Yamaha recently introduced its MG series of smaller-format mixing consoles, available in range of channel and output bus configurations. These affordably priced Chinese-manufactured mixers boast a fairly comprehensive feature set and enough flexibility to render them useful in a variety of applications.
Product PointsApplication: Studio
Key Features: 16-channel; three-band EQ; built-in digital effects
Contact: Yamaha at 714-522-9011, Web Site.
The MG16/6FX reviewed here, is a 16-channel, six-bus (stereo bus plus two stereo groups) mixer with a built-in digital effects processor that retails for $419.
The blue-and-black Yamaha MG16/6FX follows the traditional wedge shape of most of its competitors. The included aluminum rackmount rails cleverly double as heavy-duty side panels when not used for mounting.
With the exception of the headphone jack, all inputs and outputs are found on the rear panel of the console. All of the connectors are metal (no flimsy plastic jacks) and are mounted directly to the rear metal chassis. The mixer is powered via a heavy-duty 18-volt “line lump”-style transformer power supply with a locking ring-type connector at the mixer end.
The mixer has a total of 10 microphone inputs; global phantom power is available via an illuminated switch in the master output section. Channels 1 through 8 have both mic (XLR) and line (balanced TRS 1/4-inch) inputs and each has a standard send/return-combo TRS insert jack.
Channels 9/10, 11/12, 13/14 and 15/16 are stereo line input channels, with each pair outfitted with two balanced TRS 1/4-inch jacks. Each stereo pair shares a single channel strip and fader. Channel pairs 9/10 and 11/12 each have an XLR input and mic preamp so they can be used as mono mic input channels instead of stereo line inputs.
The ten mic/line inputs (1-8, 9/10, 11/12) can provide a maximum microphone input gain of 60 dB or 34 dB of line input gain via the preamp gain knob. The channel faders can provide up to 10 dB of additional gain. Each of the 10 mic/line inputs has an 80 Hz, 12 dB/octave high-pass filter switch just below the gain knob. A peak LED, adjacent to the high-pass filter, warns when the post-EQ signal reaches 3 dB below clipping level.
The MG16/6FX channel strips feature two different equalization sections. For the eight mono mic/line channels, Yamaha opted for a three-band equalizer with fixed high and low shelves (10 kHz and 100 Hz) with a sweepable mid-band peaking filter (250 Hz -5 kHz). The stereo input channels have a four-band fixed EQ with the same high and low shelves as the mic channels plus two peaking bands (800 Hz and 3 kHz).
All fader channels feature two auxiliary sends (Aux 1 is configured pre-fader and Aux 2 is pre/post switchable), illuminated mute and PFL buttons, and Group 1/2 and 3/4 assign buttons. A dedicated post-fader effects send feeds the MG16/6FX’s built-in effects processor.
The Yamaha MG16/6FX was obviously designed with flexibility in mind, and as such, I was able to find several applications in which to test the mixer. Though I mostly used the board in live music settings and for public address support, the MG16/6FX was also a handy compliment to a computer-based recording setup. For live use, switching in the stereo bus seven-band graphic equalizer helped compensate for unruly acoustic environments without having to lug around more outboard gear.
Unlike similar boards I have used, the effects section of the MG16/6FX is hardly an afterthought. The processor section has 16 reverb and echo types, selectable via a rotary switch, and a single parameter adjust knob. The effect return has a dedicated fader and Aux 1 and 2 prefader sends, plus mute, PFL and group assign buttons. Best of all, the effects sound surprisingly good.
One of my favorite uses I found for the board was as an input and headphone mixer for DAW recording. Typically, I would record one to four input sources through the groups and into the computer’s soundcard, while using the two aux sends and built-in effects to provide two independent (and zero-latency) headphone mixes for the performers.
Yamaha deserves kudos for using sturdy connectors on the rear panel situated jack field (where I prefer I/O to be located). Use of a locking connector for the power supply is another nice touch.
Some negatives that should be noted are the lack of EQ bypass switches and direct channel output jacks Ð no doubt the result of the competitive price point. A non-economic head-scratcher is that the joint headphone/control room monitoring circuit is situated post-stereo bus fader, making independent control an impossibility.
Overall, the sound quality and noise performance of the Yamaha MG16/6FX were impressive, and the architecture of the console is friendly and flexible. With its thoughtful feature set and a street price of well under $400, the MG16/6FX will certainly be a top contender in the small-format mixer arena.