Traditionally, when it comes to manufacturing mixing consoles, the ideals of higher channel count, improved sonics and reduced prices have been mutually exclusive. With the MG Series of consoles, Yamaha has attempted to bring some harmony to these competing forces.
(click thumbnail)The MG Series has a number of desks, with the largest frame being the MG32/14FX ($1,299). The “32” stands for 32 inputs (24 mono channels and four stereo), while the “14” stands for the output count (two pairs of main outs, four group outs, six auxes and two effects sends). The FX moniker seems to signify the two onboard SPX-based effects processors. The desk measures just over 100 cm wide, 551 cm deep, 140 cm tall, and it weighs in at 22 kg (48.50 pounds). The chassis seems very sturdy, and features authentic wood side bumpers and screwed-in rubber feet (versus glued-on ones sometimes in this price range).
As mentioned, the MG32 has 24 mono channel strips. Each channel is equipped with a balanced XLR input, a balanced 1/4-inch (TRS) input and an unbalanced insert point (1/4-inch TRS). Phantom power can be applied to source transducers in eight-channel blocks via switches on top of the chassis. All of the desk’s mono channels are equipped with a switchable 26-dB pad, an input gain control
(-34 dBu to +10 dBu), and a switchable high-pass filter (80 Hz, 12 dB per octave). These mono strips are also equipped with a modest three-band EQ (high shelf at 10 kHz, sweepable mid at 250 Hz – 5 kHz, low shelf at 100 Hz), with each band offering 15 dB of cut/boost. Downstream of the EQ section, there are six aux sends: four are switchable pre/post and the last two are dedicated post. However, the fifth and sixth auxes can be switched to feed either buss outs or the internal effects units. Further down the strip is a pan pot and, in traditional Yamaha fashion, an “On” switch (as opposed to a mute switch). Lastly, the strip is outfitted with a PFL/solo button, signal and peak LEDs, assignment buttons (1-2, 3-4, L-R) and a 60 mm fader.
The stereo channels are dedicated to line level stereo signal use. Devoid of XLR inputs, these four channels feature balanced 1/4-inch TRS inputs on all four channels, with two having additional RCA unbalanced stereo ins. The strips here are more basic, lacking the aforementioned high-pass filter, input pad and sweepable EQ. Instead, the MG32 stereo strip has a fixed four-band EQ (100 Hz, 800 Hz, 3 kHz and 10 kHz). Aux-wise, assignment-wise and fader-wise, the stereo strips are identical to the adjacent mono channels.
The MG32/14FX has two internal effects processors, each with 16 presets, featuring a host of reverbs, modulation effects, delays (including a tempo tap) and even a couple of “gimmick” effects (such as radio voice and distortion). After selecting a preset, the user can modify the effect by spinning the parameter pot. The parameter default is usually the most commonly adjusted one, like room size on ‘verbs or time on the delays. It also controls feedback level for the tap delay. The signal from the effects units can be routed to auxes 1-4 (via rotary pots) or the groups and mains (via assignment buttons and a fader). There is no channel EQ available here and the processor outputs don’t show up on an exit anywhere (so you can’t patch it into a channel strip and use EQ there).
The Master section of the MG32/14FX features aux and effects send masters (on rotary pots, each with a solo button), faders for the four subgroups, stereo mains and a mono fader. The Mono fader path includes a sweepable low-pass filter (80 – 120 Hz) for subwoofer duty. The Master section also features a talkback mic input (assignable to either mains or auxes 1-4) and a two-track input and stereo sub-output (a duplicate master output with separate attenuation). The console has two 12-segment LED ladders that can display either L/R mains or the four group signal levels.
The three main outputs (left, right and mono) on the MG32 are on balanced XLR connections. All other outputs on the board, except for the RCA tape outs, are balanced 1/4-inch TRS connections. While the TRS jacks seem to be all soldered directly to a PC board, they are all-metal at the chassis mount and appear quite sturdy (the TRS inputs and inserts, as well).
Clubs, houses-of-worship, small theaters, live
32 inputs; 14 outputs; two onboard SPX-based effects processors; 24 mono channel strips; master section aux and effects send masters (on rotary pots, each with a solo button), faders for the four subgroups, stereo mains and a mono fader; three main outputs (left, right and mono) via balanced XLR connections
Yamaha | 714-522-9011 | www.yamahaproaudio.comBefore I offer evaluation of this board, I should first state I think it miraculous that Yamaha offers this much for around $1,000 street. Therefore, my criticisms and praises should be tempered by this dominant fact.
I am a firm believer in the concept of “Baptism by Fire” (though it is equally important to use time and trusted back-up gear to protect yourself and the client in such situations). I think it is important — especially in this price range — to evaluate how easy or difficult it is to press a product into service in a pressurized scenario (and we all know that live sound is frequently pressurized).
The the MG32 seemed ripe for a flaming baptism, so I debuted it at a concert by a local 14-piece Afrobeat funk band, Chopteeth. I mix this band often and, even on a good day, they can be very challenging, gobbling up inputs and needing cross-stage monitor mixes. When we finished wiring the stage, almost every MG32 input hole was full! Yet the mic preamps handled everything from a quiet female voice to a blaring trumpet with relative ease.
With this many inputs, I found myself wishing the board had two sweepable EQs on every channel rather than one. With so much fixed EQ onboard, sonic images tend to get congested, and I noticed that the PA sounded a little harsher than usual in the upper midrange.
I have used a number of less-expensive consoles that featured onboard effects and, I must say, the SPX-based units on the MG32 are perhaps the best I’ve heard … but the fact that they can’t be routed to a full channel strip or have their own strip with a proper EQ makes them challenging to use. The reverbs were full and believable, but I found myself struggling to remove a 200 Hz resonance in the hall setting. With such a big band, I needed lots of dynamic help and, with inserts on every mono channel, I was able to patch in lots of gating and compression. While I didn’t have occasion to use the board’s internal low-pass sub out, I see how it could be very useful for users in this price range.
Successive events seemed to reinforce my initial perceptions about the MG32. After several gigs, I came away with an appreciation for the remarkable job Yamaha has done putting so many features and core competence into such an affordable piece.
At the same time, I found myself wishing the board had a more powerful channel EQ, full channel strips with EQ or external routing for the onboard effects, plus XLR jacks on the aux master outputs. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable board that seems perfect for schools, houses of worship, clubs and even a small sound company that needs a higher input frame for events where rider friendliness is not a concern.