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Yamaha Unveils Wireless Audio Networking

MusicCAST is Yamaha’s name for a wireless audio distribution system that uses built-in Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) technology to distribute music wirelessly from a hard-drive-based audio server to multiple clients.

The clients, which look like executive-style shelf systems, feature amplifier, optional speakers, and controls to select server-stored songs for playback.

The clients incorporate 2×20-watt digital Class-D amplification to power the optional speakers or the customer’s existing speakers.

The 80GB server (with 160GB option) and a single client are targeted to retail between $2,800 to $3,000, and they’ll ship in May, said MusicCAST marketing project manager Alex Sadeghian.

The eight-zone server can send music in MP3 form to up to seven clients simultaneously (five wirelessly, plus two via wired Ethernet connections), with each client playing a different song.

Because of 802.11b bandwidth limitations and quality-of-service requirements, the device limits the streaming of music stored in CD’s uncompressed PCM format to a single client at a time.

To prevent music dropouts, the clients feature 4MB buffer memory. The system’s 11 channels can be changed manually to avoid interference with other household devices.

The server also features a built-in audio CD-recorder to create custom CDs from songs stored on the hard drive. The recorder features Serial Copyright Management System (SCMS) copy-control technology to prevent more than one direct digital-to-digital dub of PCM music from the hard drive to an audio CD-R/RW disc. The recorder can’t be used to burn MP3 files to a data CD-R/RW disc, although the device will play MP3 CDs created on a PC.

Other features include LCD display screen, although text information can also be displayed on a connected TV. The server accepts audio outputs from satellite and cable music channels for single-zone streaming.