Up­grade any Hi-Fi with Yamaha’s WXAD-10 Mu­sicCast adapter

This in­ge­nious wire­less streamer will bring any non-con­nected au­dio sys­tem up to date

SoundMag - - Review / Yamaha -

If you long for the con­ve­nience of mu­sic stream­ing and mul­ti­room wire­less au­dio, but (a) love your ex­ist­ing stereo amp or home cin­ema re­ceiver too much to re­tire it, or (b) don’t have the cash for a big sys­tem up­grade, Yamaha’s WXAD-10 Mu­sicCast adapter could be just the so­lu­tion you’re look­ing for.

Yamaha ap­par­ently likes to calls the WXAD-10, ‘The Add’. As a nick­name, it’s prob­a­bly not the catchi­est, but at least it de­scribes what it does.

The WXAD-10 adds any non-net­work au­dio gear to a wire­less net­work, us­ing Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth and Air­Play. A com­pact 130 x 45 x 106 mm (w/h/d) box, it re­quires only a stereo ana­logue in­put on your sound sys­tem in or­der to pro­vide a bridge to your smart­phone. The adapter can be used with a two chan­nel amp, mini or mi­cro sys­tem, sound­bar or AV Re­ceiver.

This func­tion­al­ity isn’t unique. Google’s Chrome­Cast au­dio don­gle does a sim­i­lar job, but it’s not com­pat­i­ble with Yamaha’s pro­pri­etary Mu­sicCast sys­tem and cer­tainly doesn’t sound as good. And it’s not just the con­ve­nience of wire­less play­back on of­fer here. Yamaha will also be in­tro­duc­ing an Ama­zon Alexa Skill later this year, which will doubt­less add to the fun.

In truth, there’s not much to the WXAD-10’s de­sign. The box is un­der­stand­ably light­weight, but build qual­ity is good enough. The fin­ish is a matte grey, while curved edges and four lit­tle rub­ber feet add a lit­tle bit of flair. There’s no on-body dis­play be­yond a sim­ple Wi-Fi strength me­ter.

Con­nec­tions in­clude a pair of stereo phono out­puts and a 3.5mm mini­jack. There’s also an Eth­er­net LAN con­nec­tor if you don’t want to go wire­less, plus a USB 5v power port. A mini USB port, for ser­vice use, is hid­den be­neath a plas­tic bung.

Also in the box is a USB power plug, 3.5mm

lead and some stereo phono leads.

Be­neath the lid is a Burr-Brown PCM5121 DAC cou­pled to a Yamaha de­signed net­work mod­ule. The lat­ter boasts a high pre­ci­sion low-jit­ter clock to op­ti­mize the qual­ity of any streamed au­dio source.

In­stal­la­tion is re­fresh­ingly easy. Us­ing the Con­nect button on the un­der­side of the adapter, you pair it to the Mu­sicCast Con­troller app (avail­able for iOS and Android), and en­ter your Wi-Fi pass­word. Once on­line, you’ll be able to stream di­rectly. The app ef­fec­tively be­comes your net­work source.

Help­fully, the WXAD-10 can be re­named to in­di­cate the room it’s be­ing used in. You can also as­sign an im­age to its pro­file; this can be taken from a library of im­prob­a­bly swish look­ing rooms, or a photo of its ac­tual lo­ca­tion snapped by your phone.

For this au­di­tion, I con­nected the WXAD-10 to an an­te­dilu­vian AV re­ceiver. The job took about five min­utes.

Yamaha has built Mu­sicCast into a wide va­ri­ety of com­po­nents and au­dio sys­tems, and while they all work the same way I’ve found their net­work sta­bil­ity a bit all over the place. Thank­fully, the WXAD-10 seems em­i­nently re­li­able.

Us­ing the Mu­sicCast Con­troller you can lis­ten to a va­ri­ety of ser­vices, in­clud­ing Spo­tify, Tidal, Pan­dora, Deezer, Nap­ster, Qobuz and TuneIn. It also opens up the de­lights of lo­cal net­work mu­sic li­braries. The adapter is DLNA com­pli­ant and im­me­di­ately finds NAS de­vices and me­dia servers.

Au­dio qual­ity is darn im­pres­sive. The use of a high-qual­ity main­stream DAC and au­dio­phile cir­cuit de­sign, has cre­ated a great sound­ing mu­sic streamer.

The Burr Brown DAC is more com­monly found in more ex­pen­sive sep­a­rates, and here el­e­vates the per­for­mance of the adapter be­yond mere don­gle sta­tus.

The box does a fine job with mu­sic ser­vices, but re­ally jus­ti­fies its ex­is­tence when used to play CDqual­ity rips and 24-bit 192kHz high-res au­dio files from a NAS.

It has warmth that could be mis­taken for vinyl when play­ing Claire Martin’s jazzy ver­sion of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World (24-bit 192kHz Stu­dio Mas­ter FLAC).

It’s also great with high-en­ergy up­tempo fare. Ad­mi­ral Fal­low’s in­die rock an­them The Pa­per Trench from Tree Burst in Snow, (16-bit 44.1kHz FLAC), is ex­cit­ing and en­gag­ing. The app it­self is in­tu­itive to use.

The WXAD-10 im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized my Twonky Me­dia server, and nim­bly browses fold­ers for files.

It’s happy with un­com­pressed WAV, FLAC and AIFF in 192kHz 24-bit res­o­lu­tion, as well as ALAC at 96 kHz 24-bit. How­ever the WXAD-10 is un­able to play DSD files of any de­scrip­tion, which is a bit of a sur­prise.

Al­bum art where avail­able, pops up on­screen,

keep­ing things look­ing pre­sentable.

If you use the WXAD-10 to in­te­grate your au­dio kit into a Mu­sicCast ecosys­tem, you’ll be able to group it with other com­pat­i­ble com­po­nents, or stream tracks to it in iso­la­tion. At the last count Yamaha had built Mu­sicCast into up­wards of 50 dif­fer­ent com­po­nents, so there’s cer­tainly plenty of choice when it comes to sys­tem build­ing.

Se­lect a com­pat­i­ble speaker on the same Mu­sicCast net­work and it’s a sim­ple mat­ter to have the same mu­sic play to both. Any source con­nected to the sys­tem util­is­ing the WXAd-10 can in turn be streamed to other speak­ers/rooms on the net­work.

Yamaha has come up with some­thing rather neat and orig­i­nal in the WXAD-10. This isn’t just a pain­less way to in­tro­duce legacy au­dio kit to the plea­sures of wire­less stream­ing, it’s also a worth­while Hi-Res Au­dio com­po­nent in its own right. Its in­her­ent ver­sa­til­ity gives mu­sicCast quite an edge over ri­val mul­ti­room wire­less sound sys­tems, and is in­fin­itely more ex­pand­able than SONOS.

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