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
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.