(click thumbnail)Yamaha has always been known for making products that are high quality and packed with features. With the EMX series of powered mixers Yamaha appears to have continued this tradition.
We all know the scenario: We have a small venue or event that requires a system to amplify a small band or group, but you want quality sound, easy setup, flexible routing and effects and the less pieces you have to schlep, the better. Well, if this is your short list, the EMX 5014 may fit the bill to a T.
The EMX 5014 is a 14-input powered mixer with a two-channel power amp, and selectable power output of 500 watts, 200 watts or 75 watts per channel. This compact little brute weighs only 22 pounds. It is Yamaha gray/blue in color and can be rackmounted using the separately sold RK5014 rackmount kit. The layout of the mixer looks very clean and straightforward. At the top of desk are the connections for I/O: eight mic XLR inputs, six TRS line inputs, two stereo TRS or RCA inputs, a TRS +4 dBu external effects send, two TRS +4 dBu aux sends, a record out on a pair of RCA jacks, a stereo pair of TRS +4 dBu sub outputs, a stereo pair of TRS +4 dBu main outputs, a foot switch jack for muting the effect and a phones jack.
The channel strip section is just below with six mono inputs channels and four stereo channels. Each of the mono channels has a 26 dB pad switch, gain control, 80 Hz high-pass filter switch, a compressor control knob, a feedback channel indicating LED, and an EQ section with 10 kHz shelving, sweepable mid section from 250 Hz - 5 kHz with a ±15 dB cut/boost and a 100 Hz low-band shelving filter. The strip has two aux sends and a pre/post-fader switch for sending to the Aux 2 bus. Aux 1 is prefader. An internal effects level send, a pan, a channel on button, a peak and signal present LED (red and green respectively), a PFL switch and the channel fader complete the strip.
The stereo channels have gain control, 80 Hz high-pass filter, a fixed filter for high, mid and low (the mid is fixed at 2.5 kHz), then aux, effects pan, channel on, peak and signal present LEDs, PFL and fader just like the other channels.
Next to the right is the internal effects channel strip. Here you can select one of 16 available Yamaha SPX quality effects programs ranging from halls, plates, rooms, chorus, flanger, auto wah distortion and the all important karaoke echo. A simple selection knob allows the selection of the effect and then a parameter knob lets you dial in the right amount of effect. You can send the effects to Aux 1 and Aux 2 and, of course, an on/off switch to allow the engaging of the effect. There is a master fader to control the effect return. In the last section, to the far right, you have a power LED followed by a nine-band graphic EQ with a bypass switch. There is a switchable global phantom power provided for all microphone inputs. There is a power amp selection output switch that allows you to select between 75 watt, 200 watt and 500 watt power output.
A cool little output selection matrix lets you assign the amp outputs to channels for either stereo operation (main fader) Aux 1 and mono (main and monitor) or Aux 1 and Aux 2 (two completely different outputs). There is a special Yamaha-developed circuit called the YS processor that contours the output for non-sub output usage. Engaging this switch activates the process, which enhances bass frequency content and the result varies depending on the speakers used. There is a Channels 1 - 6 standby switch that allows you to mute the mic input channels and lights up to let you know it’s in use. An LED bargraph meter can be assigned to the stereo output or AFL/PFL. A phones control, subwoofer output PFL and AFL switches and the master stereo fader are also offered.
On the back end of the unit are the connections for the speakers. Both Speakon and 1/4-inch jacks are provided. The power cable is removable and the power button is located just inside of the AC cable jack.
The Feedback Channel Locating (FCL) system indicator LEDs at the top of each channel light if the corresponding channel goes into feedback is a pretty neat concept and nice for a novice. Like the single control compressor, there are many features and controls on this board geared toward the novice user to help them get a good mix and maintain the quality and control of the sound. I also like that the unit features a range of inputs and outputs that allow it to be integrated into larger systems. Insert patch points on the mono input channels and aux and effect sends allow you to route the mixer’s signals to external signal processing and/or monitor systems as required.
I have to say that I really liked the layout of this mixer. It is remarkably lightweight for having two 500 watt amps built in. I especially like the topside headphone jack and separate control. The unit is fairly quiet considering there are two fans, with the fans only ramping up as the amps heat up. In the idle state, the fans won’t be the loudest thing in the room. The knobs and buttons aren’t the sturdiest I have ever felt - not like some of Yamaha’s other larger boards - but they certainly seem able to take years of tweaking and pressing. All the jack connectors seem top-notch and able to withstand repeated abuse.
I also like the built in handle to the case for transporting the unit. You can probably even figure out a way to wrap the cord around the handle so that you don’t even need the box, but I’d get a soft cover case for it.
Live sound, contracting
14 input channels; nine-band master graphic EQ; Feedback Channel Locating; SPX effects; compressor; twin 500 watt amps
I used the unit to do a show for a small ensemble in a church sanctuary. The room was about 60 feet x 100 feet with typical drywall walls, hard floor tiles and acoustical ceiling tile - not the best-balanced room acoustically. The band was made up of two vocalists, an acoustic guitar, a keyboard and a wireless handheld microphone.
I connected the mixer to two, two-way 200 watt speakers on stands. I selected the 75 watt amp mode as that was sufficient enough to fill the room for the gathering. Setting up the system was very intuitive and we were ready to go in no time, although the effects channel took a little fiddling and figuring out. The compressors on the mic channels, although not a dexterous variety, proved to be very handy. I used the built-in effect. The room sound for the vocals was very nice. Most of the effects seemed to sound very nice and useful.
Although the venue was not large, the board did handle the requirements and allowed us to provide quality sound in a room with a less than desirable acoustic signature. Everything went smoothly and the event was a success. I also think that it’s prudent to add that the manual provided was well written and easy to follow in a pinch. I always like seeing a signal flow chart, something that is not always available in other manuals.
I would recommend this powered mixer to anyone requiring quick, clean, reliable sound. The intuitiveness of the unit along with its flexibility allow the user to have quality sound for small bands or speaking engagements, without having to spend a whole lot of cash. The board is worth its price just for the price of the mixer and power amps - let alone the built in effects, compressors and output controls.
I would like to thank Tim Madeira for his help in this review.
Yamaha has always been known for making products that are high quality and packed with features. With the EMX series of powered mixers Yamaha appears to have continued this tradition.