Wireless multi-room speaker systems continue to increase in popularity to the point that they are become viable alternatives to the more traditional 5.1-channel speaker systems. Yes, the audio quality of wireless speakers cannot match a wired setup especially when a home theater receiver is in the picture but casual listeners just don’t mind especially if they are just streaming from popular services like Spotify. Then there is an issue of cost. It is true that home theater receivers have been lacking in innovation and focusing on making sure it works at its maximum potential when paired with modern home theater equipment including the latest 4K TVs and Blu-ray players. The Yamaha RX-V679 wants consumers to think otherwise by bringing a huge feature that aims squarely at the wireless multi-room speaker market.
About the Yamaha RX-V679
The Yamaha RX-V679 is an upper-midrange 7.2-channel Yamaha home theater receiver released in 2015. It is actually part of a family of five different RX-V79 receivers with the vast majority focusing on improved wireless capabilities. Yamaha fans will immediately be familiar with the design. It has 5 HDMI ports on the back and a single HDMI port on the front. It first retailed at $650 but can now be purchased for less since it is expected for Yamaha to announce new models for 2016.
Comparison with the Yamaha RX-V677
The Yamaha RX-V677 is last year’s model and while it shares many of the traits of the newer RX-V679, the Yamaha RX-V679 is a huge upgrade in the audio front thanks to the new MusicCast platform. MusicCast is Yamaha’s weapon against wireless speakers and it may convince potential owners to not opt for a separate wireless audio system because the RX-V679 (and most other Yamaha models in the 2015 family) is the first building block. It serves as the central hub to the whole thing and all you need to do to complete that wireless audio experience is to get a special Yamaha wireless speaker that supports MusicCast. Yamaha even went as far as offering a bundle which includes the WX-030 wireless speaker. Getting the bundle is actually a smart decision as it saves you money which is important given the $250 price of the speaker.
Rather than relying on a proprietary wireless protocol, the Yamaha RX-V679 uses Wi-Fi to link the receiver to the wireless speakers. Like any standard multi-room system concept, you can buy several of these speakers and place them in different rooms. The new MusicCast mobile app for iOS and Android ties it all together enabling you to stream music and have it heard on all connected MusicCast speakers. There are sound bars that support MusicCast too and because the main hub is a home theater receiver it is also possible to experience wireless multi-room speaker experiences beyond music. Playing a Blu-ray movie across different wireless speakers may not seem practical but it is nice that the Yamaha RX-V679 can do that.
Another unique thing about MusicCast is its support for Bluetooth. In fact, the RX-V679 has Bluetooth onboard which is something that its predecessor lacked. This opens up some interesting tricks such as playing music from a smartphone to the Yamaha RX-V679 via Bluetooth and then wirelessly streaming to wireless products. On the flipside, the RX-V679 can also stream out to Bluetooth speakers.
The last major new addition is full compliance with all the latest video content standards. This means all HDMI ports have the 2.0a specification which opens up HDR support. Three of the HDMI inputs and the HDMI output have HDCP 2.2 support which is necessary to enjoy 4K content without worrying about restrictions.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
It is worth noting that cheaper receivers like the $450 RX-479 come baked with MusicCast too but stepping up to the Yamaha RX-V679 doesn’t just mean superior audio quality. It also offers the old-fashioned way of providing music to another room – Zone 2 support. Zone 2 support will always be a huge deal because you only need a pair of stereo speakers. Those speakers alone should be cheaper than a MusicCast speaker and better sounding too. Plus, Zone 2 can play back an entirely different source without affecting the main source. The RX-V679 is also the cheapest 2015 Yamaha speaker to come with upscaling support allowing 1080p content to look better on a 4K display.
In addition to the MusicCast app, the AV Controller app remains as a free separate download for iOS and Android devices. You can still use this app to control various functions of the receiver remotely over Wi-Fi. While there is no PC or Mac app, there is a WebBrowser Control feature which utilizes your desktop browser to do any remote configuring or even remote streaming.
The Yamaha RX-V679 has plenty of enabled wireless technologies including AirPlay support for Apple fans and independent streaming support for Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, vTuner and SiriusXM. If you have any active computers or NAS components hooked up to the local network, you can have the RX-V679 stream from those sources too.
Because the RX-V679 has the same power output (105 watts) and similar underlying technologies as its predecessor, the overall performance is the same for the most part. It is recommended though to upgrade the receiver to the latest firmware so you can take advantage of the HDR feature. If your TV supports it, HDR provides a dramatic boost to the picture quality. The Compressed Music Enhancer feature has been extended to support Bluetooth as well so you don’t have to be so concerned with audio quality if you like to stream from your smartphone.
• MusicCast can serve as the first step for multi-room wireless audio
• Built-in Bluetooth is finally here in this series and improved
• HDMI 2.0a ready.
• MusicCast limited to MusicCast-enabled components
• No noticeable improvements in audio quality compared to its predecessor.
Those starting a home theater system from scratch will best benefit from the Yamaha RX-V679 . You can slowly start from a simple 5.1-speaker configuration, later expand to 7.1-speaker if you like or go full on MusicCast if you don’t mind buying a separate speaker which you can put anywhere in the house.