Yamaha MusicCast WXA-50 Amplifier and WX-010 Speaker Review Page 2

I used the amp with my desktop system of Era Acoustics Design 4 speakers and Pinnacle Baby Boomer sub. Signal sources included a couple of Windows 10 desktop computers and an iPad mini tablet.

Streaming Away
Yamaha’s WXA-50 amp is rated to deliver 55 watts per channel into an 8-ohm load with both channels driven. The ERA speakers, while rated at a nominal 8 ohms, are not particularly efficient; S&V’s predecessor Home Theater measured them at 82.5 decibels sensitivity when I reviewed them in 2006, and the Design 4’s recommended power spec was 50 to 120 watts, placing the WXA-50 near the low end of that range. Once the two were paired, the amp could run the Era speakers to a volume more than adequate for near-field listening, though just adequate for in-room listening. Being driven this way, and placed on its side, it emitted a fair amount of heat from inside the cabinet, which contains both the amplifier and integrated power supply components—no outboard wall wart or brick, here. There are vent holes on the top and both sides, so it should be able to breathe whether placed vertically (on the supplied stands) or horizontally.


The first thing I streamed was my Richard Thompson “radio” feed on Pandora. Fairport Convention’s cover of Roger McGuinn’s “Ballad of Easy Rider” showed off the amp’s crisp clarity, which in turn showed off Thompson’s running guitar commentary on Sandy Denny’s ageless vocal. The amp was on what I’d call the colorful side of bright, as opposed to the thin side, which gave it a lively but not fatiguing character that helped keep inherently warmbalanced tracks like “The Weight” by The Band from turning murky. Running without a sub, the amp afforded limited bass, though that’s what the sub-out is for.

As several similar products do, the MusicCast app supports Spotify Connect, which requires a premium subscription. Users of the free Spotify are still able to use Bluetooth or a wired input to feed the amp and, via the MusicCast network, the wireless speaker. The MusicCast app coordinates with the Music app on iOS devices via AirPlay. On my first try, I couldn’t find the icon that triggers the dropdown device-select menu, but reinstalling MusicCast jarred something loose; I was prompted to allow access to music on the iPad.

Getting MusicCast to pull music off my two network-connected desktop PCs was a struggle, in part because the media-sharing settings in Windows 10 were unfamiliar to me. Once I got them all on speaking terms, the app seemed shaky when accessing the larger of the two libraries. Sometimes it would freeze, albeit without interrupting the musical flow, if I tried to scroll a long list too quickly. The least extreme solution to unfreezing it was to give the iPad a hard reboot. Another method was to uninstall and reinstall MusicCast, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds; the devices in all three zones obligingly remembered their names and the network password. I learned to avoid the problem by scrolling slowly. Yamaha’s product team was unfamiliar with the issue and indicated during our fact check process that they had just pushed a new MusicCast app version (2.2) that might potentially help. Unfortunately, I no longer had the gear on hand to verify if it had any effect.

The WX-010 speaker sounded reasonably good for its size, and voiced for low to moderate volumes; there was a slight but inoffensive presence-region emphasis that was noticeable only at high volumes. (It can be adjusted out in the sound settings if desired.) Two speakers can be paired for stereo listening. The app also makes it easy to designate a “link master” and stream whatever it’s playing to the other zones.


The Yamaha WXA-50 amp has a pleasingly crisp sound and allows entry into the MusicCast multiroom system with your favorite bookshelf speakers at reasonable cost. Both sound and value rate as excellent. (Adding MusicCast to an existing amp or sound system via the WXC-50 preamp further drops that cost of entry to $350.) I docked the amp half a star in features for lacking wired headphone connectivity, something I expect to find on any amp (or preamp) at this price. After all, Yamaha provides it even on the company’s lowest-priced stereo receiver (R-S202, $150). The WX-010 speaker provided adequate small-speaker performance for spreading music around the house for non-critical listening—right in line with my expectations.

With Denon’s HEOS, DTS’s Play-Fi, and other recent entries challenging the market position long dominated by Sonos, consumers pondering a move into no-fuss multiroom network audio systems have more choices than ever—but Yamaha’s MusicCast deserves a spot on your short list, especially if you’ve already invested in recent Yamaha products with MusicCast capabilities or plan to do so. It sounds lovely, and it works.

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Scarriere's picture

I've had the WXA-50 amp since November. I have Paradigm Atoms and a small Yamaha sub and it's plenty for my bedroom. I stream albums from my iPhone and my wife streams Spotify from hers.
I don't understand how there were issues in the review. Maybe it plays nicer with Apple products? I don't know.
I'm very happy with this and would recommend it to friends or anyone interested in it.