Yamaha Seeks Custom Advantage, Demos Wireless Turntable

Yamaha wants to make sure it’s part of your custom-installed multiroom-audio or home-control system, so it came to the CEDIA Expo with its latest installation-friendly products, including a four-zone MusicCast streaming amplifier and a flagship AV preamp that incorporates proprietary artificial intelligence (both pictured in the rack above).

The company also announced that custom AV integrators will be able to integrate wired and wireless MusicCast multiroom-audio products into ELAN home-control systems. Yamaha products can also be controlled via Control4, RTI, and others.

Just to be different, the company demonstrated a wireless-multiroom turntable, the $699-suggested MusicCast Vinyl 500. It distributes music over Wi-Fi from a vinyl record to MusicCast-equipped wireless multiroom speakers, AV receivers and soundbars placed throughout the house. On top of that, you can plug it into a legacy hi-fi system to add MusicCast, AirPlay, and Bluetooth streaming sources to the system.

The products, said Mike Hine, senior manager of product strategy, underscore the “performance, flexibility and intelligence” of Yamaha’s range of audio products.

For installed multiroom-audio systems, Yamaha is showing its $2,699-suggested MusicCast XDA-QS5400RK quad-streaming (QS) multiroom amplifier and a companion multiroom expansion amp, the $1,699 XDA-AMP5400RK. Both are due in November. The slim, 1U-tall rack-mountable QS streams music to four zones from Cloud-based music services, from music libraries stored on computers and mobile devices, and from external connected sources, such as TVs and turntables. Its 8x50-watt amplifier (rated into 8 ohms at 1kHz with 0.9% THD and two channels driven) powers a mix of in-wall, in-ceiling, and installed outdoor speakers.

Because it’s built on Yamaha’s MusicCast platform, the QS integrates with a wide array of Wi-Fi-equipped MusicCast products, including active speakers, AV receivers, and soundbars, all controlled from a Yamaha app. Supported Cloud-based services are Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, SiriusXM Music for Business, TIDAL, Deezer, and Napster. The QS also streams thousands of Internet radio stations and supports 192kHz/24-bit high-res audio.

Key installation-friendly features include dual Ethernet ports to daisychain up to eight units to distribute music to up to 32 zones. The companion expansion amp, also rated at 8x50 watts, can be used to expand installations to cover more rooms.

With both components, individual channels can be bridged to deliver higher combined output to individual zones.

For high-end luxury home-theater installs, Yamaha’s flagship Aventage CX-A5200 AV preamp at $2,699 will be available this month with 7.2.4-channel processing of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound tracks. It will be followed in December by a companion $2,899 MX-A5200 amplifier rated at 11x150 watts into 8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz at 0.06% THD with two channels driven.

Like three of the company’s Aventage AV receivers, the AV preamp incorporates proprietary artificial intelligence, called Yamaha Surround:AI, to automatically optimize sound on a scene-by-scene basis. Five times per second, Surround:AI analyzes key audio characteristics in a scene, such as the presence of dialog, background music, ambient sounds, and the degree of sound effects. The preamp then compares the scene’s audio characteristics to a reference database and automatically processes the sound.

As a result, Yamaha contends that dialog becomes more intelligible in scenes with lots of background sounds, music sounds more musical in scenes with major music scores, and surround sound is optimized in scenes with dramatic surround and height effects. “For background atmospherics, you feel like you’re in the scene,” said Hine. “And it brings out the emotion of music.”

The CX-A5200 integrates with major home-control systems and features three HDMI outputs: two for home theater rooms with a flat-screen TV for daytime viewing and a video projector for nighttime viewing. The third sends audio and video to a TV in another room. The CX-A5200 passes through 4K video with up to BT 2020 color gamut in the HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG HDR formats.