I recently went to the Yamaha Motor HQ in Milan. Not to look at motorbikes mind, although there was a lot of Moto GP machinery there, but to get a preview of Yamaha’s AV and hi-fi range for the rest of 2016.
It was a flying visit – a 6-am Heathrow check-in, returning the next day – but pretty fascinating none the less.
The event, which attracted media from all over Europe, featured a raft of senior Yamaha management. Jun Nishimura, AV Business Unit Director of Yamaha Corporation Japan, opened with a business update, followed by an introduction by Koichi Tsuji, General Manager of Yamaha’s Motor Sports Development Division.
There was even a taped welcome from The Doctor, Valentino Rossi. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it in person, but he sent one of his bikes, so that was OK. There was also a segment hosted by Fabrice Laurent, Director, Europe AV Division, Yamaha Music Europe GmbH, and finally, a presentation by Michael Geise, Product Manager, for Yamaha’s Europe AV Division.
“The MusicCast contribution to Yamaha’s total AV business is now more than 40 per cent,” revealed Jun Nishimura. He said there were a number of reasons for its success – “the variety of products and solutions, allowing customers to select by lifestyles and enthusiasm,” then build and sound quality. “Because we develop in house, we can offer excellent stability,” he added. “Yamaha has some twenty years of experience with network products.” Not many people know that.
Of the new product launches, I particularly likes the look of two new ‘hub products’, the 70w stereo WXA-50 amp and WXC-50 pre-amp. These are ultra compact units, that will retail for £400 and £300 respectively this summer. You can use them for standalone hi-fi system; both components support 24-bit 192 kHz Hi-Res Audio streaming, and have AirPlay compatibility with Bluetooth, or upgrade other bits of kit.
The pre-amp can be used to turn any AV receiver or amplifier into a MusicCast component, while the WXA-50 amplifier is small enough to be wall-mounted behind a TV on a shared Vesa mount. Add a pair of loudspeakers and you not only have a kick-ass Tv sound system, but you can effectively turn the TV into a MusicCast client.
The company also announced an expanded soundbar range. Joining the Dolby Atmos enabled YSP-5600 and YSP-1600, is the new £900 7.1 channel YSP-2700 Digital Sound Projector with wireless subwoofer and an entry-level soundbar, the £350 YAS-306.
The YSP-2700 utilises an array of 16 controllable drivers to steer and reflect sound around your listening room. The system has been around for a number of years, and works well, particularly in boxy reflective rooms.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip though came from the brand’s musical instrument division, which unveiled the Disklavier Enspire, the first multi-room player piano with built-in MusicCast.
Used with the brand’s Disklavier Radio streaming service, you can actually have Jamie Cullum virtually playing the piano around your house. This was touted as a good thing. “We want to turn your entire home into a true concert hall,” declared Michael Geise. The multiroom piano is available from August.