Sonos killer? Yamaha unleashes MusicCast2 multiroom audio system

Unless you want to do a custom install, Sonos' Music System is generally seen as the top product for delivering audio to multiple rooms in your house. Cisco has made a play in this market with its Linksys by Cisco Wireless Home Audio system, and now Yamaha is adding to the competition with its new MusicCast2 Network Music System.

Unless you want to do a custom install, Sonos' Music System is generally seen as the top product for delivering audio to multiple rooms in your house. Cisco has made a play in this market with its Linksys by Cisco Wireless Home Audio system, and now Yamaha is adding to the competition with its new MusicCast2 Network Music System.

As with Sonos and Cisco's systems, MusicCast2 uses Wi-Fi to connect to your digital audio collection as well as stream music from the Internet using a touchscreen remote and wireless players that can be placed anywhere in your home network's range. The MCX-RC100 Network Music Commander has a 3.5-inch color LCD to control what's playing and where. If you have a compatible Yamaha A/V receiver like the RX-Z7 or RX-V3900, the Commander can control its functions as well.

MusicCast2 offers a choice of two different playing devices for your rooms, one (the MCX-A300 Network Music Player) that needs to be hooked up to speakers and the other (the MCX-P200 Network Music Player) connects to a receiver or other amplified component. One advantage to the latter device is that it can actually control other home theater equipment via its multiple IR outputs. You can also attach iPods and Bluetooth devices to the players, though these require optional accessories. Up to 32 Commanders and Music Players can be used in a single setup.

In terms of audio support, MusicCast delivers the usual suspects: MP3, FLAC, WAV, WMA (though not lossless and Pro files) and AAC (except loseless and secure files). In addition to Internet radio, it can stream the Rhapsody service, but doesn't currently offer Sirius or Pandora.

Yamaha's pricing is basically in line with the competition, which means it isn't exactly cheap—except compared to a custom solution. A package of one Commander and two MCX-A300 players costs $1,199.95; a la carte the Commander costs $499.95 and either version of the Network Music Player is priced at $399.95. The accessories aren't bargains, either, as the YDS-11 iPod dock is $99.95 and the YBA-10 Bluetooth receiver will set you back $129.95.