Overview -- For under $230, Yamaha's MusicCast 20 Speakers are the smaller versions of the MusicCast 50. Sleek and easy to use, MusicCast 20 Speakers feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, sound much better and bolder than much of its competition, and offer stereo sound if you add a second unit. If you're in the market for a new wireless speaker, these are Highly Recommended.
Wireless speakers are a pretty big trend right now, with lots of options from Sonos, Amazon, Google, and, of course, Yamaha, which offers MusicCast Speakers. We reviewed the larger size MusicCast 50 before, but now it's time for us to dive into the MusicCast 20, which is a smaller version of the MC50, but adds to option for wireless stereo pairing alongside an easy-to-use MusicCast app interface and fantastic sound. That said, at $230 each ($460 for a stereo pair), and lacking voice-commands like the Amazon Echo, the MC20 is on the expensive side of things.
Is the MusicCast 20 the right wireless speaker or two-channel system for you? Let's find out.
MusicCast 20s feature a similarly sleek and modern design as the MusicCast 50, only a bit smaller and lighter. MC20s speakers measure 5-7/8" x 7-3/8" x 5-1/8" and weigh 4.8 pounds, making them easy to fit on any counter or shelf. You have the option to purchase them in a glossy white or black finish as well. For these review purposes, I have the white units.
Most of the front of the speaker is the speaker grill, which looks smooth and glossy with a top white rim that outlines the speaker. The back of the unit has a power input and a screw hole if you so desire to mount the speakers to a wall. The top of the speaker is a white polished top with several buttons, including power, volume, playback, alarm, three different presets to assign, along with LED lights for power, wireless, alarm, and Bluetooth connectivity. The presets are there if you want to easily toggle through various inputs with your devices.
To set up the speakers, all you have to do is plug the power into a wall or power strip, then download the Yamaha MusicCast app and follow the on-screen instructions, which is very easy to do (it comes with illustrations to help out). Simply connect them to your Wi-Fi network and add them to your MusicCast app with the click of a button. If you opt for a pair of MusicCast 20s, also press the Surround/Stereo button, and you're good to go. From then on, you won't really have to head back into the MusicCast app at all, with the exception of changing a speaker out.
All that's left is to choose your audio source. Head to your favorite music or video apps and turn on Bluetooth or Airplay, and your audio will start playing with the added functions of controlling playback and volume from your streaming apps and mobile device.
In terms of other functions, MusicCast 20 speakers don't feature a built-in digital assistant, but if you already own an Alexa device, you can ask it to play music on these speakers. And, if you own a newer Yamaha receiver, you can use the MusicCast 20s as wireless rear/surround speakers.
As far as the sound quality goes, there is quite a bit of power emitting from these small wireless speakers that have a well-balanced sound of lows and highs. The low end is surprisingly deep where bass drums and other low electronic sounds punch through nicely without distortion. Bass guitars are thick and vibrant as well. The mid-range is solid as are the high ranges. That being said, there wasn't the burst of energy or depth of the high ranges in vocals or high notes on other instrumentation. It's not bad, by any means, but has a softer acoustic sound to it. Still, these speakers have enough power to amplify a decent-sized room.
I powered up the MusicCast VINYL 500 and synced it up with these MusicCast 20 speakers to play the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring album. It sounded excellent, to say the least. You could hear the faint drum hits during "The Shire" and "Bag End", which you wouldn't normally notice on a regular digital copy or other devices. That mixed well with the woodwinds and strings very well for a dynamic sound. On the first track "Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All", there are quite a few big crescendos with bass and cymbals during the battle sequence and these little speakers caught all the instruments and percussion moments clearly and with depth. I was definitely satisfied.
I then put on Michael Jackson's "Bad" album to hear the punchy bass guitar on the song "Just Good Friends", which was one of the only duets Michael did with Stevie Wonder. This song slaps the bass constantly and these speakers project each pluck and strum flawlessly with a surprising amount of richness. On top of that, the contrast of these low end sounds perfectly match up with Stevie Wonder's high-end lyrics, which sounded great. Other digital sounds and Michael's gravely rock voice only rounds out this amazing song on every level, which these speakers play very well.
Hitting my Airplay up through my iPhone on iTunes, I played Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street" and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show's "Carry Me, Carrie" song, both of which have their unique sounds. Womack's song has those a ton of those hi-hat cymbals that combined with that 70s soul sound of organs, guitars and Womack's amazing voice. The violin sounds come through the speakers with a natural ease that is soothing to the ears. Then with "Carry Me, Carrie", there is a ton of excellent string guitars that linger on with the raunchy voices of the band, along with some great piano notes throughout. These MusicCast 20 speakers really pick up every instrument well to provide a full and robust sound.
That said, if you want the best out the MusicCast 20s, we'd recommend not only using them as a stereo pair, but also adding in the wireless MusicCast SUB 100, which will extend the lower frequencies with room-filling bass.
The Yamaha MusicCast 20 is an excellent speaker with tons of bells and whistles, and full, natural sound. The low end of bass is powerful and deep where the midrange and highs sound more natural and a bit softer. The Yamaha MusicCast App is super easy to use, even if you need to pair multiple MusicCast components or add in an Amazon Alexa. Add to that, you can use these for stereo sound or rear speakers in a 5.1 setup. That being said, there is no voice assistant whatsoever yet with Yamaha. Still, with the price of under $250, the many features and options, and sleek design, this is a great option that sounds better than most on the market. Highly Recommended!