control on the speaker.
- Complex mobile application to use.
- Latency in Bluetooth sometimes too high.
The Yamaha MusicCast 50 keeps its overall sound promises, with very solid performances, even if not free from defects. It adds to this remarkably complete streaming and multiroom functionalities. But which suffer from some ergonomic failures. Including the very annoying impossibility of controlling the reading in progress other than via the mobile application … In short, an enclosure with many strong points, and almost as many weaknesses!
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