Yamaha DM1000 Digital Production Console

With twice the number of mix channels as the 02R96 and no reduction of functionality when operating at 96 kHz, the $18,000 DM2000 won considerable acclaim from critics and mid-sized audio production facilities alike. Hot on the heels of the DM2000 comes Yamaha's compact and feature-laden DM1000 ($5,299).
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No one can accuse Yamaha of dragging their feet when it comes to digital mixers. In the last two years, Yamaha delivered significantly updated versions of its popular small-format mixers (02R96 and 01V96) and introduced two new-from-the-ground-up professional consoles: the scalable PM1D control surface and outboard audio processing system, and the self-contained DM2000 digital production console.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, postproduction, theater, live sound, fixed installations

Key Features: 48-channel; eight-bus; all channels functional at 96 kHz; 20 analog inputs including 16 mic preamps; Studio Manager (Mac and PC) mixer control software included; optional meter bridge ($949), wood side panels ($349) and rack mount kit ($27) available

Price: $5,299

Contact: Yamaha at 714-522-9011 or Web Site.
With twice the number of mix channels as the 02R96 and no reduction of functionality when operating at 96 kHz, the $18,000 DM2000 won considerable acclaim from critics and mid-sized audio production facilities alike. Hot on the heels of the DM2000 comes Yamaha's compact and feature-laden DM1000 ($5,299).

Features

The 48-channel DM1000 console is truly a chip off the digital block, sharing many of the features found in the 96-channel DM2000 (PAR 4/03). Apart from the number of channels, the most immediate difference between the two consoles is that the DM1000 can be squeezed into a standard 19-inch rack.

Using the supplied Studio Manager software, mix and settings data are easily shared among DM1000, DM2000 and 02R96 digital consoles, making the affordable DM1000 an attractive "off-line" console for multiroom facilities.

Like the DM2000, all 48 channels on the DM1000 can operate at 96 kHz - a feat many other digital consoles in this price range cannot claim. The console can also operate at the lower sampling rates of 88.1 kHz, 48 kHz and 44.1 kHz. Internal processing is carried out at 32-bit resolution with 56-bit accumulators. Mix settings are completely recallable using both dynamic and snapshot automation.

Users can select up to four simultaneous internal effects processors featuring a range of stereo and surround tools. Effects banks and settings can be exported and imported using the Studio Manager software interface. Each of the DM1000's channels is equipped with its own four-band parametric EQ plus independent gate/expander and compressor sections.

The DM1000 comes as standard with 20 analog XLR inputs - 16 of which have mic preamps - and 12 analog outputs on XLR connectors. The mic amps are the same as found on the DM2000 console and feature individually selectable phantom power. Analog inputs directly feed the mixer's on-board 24-bit/96 kHz analog-to-digital converters; all digital-to-analog converters operate at 24-bit/96 kHz as well.

Two expansion slots are available, each capable of handling 16 channels of I/O using Yamaha's mini YGDAI analog and digital expansion cards. In addition to Yamaha's multiformat expansion cards, the two slots are also compatible with Apogee's high performance A/D and D/A cards and the Waves Y56K plug-in effects card.

The control surface features 17 touch-sensitive 100-milimeter motorized faders (16 plus master). Four-layer fader switching selects channels 1-16, 17-32, 33-48 or the "master" layer (Aux 1-8 and Bus 1-8).

Each fader channel has a corresponding rotary knob/push-switch controller and the familiar Yamaha set of three buttons: Select, Solo and On (mute). A "Selected Channel" control section allows immediate access to the most used parameters on the currently selected channel via a series of buttons and knobs.

Smack in the middle of the console is the DM1000's Display Section, featuring a fluorescent backlit 320 x 240 LCD panel. Also located in the display section are the console's 32-segment stereo meter LED display, a LCD contrast control knob and a row of function and page-scroll buttons.

The optional MB1000 Peak Meter Bridge ($949) features 16 12-segment level meters that can display pre-EQ and pre or post fader input channel levels. The meter bridge also provides eight 12-segment meters for monitoring the console's mix buses, and a large timecode location display.

The bare console (without meter bridge and side panels) measures 23 inches x 7.8 inches x 17.1 inches and weighs in at 44 pounds.

In Use

During the review period, I primarily used the DM1000 to mix several stereo and surround productions in my studio. I also brought the console to another location to record basic tracks and overdubs on an ongoing production - the ability to easily transport the board was a big plus.

I was frequently impressed by both the quality and capabilities of this little charmer. Having worked for a time at a facility that employs 12 of the original Yamaha 02R consoles, I was happy to find that none of the issues I had with that board exist in the DM1000.

Yamaha deserves credit for producing a board this powerful feature-wise, while maintaining a high-road approach to the console's input, conversion, routing and output signal paths. Across the board, sound quality was excellent.

The feature set with which I was most impressed is what many will recognize as the most important: the DM1000's extremely flexible digital patching abilities. It is this feature alone that makes the DM1000 more useful than any other compact digital console I have used (the DM2000 excepted).

In short, any of the console's analog and digital inputs, returns, auxes, busses and inserts can be assigned to any mix channels, aux busses, program busses or analog and digital outputs. With the expansion slots outfitted with digital I/O expansion cards (plus the console's built-in AES and S/PDIF digital I/O), I turned the DM1000 into an autonomous digital patchbay/routing system while still being able to mix using the rest of the console's inputs and bus outs. Complicated patch setups were recallable at the click of a mouse in the Studio Manager software.

Also adding value to the console is its comprehensive 5.1/6.1 surround mixing and monitoring capability. The built-in surround monitoring control is every bit as comprehensive and functional as the stand-alone several-thousand-dollar surround monitors I have used. By not having to bus signals out of the mixer and into an outboard unit, combined with the DM1000's internal routing abilities, saved a bunch of hassles and increased overall efficiency.

While I did not get to delve too deep into using the DM1000 as an advanced DAW control surface, it took practically no time to realize basic functionality. In less than 10 minutes, I was able to use the DM1000 to control transport, fader automation, solo/mute and panning functions within Steinberg's Nuendo software.

While the DM1000 can be described more or less as a half-size DM2000, there are two notable omissions in the DM1000 that can be found in the DM2000 feature set.

The first is ergonomic - the DM2000 has an extremely useful digital "scribble strip" that can display the names of each channel in the current bank. When flipping through multiple banks of channel faders, having the ability to quickly and accurately know what is on each channel is invaluable. This was probably cut to meet its price point - hence, a luxury we will have to do without.

The other item is a little more obstructive: unlike the DM2000, the DM1000 has no analog insert point before the A/D conversion of the microphone inputs. Call me old fashioned but I still like to use my favorite analog compressors on the way in to the conversion process.

Summary

Without a doubt, the sonic quality and feature set of the DM1000 is an amazing achievement for Yamaha and an excellent value for production studios. Given its flexibility, the console also has excellent potential for use in theater, installations and sound reinforcement.

At $5,299, the purchase of a DM1000 is not terribly hard to justify. Consider this: an equivalent outboard analog/digital routing system combined with a comprehensive standalone surround monitoring system would cost as much as the board itself. In this case, you can consider the automated mixer, mic preamps, dynamics processors and effects processors as a bonus!