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Russound MCA-88X Multi-zone controller, amplifier, and music streamer for Russound distributed audio systems

Item # 543MCA88X

Delivers music to up to eight different rooms, and it's compatible with your Amazon Alexa device for voice control.

Delivers music to up to eight different rooms, and it's compatible with your Amazon Alexa device for voice control.

3 questions - 3 answers

Item # 543MCA88X

Shop all Russound Russound Multi-room Music Systems

About the Russound MCA-88X

Kramer Crane

Whole-house music, your way

Russound's MCA-88X is a music streamer, multi-zone amplifier, and system controller all rolled into one chassis. This rack-mountable unit delivers music to up to eight different rooms. And it's compatible with your Amazon Alexa device, providing you with a simple-but-powerful way of playing music using voice commands. Learn more about Alexa compatibility here

Whole-house music, your way

Russound's MCA-88X is a music streamer, multi-zone amplifier, and system controller all rolled into one chassis. This rack-mountable unit delivers music to up to eight different rooms. And it's compatible with your Amazon Alexa device, providing you with a simple-but-powerful way of playing music using voice commands. Learn more about Alexa compatibility here

Russound MCA-88 multi-zone controller and amplifier

The MCA-88X offers an array of input and output options for your multi-room audio system.

Built-in power for 12 speakers

The MCA-88X has six pairs of speaker outputs that each deliver 40 watts RMS per channel — plenty of power to drive in-wall, in-ceiling, and bookshelf speakers around your home. 

Send music to up to 8 zones

In addition to its six pairs of powered outputs, the MCA-88X can send a line-level RCA signal to up to eight zones. This lets you use additional amplifiers in conjunction with the MCA-88X to power more speakers.

Built-in web streaming

The MCA-88X has a built-in feature called XStream™, which lets you easily play music from Spotify®, Pandora®, SiriusXM, and a host of other online providers. You can also access content from your local music library as well. The free MyRussound app for iOS® or Android™ devices lets you select content from compatible sources, adjust volume, and more. 

Lots of source connection options

A host of RCA, coaxial digital, and optical digital inputs let you connect as many as eight different external audio sources, like network music streamers, CD players, and satellite radio tuners. Play jazz in the upstairs bedroom, salsa in the kitchen, rock in the living room, and sports radio on the patio. Or play the same source simultaneously throughout the house. 

Expansion possibilities

Want to listen to your music in more than eight rooms? By adding extra controller/amplifiers, keypads, and optional hardware, you can distribute music to up to 48 areas of your home. Contact our A/V Design group for free personalized help designing your multi-room audio system.


Product highlights:

  • multi-zone controller and power amp for Russound multi-room audio systems
  • distributes music from eight sources to up to eight listening areas in your home
  • expandable up to 48 zones with additional controller/amplifiers
  • streams music from Spotify®, Pandora®, SiriusXM, and other online providers, along with content from your home music library
  • 8 RCA stereo inputs
  • 2 coaxial digital and 1 optical/coaxial digital inputs
  • 6 pairs of speaker connectors
  • 40 watts RMS x 12 at 8 ohms
  • 8 line-level RCA outputs for connecting additional amplifiers
  • supports RS-232 and IP-control for integrating a third-party home automation system
  • supports voice control via an Amazon Alexa device
  • 8 RJ-45 ports for connecting optional in-wall keypads via category cable
  • 6 routed IR outputs and 1 common IR output
  • 12-volt trigger input and output
  • supports Bluetooth® streaming with optional BTC-1X receiver
  • rack-mountable with (mounting ears included)
  • 17"W x 3-3/4"H x 16-1/4"D
  • weight: 28.8 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years
  • MFR # 1550-536366

What's in the box:

  • Multi-zone controller/amplifier
  • Six 4-pin speaker terminal blocks
  • 2 Rack-mount ears
  • Ten 12mm machine screws
  • 71" AC Power cord (IEC 3-pin)
  • Installation manual
  • Read-This-First software unlocking warning

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More details on the Russound MCA-88X

Stacey B.

Product Research

Inputs and Outputs
Configuration and Control
Additional Features


Overview: The Russound MCA-88X is an 8 source, 8 zone controller/amplifier with 40 watts (RMS) of output power per channel for each of the 6 amplified zones. Zones 7 and 8 are line-level outputs for running to an optional outboard amplifier or set of powered speakers (both sold separately). The MCA-88X also features Russound's XStream digital media streaming capability built-in. The MCA-88X is Ethernet enabled and is part of Russound's RIO (Russound I/O) IP based control systems protocol, allowing it to communicate bi-directionally with Russound zone keypads and touchscreen controllers (both sold separately). The amplifier/controller includes a multitude of analog and digital inputs, all of which can be assigned to any of the 8 zones. Other features include home theater trigger outputs, for activating outboard devices, an RS-232 port, for integration with serial-connected home automation systems, and a direct-connection port for Russound's optional Bluetooth interface (sold separately).

 Inputs and Outputs

Input Sources: The Russound MCA-88X can have up to 7 physical input sources along with XStream media streaming source that can be assigned to the zone outputs. Sources include:

  • Analog Inputs: The controller/amplifier's rear panel includes 8 pairs of signal-sensing RCA inputs, which can be used to input audio from a variety of playback devices, such as a CD or media player. These sources can be programmed during zone setup to be global sources, or zones can be individually programmed for restricted access. Each of these inputs also has an additional pair of looped RCA OUTs for passing incoming signals for that zone back out to an outboard amplifier or other processor.
    • Page Input: Input eight's right RCA jack can also be used as a paging audio input, accepting line-level audio signals. This works in conjunction with the rear-panel 3.5mm Page Trigger Input. The right channel RCA output will loop the Page signal back out, for running to an additional amplifier. This input can interface with the page output of a telephone system or other peripheral device. When a page event is engaged, it interrupts the audio outputs for all enabled zones. System paging can be disabled permanently in each zone or temporarily. These settings, along with Source 8 assignment are done in the Web Config setup software (see Configuration and Control). A rear-panel Paging Audio Gain dial is used to adjust the Page signal input.
  • Digital Inputs: Three coaxial digital and one optical input are provided for running digital audio sources into the system, such as from a streaming device or digital media player. The digital inputs are hard-wired to Sources 3, 4, and 5. The Web Config setup software lets you designate whether those input sources will be using the analog or digital inputs. Digital Input 5 includes both coax and optical ports, only one of which can be used at a time.
  • XStream Media Streaming: When the controller/amplifier is connected to a LAN with internet access, the unit's built-in digital media streamer can stream audio from popular music sites like Pandora, Spotify, Tunein, and vTuner (subscriptions may apply for certain services). By default, the XStream source is configured as Source 2.
    • AirPlay: The MCA-88X supports Apple AirPlay, enabling you to stream music from your iTunes library or other audio content from any AirPlay-enabled Apple device connected to the same network.
    • UPnP/DLNA: The controller/amplifier is Universal Plug 'n' Play and Digital Living Network Alliance compliant, for streaming music stored on a connected computer or NAS storage device. The MCA-88X supports multiple file formats including: MP3 (CBR and VBR), WAV (8-, 16-, and 24-bit), OGG Vorbis, FLAC (8-, 16-, and 24-bit), AAC and AAC+. Note: Any content that is protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management) cannot be played back.
  • Bluetooth: The MCA-88X provides a rear-panel RJ-45 connection for the optional Russound BTC-1X Bluetooth module (sold separately), allowing audio to be streamed from a Bluetooth enabled smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The BTC-1X module has a Bluetooth range of up to 49' and can be located up to 300' from the MCA-88X using CAT-5 cable. This allows audio to be streamed from a location remote to the MCA-88X. The BTC-1X uses aptX audio codec for enhanced sound quality. A Bluetooth connection takes up Input Source 1. Using the Web Config setup software, a Primary Zone can be set for the Bluetooth input, allowing a specific zone to serve as the default zone for Bluetooth source.

Zone Speaker Outputs: Six pairs of stereo speaker outputs are provided in the form of removable 4-pin terminal blocks, one each for zones 1-6, each using a locking-lever connection accepting speaker wire up to 14 ga. in size. Each pair of outputs is powered by its own internal 2-channel amplifier, providing up to 40 watts (RMS) per channel into an 8Ω load (minimum impedance).

Zone Line Outputs: A bank of 8 pairs of RCA jacks, one for each of the  8 zones, is included for sending that zone's audio to an outboard amplifier (sold separately). The output for each can be set to either Fixed or Variable in the Web Config, allowing that zone's volume to be adjusted either from within the MyRussound App or at the outboard playback amp. Other zone settings available in the Web Config include:

  • Zone and Source Naming: A list of predefined names are available for each zone and source, or they can be custom named.
  • Party Mode: This mode allows a pre-designated source to play through all assigned zones.
  • Linked Zone and Source Groups: Allows up to two sources and zones to be linked to a single touchscreen or keypad controller.
  • All On: Each zone can be assigned to respond to an All On command from a controller.
  • Source Exclusion: Allows you to limit the sources available to a particular zone.
  • Paging: Page Participation and Page Volume can be set for each zone.
Configuration and Control

Ethernet Connection: The MCA-88X features a rear-panel Ethernet port for a hard-wired connection to a LAN (Local Area Network), allowing configuration and programming of the controller/amplifier through the Web Config, as well as enabling day-to-day control via the MyRussound App. The default network setting is DHCP-enabled, but a static IP address can be configured using the Web Config software during initial setup.

Note: All setup and configuration must be done through a browser-based controller using a network connection. When the MCA-88X is initially shipped, it will only operate in a "locked" state. In this state, no audio or control is available. In order to unlock the system, valid Russound Certified Installer credentials must be entered using the convenient Web Config browser-based configuration utility. Please contact your sales advisor for details.

Web Config: The MCA-88X includes a new programming feature called Web Config. This allows the MCA-88X to be completely configured via its IP address using any smartphone, tablet, or laptop connected to the same network as the controller/amplifier. Configurable options include: zone assignments, network configuration, IR programming, power management, keypad button configuration, and more.

MyRussound App: The MyRussound App (available from the App Store or Google Play Store) lets you operate the MCA-88X from your Apple or Android phone or tablet, giving you control of the controller/amp from anywhere inside your network's range. This is a convenient way to select a source for a zone, change the volume and sound settings, and can even let you control other devices connected to the MCA-88X like a satellite box, Blu-ray player, or radio tuner. This also allows other people to control the sound and source for the zone they're in.

XTS Controller: The Russound XTSPlus Touchscreen controller (sold separately) is a stylish in-wall touchscreen that runs an embedded version of the MyRussound App. This allows the same control that's available on your smartphone or tablet without having to use your device to change the volume or make a music selection. The XTS is an IP-based network device that gets connected to either the Ethernet port on the MCA-88X or to the same router it's connected to.

Note: In order to prevent unauthorized changes to configuration settings, a default password (see owner's manual) has been created that will be required to be entered prior to changing any configuration settings. The default password is user-changeable in the Web Config.

RNET Link: Two rear-panel RJ-45 sockets provide RNET Link In and Link Out connections. These allow linking of up to two or more (maximum 6) MCA-88X controller/amps using CAT-5e cables terminated in RJ-45 connectors using the T568A wiring configuration. A corresponding rear-panel Controller ID Switch allows each connected device to have its own unique ID number (1-6) to avoid command signals affecting all connected devices. The RNET Link In and Out ports can also be used for connecting other RNET-enabled source equipment, such as the Russound XSource Streaming Audio Player (sold separately). Along with RNET data signals, these ports will also pass source IR signals between different RNET devices. Note: To avoid potential cross-talk between the source-specific IR repeating signal lines, CAT5e cable runs should not exceed 18 inches in length.

Keypad Controllers: The MCA-88X features six RJ-45 ports, one for each zone, for connecting optional MDK-C6 or SLK-1 keypad controllers (both sold separately). Designed for individual control of any of the 6 output zones, the SLK-1 features a 5 character LCD for displaying the current source, volume level, and system status, along with basic controls for volume, power, and source selection. It can also provide basic transport controls, like play/pause, previous and next track selection, etc. for a connected player. Note: The MCA-88X's keypad ports will only work with Russound keypads. Each one outputs 12VDC that can damage other types of networking products.

IR Outputs: Six routed IR emitter pass-thru ports allow IR control of 6 individual source devices. IR Outputs 7 and 8 are doubled-up with Outputs 1 and 2. Device control can be done from a zone keypad controller, an XTS controller, or from the MyRussound App. Each 3.5mm port can accommodate an IR emitter (sold separately) that gets placed in front of the source device's IR window. A seventh Common IR port supports IR pass-thru from any of the IR sources or zones. This allows control of any source equipment without that source being selected on the keypad. 

Alexa Compatible: Alexa-enabled devices (including the Amazon Echo, Echo 2nd Gen, Echo Dot, Echo Dot 3rd Gen, Tap, Echo Show, and Echo Show 2) are able to control key functions of the Russound MCA-88X controller/amplifier through voice commands. Voice control functions include -

  • Volume Control (Turn Volume Up, Down, Mute, or set a specific volume level directly)
  • Zone On/Off
  • Playback Control (Play/Pause, Next/Previous Track, Repeat/Shuffle)
  • Like/Dislike Song (for compatible streaming sources)
  • Adjust audio settings (Bass, Treble, Loudness)
Note: You will need an Alexa-enabled device (sold separately) to operate the MCA-88X via voice-command. The controller/amplifier and the Alex-enabled devices must be on the same network.

RS-232: A rear-panel RS-232 port is provided for connecting an optional 3rd party controller device using the RS-232 control protocol.

12VDC Trigger: Two 3.5mm 12VDC trigger ports are provided (tip-positive/sleeve-negative) for both IN and OUT.

  • IN: Allows the MCA-88X and connected source devices to be powered on/off via an external device's 12VDC trigger output, such as from a home theater receiver or power management device.
  • OUT: The MCA-88X can trigger an outboard device, such as an amplifier or motorized screen, on or off. The OUT also acts as a pass-thru when using the IN port.

Common 12VDC Trigger: This 3.5mm port will output12VDC/100mA when any zone is activated (tip-positive/sleeve-negative).

Additional Features

Front-Panel Indicators: The MCA-88X's front panel includes a removable semi-transparent section covering six LEDs indicating if that corresponding zone is powered on or off. This section also includes the IR window, for use with an optional IR remote control (sold separately). A corresponding IR LED lights to indicate if the unit is receiving IR signals.

Mounting: The Russound controller/amplifier includes 4 pre-attached feet with rubber no-slip pads. The system can also be rack-mounted using the included rack-ears and hardware. After removing the attached feet and installing the rack-ears, the unit will take up 2U of rack space.

Factory Reset: A rear-panel Reset button is provided. Pressing and holding this for 3 seconds will reset the network back to DHCP. A 10 second press and hold will delete all configuration information and lock the unit (it's original state when first powered on). This will require valid Russound Certified Installer credentials and an internet connection in order to unlock the unit again. A backup copy of your original configuration can be saved in the Web Config software, letting you quickly restore the unit back after resetting and unlocking it.

Firmware Updates: The MCA-88X can have its firmware updated either through the Web Config software, as long as the controller/amp is connected to a LAN with internet access, or through the dedicated rear-panel USB port using a USB thumb drive.

Fuse Protected: The MCA-88X includes a user-replaceable T5.0A/250V AGU type fuse, located underneath the rear-panel AC power socket.

AC Voltage Switch: A rear-panel switch allows the voltage range to be set, depending on the location the controller/amplifier will be used. Choices are: 100-120V and 220-240V. If changing to 220-240V, the rear-panel fuse must be changed to a T3.15A 250V type.

  • Output Power: 40W RMS @ 8Ω
  • Minimum Impedance: 8Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz +/- 1dB at 1W output into 8Ω
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 93 dB unweighted, 96 dB A-weighted
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.05%
  • Source Inputs: 8 Pairs stereo RCA, 3 coax digital, 1 optical digital, XStream
  • Zone Outputs: 6 Speaker-level (20W/channel), 8 line-level
  • Home Theater Trigger: In/out, 12VDC (pass-thru)
  • Common Trigger: Out, 12VDC/100mA
  • Page Trigger: In, 12VDC
  • Speaker Connections: 6 Removable 4-pin connectors
  • IR Outputs: 6 Routed, with 2 shared and 1 common
  • Dimensions: Width - 17.0" (19" w/ rack-ears), Height - 3.750", Depth - 19.50" (incl. power cable)
  • Weight: 28.8 lbs.

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Customer Q&A

3 questions already asked

Can the volume of each zone be controlled with a smart phone or PAD? Are inwall volume controls necessary?
jude p  Nov 29, 2019
1 answer
Hi Jude, thank you for your question. There are key pads that can be used with this multi-zone amplifier. Please connect with a member of our AV Design department at 800.653.1007. They will be happy to go over your system design, and ensure you receive the best products for your application and needs.
jessica  Dec 09, 2019 (Staff)
Is the russound mca 88x compatible with the alt 126r volume controllers? I have 10 russound in ceiling speakers and the alt 126r controls and need something to run them
neil  Nov 01, 2019
1 answer
Hi, Your volume control would work but the MCA 88x can be controlled from an app and every zone is at your fingertips through the App. You dont need analog volume controls.
timothy  Nov 02, 2019
The installation manual states that Russound Certified Installer credentials are required to install and setup the MCA-88X. Does Crutchfield provide these credentials for its customers?
angel  Jan 02, 2019
1 answer
Hi Angel. Yes, as authorized Russound dealers we provide the credentials for the customer. Once you have the amp you can get with our tech support or AV design team to get the necessary codes to unlock and setup the system. If you have any further questions AV design would be a good resource. You can reach out to them here: --Cosmo
casey  Jan 08, 2019 (Staff)

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