New York, NY—Throughout 2017, Yamaha Pro Audio has been celebrating its 30 years of building digital mixing consoles by highlighting its history in a variety of ways, like pulling some of its earliest examples out of storage and bringing them to trade shows like NAMM and NAB to highlight the steady progression Yamaha has made, having released 22 series of digital mixers in 30 years.
Yamaha first entered into the digital mixer when the company was marking its 100th anniversary in 1987. It was already no stranger to consoles, having kicked off its PM series of analog mixers 15 years earlier in 1972, but at that moment, the company was riding high on the success of its then-ubiquitous DX7 synthesizer. It was in fact from that product that the first Yamaha digital mixer—the DMP7—was born. Created as an accessory of sorts to mix sounds from the TX816—a tone bank of eight DX7 engines in rack-mount form—the DMP7 had two built-in microphone inputs plus the option to add more mics via additional gear, and it also offered primordial scene memory, allowing users to preserve and recall scenes with its motorized faders.
The next few years saw the company get on a roll, with the DMP11 in 1989 (a DMP7 without motorized faders), the DMR8 in 1990 (a tape-based digital recorder/mixer with 28-bit internal processing); and the DMC1000 in 1991, which could connect to 24-32 track digital recorders like the Sony PCM-3324 and Mitsubishi X-850. The DMP9 was introduced in 1993 as a descendent of the DMP11, available in multiple channel counts of 8 or 16.
Throughout this era, while Yamaha’s digital mixers made inroads in the studio world, the live sound marketplace remained determinedly analog-minded. Some of that resistance ebbed, however, with Yamaha’s 1994 release of the ProMix 01, a programmable mixer which became a familiar sight as it was used for mixing small events over the next few years, though a mid-Nineties arena tour by Neil Diamond was mixed with 14 ProMix01s summed into a PM3500 by technologically adventurous FOH engineer Stan Miller.
1995 saw Yamaha debut the 02R studio console, which featured 44-channel mixing capacity with 4-band parametric EQ, dynamics processing, input delays and more; that was followed up by the 03D two years later, offering the same capabilities in a rack-mount mixer. Yamaha’s last digital mixer of the 20th Century was the 01V, a ProMix01 successor with redesigned Mini-YGDAI format expansion card slots.
If the ProMix01 let engineers dip their toes in the water when it came to digital mixers, Yamaha made all the more of a splash in 2001 with its PM1D console, introduced with a debut event at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The desk kicked off pro touring’s wholesale move from analog to digital mixing, offering users a separate control surface, DSP engine and I/O components in a package that was ‘analog enough’ both in sound and basic design to get wary engineers interested in making the leap to digital.
With that, Yamaha went on a tear, releasing digital mixer after mixer through 2006. There was 2002’s DM2000, intended for production and surround mixing/monitoring, which offered 96 kHz sampling and 96-channel mixing capability. 2003 saw the debuts of the rack-mounted 48-channel DM1000, and the 01V96, which updated the original 01V with 96 kHz sampling, 100 mm motorized faders, surround mixing and DAW control. A year on, Yamaha unveiled the PM5D—a PM1D with half the channel capacity (the “5” actually meant “0.5”)—and in 2005, brought on the M7CL, a live mixer that replaced cursor keys and the like with a then-rare touchscreen (iPhones, which made such marvels commonplace, were still two years away), and also condensed all primary control functions to two display pages. 2006 then saw the unveiling of the LS9 series, focusing the methodology of the M7CL to fit the needs of the club and small venue market.
Since 2010, Yamaha’s digital mixers have largely focused on live sound applications, with that year’s M7CL-48ES, which added a digital stage box to the original M7CL. 2011 saw Yamaha introduce the 01V96i, offering improved integration with DAWs, multitrack recording capability, advanced VCM effects and a refined head amp section. In 2012, the CL Series of live sound mixers debuted, serving up considerable processing power and onboard plug-ins, and were followed by the QL Series two years later, sporting a refined control interface and “Port to Port” feature allowing it to patch any input port to any output port.
In recent times, the company debuted its TF Series mixers with TouchFlow interfaces in 2015, which was then expanded with the introduction of the TF-RACK rack-mounted version last year. Also in 2015, Yamaha unveiled its current flagship desk, the RIVAGE PM10 digital live sound console with Rupert Neve Silk and Transformer emulation.
While Yamaha has been looking back at the last three decades of digital mixers this year, it is also moving forward with products like the RIVAGE CS-R10-S, which debuted at NAB—a mixer with a one-third smaller surface than the PM10, but all the same capabilities. When the company headed to InfoComm in Orlando, FL this month, modern gear that built on Yamaha’s three decades-long legacy was definitely present.