Sound+Image

‘Plus’ WX-030

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Currently the smallest member of the MusicCast family, the WX-030 (known in the MusicCast family as the ‘Plus’) is a compact wireless speaker unit some 24cm wide, 16cm high and 11cm deep, with three angles to its front side. It’s effectivel­y mono, not that we realised this particular­ly until checking the driver specificat­ions, which list one 30mm tweeter, one 9cm mid/bass driver, plus a passive radiator.

While most users are likely to use the WX-030 on a table or desk, it can also be wallmounte­d, and Yamaha’s pictures even suggest it can be mounted sideways, which would have the merit of leaving its controls more accessible if you had it up high (see image). Since it’s mono, sideways mounting won’t much affect the audio output.

Yamaha has made some fine wireless speaker units in its time, and this delivers another enjoyable performanc­e, well balanced for casual listening, decent upper bass support to its sound (richest if you keep it close, but still respectabl­e across a room), projecting both male and female vocals well, including nicely portrayed spoken voice, and topped by a clear but rarely over-insistent treble.

Given its size and driver limitation­s it’s not going to replace a proper hi-fi system — there’s a limit to its ability to portray detail within a complex mix, and when you raise the volume it does start sounding a little pushy in thrusting everything forward at once.

But it’s well up with even the best rival units at this price level — less brash and better balanced than most, and certainly delivering a bigger sound than the range of little portable Bluetooth speakers. We’d perhaps query the choice of white control markings on a light grey background — we had to peer closely every time we wanted to use the touch buttons on the top.

When controlled from the MusicCast app, the WX-030 enjoys all the access granted by the Yamaha multiroom wireless system to streaming sources and networked music shares. The MusicCast app links directly to Pandora and internet radio, and to music on your own devices. Navigate through Shares to music on your PC or NAS drive (or to iTunes if you use our third workaround here) — the Yamaha system is not inherently iTunes-friendly, but there are several workaround­s, Airplay being the most obvious

Note that the WX-030 has no physical inputs at all, not even an analogue minijack. But as a MusicCast room it can still perform as a master or slave controller for other MusicCast devices, or can send its music via Bluetooth to any single Bluetooth speaker or headphones, regardless of brand.

It has its own Bluetooth streaming, and AirPlay too, so it can operate entirely independen­tly as a standalone streaming speaker, and be addressed directly from Mac computers and iOS devices. So don’t think of this as solely a MusicCast device. But those additional abilities, its available music sources and the level of app control are all multiplied by MusicCast, making this an excellent little speaker to extend music into additional small or medium-sized rooms.

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