in ,

Yamaha WXC-50 Streaming Pre-Amp: all you need, nothing you don’t.

Yamaha WXC-50 Review

I bought the Yamaha WXC-50 with my own *hard earned*. Out for a while, a dutiful blend of streaming and pre amplification and great for reviews. Being someone as far from a HiFi snob as it’s possible to be, no turned up nose with this component. A low cash spend might be a reason for buying this Yamaha, but that doesn’t necessarily mean no cachet.

In an era of ‘chuck everything together’ all-in-one music systems, this diminutive horizontal or vertical** stand mountable separates box is in rare form. It will convey music to a power amplifier affixed to speakers, and with its digital volume control could be used to connect active powered speakers. Mix in streaming of all the main services and a UPnP streamer for playing music off your PC drives or NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives. Yabba, yabba, yabba…..but this is all important stuff, since the WXC-50 is Flexible with a big fat F.

The back is a hotchpotch of connectivity at first gander, maxing out the rear real estate panel to make adding any extra connections like a London landlord renting out a greenhouse for accommodation. It can’t be done.

Gorge yourself at an eat as much as you like Indian restaurant, serving up to 192khz 24 bit PCM music and DSD 2.8 and 5.6, nobody can go format unsatiated. My table – file formats, not food – conveys all. But if you don’t understand see my article on streaming here

Yamaha WXC-50 Review - streaming file formats

Internally the WXC-50 uses two DAC chips – a DSD capable ESS Sabre ESS9006 and PCM Burr Brown PCM5101A. I can only infer that the Burr Brown might feed the Yamaha’s fixed volume line level analogue outputs or pre-outs?. Obviously and ordinarily there is only need for one DAC to serve analogue sound. This may account why the WXC-50 sounds better using its digital output.

Intuitively, flick the switch to streamer mode if using its digital outputs, or pre-amp mode if using the RCA pre-outs to benefit the Yamaha’s volume control. Use voice control on the MusicCast app, which is up there in adequate use to Sonos, BluOS, or HEOS which I tried with the Marantz PM7000N. Wi-Fi or Ethernet, take your pick.

OK, the remote is a nasty little card type thing. Ironically similar to what banks give you free, to login online to buy it. So you might think it has been thrown in as an after thought. But you can’t complain because this Yamaha is built to a price. Others in another camp might be raising tone at screen; “it ain’t no Hegel or Bryston remote!”.

Yamaha WXC-50 side on front shot

I could use many of the usual banal chestnuts about sound quality. But in keeping it simple here, being a budget product, the WXC-50s sonics are, well, good at the cash. I don’t think there are any particular traits that stand out. So an easy one. Using it straight into a Hegel H120 Integrated amp as a digital transport compared to its analogue pre-outs makes it a wider sound-staging purveyor with less compression and more detail. 

The same catch all when you flip to the Chord Qutest DAC and compare it to the Allo DigiOne Signature with Shanti Linear power supply over Roon, a similar ballpark price. There is too, a sense the Allo is cleaner with treble and not as grating with the high frequencies with insidious hazy and edgy treble that is the bain of high frequency noise…. It just sounds better. Female vocals without edgy sibilance is just more real.

So the WXC-50 is an experience in performance of feature set on charge to sound qualities leisurely Sunday walk. This is probably how anyone wanting to buy the WXC-50 should view it. It may not be a relative accuracy champion to streamers like the Allo DigiOne Signature or I suspect the Bluesound Node 2i (soon to be reviewed), but if we are being ultra critical in our reviewer way – a review means critical appraisal after all, then sound quality isn’t the main point of buying it. The reasons are it’s overall feature set – connectivity, streaming nowse, a pre-amp but with sufficient *keepability* in sound quality

Yamaha WXC-50 Versus Allo DigiOne Signature
Yamaha WXC-50 and Allo DigiOne Signature

As explained, sound is acceptable at price, but don’t go thinking that all this connectivity and flexibility gets you a similar sonic zenith, to a dedicated streaming box ‘around’ the Yamaha’s price. It won’t. But I’m being pedantic over very nuanced changes. Possibly letting you into a secret…..performance nearly always is with streamers of this ilk.

This Yamaha is more than good enough to be placed in Audiophile echelons, although I can almost palpably feel some readers squirming in their chairs at such sentiments. Good, because if it helps some out of thinking expense means so much better, when this isn’t the case here, then I’d have done my job.

With the discounts you can often get on the WXC-50, for what it does, it’s hard to think you’d get more for your cash. Recommended.

Manufacturer

Web  : https://www.yamaha.com
Product details here

Price

US/EU – Amazon $350/€350
UK – Richer Sounds £269

Specifications

  • Digital Inputs : 1 x (Optical)
  • Digital Outputs : 1 x (Optical), 1 x (Coaxial)
  • Analogue Outputs ; 1 x RCA Pre outs for power/integrated amps, Sub Output, 1 x Line level fixed output
  • Analogue Inputs : 1 x RCA
  • File Formats : MP3, WMA, MPEG4, AAC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD
  • Sample Rates : see graph above
  • Bluetooth formats : SBC, AAC
  • Network / Internet : Wi-Fi and fixed Ethernet connection
  • USB input – pen drives
  • Control App : Yamaha MusicCast (Android and iOS capable) – compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control devices/speakers
  • Streaming Service Compatibility : Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Pandora, SiriusXM
  • Standby power consumption : 1.8W
  • Control : 12v 3.5mm trigger in and out – for switching on automatically
  • Signal to Noise Ratio : 112 dB (Opt / Net / USB / Bluetooth in) / 98 dB (AUX in)
  • Dimensions (WHD) : 215 x 51.5 x 245.9 mm (with antenna: 214 x 123.6 x 245.9 mm); 8-3/8” x 2” x 9-5/8” (with antenna: 8-3/8” x 4-7/8” x 9-5/8”)
  • Weight : 1.44 kg (3.17 lbs)
  • **Vertically Stand mountable using included plastic stand

Test Systems

11 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I agree. A sensibly priced . Good sounding product. Musiccast works well. And I would wager strong money that in a blindfolded listening test it would be difficult to tell this from a more expensive item. Yamaha have always offered good products at sensible prices..

  2. Good bang for the buck, glad to see a giant like yamaha in the stand alone streaming market. Although I won’t trade in my bluesounds yet.

  3. I’m sorry you are leaving (but enjoying the slash-and-burn on the way out).
    Any chance of a last-minute driveby review of the node 2i?

  4. I’ve been swapping back and forth between the WXC-50 and Node 2i as digital streamers of Tidal Hi-Fi into a Chord Qutest DAC and have settled on the Yamaha. The soundstage and ability to hear little details on acoustic songs is better and the bass and high end on more rocking songs is more powerful and cleaner respectively. I’m very surprised by this as I bought the WXC-50 first and was expecting an upgrade in sound quality with the Node 2i but it’s been the opposite even after many days playing with settings on both units. I also tried bypassing the Qutest and using the Node 2i’s internal DAC for full MQA implementation and while possibly a bit better it still didn’t compare with the SQ on the Yamaha/Qutest combo (I guess not surprisingly). I greatly preferred the Bluesound OS to using Tidal on MusicCast but in wanting SQ over convenience I plan on selling the Node 2i. I’m curious to hear if your experience between the two is similar to mine.

    • Sometimes the elevation in electrical noise (which you tend to find on cheaper streamers as I did with node v wxc-50) is known to create edgy treble – sibilance on s sounds, which gives a perceived elevation in detail. Obviously that’s your preference but where a HiFi system has the detail you don’t need the sibilance and it becomes unwelcome. All power to you for your preference but if I had to give a good educated guess, this is going on, and is a combination of gear used and your preference.

  5. Thanks for the response. I have quite a mismatched system. I’m running the WXC-50 as a streamer via digital coax into the Qutest which feeds a Schiit Freya S preamp with balanced outputs to a Classe CA-D200 amp and B&W 702 S2 speakers. All cables are Audioquest. The WXC-50 seems like the lower end oddball of the system, but it works for me. The Yamaha to my ears has less edgy treble compared to the Node 2i when using the Qutest as a DAC for both and it just sounds cleaner all around. Maybe for some reason the Yamaha pairs better with the Qutest than the Bluesound or maybe it’s just my aging ears.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Simon Price

I'm an audio lover who likes sharing experiences of faithfully reproduced audio in a CREDIBLE, BALANCED and ENGAGING way. I’m interested in products; their looks, functionality and features, and most importantly how they sound! My reviews keep technicalities easy, as I believe great audio is non exclusive and to be enjoyed by all! It's all about the music!

Anyone for “Musicality”, “Highly Recommended” or a “Veil is Lifted” ?

My Favourite Credible HiFi Websites