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Author Topic: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?  (Read 77316 times)

John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #100 on: January 05, 2013, 12:36:38 pm »

Yes and, obviously for comparison reasons, you can turn the strip on or off on most consoles.
  Good to know about the other separate preamp products on the market, didn't know Midas came out with another one, but there are very few that actually have a demand for the exact preamps that are in the boards.  Mac, do you know which Yamaha boards have the preamps from the AD-8 in them?
Stop digging.

Mic preamps have always been on the short list for heavy lifting by console designers. It used to be mic preamps, sum bus, etc for old school analog consoles, now with digital consoles it's mic preamps and A/D conversion, etc...  Execution or everything else always matters.

Mic preamps are a rather mature technology and A/D conversion is getting there (if not perfect many use the same chip-sets). The noise performance of mic preamps approached theoretical limits a few decades ago. Now more than one off-the-shelf IC delivers that kind of performance. Design engineers would have to work to screw up a modern mic preamp design.

That said there are well paid intelligent people who's full time job is to figure out how to differentiate and sell these expensive units. Since mic preamps have long been considered important, marketers continue to invest in preamp-centric stories.  As I have already noted at least one console maker goes out of their way to sound less bad (good?) when preamp is over-driven.

I won't make the ludicrous claim that all digital is exactly alike, but it is far closer than different, and far flatter/cleaner than many other components in series with them in the audio path.

Of course opinions vary.

JR
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #101 on: January 05, 2013, 12:39:48 pm »

Yes and, obviously for comparison reasons, you can turn the strip on or off on most consoles.
 
Generally not. In most cases you can bypass the EQ, but not the entire channel strip. And really good channel strips don't have the name Presonus on them. Low priced, but not in a catagory with many, many great preamps from the likes of Chandler, Vintech, Grace, Summit Audio, Focusrite, Crane Song, Universal Audio, Avalon, etc.. Hell, even Mackie has a better 8 channel A/D converter than Presonus.
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Jim Baron

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #102 on: January 05, 2013, 01:04:45 pm »

Generally not. In most cases you can bypass the EQ, but not the entire channel strip. And really good channel strips don't have the name Presonus on them. Low priced, but not in a catagory with many, many great preamps from the likes of Chandler, Vintech, Grace, Summit Audio, Focusrite, Crane Song, Universal Audio, Avalon, etc.. Hell, even Mackie has a better 8 channel A/D converter than Presonus.
I've worked with many of those: Avalon, Manley, Apogee, Neve, Great River, Midas and Presonus.  But Mackie is no where near the sonic ballpark of the others, so I can't take that statement seriously. An EV P3000 or Crest 9001 power amplifier has such pure sonic performance due to the massive headroom of their power supplies. A Presonus XMAX preamp has considerably more voltage and headroom than a Mackie VLZ, and a Presonus ADL-600 has a similar voltage rail to a P3000; and consequently, it blows away most other preamps in their class.  But our topic is still Yamaha and why many engineers didn't speak highly of their sonic qualities.  But it looks like a little bit of the love for Yamaha is coming out in this thread.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #103 on: January 05, 2013, 01:39:03 pm »

Generally not. In most cases you can bypass the EQ, but not the entire channel strip. And really good channel strips don't have the name Presonus on them. Low priced, but not in a catagory with many, many great preamps from the likes of Chandler, Vintech, Grace, Summit Audio, Focusrite, Crane Song, Universal Audio, Avalon, etc.. Hell, even Mackie has a better 8 channel A/D converter than Presonus.

I escaped from the high performance consumer audio business decades ago when I experienced a disconnect between performance, price/value, and market success. In short it was a confidence game where successful merchandizing trumped real value or performance. i was never very good at schmoozing the audio-phools so walked away towards a more reality based industry. 

I see many parallels between recording studios and consumer hifi.. Stand-alone single or dual mic preamps built by small companies are more expensive precisely because they are stand-alone single or dual mic preamps built by small companies. The best at marketing among them, convince users that the higher cost means they are better. Those who are not good at overcoming the higher price point resistance, do not survive.

This is pet peeve of mine, and yes corners may be cut in deep value consoles, perhaps that is why some put more money back into talking up their preamps in advertising (you should know who I am talking about, more than one value brand is guilty of hyping their preamps without real basis).

JR

PS: I always enjoyed reading about what end users think is important about electronic design. It is useful for crafting marketing messages (when I was in those trenches).  8)
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #104 on: January 05, 2013, 01:46:16 pm »

I've worked with many of those: Avalon, Manley, Apogee, Neve, Great River, Midas and Presonus.  But Mackie is no where near the sonic ballpark of the others, so I can't take that statement seriously. An EV P3000 or Crest 9001 power amplifier has such pure sonic performance due to the massive headroom of their power supplies. A Presonus XMAX preamp has considerably more voltage and headroom than a Mackie VLZ, and a Presonus ADL-600 has a similar voltage rail to a P3000; and consequently, it blows away most other preamps in their class.  But our topic is still Yamaha and why many engineers didn't speak highly of their sonic qualities.  But it looks like a little bit of the love for Yamaha is coming out in this thread.

Consoles, within price brackets, tend to sound similar because of the level of technology "buy-in".  Consoles within manufacturers, tend to sound similar because of design teams.  As JR (a console designer) points out, there is more to SQ than presumptions about microphone preamps.  The size and location of signal ground traces on the PC board, routing of wiring within the console, etc. all have impact on signal.

As for "commercial" vs. "pro audio", I can only say that non-consumer, non-academic audio is inherently commercial.  We opted to not buy Midas analog mixers because they already existed in our market and offered no competitive advantage (besides, we could simply rent one if we needed it).  Paying premium money for no increase in the bottom line is a sure way for a regional provider to go out of business sooner, rather than later.

Regarding power amps, I suspect that any pro amp, run within its design ratings, will exhibit relatively good sonic performance.  What separates the big boy amps, regardless of power supply topology, is how they work at 105% of design... but below that, they sound more alike than different.
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brian maddox

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #105 on: January 05, 2013, 01:47:13 pm »

i've been tempted many times to throw my two pennies into this thread, but was waiting for someone else to save me the trouble.  i think my thoughts have been touched upon by others, but for some reason i can't keep myself from jumping in.

first, a little background.  i spent about 10 years at a varsity level PA company where i mixed hundreds, if not thousands of shows on Yamaha PM level consoles [analog and digital] as well as a few Soundcrafts.  everything from music to corporate to broadcast.  i then spent about 10 years as a varsity level freelancer using whatever was put in front of me, including Midas and many others.

In my somewhat considerable experience, here's what i have learned.  There are some subtle differences between the 'sound' of different consoles.  And there are some fundamental differences in how the preamp design is approached in different consoles and manufacturers.  But at the end of the day, once you're talking about actual professional level gear, it makes ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE to your ability to deliver a quality product [sound reinforcement], get paid, and get asked to come back and do it again.  NO ONE in the audience can tell what desk you are using by the 'sound' of the PA.  No client i've ever met cared one whit about who manufactured my gear, or how 'warm' my preamps were.  They DID care if the PA sounded harsh, or there was feedback, or there were coverage issues, or i missed cues.  Or, perhaps Most Importantly, if i was a fussy tech head and difficult to deal with.

Just recently i was mixing a blues festival that had two stages with matching Pa's [a nice large format martin LA].  The console on my stage was an XL4.  the engineer on the other stage brought his own LS9 because that's what he preferred.  several times during the day, the sound company owner came over to talk to me about how 'bad' that desk sounded and how bad it made his PA sound.  i went over and listened and frankly it sounded just fine to me.  i preferred my own mix, but that's a different beast altogether.  Perhaps if, like the owner, i listened to that exact speaker rig all the time i could tell.  But if i, a fairly well respected and seasoned professional, honestly couldn't hear any difference in the 'sound' of the mixer between the 2 stages, how would ANYONE in the audience ever be able to tell.

Others have said it, but i'll reiterate.  Mics matter.  Speakers matter.  Proper deployment is critical.  But once you're talking about a Pro Level console, the design of the Mic Pre's, the summing, the digital math, or what have you, has a minuscule affect on the actual sound being produced by the system.

One last thought on the subject.  The same company that hired me for the blues festival i mentioned once hired me to White Glove a large outdoor Symphony show.  They gave me my choice of FOH consoles, including an XL4 and a PM4000.  I chose the PM4000.  Not because i thought it a better sounding desk than an XL4.  I chose it because i've mixed dozens of symphony shows on a PM4000, so i'm very familiar with using it in this context.  Which means, by extension, the PM4000 was gonna help me mix a better sounding show.  For the record, i got nothing but raves from the company owner [who looked at me oddly when i requested the Yamaha], even though he had mixed the event for many years himself on Midas desks.  And i got asked to do that show for several more years after that....
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Mac Kerr

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« Reply #106 on: January 05, 2013, 02:03:55 pm »

Mac, do you know which Yamaha boards have the preamps from the AD-8 in them?

PM-5D RH.

The last preamp released for the PM1D was similar, but on a 4ch card. The AD8HR is actually the preamp card out of a PM5D RH mounted in a box with controls.

Mac
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 02:15:14 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Chris Lynch

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #107 on: January 05, 2013, 05:29:30 pm »

But at the end of the day, once you're talking about actual professional level gear, it makes ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE to your ability to deliver a quality product [sound reinforcement], get paid, and get asked to come back and do it again.  NO ONE in the audience can tell what desk you are using by the 'sound' of the PA.  No client i've ever met cared one whit about who manufactured my gear, or how 'warm' my preamps were.  They DID care if the PA sounded harsh, or there was feedback, or there were coverage issues, or i missed cues.  Or, perhaps Most Importantly, if i was a fussy tech head and difficult to deal with.

I have got to agree with the above. Its exactly my experience. I use Yamaha digital consoles a lot because they fit with the budget I get given. I never have a problem getting what in my opinion is a decent sound. I have never had any complaints from punters or any negative reviews in the media so I think I am doing ok. I personally find the acoustic properties of the room and the performance of the band/act make a much bigger difference than which professional FOH console is used.

My employers are usually most concerned having as little stress as possible. The most important thing is that I am easy to deal with, I get on and do a good job and give them as little stress as possible.
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Peter Morris

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #108 on: January 05, 2013, 09:12:19 pm »


When you hear mud, yes, you check the strip.  A very easy way to pinpoint the preamp is to listen to the signal's pfl on a good set of cans, before the signal hits the strip.   Hearing the difference between two really good preamps is tough, but spotting a commonly poor preamp from frequent experience is pretty easy.

By the time it gets to your head phones, the signal has been through the preamp, AD converter, signal gain changes (digital multiplications/division), digital EQ/Dynamics and a DA converter and probably a cheap headphone amp.
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Scott Helmke

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #109 on: January 05, 2013, 10:11:26 pm »

By the time it gets to your head phones, the signal has been through the preamp, AD converter, signal gain changes (digital multiplications/division), digital EQ/Dynamics and a DA converter and probably a cheap headphone amp.

And then into something that's *really* variable... an actual pair of transducers.  Some people replace their headphones after a certain amount of use...

I'd make a small wager that the differences between two makes of console are smaller than the differences between two SM-57's randomly picked from anybody's mic box.
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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #109 on: January 05, 2013, 10:11:26 pm »


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