The grand-daddy of networked audio is four years old this year. So how does the latest version of its multi-room music server match up to the younger breed?
Here at Stuff, we often wonder how people got by before certain watersheds on technology’s timescale. Did people really used to lug around hundreds of CDs on the train so they could listen to their favourite tunes? Surely mobile phones have always had cameras, and as far as we were aware, Christopher Columbus would never have managed to navigate across the globe had it not been for his trusty TomTom Go 710.
And how on earth did people listen to music around the home before the Yamaha MusicCast graced our lives? We thanked the gadget Gods for the MCX-1000’s arrival back then, but today a new generation of multi-room jukeboxes have raced ahead of the old boy. So can the new MusicCast MCX-2000 re-join the race?
It’s worth mentioning before delve into a galaxy of tech specs, that the MusicCast, unlike some networked audio systems, doesn’t require any intervention from a PC or a Mac. And therefore it’s the ideal piece of kit for hi-fi buffs that scoff at the computer-dependent Sonos.
The MCX-2000 boasts double the hard-disk size of its predecessor (160GB) and can also store rather lardy CD-quality uncompressed PCM files. However, unless you want to see your 160GB disappear quicker than a doughnut in front of a tubby yellow cartoon character, we recommend sticking with MP3s, which can be ripped at 160, 256 or 320kbps.
There’s an Ethernet connection, which allows you to access MP3, WAV and WMA files from your computer, and the Yamaha also offers RDS FM radio which can be accessed by any of the client systems scattered around the home.
And there are a variety of choices regarding the clients: a dedicated tabletop micro hi-fi system, the MCX-A10, and an in-wall system, the MCX-C15. Both offer local control over the entire network, allowing you to switch tracks wherever your clients are stationed. In fact up to 15 separate clients can be added – five wireless and ten wired, so even the east wing and servants’ quarters can have tunes piped through.
The MusicCast delivers a textured, neatly trimmed audio performance, with tunes racing around the home. While the clients can sound raucous and unbridled at high volumes we reckon overall the Yamaha offers pretty decent audio.
But if you want to bag one of these systems, it’s going to cost you. £2,500 to be exact, with each extra room costing £700. And when you consider that the Sonos is over a grand cheaper than the Yamaha, the price tag could prove a major stumbling block.
Price aside, the MusicCast remains the grand-daddy of networked audio, and while we’d still plump for the Sonos, the MCX-2000 is an extremely competent solution for round the home music piping.
Yamaha MusicCast MCX-2000 review
The plucky veteran returns with an improved hard disk and a choice of client systems. It can’t match the Sonos, but provides a great solution for those who want PC-free audio networking
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