Yes. You can use MBX products with the MCA-Series of Russound controllers: MCA-66, MCA-88, and MCA-88X. The MBX-PRE is designed to be used as the preferred dedicated streaming audio source for these products. When using an MBX-PRE, the MCA-66 and MCA-88 are the ideal models to use. Make sure the MCA-Series are running firmware version 4.0 or higher in order for all of the devices to work properly together. The MBX-AMP is an excellent choice to use as a remote zone in any MCA system.
Keep in mind that there is no sharing of sources between an MCA controller and an MBX-AMP. This also means that it is not possible to join rooms from a controller with remotely connected MBX-Series rooms. Other than those limitations, there are no other issues with using an MBX product as a remote room in a controller-based system. You can access and control any room seamlessly from the Russound app or XTS-Series touchscreens.
The MBX-PRE cannot be used as a dedicated source with the C-Series controllers: MCA-C3, MCA-C5. It is possible however for the MBX-AMP to be used as a remote zone for a C-Series controller and the MBX-AMP will work the same as it does with the MCA-Series controllers, i.e. no sharing of sources or joining of rooms is possible, but other than that there are no limitations in usage. The MBX-PRE could also be used in Zone Mode with a dedicated amplifier to work in the same way as the MBX-AMP remote zone if desired.
Using the MBX products with Russound’s XStream products is not recommended or supported. When updating any system to Russound’s MBX-Series of products, we recommend replacing all XStream Series products with MBX-Series products. The capabilities and the user experience are vastly different between the two. Users would not have a good experience going from one to the other within the same system. This also means that the internal streamer of the MCA-88X should be disabled when adding an MBX-product to the system. You may re-use that source with any other source connected to the system other than a Russound Media Streamer. If installing a new system, the MCA-66 or MCA-88 should be the controllers used with MBX-PRE and MBX-AMP music streamers.
The MBX-Series products are designed to be controlled by the latest versions of the Russound app or by the XTS-Series touchscreens. Any MBX-PRE in Source Mode connected to an MCA-Series controller is also fully controllable through the MCA-Series keypads, the SLK-1 and MDK-C6. Russound XTS-Series touchscreens and the Russound app must have our Version 10.00.14 or higher in order to access the features available in the MBX-Series of products. Users can check for updates for the XTS-Series touchscreens through the settings menu and the Android and iOS apps can be downloaded at these links:
When audio is being cast to the MBX-Series using Chromecast, AirPlay, or Bluetooth, the XTS-Series touchscreens can be used for full volume control including mute and volume up and down. Additionally, basic audio controls like play/pause, Skip Forward, and Skip Back are also available. If using voice control, additional features like music selection or playing favorites may be available, depending on the plaftorm being used for voice control.
Audio Input/Output Questions
The MBX-AMP and MBX-PRE have both analog and digital optical inputs. Both of these inputs can be used independently, and each is individually selectable as the current source from within the Russound app or from the XTS-Series touchscreens. The digital input on both devices can be set so that it is automatically selected as the active source when the signal is detected.
At this time, you cannot rename the audio inputs but we plan to add that feature in a future software release.
The Subwoofer Output on the MBX-AMP has a fixed low pass filter set at 80 Hz. It cannot be adjusted or modified in the current software, but a future software update will allow some configuration flexibility for this setting.
Yes. The MBX-AMP is 4-ohm stable and can easily power 2 pairs of 8-ohm speakers in a room.
Chromecast Setup and the Google Home App
Google has a very informative website that explains all about Chromecast. You can get to it by clicking here. With Chromecast, you can get access to a wide array of the most popular music apps available today. When using Chromecast, the audio streaming is handled by your Russound devices, not your phone, freeing your phone for use for calls, games, charging, etc. You can even turn your phone off and the music will continue to play! The other great benefit is that it allows easy access for anyone in your home, including guests to easily play their favorite music without needing a complicated setup or pairing, etc.
The Google Home app (iOS and Android) is used to set up your Russound products to use Chromecast. We recommend using the Google Home App for the entire initial setup of your Russound MBX-Series product. The app will guide you through the process of configuring network settings, naming the product, and associating it with your Google Home account for linking it with any other compatible smart home devices. Once your Russound product has been set up with the Google Home app, everyone in the home (ie on the same network) can send their favorite audio to whichever room or group of rooms they would like.
When setting up your devices using the Google Home app, make sure your phone/tablet is near your Russound MBX-Series product. The initial discovery uses BLE (Bluetooth Low-Energy) and your phone/tablet must be close enough to receive the Bluetooth signal properly.
You are free to create as many groups of rooms/speakers as you would like using the Google Home app. For example, if your kitchen and dining room are next to each other, you can make a group of those two rooms called "Dining Group" that is always available in addition to keeping the individual rooms available too. So, for example, from the Spotify app, you could choose to play your Spotify music in the "Kitchen", in the "Dining Room", or in the "Dining Group". This grouping could be done for any group you choose, like "First Floor", "Second Floor", "Everywhere", etc. Rooms can be in as many groups as you would like. Using groups like this is a key feature of Chromecast.
Grouping rooms through Google Home is perfect for making "permanent" room groups that are always available for you to use with Chromecast. Grouping rooms through the Russound app is perfect for quickly creating transient, more temporary groups and can be used with any audio source available, including auxiliary analog or digital inputs, USB content, or DLNA content from a NAS drive at your home.
Yes, absolutely! This is one of the main benefits of Chromecast and Chromecast groups. You can create a group of your Russound in-ceiling speakers with your Sony Chromecast soundbar in the bedroom and your JBL Chromecast speakers in the kid's room, or your B&O Chromecast speaker in the kitchen. That's the power of Chromecast.
Voice Control Questions
Yes. The MBX-Series of products support voice control by Google natively. A Google Home device is recommended in order to have instant access to a microphone for voice commands, but a user can also use the Google Assistant in either Android or iOS phones/devices for voice control of the MBX products without any additional hardware needed.
Google supports a large number of languages. Russound will be relying on our international partners and distributors for help verifying the proper usage of Russound MBX products in their countries and native languages. At this time, it is believed that Russound MBX products can support all languages that are supported by the Google Assistant.
The best voice control user experience is currently done with the Google system using a Russound installation composed entirely of MBX-Series products. With MBX-Series products, there is access to voice control selection of streaming content, play/pause, skipping forward/back, volume up/down and muting.
The easiest way to set up the MBX products is to use the Google Home app to do the initial device configuration. If using a Wired ethernet connection, connect and power on the MBX device and then use the Google Home app from a phone/tablet that is on the same network to add the MBX device.
If using a Wi-Fi connection, power on the MBX device and then use the Google Home app from a phone/tablet that is on the same network to add the MBX device.
If there are any issues with discovering the MBX product, simply perform a network reset on the MBX product by pressing and holding the rear panel reset button for 3 seconds.
Yes, you can use Google voice control but there will be some limitations due to the system architecture. When used with a Russound controller, an MBX-PRE is in source mode. In source mode, all volume control and muting functions are performed through the controller, not through the MBX-PRE. Because of this, source selection and source control are available using voice commands with Google but volume control and muting would NOT be available. This is something that Russound may implement at a later time with a custom Google driver for the MCA-Series controller. For this reason, the optimal system design for a voice-controlled system is to use only MBX-Series products in the system and not using a Russound controller.
Yes. The MBX-Series of products support voice control in an Amazon Alexa installation for US and UK English. The installation must have an Alexa device such as an Echo or a Dot and there are two Alexa skills required:
Russound Smart Home SkillRussound Control Skill
More details about using Russound products with Amazon Alexa are available at the Russound Alexa webpage.
Russound supports US and UK English for its Alexa integration. Other languages are not available at this time.
MBX AMP Infrared Feature Questions
The MBX-AMP includes a Russound SLM-1 Slim IR Receiver enabling a new and unique way to integrate Russound streaming audio into a home and a unique control option that is not offered by any of our competitors. The external IR receiver allows the MBX-AMP to be hidden away and out of sight with the SLM-1 mounted discreetly on or near the TV. The MBX-AMP can be taught the Volume+, Volume-, and Mute command from any TV remote, cable or satellite remote, etc. Simply connect the TV’s optical digital output (PCM) to the digital input of the MBX-AMP. The MBX-AMP will automatically detect when the TV is on and will switch the audio source to the TV. If the user selects a streaming source including Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay, etc., the MBX will switch to that source and then go back to the TV the next time the TV is turned back on.
Because there is now Infrared control of the MBX-AMP volume and mute, this means that the end user can easily pick up their remote and change volume and/or mute their favorite music through the MBX-AMP, too! A level of convenience that no other similar product offers.
Entering IR learning is done by pressing and holding the Play/Pause and Volume+ buttons simultaneously for a few seconds until the front panel LED starts blinking green slowly. Refer to the product manual for the full procedure. It only takes about a minute to program all three commands: Volume+, Volume-, and Mute.
Yes. Russound added additional installer features that can be configured as needed into control systems or universal remote controls, etc. or simply by using a Russound USRC remote control. If using these commands, make sure to disable low power standby on the MBX-AMP by changing the Power Management-Idle Time to "None" in WebConfig. The following USRC remote control commands are available and can be used at any time:
Additionally, in order to allow some advanced installer automation, Russound added the following command codes from the USRC:
|1||Select Aux Line In|
|2||Select Digital Input|
|3||Select and Play Last Played UPnP Content|
|4||Select and Play Last Played Spotify Content|
|5||Select and Play Last Played TuneIn Content|
|6||Select and Play Last Played SiriusXM Content|
|7||Select and Play Last Played vTuner Content|
|8||Select and Play Last Played Airable Radio Content|
|9||Select and Play Last Played TIDAL Content|
|0||Select and Play Last Played Deezer Content|
No, the IR features are only available on the MBX-AMP. The MBX-PRE works seamlessly with Russound controllers (MCA-66, MCA-88) which can be IR controlled so there was no need to include IR functionality into the MBX-PRE.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Questions
Yes. In addition to the wired ethernet connection, both the MBX-PRE and MBX-AMP offer fully Wi-Fi Certified® dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi connections. The Wi-Fi can be configured easily using the Google Home app on either iOS or Android devices, or can be configured through Web Config if connected with a wired connection.
Yes, the Wi-Fi can be disabled by setting the Networking “Type” to “Wired” in WebConfig.
Pairing is quick and easy. Simply press and hold the outermost front-panel buttons (Favorite 1 and Volume Up) simultaneously for a few seconds until the front panel LED blinks blue twice. The blinking LED signals that the MBX is now in pairing mode. Simply go to the Bluetooth settings of the device you wish to pair and search for the MBX product. The Bluetooth name of the MBX product will match the name that is configured in the device, such as “Bedroom” or “Kitchen”.
Not at this time. We are planning on adding that feature in a future software update.
Audio Streaming Questions
This is a bug that will be fixed shortly via a software update. All TuneIn stations are currently displaying Station Art rather than Album Art.
The MBX-Series supports the following audio file formats: MP3 (CBR, VBR), WAV (8, 16-bit),OGG Vorbis, FLAC (8, 16-bit). AAC, AAC+ (supports up to 24-bit/192 kHz). Hi-Res Audio of up to 24-bit/192 kHz is fully supported.
Because the MBX-Series of products offer the unique combination of Bluetooth, ChromeCast Built-in for Audio, and Apple AirPlay™ support in a single box, the audio content for streaming services is virtually limitless. Russound currently supports built-in implementations of TIDAL, Deezer, TuneIn, SiriusXM, SiriusXM for Business, vTuner, and Airable, with additional support for USB content on thumb drives or externally powered USB drives, and access to any network-based audio files through UPnP.
ChromeCast offers seamless use of many of the world’s most popular music services such as Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, TIDAL, Deezer, Google Play Music, Rhapsody, Napster and more.
This feature is not yet available but will be offered in an upcoming software update.
UPnP is an easy way to access audio files stored on your home network. This is a great way to access a hi-res music library that is stored on the home network, such as on a dedicated NAS drive. While it's possible to use these connections across Wi-Fi, Russound recommends using a wired ethernet connection for all MBX products that are to be used with dedicated UPnP-based local media libraries.
We are currently aware of an issue that affects paid Pandora accounts using Chromecast. The issue appears to affect all Chromecast devices and not just the Russound MBX-Series. Chromecast with the Pandora app appears to work better with free Pandora accounts. This is an issue with the Pandora app itself. Using a free account, or AirPlay, or Bluetooth can be a workaround until Pandora resolves this issue.
Spotify Connect Questions
The answer depends on the product involved. The MBX-PRE and MBX-AMP can use Spotify Connect with any type of Spotify account, whether it is a paid or a free account. Russound XStream-Series products (XSource, XZone4, XZone70V or the internal streamer of an MCA-88X) require the use of a premium Spotify account in order to use Spotify Connect. This is a restriction made by Spotify.
This is a personal preference. iOS users can choose from AirPlay, Spotify Connect, or Chromecast. Android users can choose from Spotify Connect or Chromecast. Russound recommends using the connection type that users are most familiar with. Chromecast users will likely prefer Chromecast. AirPlay users will likely prefer AirPlay. Note that XTS-Series touchscreens customers who wish to have quick access to Spotify from their Russound touchscreen must use Spotify Connect in order for Russound favorites to work properly.
There is a very quick way to switch to the Spotify app. From your phone or tablet, just tap on the Spotify logo and you’ll instantly switch to the Spotify app. This works with either Spotify Connect or Chromecast. When using Chromecast, tapping the streaming service logo (Pandora, Spotify, TIDAL, etc.) will always open that streaming service’s app for a quick and easy way to change your music selection.
If using the MBX-Series of streaming audio products, yes, you can group your rooms with Spotify as the content. There are two ways to do this: 1) You can use Spotify Connect and join the rooms using normal Russound room grouping; or 2) you can use Chromecast and create a Chromecast group of any rooms that you’d like and then select that group from the Spotify app.
Yes. The MBX-Series of products are all part of the RCI (Russound Certified Installer) program and must be installed and configured by an approved professional installer. They are not designed to be installed and configured directly by consumers in order to guarantee the best possible installation and user experience. More information about the RCI program is available by clicking here.
The MBX-AMP and MBX-PRE are rack-mountable using a rack shelf. The units are 1U high but it is recommended to use a 2U space to allow for ventilation above the units. Two units fit easily side-by-side within the rack space.
The MBX-AMP includes two wall-mount brackets and mounting screws. These can be used for wall mounting or for mounting in any structured wiring can or backbox with 6” OC mounting screws. Because the MBX-PRE is primarily designed for use in an equipment closet or rack, it does not include mounting brackets in the box but the MBX-AMP mounting brackets are designed to work with the MBX-PRE too, if needed.
The MBX-PRE and MBX-AMP have the same convenient front panel controls. There is Volume+, Volume-, Play/Pause, Favorite 1 and Favorite 2. The favorite buttons work like radio preset buttons in a car. Just press and hold the button to store the currently playing selection as a new favorite. A quick tap of the button will re-select that item at any time. Additionally, the Play button works as a quick way to restart the last played content. Just press Play at any time to select and play the last played content.
Bluetooth Pairing Mode is also activated with the front panel buttons. Pressing and holding the outermost buttons (Favorite 1 and Volume +) will cause the front panel LED to blink blue twice and for the MBX product to enter Bluetooth pairing mode.
For the MBX-AMP, IR learning mode is also activated with the front panel buttons. Simply press and hold the middle button (Play) and the rightmost button (Volume +) simultaneously until the front panel LED begins blinking green.
If you want to always be able to use Bluetooth, mkae sure that you have selected Bluetooth Always Available in the setup menu in WebConfig. Otherwise, when the MBX device enters low power standby mode, Bluetooth will be disabled until the device fully wakes up from low power mode.
If you are having difficulty learning IR codes, try learning the codes when the Wi-Fi radio in the MBX-AMP is not in use. This can be done by using a wired Ethernet connection while you learn IR codes and then unplugging the Ethernet connection to return to a normal Wi-Fi connection.
IR commands for Volume Up, Volume Down, and Mute are not designed to wake up the MBX-AMP from low power standby. If you would like those commands to always be available, simply disable Low Power Standby Mode in WebConfig.
WebConfig will not display properly on devices that are running iOS 9 or earlier. You can view the MBX-Device WebConfig page from a different device with a newer operating system in order to configure it.