Yamaha MusicCast 20 & 50 Speaker Review
What is MusicCast? It’s Yamaha’s take on wireless, multi-room, multi-speaker audio. They have a number of speakers, soundbars and even AV receivers within the MusicCast line up, but we got the MusicCast 20 & 50 speakers, which are positioned to take on the likes of Sonos. How will they sound? how easy will it be to set up and control? Let’s find out.
The 20 & 50 are both standalone speakers, with the 50 being the larger of the two. They both look similar, apart from size, and the 50 has more options. For size and price, the 20 is very much comparable to the Sonos One, with the 50 sitting somewhere in between the Sonos Play 3 & 5. This isn’t a comparison article as such, but it’s always good to understand the competition.
Features that sit across both these speakers include:
- Music streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal & Deezer
- MusicCast multi-room technology
- Apple Air Play & Bluetooth support
- Alexa voice control compatibility* (*Availability varies by region)
- High-Resolution Audio
- Stereo pairing (requires 2 units)
- Ability to be used as surround speakers with an AV receiver or sound bar* (*Select MusicCast models only)
- Soft-touch, simple presets for instant playback
Both speakers look the same in design and are available in either black or white finish. They have a metal mesh covering the speakers, a matte finish to the top rim & bottom areas of the speaker and a glossy finish on top. They also sit on rubber feet. Controls are via the top buttons, all touch sensitive, which leaves lovely fingerprint marks to the top of the 20. Other controls are via the app, there is no remote control. Both speakers are incredibly well constructed and have that premium feel to them.
Connections on the back of the 20 include power in, USB port for servicing and an ethernet port. Whereas the 50 has the above, plus 3.5mm jack in, RCA L/R in and optical in, making it a far more flexible speaker. Component wise, the 20 has a 3cm tweeter and a 9cm woofer (40w total power), while the 50 doubles up and includes two 3cm tweeters and two 10cm woofers (70w total power). Speakers come boxed with instructions and power cable only.
Set up is via MusicCast app, which is free to download. Plug the speakers in, power on and then follow the on-screen prompts to add the speakers to your WiFi network. Set up was fairly straightforward, no need for instructions as such. The app itself is very easy to use, it’s intuitive and easy to navigate. It allows you to fully control and set up your speakers, on a speaker by speaker basis or group them on a room by room basis. The app allows you to connect to a third party app, such as Spotify to access your music, or via your local server, local device etc. It also allows you to set favourites, create playlists and of course, fully control your music and volumes by speakers or rooms.
As for audio performance, both were exceptional, with the 50 being something really quite special. These are premium, high-quality speakers, offering a superb, well-balanced sound, with a beautiful thump on those low notes. Both speakers get very loud and the quality is sustained at the higher volumes, one 20 will fill a small room and one 50 will literally bring the party to life. Better yet, pair two together to get stereo sound and you’ll just be blown away. But what about TV audio, the home cinema experience? Yes, you can configure the speakers to offer a surround sound movie experience. Yamaha recommends a 50 at the front, two 20’s at the rear (or one 50 at the rear if you want), plus add a subwoofer if desired, or swap the 50 for a soundbar! There are many options to choose from. I plugged the 50 into my TV and I put The Last Jedi on, just to see what would happen and I was no disappointed! I turned it up and the quality just got better, the bass surprised me too, it was punchy and plentiful.
Noteworthy mentions, the 20’s can be wall mounted, there is a bracket built into the back of the speaker if you want to go down this route. I recommend a very robust wall fixing and heavy-duty screw! Also, I don’t want to get into Alexa too much, but it’s included and it works perfectly well.
I only came across one issue while trying these out and that was when I changed tracks on Spotify, the speakers came out of sync a couple of times, one just a second or two behind the other. It didn’t happen all the time, and it fixed itself when I hit pause/play again. Perhaps a bug, not a deal breaker for me after the performance and maybe Yamaha will send a firmware update out to fix this.
The MusicCast 20 is available for £199, with the 50 sitting at £449 and for me, worth every penny. They really did impress me.
For more information, visit the official Yamaha MusicCast website.