March 2014. That’s when I first wrote about the London-based start up, Musaic. I dropped in on them at Gadget Show Live, been to their launch parties but it is only now that I have had the opportunity to play with their MP5 and MP10 music players in my home.
The Musaic Music Players have impressed me for the past couple of years. Since their inception they have become more integrated with smart home technology – or Internet of Things (IoT).
The latter really interests me as I use IFTTT to automate some of my day-to-day and I was really interested to see how the MP5 and MP10 worked with some of my smart home kit.
Musaic may have only been around for a couple-or-so years but this British company stems from experienced lineage, especially as it is co-founded and run by ex-Cambridge Audio technical director Matthew Bramble.
Part funded from when it was looking for £60,000 through its Kickstarter campaign, Musaic offers two products, the MP5 and M10. These music players have an identical feature set which only differs with the larger of the two units, the MP10, sporting increased power.
Musaic MP5 and MP10 design
Musaic consists of two Music Players – the MP5 (12.4cm H x 34.3cm W x 9.5cm D) and the larger MP10 (14.6 H x 41.2cm W x 11.5cm D) which packs an additional subwoofer.
Using standard Wi-Fi, they stream tunes from almost any device, be it an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or tablet, PC, or Mac. The can also use Bluetooth or wired Ethernet.
The design of the cabinets shows that an easy user experience was the order of the day here. The simplified physical controls come in the form of 10 touch-sensitive top-panel buttons.
These emulate smartphone icons to some degree. From the control panel you have access to power, volume and mute in the right bank and play controls to the left. The latter bank of buttons also double up as memory recall buttons.
There’s also a heart-shaped ‘like’ icon and light bulb symbol, reveals how the Musaics are also designed to work with streaming services and smart home lighting systems.
At the heart of each MP beats Class D amplification. The MP5 dishes out 18W per side into two full-range 55mm front-firing drive units made from doped paper cones with mylar dust caps. The MP10 ups the ante with 60W on tap, shared across two 45mm high-frequency/midrange drivers flanking a centrally positioned 90mm front-firing bass driver.
A rear grab handle also acts as a discreet bass port, to further aide lower frequency reproduction and both models feature a custom-tuned version of HDSX signal processing, claimed to expand the listening position’s sweet-spot.
Physical inputs are limited to a rear-panel 3.5mm analogue input, a USB-A charge socket for smartphones and the like and an Ethernet port.
The MP 5 weighs in at 1.8kg and the MP10: 2.6kg.
The Musaic players have really been designed to be used via its mobile apps.
These are streaming machines, after all.
The top row is where you’ll find your music sources. Local will play what ever’s on your device, and Radio hooks up to internet stations. Streaming allows Spotify Connect, AUPEO!, Napster, Qualcomm AllPlay, Rhapsody and Soma FM with more in the pipeline, including Tidal.
The top level menu is where you’ll find Setup, and Players where you can Group your players for multi-room music.
I really like the way this app is laid out.
I am, of course, very familiar with how these units sound. I have seen and heard them in a variety of settings and they have always impressed.
It is fair to say that both Musaic players are capable of producing a much bigger sound than you’d expect from boxes of this size.
I plugged in the MP5 on the unit in my bedroom.
Hooking it up to Spotify Premium I squirted through Florence and the Machine’s MTV Unplugged performance of ‘Dog Days Are Over’. I will admit that I wasn’t prepared for such a wide soundstage from this networked ghetto blaster.
Granted, I wasn’t getting two-channel imagery but the MP5’s presentation sounds much broader than any of the one-box solutions I have tested.
The mids are really well projected and so gives the rest of the frequencies room to breathe. All the instruments just seem to sit right.
The MP10 has been resident in my living room as I had IFTTT plans for the larger MP sibling.
I was now expecting something bigger and better from this box, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The MP10 is what I can all refer to as being a much more grown-up performer.
Vocals and instruments, especially the treble, are less pushed and more relaxed. It’s a more refined listening experience when compared to the MP5.
Ms Welch’s delivery is captivating and more realistic and seems to have more command across the soundstage without fear of sibilance or hard edges.
The low end, as is expected, is handled much more openly with the MP10. With bass-lead tracks such as Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ the bass is more firmly rooted, underlying the performance of the unit’s dedicated driver.
The bass unit integrates seamlessly with the mid and treble drivers and all three work in unison. This combined effort results in a soundstage with more of an extended top to bottom than the MP5. The MP10 will certainly hold its own in a party environment.
What really amazed me from both units is that, whilst they don’t claim surround skills, the speaker’s focus is not just simply straight ahead.
Testing both players with a range of FLAC files and a fixed listening position (about 3 meters directly in front) the instruments are placed precisely where they should be. Moving left or right of this position and the musical image remains the same.
There is that feeling that the band is following you around the room without losing its distinction or direction. This makes them great for listening to music when cooking or tidying up.
Both the MP5 and MP10 handle a variety of genres equally well. Jazz is roomy and singer/songwriters have almost a holographic presentation. Vocalists come across with emotion and instrumentation is deftly handled.
Rock and metal, usually a good test to see how speakers separates the melee of instruments, is tackled head on with horns raised. The MP5 puts up a good fight, especially with the industrial stylings of NIN’s ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ album. But it is the MP10 who adds the beef needed for distorted powerchords. Motorhead has all the attitude that the late. great, Lemmy would expect.
Musaic IFTTT recipes – updated 14.08.16
As I mentioned before, I was excited to try these.
So, I diligently signed up to Musiac and connected my profile through IFTTT.
This was all very simple as I am quite familiar with the application.
The next step was to cook up what IFTTT calls recipes. These recipes are follow the ‘If This Then That’ model. So, if something happens, then that triggers something else.
I had signed up to Musaic and registered the devices but, yet, I hadn’t linked the players up with my account. This is why I have had to update my review.
Link Musaic music players to your account
You will recognise this as the place where you connect to your player. Tapping the cog will open up another menu. Give it a tap.
This is a rather long menu so scroll to the very bottom.
You can see why and how I missed this can’t you?
Once you’ve tapped the Link player to account option, you will be shown your player(s) listed. Select and add. There is also an option for you to ‘add all players’ which is handy should have more than just the one.
Create Musaic IFTTT recipes
Now that you have your players linked to your Musaic account, you can get your IFTTT on.
Making your own custom recipes is really easy but, for speed, I have used some from the Musaic IFTTT cookbook.
Arlo and Musaic
The first one I wanted to test was the one which utilised my Arlo camera.
I set the camera to trigger Musaic to shout a warning should it detect motion. I have already set the camera with a geofenced area so I won’t get the MP10 in the living room shouting at the birds, foxes or the neighbour’s cat.
As you can see, the Musaic players are now listed where before I couldn’t get past that step. Naturally, you can set this for all your players to say something in unison.
Musaic turns on the radio when I get home
One of the first things I do when I get home is to put some music on. The thing is, I’ve usually got my hands full. I am either carrying tech that has been delivered to the office or I have had to grab some groceries on the way home. This delays me from getting my tunes on.
This recipe will actually trigger the Musaic players to start playing a preset radio station as soon as I get in the area.
I have set the MP10 to tune in to the station I have assigned to Preset 2. Total Rock, if you need to know.
Musaic IFTTT recipes results
It’s really easy to get on a roll with these recipes. I even added a time reminder to give me a nudge on an evening to get upstairs and start writing.
I am very happy to announce that all of these recipes worked as expected. Yes, the screen shot below was taken before I ran any of the recipes. I was just happy that I could complete them at that point.
Remember, just make sure you have your players and your Musaic account linked.
Musaic MP5 and MP10 review conclusion
The MP5 and MP10 have been designed as ‘lifestyle’ sound slingers but I dare say even the most sniffiest of audiophiles will be won over by them.
The audio quality achieved from these compact boxes proves that you don’t always have to compromise.
The Musaics’ onboard controls are simple with more options being kept to the free accompanying app. The app itself is extremely user friendly, allowing you to jump across each device easily, or linking them together without interrupting the flow of the music.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t get the IFTTT integration to work. That may have been down to my network though. I will find out from Musaic and update this review with their response.
That one simple step of linking the players with my account is all it took. Once I had the players linked, the IFTTT functionality is easy to use and borderline addictive.
While the MP5 is a great value single-box player, paying the extra money for the MP10 is worth considering as it takes the audio quality up to the next level. The MP10 really does punch above its weight without ever seeming strained.
Musaic MP5 and MP10 price and availability
You can get them, as well as more information, from Musiac’s website.