With Bluetooth and AirPlay on board, each MusicCast component can work as a standalone unit. But of course the abilities are massively multiplied by connecting them to your network, to each other, and to Yamaha’s control app for MusicCast.
You do this by holding the ‘Connect’ button on each unit in turn for three seconds, which starts their status light flashing green and activates their own local Wi-Fi hotspot. You connect your smart device to this Wi-Fi, upon which you’re prompted to identify your preferred home network and enter the password, then wait while the unit connects. Return your own device to the home network and the device should then appear in the MusicCast app.
Unlike some systems where you need enter your Wi-Fi details only for the first device, with MusicCast we needed to enter the full Wi-Fi set-up information for each device in turn.
Our four test units all connected successfully, eventually. We gave the soundbar and the N500s a wired Ethernet connection to the network, which made a near-instant connection and skipped the whole Wi-Fi procedure.
The others were slower, with significant waits while the app waited to ‘make the connection’; both of the units on Wi-Fi - the WX-080 and the ISX-80 - required multiple attempts. The ISX-80 failed to connect twice before suddenly joining the system during the third attempt. But all worked eventually, so persevere.
Once connected, you name the device as a room, and choose a picture from Yamaha’s impossibly beautiful home shots (yes, our living room and kitchen look just like that, sure). But under ‘Room Settings’ you can choose an actual image from your smart device’s photo library, and an app update came through while we were reviewing so that you can now shoot your room pic straight from the app (scroll ALL the way to the bottom for this option).
The combination of room pics forms one of the best looking screens of any multiroom control app, although having just one or two rooms can look a little lonely on a large tablet screen - Yamaha certainly encourages you to extend your MusicCast system! To help with that, the latest app update introduced the ability to pinch and unpinch to change the size of your room tiles and so optimise the available space.
While your selection of Yamaha’s room shots will appear on all control devices you use, currently any room shots you take yourself will only appear on the device that took them, not porting to other control devices - so when we moved from iPad to iPod touch, we had to take a fresh set of pictures all over again. We gather porting of user images will come in a future update.
The system lost two of our own room images twice early on, but the replacements seemed to stick.
We should mention here that on several occasions units became unavailable from the MusicCast app, their names turned red (the picture was still displayed), and declared ‘not found’. When we also had some problems linking units (experiencing a full second delay or no sound at all from linked units), Yamaha kindly examined the impressively detailed diagnostics available through the MusicCast app and declared the most likely cause being poor Wi-Fi signal for one or two of the units. We gave the little WX-030 an Ethernet network connection, and subsequently had no further problems. So top points for diagnosis, but it’s worth mentioning that the unit was only one vertical room from a reasonable quality N-type router, and we have had many other WI-Fi speakers working in that position without any problems.
So if not entirely smooth sailing on the connection front, the procedure is simple and, with a little patience, was entirely successful.
Here are the links to the rest of our extended MusicCast review:
Other MusicCast reviews on AVHub include: