Hands-On: Yamaha XDA-QS5400RK Packs Power and Features
The Yamaha XDA-QS5400RK delivers four independent zones of audio and some unique features that complement today’s lifestyles.
Robert Archer · April 29, 2019
Yamaha is one of the most innovative companies in the home electronics market. Showcasing its creative capabilities and resources that include a sister commercial A/V brand, Yamaha has introduced the XDA-QS5400RK four-zone streamer.
Providing integrators with a well-built multiroom streamer that incorporates the company’s proprietary MusicCast whole-house audio platform, the XDA-QS5400RK exemplifies the company’s innovativeness and commercial A/V heritage.
XDA-QS5400RK Features & Setup
Specifically designed for residential and light-commercial multizone audio applications, the 1U-high quad streamer (QS) features four independent zones of streaming audio through the company’s MusicCast wireless whole-house audio platform.
The rack-mountable product connects to a network via Ethernet, and integrators can expand systems to feed as many as 32 zones. Yamaha emphasizes that within those 32 zones users can simultaneously playback linked groups of up to 20 zones each.
CE Pro Features
- Yamaha XDA-QS5400RK provides up to four independent streams of audio
- The XDA-QS5400RK is expandable up to 32 zones, and it takes up just 1U
- Built-in Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM Music for Business, TIDAL, Deezer, SiriusXM Internet Radio, and the ability to play locally stored networked music
- Companion MusicCast app
- Yamaha XDA-QS5400RK produces 50 watts into 8 ohms
- Input options for cut-in options for integration with PA systems
At the heart of the system is an eight-channel amplifier that integrators can assign to any zone with bridging capabilities. The amp is also capable of driving 4-ohm loads, and a key part of its design according to Yamaha, is its ground-loop/hum-free design that helps to lower the amp’s noise floor.
Among the streaming services available through MusicCast include Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, SiriusXM Music for Business, Spotify, Deezer, TIDAL, and users can play locally stored digital audio files.
The QS5400RK incorporate preouts for each zone to support the use of subwoofers, as well as auxiliary inputs, line-level inputs, chime contact closures and 12-volt trigger outputs, IR inputs and outputs, and cut-in inputs.
Before moving on to the setup of the quad streamer, I want to point out a couple of features built into the product.
First the cut-in input. This is a line-level input that can be used in commercial environments where paging options are needed. The cut-in source automatically prioritizes the source connected to the input to enable users to make announcements or execute other actions.
The chime contact closure allows integrators to generate doorbell chimes or alerts from a common switch.
Getting to the actual setup of the product, I was immediately impressed by the weight and feel of the XDA-QS5400RK. It looks, feels and feels like a commercial-grade product. It is not a lightweight, plastic product made from inexpensive components.
I hooked up a couple of zones. The first zone used a pair of audiophile Aerial Acoustic Model 6 speakers, which in my main A/V system. The second zone employed an inexpensive set of bookshelf speakers that provide a nice counterpoint to the Aerials.
To connect the speakers, I used some basic 16/2 speaker cables and connected the Phoenix connectors that came supplied with the Quad Streamer and I terminated the other end of the cables with solderless banana plugs.
After scanning my network, I found the Quad Streamer occupies four IP addresses and entering each IP address allows for the individual setup of each zone. Once I completed the basic configurations within the web GUIs, I downloaded Yamaha’s companion app.
The app through some more of the configuration process. The first step the app performs is to find the Yamaha component, then it asks as you configure the app to choose representative pictures of each zone as an icon.
You have the option of using pictures stored on your phone for customized preferences. I took a picture of my Marshall Silver Jubilee guitar amplifier and called the main zone “Music Room” to try the custom capabilities of the app.
Buttoning things up I then configured the Amazon Alexa option, which is no different than configuring Lutron and other Alexa solutions within the market, and I chose my music services, which of the services Yamaha offers, I only had an account with Pandora.
Performance & Conclusions
I am really impressed with the build quality, weight and general robust feel of the Quad Streamer. I could easily see the Quad Streamer in the Yamaha Commercial Audio division’s InfoComm booth sitting next its mixing consoles, amplifiers, column arrays and studio monitors. The XDA-QS5400RK simply exudes quality.
Firing up the unit connected to the 6-ohm, 85dB efficient Aerial Model 6 speakers provided a test that I probably wouldn’t try with most whole-house audio amps, but I tried it because of Yamaha’s heritage.
Using the Quad Streamer’s built-in AirPlay option, I streamed music from my Apple Music account I was honestly surprised how good the product sounded using AirPlay.
Switching to the unit’s built-in Pandora streaming, the Quad Streamer upsamples low-quality streaming services to CD-quality 44.1kHz levels, and I thought that between the two sources the combination of the Yamaha and Aerial speakers, the system created a nice, full image.
Highlighting its sound capabilities of the Yamaha product, I listened to Queen’s “Greatest Hits” and I was impressed with the level of dynamics the amp was able to deliver. The Quad Streamer is nicely able to render soft vocal passages, as well as louder parts with equal texture and impact.
Entering the equalizer section of the GUI I tried the Enhancer Bass Extender option. This feature seems to affect upper bass, and I did find it did have a positive effect on content such as streaming Pandora.
I also used the available three-band EQ to add some midrange to Pandora, which I think benefitted the sound quality of the service.
Moreover, comparing the sound quality of the AirPlay streams and the upsampled streaming content from Pandora and thought the upsampled stream sounded better.
Looking at some of the other features built into the Yamaha product, I found the voice control option with Alexa really convenient. This saved me from carrying my phone around to use the app, and between the voice control, app and traditional control options, the Yamaha Quad Streamer is easy to use.
In addition, I didn’t try the chime option, but Nick Tamburri of AHA Home Automation in New York City, tells me this option is “awesome.” Tamburri points out it connects easily, and it interrupts content without completely shutting off the existing audio that is playing.
Getting back to some of the control options, I found the app is easy to navigate in part due to the custom icons, and I like the fact that it allows users to build playlists and manage the audio content without much effort.
Adding everything up, the Yamaha Quad Streamer easily rises to the top of the whole-house audio product rankings because it will drive just about any speaker and it is easy to use from a homeowner perspective.
Moreover, I love the fact that through MusicCast, the XDA-QS5400RK combines with other Yamaha products, including home theater solutions to provide a level of whole-house versatility that few manufacturers can match.
My only small nitpick is I would like to see Apple Music, the country’s most popular streaming service, available as a streaming option with MusicCast, but there is a way around it with AirPlay.
Awesome job Yamaha, I cannot recommend the XDA-QS5400RK enough.
CE Pro Verdict
Amplifier is robust to drive just about any loudspeaker
Companion app is easy to navigate and it offers a nice level of customization
Small footprint with the ability to expand provides lots of installation options
The XDA-QS5400RK build quality is exceptional, but its looks are ordinary
More streaming service choices, including Apple Music would be nice
MSRP is $2,699
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org
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