The Yamaha MCX-A10 client device has one main purpose. Its mission is to wirelessly stream music from the company's , a component that archives CDs to a built-in hard drive. One MCX-1000 can support up to seven MCX-A10 clients at a whopping $600 a pop. A built-in amplifier and optional matching speakers ( ; $119) facilitate installing the MCX-A10 practically anywhere around the home. One huge caveat for the Napster generation: unlike many digital media receivers, the MCX-A10 can't stream music from the Internet or from the hard drives of networked PCs.
Although the MCX-1000 server's beefy black metal casing and sleek faceplate give that component a distinctly high-end presence, the MCX-A10's physical design is more pedestrian. Featuring a square silver faceplate with a center-mounted text display and a white plastic casing, the slender MCX-A10 can be perched on its included metal stand or hung from the wall with two nails. The optional MCX-SP10 speakers include matching stands but can also be wall mounted. Unfortunately, because the stand doesn't lock onto the MCX-A10, it easily becomes dislodged when handling the unit. Furthermore, MCX-SP10 speakers can't be attached to MCX-A10 to enhance portability. All jacks are stationed behind a removable panel located on the device's right side. The panel helps keep the emerging cables neat.
Unlike some digital media receivers, the MCX-A10 includes a full assortment of front-panel buttons. Menus are logically organized on the MCX-A10's easy to navigate, six-line text display. There's also a TV-based interface, but its stark white text and flat blue background are harsh and uninviting (Windows' blue screen of death comes to mind). Most of the time, you'll want to stick with the device's front-panel display, which is readable from up to about six feet. Because Gracenote's CD Database is employed to display CD information, such as track titles, it's surprising that neither the MCX-A10 nor the MCX-1000 displays CD artwork on its TV-based interface.
We were also a little disappointed that while the MCX-A10's tiny remote has the requisite four-way keypad, it lacks the useful Artists, Albums, Genres, Page-up, and Page-down shortcut buttons deployed on the MCX-1000's higher-end remote. We hoped to circumvent this limitation by using the MCX-1000's remote to operate the MCX-A10, but it didn't work.
The MCX-A10 has a respectable complement of jacks. Two sets of wire spring clips enable connecting your own speakers or the optional MCX-SP10 set. Yamaha says the built-in amp outputs 17 watts per channel, continuously. The unit has a stereo analog line output to enable playback through a stereo system. It also includes a 1/8-inch auxiliary input to allow connecting an auxiliary source device, such as an iPod. A composite-video output facilitates connection with a TV, while a subwoofer output allows connecting the MCX-A10 to a powered subwoofer.