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Author Topic: Yamaha CL-5 Review  (Read 5566 times)

Mac Kerr

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Yamaha CL-5 Review
« on: September 29, 2013, 05:17:17 pm »

As may be evident from other posts, I have just finished up a pretty intensive workout of the Yamaha CL-5 console and Rio I/O boxes. I’ll summarize the setup for those who haven’t slogged through the thread “Moving On” in the Basement.

I was replacing a Studer Vista 5 with a pair of CL-5s on a show I do that requires something on the order of 64 mixes. Given the choice I would have stuck with the Studer that I had used the last 2 years, but they are not widely available and it was not possible to get one configured like we needed this year. Because the show requires remote I/O over fiber throughout a large hotel the CL-5 with remote I/O via Rio, and Dante networking seemed like a great fit.

Now that the event is over, I can knock on wood and say the Dante networking worked like a champ. The ability to route anything anywhere is a big part of the way we run this event and Dante gave us the flexibility we needed. The only drawback to using Dante for routing on a complex show is Dante Controller. There is no offline editing in Dante Controller. This is not a Yamaha issue, it is an Audinate issue. They are aware that this is an issue and are working on a solution. For now, it is a royal PITA. Our system consisted of 2 CL-5 consoles, 7 I/O boxes with the console (1 Rio3224, 3 Rio1608, 3 Ro8), and 4 I/O boxes (3 Rio 3224, 1 Rio1608) in remote locations connected via fiber. Some of the patching was directly from input connector to output connector, which you cannot do within the console’s patching scheme. In order to do it in Dante Controller you have to have the entire system up and running, or the software does not know the I/O boxes exist. Unfortunately not all of the gear was going to be available in advance, so I was left only a short time to test the network and all the patching before we got on site. Due to scheduling, on this event I like to be able to test all the routing in advance to know we are at the right starting point when get set up. Even if you save a file of your setup, you cannot open it without the hardware online. Hopefully next year this issue will be fixed.

This is a system with many interconnections of digital audio, so clocking is always an issue. In the case of Dante, the system should always clock from the network. We had a small problem with that as I was also getting 16 channels in 1 console, and 56 channels (48 from slots, 8 from a RN output box) in the other via Rocknet, which also expects to be the master clock. I was able to clock one of the consoles from Rocknet, and the Dante system from that console, and we had no noticeable artifacts all week.

The operation of the console was very easy. If you stick to the traditional layout of ch 1-8, 9-16, 17-24, etc, the Centralogic section works just like an M7CL. It is very easy to get around on if you have any familiarity with the M7, and I think lots of folks do. Unfortunately if you use the Custom Fader Layers (like I did) the Centralogic section kind of falls apart. You can only bring fader banks into the Centralogic section in the 1-8, 9-16 etc fader banks. Once you use custom layers those groups no longer make sense. My personal preference would have been to abandon the whole traditional layout concept, and have only custom layers. It would have been easy to have a default layout that followed the traditional analog layout for those who want it while bringing banks of 8 faders to the CL section in whatever order they were in for that layout. When you are using a lot of stereo channels, the custom layers come in real handy. I hope Yamaha considers this in future versions.

Sonically there was nothing to complain about. While I didn’t get a chance to dig into the Premium Rack, all the basic features, mic pres, comps, gates, and eqs sounded great. Even at fairly severe compression levels it was really a case of the sound not getting out of hand rather than sounding constrained, which some other comps do. Sonically this is a step up from earlier Yamaha consoles and I would be comfortable using it in any situation.

This event requires more than 60 aux sends, and the ability to use the matrix mixes as auxes, including sends on faders was great. When I first proposed the CL-5 as an alternative I was under the (false) impression the matrixes were not on sends on faders, so I put my least active mixes on them. As it turns out, they behave just like every other mix, and are no harder to use as auxes than the other 24 auxes.

Since there is all that real estate on the meter panel, it would have been nice if the meters were a little more spread out. I used colored tape to delineate the various 4ch groups of mixes that go to the video router to make it easier to group the meters visually.

For all the capability, the CL-5 is quite compact. I used all 88 input control channels (72 mono, 8 stereo) on 1, and about 50 on the other. For more than 120 inputs, 2 of us were able to get the consoles out their cases and set up on the tables.

With the Rio to Rio routing I had some concern about controlling the HA on the channels that were not patched to a console input. As it turns out that is not an issue. Channels that are patched to an input control channel the HA control appears on the channel strip like you expect. For those channels not patched to an input you need to open the I/O Devices window and select the Rio device you want to control, then you get an image of the front of that Rio, just tap on the row of HAs you want to control and you get an 8ch control panel that gives you gain, polarity, phantom, and a HP filter that is in the Rio. There is another HP on the input control channel as well. With the HA gains set to “0” there was less than 1dB of difference between the source and the output.

All in all this was a very positive experience, and I would definitely put the CL-5 on a very short list of preferred console.

Thanks to Matt Denne and Chris Conte at PRG Audio in Secaucus for helping me through the network setup, and to Jim Lovell for making it happen on site.

Mac
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 07:02:23 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 06:26:59 pm »

Because the show requires remote I/O over fiber throughout a large hotel the CL-5 with remote I/O via Rio, and Dante networking seemed like a great fit.

We made good use of the network infrastructure we installed. The basic setup is 2 separate networks, with separate fiber, CAT5, and switches, for the primary and secondary Dante networks. We used Pathway's Pathport Via12 switches throughout. Because we needed 3 network runs over fiber, and the Via12 only has 2, we needed 2 switches for each network in the control room. In the remote locations they had 1 switch for each network, for a total of 10 switches. the Pathport switches support QoS and the VOIP settings that Dante requires to ensure that audio timing information has the highest priority, and audio data second highest.

We had a tac4 4 core fiber run to the 3rd floor ballrooms, another to the small ballrooms on the south side of the second floor, and another to the press room at the other end of the hotel in the lower level conference center like us. There were also 2 Tac4s to the main ballroom on the 2nd floor, one for the Rocknet loop, and 1 for the Riedel comm loop.

We set up 3 VLANs, 1 for Dante, 1 for Video to use for file transfers of large HD video files, and a third VLAN for another Dante network that ultimately didn't work out because we didn't have an available console to sync the Rio boxes with. 

We kept the video file transfers on the secondary network, and had no issues. Video had 2 Playback Pro machines in each workshop, and maybe 4 in plenary that they sent files to from our control room in the basement of the NY Sheraton. All content was delivered to us and distributed to the various end users over the video VLAN on the audio network.

It was pretty easy to get the switches set up with the fiber, although next year I'm going to buy one of those little flashlights that have an SC sized connector on the end that let you light up the fiber with visible light to check continuity. I think fiber tools are going to have to be added to my tool bag.

The bandwidth needed to the remote rooms was pretty light since everything was on managed switches and the audio was routed by the switch to just the destinations it was intended for. The switches in the control room carried a lot of bandwidth, but the fibers carried a pretty light load. The reason for using fiber wasn't bandwidth, it was cable length. The shortest run was to the press room down the back hall, it was about 400'. The runs to upstairs were all in the 900'-1200' range.

There was a lot of connectivity on this event, and it was great having the flexibility that the network allowed.

Mac
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 05:42:40 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Riley Casey

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 02:13:54 pm »

Thanks for a great write up Mac.  Very helpful stuff.  I was in NY for a small show on Friday with our new CL5 so it was good see what a maxed out set up looked like.  I would pick your brain for a moment about switch interfacing if I could.  I have a pair of small 8 port switches that are riding in the console doghouse velcroed in place for transit and sitting loose when in use.  The RJ45, LC fiber to Opticalcon jumpers and cheapo center pin DC supply connections are exposed to the rummaging around of everyday doghouse life.  Have you seen any elegant solutions for switches in doghouse rather than externally rack mounted?  I'm thinking of some custom metal cages that contain all this stuff and offer a rigid mount for the Opticalcon but would be curious to know how others have invented that wheel.

Andrew Broughton

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 02:33:22 pm »

Great write-up, Mac. You're always pushing the envelope and I love that.

I was considering the CL5, but even though some features might be considered an upgrade to the PM5D, there are still too many missing features.
I hope Yamaha will one day come out with a successor to the PM5D/PM1D, but I also think that the profit and low sales numbers for the high-end consoles these days may make them decide to not bother. It would be a shame, because I would like to move to a newer Yamaha console.

Biggest missing features for me (CL vs PM5D):
  • Seeing and being able to adjust all mix and Pan levels at once
  • Mix PRE/POST EQ per channel
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 08:26:37 pm »

Have you seen any elegant solutions for switches in doghouse rather than externally rack mounted?  I'm thinking of some custom metal cages that contain all this stuff and offer a rigid mount for the Opticalcon but would be curious to know how others have invented that wheel.

Not Really. I would think that some sort of bent metal plate that covered it should provide pretty good protection. I would be sure to strain releif all the connections, both fiber and copper.

Mac
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 08:44:33 pm »

I hope Yamaha will one day come out with a successor to the PM5D/PM1D, but I also think that the profit and low sales numbers for the high-end consoles these days may make them decide to not bother. It would be a shame, because I would like to move to a newer Yamaha console.

Biggest missing features for me (CL vs PM5D):
  • Seeing and being able to adjust all mix and Pan levels at once
  • Mix PRE/POST EQ per channel

I think you're probably looking at the PM5D replacement. I'll admit that the selected channel view is not as easy to read as the LED tallies around the knobs on a 5D or a 1D, but you see and control 16 mixes at a time, plus pan, eq, HA gain, and 2 dynamics thresholds from the physical knobs that are mirrored on that screen. You also get the input sends to matrixes on those knobs and screen and sends on faders, something you don't get on 5D or 1D.

The mix pre/post eq thing is what it is. If that's a deal breaker the CL isn't going to do it.

Hopefully these kinds of things will come back in a future larger format console, but after all these years I'm not holding my breath.

Mac
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 10:15:31 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Yamaha CL-5 Review
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2013, 11:46:56 pm »

Biggest missing features for me (CL vs PM5D):
  • Seeing and being able to adjust all mix and Pan levels at once
  • Mix PRE/POST EQ per channel

It may be possible to change the Mix pre/post issue with a firmware update, I think the design of the access to the mixes is locked in by the hardware. A couple of things you get on a CL that you don't on a PM5D are 16 DCAs, 8 Stereo inputs, and the channel linking features of the M7-CL. Combined with the custom layers, flexible digital multi, sound quality and better FX, it makes a compelling argument. I think Yamaha got it more right with the PM5D than any other console since, and I too wish the CLs had the mix send/master section from a 5D, but overall I think the CL is a better console.

The missing feature I miss the most is output DCAs.

Mac
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 03:02:26 pm by Mac Kerr »
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