First Look - Yamaha DM2000 Digital Console

The DM2000 is a mid-sized digital production console designed for project and commercial studios, postproduction and live use. The DM2000 is scheduled to ship this month with an estimated MSRP just under $20,000.
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Last fall, Yamaha announced the release of its new DM2000 digital production console. This preview is based on information supplied from the manufacturer, a personal demonstration of the board at winter NAMM, and an interview with Yamaha National Sales and Marketing Manager Larry Italia. Pro Audio Review will publish a complete hands-on review in an upcoming issue.

The DM2000 is a mid-sized digital production console designed for project and commercial studios, postproduction and live use. The DM2000 is scheduled to ship this month with an estimated MSRP just under $20,000.

Yamaha's workhorse 02R digital console has gained wide acceptance and the DM2000 will be suited for similar applications. Moving past the 02R, however, are the addition of full 24-bit/96-kHz capabilities, extended 5.1 support and more I/O, DSP and effects - raising the stakes for users working in the expanding worlds of hi-res digital audio and surround.

Features and Applications

The DM2000 contains 96 inputs mapped to 24 faders and channel strips, and the 100 mm motorized faders can be toggled through four layers for control of all 96 channels. Rotary soft encoder knobs control panning, sends and other assignable functions. Each channel and all internal D/A and A/D converters can handle full 96 kHz audio at 24 bits. The console comes with eight dedicated busses (up to 24 total busses if you include auxes and the like), omni outputs for surround or specialized routing, and a 22 x 8 matrix (four stereo matrices) system that allows LCRS and stereo output for down-mixing and monitoring, or zone level control. A joystick allows panning in 5.1 surround applications, and bass management and speaker alignment functions are included.

Twenty-four balanced analog inputs and mic pres are available on XLR and line-level TRS connections, each equipped with balanced inserts. Besides the basic bus, aux and monitoring I/O, digital I/O is generally handled through customizable cards in each of six open YDGAI slots. Dedicated cascade ports allow cascading of two DM2000s for a total of 192 possible input channels. Available Yamaha cards can handle most setups, including TDIF, ADAT and AES/EBU formats as well as options for additional analog I/O on XLR or TRS jacks. Several third party cards are in the works, with offerings from Apogee Electronics and Waves now available.

The console contains an LCD display screen, which provides context-sensitive information and interface (external monitors are supported via a VGA output). In a nice feature borrowed from the PM1D, each channel has a dot matrix LED display that shows the writable channel name for quick identification when moving between fader banks. Other display devices include the MB2000 meter bridge, displaying time-code data as well as channel level on 48 12-segment LED displays. Metering can be switched to display pre-EQ, prefader and after-fader signal strength as well as bus, aux sends and matrix levels.

Each channel comes with four-band fully parametric EQ and independent channel gates and compressors, handled by the new DSP6 and DSP7 LSI chips. These DSP effects are also 96 kHz, handled with internal 32-bit (58-bit accumulator) processing, and include a wide variety of patches such as reverb, delay, pitch shift, distortion, phase and chorus. A fader mode allows faders to be switched to aux or matrix level control.

Sixteen user definable soft keys can be customized to allow access to frequently used functions. Nearly all console parameters are fully automatable to quarter-frame resolution, with updates possible on touch-sensitive faders and memory cards allowing automation data to be saved, transferred or archived. All available inputs, outputs, effects and channel inserts can be assigned to any console channel or output, and a direct output function enables any of the 96 input channels to be routed directly to any other digital or analog output.

DAW Integration

Recognizing the dominance of hard disk and DAW use in digital studios, control of Pro Tools and Steinberg's Nuendo systems comes standard. Faders, channel switches and encoders can be set to drive corresponding DAW parameters, and control of plug-ins, transport and automation is also possible. While not as tightly integrated, other manufacturer's DAWs can be controlled through MIDI.

The DM2000 actually integrates many DAW features on its own with the supplied Studio Manager software, which allows real-time control of all console parameters via Mac or PC. The graphic interface contains a virtual mixer, windows for routing, surround and automation editing, effects control and preset management, a graphic EQ, and system setup control. In an interesting touch, the software can be programmed "off-line" while not connected to the console, which allows sessions to be set up (on a laptop for example) to get a jump on setup or to make changes between sessions.

Summary

The Yamaha 02R found widespread acceptance as studios made the transition into the digital world. With the introduction of the DM2000, Yamaha again looks to set the standard as we move into a world where high-resolution digital audio, surround applications and extensive use of workstations for production and post-production are commonplace. The console's design displays a well thought-out feature set and impressive nods to high-end sound quality. If the DM2000's promise lives up to expectations, the console's introduction will be a welcome development for engineers.