Yamaha MusicCast WX-010 Wireless Speaker Review by mark2410
Thanks to Yamaha UK for the sample.
TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/827742/yamaha-musiccast-wx-010-wireless-speaker-review-by-mark2410#post_13057867
First Impressions: Now I’ve already played with the WX-030, which is the bigger brother to the WX-010 so I’ve met the wireless, Airplay, MusicCast stuff before. Though this time it’s a little bit different. You see the 030, I only had one of them sent to me and it has a feature where you can pair two of them together to make a proper stereo pair. While the 030 had no problems belting out volume and power there was zero stereo separation and it obviously all came from one point. It was capable but unless you put it front of your face it was all off to one side and that for me meant it was background music only. So when Yamaha said would I like the 010 and might I like two, I said oh hell yes I would thank you very much.
On opening up the box these were even smaller than I thought they would be, mostly shorter. Heavy little things though. The physically are much like their siblings. Ethernet port, touch sensitive buttons up top and wall mount attachments on the back. Oh and obviously they have a power cable in. Plugging them both in I power them up and start the MusicCast app. Having both set them up then I linked them on the app with the little chain icon. Hmm nope that’s not making them left and right. Hmm I don’t seem to see how you do it. 2 min of google later I see how you do it, you have to held things on the speaker buttons themselves to turn them into a stereo pair. With that done I fire up some tunes. Nice. These don’t have the wildly excitable bass the 030 had, curiously they are quite crisp in the treble. I wasn’t expecting that. Gosh there are rather well balanced for dinky little things. Hmm has Yamaha chosen to steer away from the heavy bass of the 030 to appeal to the more pure listener or is it they see these are much more likely to live in a pair? These really aren’t sounds like dinky little speakers.
Source: Phones via MusicCast and Itunes via Airplay.
Setup: Okay so this wasn’t the first time I’ve set up some Yamaha MusicCast speakers and the basic, on their own bit is super-duper stupid simple. Even my parents managed it with no instructions from me. The pairing bit, making them a stereo pair I did need to look up but once I know what to do, it was easy. You just turn them off, then hold two buttons on the loft one for 5 seconds, then the lights flash. Then you move to the right one, press two buttons for 5 seconds, then its lights flash, then they pair up. Easy peasy.
Inputs: You have two, well three options. Wired, via the Ethernet sockets on them or wirelessly. That can be by either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. So you can stream things to them directly from your phone if you really want to. However really where they shine is when you hook them up to your home network via Wi-Fi. Then you can make use of the MusicCast functionality or the rather common Airplay. Since I use Itunes for me this was super easy to just pick the now one speaker option, once a pair they show as one combined option. If you go with the MusicCast app in your phone then you have a heap of options. They have Napster, Spotify, Juke and Qobuz readily there and of course you can stream things from your phone or from your own home network. Then you have Net Radio which frankly, I say avoid. Not because it’s bad, no no but because there are 80 bajillion stations. Sure it’s not super hard to scroll about on your phone but there are just so many it’s like sitting you on a beach and telling you to choose a grain of sand.
One small thing though, I did find myself wanting a little 3.5mm input jack. I rather thought that these would make such lovely little speakers to flank a TV. Now I believe you can use them as rears with some soundbars and receivers. Still would make a great little set for a bedroom or a nice hotel room. Hopefully it’s a feature that will come to the next version.
Outputs: Yes, though these are speakers their Bluetooth capabilities can be used to output to a pair of Bluetooth headphones if you like. To me I’m not totally sure why you would really want to do that but hey, the option is there if you want it.
Controls: On the units themselves the controls are basic and simple. You have power, volume down, volume up and a play/pause button. Very simple and easy to use. The rest of the control options are utilised thorough the MusicCast control app on your phone. You have a lot of options available to you, you can make use of yet it remains clear and obvious to use. I still think a little IR, really basic controller would be nice for volume control but you know, your phone is always close by anyway.
Aesthetics: I’m not super totally sold on the white, or not so much white but more a light grey. They are pleasant though, easy on the eye and pretty unobtrusive. Hmm I think I rather prefer speakers myself to be more eye-catching, a focal point in the room and these don’t do that. They are pleasant, gentle room additions that blend in well. Not so perfect for an audio centric room but for a shared living room or a bed room, these are going to have a high WAF I should think.
MusicCast: This is Yamaha’s new, well not so newish anymore, multi-room audio do dah, all in one, home audio thingy. The idea being you have lots of MusicCast stuff then they all integrated together so you can control everything, anywhere in the house, with your phone, wherever you are. Want to stream the TV audio from your Livingroom AV receiver to the Kitchen where you’re preparing for a dinner party, yep just send the audio to your MusicCast speaker in the kitchen. Then when your dinner guests arrive you can have every room playing music, the same all in sync with each other. Or you can have each room playing something completely different, from any source you feel like. In short the more MusicCast things you have the more versatile it becomes. However if I’m really honest, for me the big boon was Airplay. I’m not a big Apple fan but I do use Itunes so it’s just so easy for me to use and send stuff wherever. It really does seem such a clever system but I think unless Yamaha elect to send me a whole house worth of stuff, fingers crossed, then it’s hard to really fully immerse myself in it all. Still what I’ve seen I like. It’s really versatile and it seems to work very nicely, yet its real boon is that Yamaha make tons and tons of stuff. No to bash Sonos but they have a pretty limited range in comparison. Then not only do Yamaha make a lot of stuff, they make good stuff.
Controls: Great. I really can’t fault things. They were super simple, easy. Also the app that they use was really good and made playing about with sources and stuff really simple.
Sound Quality: Well have you ever heard anything by Yamaha that was crap? No, me neither. I mean I can’t state that they never ever have, I mean statistically they must have had a few duds over the years right? Still this a company that doesn’t just make speakers or AV equipment. They even make the damn instruments that are used to create the music in the first place. They make everything in between too it seems. From Grand piano’s to Drum kits and some things I really weren’t aware of like metallophones. My point is Yamaha has a breadth of musical experience that surpasses pretty much everyone.
Lows: The speaker is small, no way around the fact they are small. They quote the woofer/mid driver as being 9cm but it then has a dual bass radiator in each unit. This is a rather unusual set up but it would appear to work, making the effective surface area of the radiator much bigger than the 9cm driver could alone produce. So the bass, for suck a little thing is rather more linear than presumed. The 030 had boosted up the bass to appeal to a more mass audience but this, this hasn’t. Is this because they really expect these to run in pairs so they don’t need to thump out some much themselves? I don’t know the thinking but I approve. This is really rather good. The linearity is not at all bad, it does fall away very low down but there isn’t any great heap of mid/bass leaping out at you to distract you. It even has a valiant little stab at the bass line in “Your Father And I” which is no mean feat. You know if you added in a USB connection or 3.5mm input these would make a cracking little desktop set up.
Tonally it’s rather neutral in flavour, the inclination to warm things up is easy with something small to allude to more bass at the expense of clarity but they haven’t. The bass stays rather neutral, polite and rather articulate even when you push it. Nice.
Mids: What they do best, I can say that with some degree of ease too. If you make speakers of the dimensions used here they easy bit to get right, to really nail, is the mids. They are great little speakers vocally. Rather neutrally presented, perhaps a tiny sliver of added warmth just to nudge them to a more relaxed and easy listening style. What’s more you can push them, and I mean stupidly so for such diminutive things and they don’t begin to crap out. You know when a speaker starts to peak in regions it wasn’t at lower volumes. These things stay perfectly steady. They are a hint middy in their presentation too which I’m good with. Details in the vocals are nice, not the most explicit with that tiny bit of warmth but they are nicely smooth. Some soft jazz. Norah sounds great on them, with that longing and lingering things she does these little things really work great. It makes me want to have a roaring fire going and dim the lights. Okay maybe just putting a fire background on the TV and whacking up the heating. Their tonality is just perfect for that comforting feeling.
Highs: Well with the 030 they were rather polite up top and strangely the 010 isn’t. The tweeter has been cranked up and is quite prominent. Actually to the point where I think it’s too prominent. Not that it’s bad in its accuracy or quality but, well, the treble is the bit that’s most hard to do. You feed these some hard brittle treble and with their metallic edge they will batter it out at you. Sure it gives to some an added impression of clarity because it’s so square edged but…… well I’m sensitive to that and I found if you feed it hard, brittle and adamant treble it’s just hard. If you stick to beautifully recorded works, classical stuff especially all sounds quite wonderful, and the balance is perfect. Not unlike some of the Etys I’ve been playing with recently. These however aren’t as refined as they nor are they as likely to only encounter great quality music. These are capable for sure but…..when, and I do mean when, they encounter rubbish they aren’t terribly shy about letting you know.
Soundstaging: Okay, on their own, duh it’s small. So yeah get a pair and then you get some real stereo separation and the sound field is soooooooo much nicer. Each speaker isn’t massive so don’t put the too far apart but they manga a rather convincing sound scape. These are perfect for a little desktop set up. Now in volume terms, you can if you want make them VERY loud. But don’t, they are what they are and no matter how loud you make them you won’t mistake them for a grand orchestra on your desk. Enjoy them for the pleasing rendition they can give you, don’t play silly buggers with the volume dial.
Volume and Power: Volume they have absolutely no shortage of. You want to piss off people with them you can, the bass isn’t as able quite to keep up as there are plain limits what drivers, dual radiators or not, can do. Power, well, well they aren’t the most powerful sounding things ever. They don’t have an artificially boosted oomph to hold you in awe of them. These strike me as a more sonically pure item, for those who care about audio but have a wife that doesn’t share that passion.
Dynamics: Good. They are not intended to be driven like crazy so the dynamics can feel a mite tamed, which they are but good. Yeah, good I say, these are for grownups to appreciate things and they may not be best suited to going from a tiny little ping of a triangle then launching into Carmina Burana. These are small speakers and they are not trying to pretend they are vast behemoths. They can go from quiet to loud but their size, that soundstaging and power mixed in isn’t earth shattering. If these could do what a 20 grand pair of speakers the same size you could do, full sized speakers wouldn’t exist would they?
Value: So each of the WX-010’s come in at £150, or if you buy the two pack you seem to get a little, and I mean little discount, coming in at £290. If you took that £300 and looked to pair of speakers you could do better, you really could. But then you’d need an amp, then you’d need cables, then a source input then get the good lady wife (or husband) to agree to it all. These are way more compact and do away with all the bits of things training about or any complexity about you having to turn on 3 things to make it work. You just whip your phone out of your pocket and you’re away. Also if you want them as your own little music set up then you can whip them out and you’re pretty much done.
Conclusion: The WX-010’s are filled with a lots of great qualities, the bass quality on them is surprisingly good given their cost and more so for their size. Those dual radiators give it much more surface area and it means they don’t do what the 030 did and crank up the bass hump. Its linearity is much better than I thought would be present though at the same time the treble is rather more abundant that I expected. While its quality is good for the pricing it is hard edged and I can’t say I love it. If you’re going to be relatively abundant such as here then you need be great, delicate nuanced stuff and these are brighter and harder than I would expected or would have opted for myself.
Treble aside there isn’t much I can hold up and say is an issue, even the treble isn’t exactly deal breaking an issue. Though it is a curious thing, Yamaha have been so polite with the bass and reasonable why have they not gone for a more relaxed treble? The way it is it’s a little bit hard and in treble heavy tracks I just find it that bit too hard. However I’m probable sitting with them a lot more on axis than most users would. Most probably want them for much more subdued playback and hidden so the extra bight may then counteract such things. Yet they otherwise worked so nicely as a pair, it a good price too but in that role I really would have liked a manual aux input. Perhaps that’s the issue, I can’t quite decide what role I’d like them to slot into so maybe the idea is they do a bit of everything?
So would I / should you buy one? One, no. sure you could get one and use it on its own for background music but it really more comes into its own when it’s a pair. So would I get two? Maybe. I want to say yes but if only they also had an aux in. Running off my computer, they worked great for Itunes and my music playback worked great. However to use it for non Itunes originating audio too and that’s less easy to work. So I couldn’t just have them on their own but they are so nice sounding and soooooooo compact. It particular their bass is excellent given their diminutive dimensions. So really the question for you is do you want their fancy MusicCast abilities, streaming music form your device or from something online. For these music only abilities then they work great and the whole integration thing, paring up various rooms at this price and size you get great audio quality for such a little package.