Exclusive Review Yamaha M7CL Console - ProSoundNetwork.com

Exclusive Review Yamaha M7CL Console

We have all seen the big, powerful, digital mixing consoles, and want one for ourselves. But the price and power might be more than we need. We want the power of all the dynamics, the effects and the wonderful ability of moving things around in the digital realm if not even for the coolness factor but to save space.
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Fast FactsApplications: Live reinforcement, installation

Key Features: Lightweight, small footprint, fully digital, ease of use.

Price: $19,999 (32-in.), $24,999 (48-in.)

Contact: Yamaha at 714-522-9011, www.yamahaca.com.

Plus

+ Ease of use

+ Little to no learning curve

+ Complete flexibility

Minus

- Only 16 outs without buying an additional card

- Only 48 kHz capable not 96 kHz

The Score

Overall a resounding hit!We have all seen the big, powerful, digital mixing consoles, and want one for ourselves. But the price and power might be more than we need. We want the power of all the dynamics, the effects and the wonderful ability of moving things around in the digital realm if not even for the coolness factor but to save space. Well, both worlds may have just collided-so you can have your cake and eat it too without paying a designer wedding cake price!

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Features

The M7CL is the new "middle child" of the Yamaha Commercial Audio family. The M7CL comes in 32-input or 48-input configurations with four stereos and three mini-YGDAI card slots. This means you can have a total of 40 or 56 channels. Now the card slots can be utilized for more than just adding inputs. There are cards for CobraNet connections, ADAT, TDIF, and AES/EBU. Output-wise the M7CL has 16 "omni" outputs. This means that none of the standard outputs are hard wired. All outputs have to be routed to an omni out. There is no dedicated matrix, stereo or aux outputs; but you can route any output, including direct outs, to any omni out.

When you receive the console from the factory the default setting is setup so all of the standard outs are routed to the omni outs but you have the ability to change this at will. There are also eight DCAs (Digitally Controlled Amplifier) for the assignable ease of mixing.

The console comes with dual power modes. This means the console has its own internal power supply but can also be connected to a PW800W power supply unit for dual redundant fail-safe operation and it is universal by accepting 100V - 240V no matter what side of the pond you are on. The console is also small and lightweight. Tipping the scales at only 110 pounds it only sits in the footprint of a standard 24-channel console. Now most people new to the digital realm of mixing can get incredibly overwhelmed by the different interfacing and routing/paging possibilities. Yamaha has built the M7CL to be very user friendly.

A touch panel display (LCD 800 x 600) integrated with a standard selected channel concept and accessibility with no layers, one-function "virtual" knobs, and all digital controls are reached through just two main display screens. This allows you focus on whatever you are doing directly and instantly. In fact, the entire console can be easily operated from the center section that is less than 18 inches wide.

Onboard the M7CL is what Yamaha likes to call it's "Virtual Effects and Global EQ Rack" The concept here is that you have a standard 12 space rack that you can fill with various types of EQs (31-band, boost or cut, cut only, stereo 15-band, etc.) or effect units. The effect units are based off of the widely renowned Yamaha Rev X and SPX 2000 and sound immaculate. Now just like any physical "real world" rack you can place the units anywhere and in any order and rout to and from any input or output. Graphically on screen it even looks like a 12 space rack. It definitely beats sitting in the shop having to rack all that gear up and having to schlep it around venue to venue.

The sampling frequency of the console is variable 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. Frequency response is rated at 0.5-1.5 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Dynamic range is rated at 108 dB from A/D-D/A to stereo. Crosstalk is rated at -80 dB from any input channel to the adjacent one. All inputs and omni outs are on balanced XLRs.

Yamaha has also provided an editing software package with the console. This allows you to set up the console from your laptop or desktop. You can even connect your laptop directly to the console via Ethernet and have all the parameters follow in real time. The true advantage to the software is that you can build your show anywhere, i.e. on a plane or at home, and store to a USB thumb drive so you can walk in on a fly date with your entire show in your pocket. The software is as intuitive as the console itself. All routing, assignments, and even labeling can be done before you even arrive at the venue. The layout graphically is just like the physical console so there is no long learning curve or even functions that can't be accessed. It is truly all at your fingertips.

In Use

I had the pleasure of having a demo of the M7CL in December for RCI Sound Systems. The show was the Pageant of Peace-National Christmas Tree lighting. This was a very high profile show with multiple music acts, President George W. Bush speaking, and lighting the tree at the end. Now with only receiving the console about two days out from the load in we opted to put the M7CL to use as the primary recording console. Yes, I know that this is not the consoles' primary intended function, but if the pre-amps sound good, the routing functions and ease of control live up to its hype then why not? And I really needed a console for the truck.

As with all recording affairs, I had given the engineer duties to one of our top men, Eugene Yoder. With very little time, and a lot of previous PM5D experience, Eugene had the console set, routed and ready. Over the next two days, through rehearsals and show, the M7CL performed simply wonderful. Mr. Yoder said, "The only difficult thing to get used to was the touch screen and only two page accesses.

Coming from the PM5D background the touch screen was totally different, it was much like British consoles but without multiple layers; however, once I got used to it everything flowed. Having a fully digital console that is very user/learner friendly is a plus for someone who may not have extensive digital experience. The total flexibility of the omni outs is a great plus. If I had to use the M7CL again as a recording console the only thing I would change is that I would buy an additional output card. You can never have too many outs when working a recording.

Needless to say the show and console were flawless. Everyone was happy, from the President on down. The only sad part was the next day the console left our shop to be shown elsewhere. No tears were shed but the cry to get one back still echoes.

Summary

Yamaha has now proven to be the contender in the digital realm. From the PM1D, PM5D to the O1V and the M7CL right in between, this family of consoles has longevity and enormous promise in the years ahead. Even with this new console right out of the gate I would have to give the early "rookie of the year" award. The cake is cut; now don't miss your piece.