The MGP Series is an ideal analog live desk for today, notably packed with unique new features and creativity-inspiring digital functionality.
The MGP Series, especially the 24-channel MGP24X, is an ideal affordable live mixer for most discriminating, budget-conscious users in mid-level club, theater and house-of-worship (HOW) settings. It does not tether users to consumer technology (iOS), yet it allows its incorporation in wise ways—as an effects controller, playback/USB recording device, and so on.
Reviewed here, the MGP24X is the 24-channel version of the MGP Series featuring 16 mono inputs with XLR input, TRS input, and TRS insert per channel; four stereo inputs; comprehensive analog I/O including powered main, monitor and subwoofer outputs, studio monitor outputs, matrix outputs, XLR talkback input, and dual RCA stereo I/O. The MGP24X’s digital side is accessed via its top panel, featuring both USB 2.0 and USB iOS jacks for the desk’s built-in recording/playback device and DSP control, respectively.
Out of the box, the MGP Series is strikingly overbuilt, quiet and clean in operation, and straightforward in design; any experienced user could be up and running with an MGP in minutes. Thus, Yamaha’s inspired proprietary features within the MGP Series are the icings that makes this cake so tasty, each itemized below.
Yamaha’s D-PRE “studio grade” discrete Class A microphone preamplifiers have been newly refined, explains company promotional materials, and they sound crystal clear and powerful—notably impressive for a mixer at this price, I believe. Each channel preamp is well paired with numbingly simple one-knob compressor with signal LED and flavorful three-band channel EQ with “vintage inspired” frequency curves. Together, the D-PRE, one-knob comp and honestly-good-sounding EQ gives users a lot to work with per channel.
On its digital side, the MGP Series offers some really helpful features. Most impressive is the Stereo Hybrid Channel—a DSP engine controlled by traditional knobs and switches rather than accessed via deep GUI-based menus—offering Priority Ducker, a “no-operator” feature allowing one mic to take priority over another sound source with adjustable attenuation level; Leveler, a smoothly-designed auto-leveling compressor; and The Stereo Image, which narrows the pan balance of a stereo sound source, improving overall sound over a broadly distributed theater or HOW-based audience.
Two separate effects processors are also built-in: Yamaha’s REV-X Hall, Room and Plate reverbs and the beloved SPX multi-effects engine; between the two, MGP users are far from limited in effects options. Considering the MGP24X’s price point, these effects notably sound “rich.”
Finally, the iOS app-friendly throngs will find ways to incorporate their smart devices beyond simple recording and playback. Simply dock (and charge) an iPod/iPhone and the MGP Editor, a free app, allows iOS-wielding users a more detailed, touchscreen-based GUI to dial in REV-X and SPX effects, Priority Ducker and Leveler, and more. Further, the stereo bus benefits via a digital 14-band Graphic EQ (with Flex EQ from Yamaha’s pro CL Series) and digital multi-band master compressor, both easily used and controlled via iOS.
I first employed the MGP24X in two full band rehearsals at a medium-sized club venue; this allowed us more time to audition effects, EQ settings and compressor levels. Most striking was how many features were packed into a numbingly intuitive, seemingly traditional analog desk—and really good features, at that. It’s no longer notable to have built-in digital effects in your workhorse analog mixer, but to have ones that sound this good, at this price point, is. Band members, ones very familiar with the venue and powered speakers in use, commented that this particular house mix sounded clearer and “stronger” than usual. With the MGP24X at FOH, the following gig with the same musicians at the same venue proved to be easy, not to mention one of the best sounding shows I can remember having anything to do with.
I next took the MGP24X to my local church, where we also used it for performances incorporating lots of open mics on voices, acoustic instruments, and more. This time, we dove into Hybrid Channel, where the “set it and forget it” ease of Priority Ducker, Leveler and Stereo Image all came into play. Clearly, Yamaha both understands and serves the HOW market, where this kind of easy auto-functionality is truly “value added,” as it all performed as advertised. It wasn’t hard to give volunteer users a quick rundown of the desk, either; in these environments, analog design and mentality still rules—something Yamaha designers obviously understand.
There are a number of 24-channel analog mixers on the market today—ones that are certainly smaller and cheaper—featuring both digital effects and a USB/iOS-friendly design philosophy. However, the MGP Series is a clear cut above the majority, proving that the analog mixer still serves many as a true mixing centerpiece, and one that operates cleanly and intuitively is still a live mixer’s most important feature.
Price: $1,199 street
Contact: Yamaha | http://yamahaproaudio.com