It was a first for last year and we had to wait a few months after its launch in the United States. But the Yamaha MusicCast 20 arrived and now we have been able to test it thoroughly for a few weeks. Remember that it is a compact speaker, less than a foot high (18 centimeters) with a slightly oval base (15 by 13 centimeters). It weighs 2.2 kilos and costs 230 euros. We tested a unit in elegant white, more discreet than black (the other option).
When we connect the Yamaha for the first time, we do so having previously downloaded the application to the mobile . In this way the mobile directs our steps and will connect the MusicCast to our Wifi network. If everything goes well it will do it automatically and without problem, as was our case. If not, we suppose that we should enter our password on the mobile. Or we could even do it after connecting it with cable (Ethernet) which is usually the foolproof method. The case is as we have said that it worked for us the first time . As it has Bluetooth, sending music that way is very simple too, but the quality is not the same as via Wifi and also the connection is less stable if we move away. We tested it, it works, it's fine for a close meeting ... but little else.
Once connected to the home network, the "magic" of these 21st century speakers is at work. We can send you music from any connected device: computers, laptops, tablets, mobiles ... The music can be stored on those devices, on the home network, or come from the Internet. We can listen to radios from anywhere in the world, or custom music through services such as Spotify. In addition to all this, the MusicCast system forms its own network if we have other Yamaha devices or speakers.. So we can configure a multi-room sound system, or also a wireless home theater. Or link two MusicCast 20s to sound like a stereo pair (left and right channel) generating a good soundstage, and more volume. If we want more, we can easily add (the App allows it with one touch) a bass cajon to have a "definitive" system.
A power of 40 W and two ways
As we will see later, the MusicCast 20 has pleasantly surprised us with its powerful sound. Actually knowing its insides the surprise should not be so great: it is not very big, but it is bigger than other compact speakers. Inside it hides four speakers in fact. The 30 millimeter diameter dome tweeter (treble) and a mid-woofer (mid and bass) with a 90 millimeter diameter cone. The enclosure is closed (not bass reflex) but two passive speakers (without motor) on either side reinforce the bass frequencies. They are responsible for that feeling of full and powerful sound that we will discuss later. They occupy practically the entire sides and although they are not moved by the internal amplifier directly, they boost the bass output of the 9 cm mid-woofer.
The internal amplifier offers 40W of power, which is a remarkable figure for a speaker of such compact dimensions . They are really two independent power stages: a 15 W dedicated to the tweeter, and a 25 W for the mid and bass. In this way and using active amplification, performance is maximized and distortion is minimized. Each stage directly powers your speaker, without an intermediate passive filter (which steals power) like in traditional cabinets.
As we have commented above, starting up the Yamaha was simple: just plug it in, download the app on the mobile and activate it . In addition to the power socket (cable with a 230 V “eight” connector although it detects the voltage) it has an RJ45 network socket. Two more connectors next to the Ethernet (USB and one miniature) are dedicated to technical service. Physically the Yamaha feels well done, those two long kilos "weigh", and the base has a rubber edge that stabilizes it on the furniture where we put it. A sturdy backplate would allow it to be hung from a wall.
The top has eight touch buttons. Three are for preselection of sources (radios or playlists), another for stop / play, two for volume, one to activate it and another for the wake-up / alarm function. The surface is so smooth and shiny that they are one of those touch controls with which a bit of feedback is lacking, although the LEDs that are there next to it help by lighting up depending on what we play. The entire side is a grill as we say well finished and perhaps we miss some way to disconnect it (it remains idle) but this is common to many of these speakers.
In addition to "intermediating" for the Yamaha to connect to our Wifi network, the MusicCast application serves many more things of course. It is good to know that, as a device that meets the usual standards, we could do without it. For example, once connected, from Spotify open anywhere in the house we could send you music. There, very good, but to control it we do need its native application on the mobile or tablet. And is that if we look for it in our network and we put its IP address in the browser, the Yamaha only gives access to a basic configuration screen (network, firmware and little else).
But the application is friendly and easy , also if we want to use it to put music. And it will be necessary if we want to control more Yamaha speakers in a MusicCast environment (if we have more than one Yamaha speaker). We can update the firmware (it is always a good idea), confirm if we are using it alone, with another MusicCast 20 in linked stereo mode, or even with a bass cajon. In the sound settings , in addition to equalizing treble / mid / bass, we can activate the “Bass Booster” which in this case seems necessary, except that it will not run out of bass. And accessing libraries, whether local or online music services, is straightforward. We mostly tested it with our Tidal and Spotify accounts.
Before going through some of our reference tracks or records to test sound equipment, it is always good to let the equipment play for a few hours or days . Thus the electronics (and the mechanics of the speakers) are "rolled" and we become to their sound. In addition to being able to adjust a little according to where we leave it, how it is oriented, and so on. Internet radios are great, we can choose our local favorite or one from outside. We like to discover stations and music, and that's the best way too ...
In those first hours of use it was clear to us that the MusicCast 20 appreciates the commented Bass Booster . It is activated by default and we also remove it "by default" (it is usually exaggerated). But it is not the typical exaggerated effect: without him the music lost too much body, with him it was perfect at “full”. In fact, we were surprised by how much the Yamaha fills a room or room with sound. Even in a large basement, it allows you to sound it up to volumes where it is difficult to understand each other speaking.
Quality and quantity
Of course if we want to throw a party the Yamaha will be up to the task . Having two linked with a bass box would ensure a very powerful volume for rooms of more than 50 square meters ... and at a contained, surprising price. But besides the quantity, what we liked was the quality of the sound of the Yamaha. He is more into modern and funky music styles, really, but he behaved very well with more, let's say, music-loving music.
Our favorite jazz cuts for example sounded great. The ever-present double bass accompaniment (or protagonist along with the voice in many songs) was neither turned off due to lack of energy, nor blurred by excess. The voices maintained their sweetness and clarity, that is to say that the middle frequencies were just right. And the high end of the spectrum, that is, the highs, benefit from the dedicated tweeter. So no details are lost: it is not just a cymbal or violin, but the small resonances and background noises that help to recreate the environment where the original was recorded. Good job from Yamaha , with a compact speaker whose appearance may go unnoticed as discreet, but whose sound is sure to attract our attention, with many possibilities and at a very reasonable price.
Yamaha MusicCast 20 Datasheet
|Type||Wireless WiFi / Bluetooth Speaker|
|Internal speakers||Two-way, four-drive: 3cm tweeter (treble), 9cm mid-woofer, and dual passive radiator.|
|Maximum power||40W (woofer 25 W and tweeter 15 W).|
|Compatibility||Yamaha MusicCast (stereo or surround). Airplay|
WiFi (2.4 / 5 GHz), Bluetooth (4.2)
|File formats||MP3 / WMA / MPEG-4 AAC: up to 48 kHz / 16-bit, ALAC: up to 96 kHz / 24-bit, FLAC / WAV / AIFF: up to 192 kHz / 24-bit|
|Dimensions||186 x 150 x 130 mm. Weight 2.2 kg|
|Consumption||10 W (nominal), 1.9 W (sleep), 0.3 W (off)|