New Yamaha receivers use MusicCast surround to connect with one or more wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer.

Yamaha’s MusicCast platform has proven one of the most successful at connecting together multiple devices in different rooms for multiroom music playback.

Now the company is extending the system to the movies, connecting together devices in the same room, to enable the use of its successful AV receiver range with wireless speakers in what amounts to an impressive simplification of surround sound for the home.

Other multiroom systems, including Sonos and HEOS, have previously allowed the use of their wireless speakers to supplement the relevant front soundbar product, but Yamaha's implementation of MusicCast Surround with proper AV receivers will allow far more input flexibility, including full HDMI switching, a higher calibre of surround processing and a wider choice of front speaker solutions. 

The new technology appears in Yamaha’s new '85'-series receiver range, including the $795 RX-V485, the $1099 RX-V585 and the $1199 RX-V685. And it’s a fair bet that all future Yamaha receivers above this level will include the MusicCast surround technology. The receivers also operate conventionally for 5.1 or (for the two larger receivers) 7.1-channel surround.

For the rear speakers and subwoofers, Yamaha has released three new wireless speakers, the first to carry the ‘MusicCast’ tag in their headline model numbers.

So for rears you can use a pair of MusicCast 20 speakers ($349 each), or a single central stereo MusicCast 50 ($699). Each of these can operate as a standalone MusicCast music speaker, or be incorporated into a surround system either permanently or ad hoc as required for a big movie or (with the World Cup soccer on the way) nicely timed for a bigscreen sports experience. We gather that the MusicCast receivers will beam to the wireless rears using built-in wireless, rather than stressing your home network with the additional streams. These speakers are also Alexa-compatible, though we await word on whether this functionality will be immediately available in Australia. The two new MusicCast speaker models continue to include Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, and Wi-Fi networking using Yamaha’s excellent MusicCast app.

One question for the future might be whether this technology could be used also in Yamaha's stereo receivers, since using the wireless solution renders the rear amplifier sections of a conventional AV receiver redundant. It would require only surround processing to be incorporated, and potentially HDMI socketry, and of course Yamaha is loaded with expertise on those fronts.

The MusicCast SUB 100 subwoofer can be used with stereo or surround MusicCast systems.

To bring up the bass, Yamaha’s new MusicCast SUB 100 at $599 will also connect wirelessly to the Yamaha receivers to complete a surround set-up. The subwoofer has an 8-inch driver and benefits from Yamaha’s Advanced (YST Yamaha Active Servo Technology) in a modern piano finish.

But it's not just for the movies. The SUB 100 can also operate with the MusicCast 20s in stereo (as shown in the image) or with the MusicCast 50, to create a larger-sounding system.

We gather the front soundstage must be conventionally powered and cabled from the receiver (so that you couldn't for example, use two more MusicCast 20s as front speakers. Nor could you redirect redirect the unused rear amplifiers in the AV receiver to, say, bolster the front output power.

But Yamaha Music Australia has confirmed that soundbars are on the way which can be used with MusicCast Surround, with no separate receiver required.

The new models are expected to launch in Australia from August 2018.

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