All of the new Yamaha products feature high-resolution audio decoding and playback.
A leader in the development of Soundbars, Yamaha who were also one of the first Companies to sell a top end sound bar in Australia, has announced two models that include the industry’s first active soundbar announced to date with object-based surround decoding.
They include the world’s first Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar, the YSP-5600 which will retail for $2,299.
Similar to other soundbars in Yamaha’s YSP range, the YSP-5600 uses Yamaha’s patented Intellibeam calibration system, which detects your room’s characteristics to help deliver the Atmos effect.
This means that instead of more traditional in-ceiling units or add-on module speakers, Yamaha reckons you’ll just need one soundbar, which will be tempting for those short on space.
The YSP-5600 packs 44 array speakers, 12 of which are responsible for reproducing the Dolby Atmos ceiling speakers, alongside two built-in subwoofers and an optional separate wireless sub, for delivering extra punch to the low-end.
DTS:X will also be supported later via a firmware update once the technology becomes readily available.
In launching full 24Bit capability across their new range Yamaha is wisely exploiting, one of Sonos’ few weaknesses: Support for high-definition audio.
Where Sonos products can support audio bit streams with up to 16-bit resolution and maximum sampling rates of 48kHz (that’s roughly CD quality), Yamaha says its MusicCast will be capable of streaming 24-bit Apple Lossless files with up sampling rates up to 96kHz, and 24-bit FLAC, AIFF, and WAV files with sampling rates as high as 192kHz.
Most MusicCast models will also support “single-device playback” of DSD streams up to 5.6MHz. (DSD-Direct-Stream Digital-was developed by Sony and Philips for the Super Audio CD platform.
SACD was introduced in 1999, and never achieved mainstream commercial success, but it is prized by audiophiles for its fidelity.)
Yamaha’s system can stream a DSD file over a wireless network to one MusicCast device-you won’t be able to link multiple units together in this mode. Other codecs-including MP3, WMA, and even MPEG4-will also be supported.
In launching its first wireless multizone-audio products in about a decade, the company plans by year’s end to offer several additional audio products featuring proprietary MusicCast technology.
The products include audio/video receivers (AVRs), a two-channel stereo receiver, a pair of powered left-right monitor speakers, two soundbars, an under-TV speaker base, an A/V preamp processor, and a single-chassis tabletop speaker available in two colours.
Unlike Sonos, Yamaha says all MusicCast products will also support streaming music over Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate): From a Bluetooth device (such as a phone or tablet) to a MusicCast product, and from a MusicCast to a Bluetooth product (headphones, speakers, etc.). There is no support, however, for the popular Bluetooth codec AptX codec.
What’s in a name? Yamaha first applied the MusicCast name to a wireless-multiroom audio system unveiled in 2003. It featured a 160GB hard drive/CD ripper that distributed music to an amplifier-equipped tabletop clients.
The clients would drive any pair of passive speakers.
What was missing was a generation of smartphones and software to control the Yamaha devices using apps similar to what the Company has released this week.
A premium home-audio Company who has been a major player in the Australian specialist audio market the Japanese Company is now moving to differentiate itself from most competitors by targeting customers who don’t want to play music for background listening, said Russell Wykes Business and Marketing Manager at Yamaha Australia, the are also deliverng 24Bit audio.
These consumers have a passion for music and movies, enjoy technology and gadgets, and want simplicity but accept “a little more complexity to also get more performance and versatility,” he said during a press preview in Sydney.
The target customers also own a sizable music library, sometimes play CDs, recently started using streaming music services, want surround sound in their main entertainment system, and want to add music to other rooms, he continued. “We know our customer,” he said.
All of the products, however, also feature stereo Bluetooth with AAC to appeal to a secondary target of consumers who are drawn to Bluetooth’s simplicity, Wykes said.
The potential: The market for Wi-Fi-based multiroom-audio systems has grown crowded in recent years, and Sonos enjoyed more than a 90 percent share of retail-level dollar sales in 2014, Yamaha said.
Despite this Wykes sees plenty of potential for Yamaha, as only limited number of households use or have purchased a wireless multiroom system.
As a top player in component home audio, Yamaha enjoys “broad brand awareness with a strong fan base” among the types of consumers that the company is targeting, he added.
The features: MusicCast technology streams music from networked computers, NAS drives, mobile devices, and any sources connected to a MusicCast product, including USB sticks, turntables, CD players, and TVs. In a MusicCast system, up to 10 different MusicCast devices can play 10 different songs simultaneously, though a two- or three-zone AVR could send one of those streams via wired connection to additional rooms.
Like other Wi-Fi multiroom systems, all functions, including song and source selection, are controlled from a mobile-device app.
All MusicCast components decode such high-resolution formats as Apple Lossless (ALAC) up to 96 kHz/24-bits as well as FLAC, AIFF and WAV files up to 192 kHz /24-bits. All devices play DSD files except for the single-chassis tabletop speaker and the two soundbars. DSD files are down converted for playback on those devices.
Via Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, up to three MusicCast devices can stream high-res 192/24 files simultaneously. For simultaneous playback on additional devices, the system will down-res a high-res file to prevent the Wi-Fi network from jamming up. If all devices use an Ethernet connection, up to 10 devices at a time will play high-res files.
One high-res limitation occurs in link mode, which lets users send the same song to multiple devices at a time. DSD isn’t available with link mode, so users are limited to sending a single DSD song to only one device at a time. Nonetheless, users can still stream different DSD songs simultaneously to different devices.
MusicCast also offers the following:
*Each MusicCast device incorporates embedded Rhapsody, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify Connect, and vTuner streaming services.
*All products are equipped with Bluetooth and the ability to retransmit a Bluetooth stream from a mobile device over Wi-Fi or Ethernet to other MusicCast products in the house.
*A TV connected to a MusicCast soundbar can stream TV audio to a tabletop speaker in the kitchen.
*Bluetooth transmitters in all MusicCast devices send music to Bluetooth headphones.