Yamaha DM1000: More Than a Mixer

The Digital Production Console Offers Display Screen Features, Compact Size for Studio, Live Sound
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The Digital Production Console Offers Display Screen Features, Compact Size for Studio, Live Sound

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Ever since we emerged from the primordial ooze of analog audio, stations and studios have built wish lists for digital mixers. Power, flexibility, user-friendliness and cost became the key issues in choosing a digital board.

Size has become important, too. Yamaha's DM1000 digital production console continues the lineage that includes the 02R and DM2000 digital consoles with a comprehensive feature set coupled with an agreeable footprint and price.

Out of the box, the DM1000 is striking for two reasons: its compact footprint - 16.9 inches wide, 22.7 inches deep, 7.8 inches high without optional meter bridge - and its heft.
Product CapsuleTHUMBS UP:

Muscular, intuitive production tool

Versatile router and patch system

Scene Memory conveniently stores presets

Surround-capable

THUMBS DOWN:

Pricey for smaller applications (if you need a Mackie, buy a Mackie)

Lightweight fader knobs won't take a hammering

PRICE: $5,299

Contact: www.yamaha.com
Yamaha isn't kidding when it calls this unit a "console" instead of a "mixer." Not only does it contain a console's worth of features, it weighs in at 48 pounds - a sturdy mass of metal that should hold up well in daily use. Just as important are the unit's compact size compared to some other digital consoles, and rank-mount option, making it a player in almost any studio or live sound application.

Features, settings

A total of 20 input jacks, 16 mic/line with switchable and assignable phantom power and four line, brings audio into the console. The I/O set includes 12 XLR outputs; MIDI in/out; Word Clock in/out; four inserts; AES/EBU I/O; S-PDIF I/O and XLR master outs.

Options include side panels, which look nice if you're not rack-mounting the console, and a meter bridge, which provides comprehensive metering for every channel. Additional I/O cards may be installed in two slots on the rear of the console to provide a total of 48 inputs. These are controlled through built-in layering technology, which I'll get to in a moment.

The unit's excellent on-board router and patch system make it easy to move audio to any fader to fit your taste. Every available input, output, effect and channel insert is routable. The eight auxiliary patch busses can be patched anywhere, and the DM1000 can save any patch setup for future use.

The digital standard for this console is 96 kHz. It can carry that standard with full 32-bit internal processing on every one of its 48 channels, something lots of digital mixers can't pull off. A well-laid-out control surface makes it easy for the console's arsenal of on-board tools to work together. Built-in data "libraries" contain pre-sets for EQ, compression, gating and I/O patching. You can also cook up your own and save them.

The DM1000 is designed to integrate with various digital audio workstations and computer-automated recording technology, including DigiDesign ProTools, Steinberg Nuendo and E-Magic's Logic Audio, as well as Yamaha's bundled Studio Manager software.

Mixing and processing parameters, transport control and editing functions can be controlled directly from the DM1000's intuitive control surface. Between the usual input controls at the top and the fader bank lies the heart of the console: a screen that Yamaha calls the Display Section, flanked by display access, aux select, routing, EQ and monitor controls.

Each section has a light gray, diamond-shaped button labeled Display. Push it and that section's settings appear on the screen. You can then, depending on the application, use directional arrow buttons, a good-sized jog wheel and a tiny but effective joystick to manipulate settings.

A fixed meter shows levels at all times. While the screen's angle is fixed, a contrast knob allows adjustments for room light. The first screen to appear is the Initial Data display, which indicates parameters you must set before you can operate the console. Word Clock Select and several other settings are included here. You can also select and save settings for any one of 48 layered channels of audio.

Another control group is for Scene Memory. These buttons allow you to store, switch and recall any mix setup with all its parameters. To store a complete set of fader, EQ, router, compression or other settings for future use, simply use an up/down button pair to find a blank scene number on the DM1000's large digital Scene Memory display and hit Store. To retrieve your setting, return to that scene number, punch Recall and watch the faders fly, and the display alter to instantly set up even the most complex mix exactly the way you wanted it.

In my TV and radio voiceover work I have absolutely no use for this function, but it sure is fun to use. If I were mixing a concert or stage show, I would be grateful this level of automation is available in an "under-five-figures" console.

Surround, layering

Another feature that will save the bacon for someone other than me is layering.

With the addition of optional I/O cards in two slots on the back of the DM1000 a total of 48 full-featured inputs can be available. By "layering" up to three inputs on each of the 16 faders, a full mix can be achieved. This is only possible because of the DM1000's high level of automation. I did not have the additional I/O cards, and so did not test this application.

Producing surround audio on this console is surprisingly easy and actually was fun. This is where the little joystick gets a workout. The DM1000 can, all by itself, create 3.1, 5.1 or 6.1 surround environments and run a multi-channel monitoring system.

In "pan/surround" mode, you select the environment you want to create and a diagram appears on the Display screen. It's then a matter of selecting how and where you want the sound to appear. You can fine-tune width, depth and offset parameters and shape the surround effect you want. Surround features include monitor matrix, bass management and speaker alignment. Of course, the DM1000 saves everything for later recall.

One of the DM1000's real treasures is a set of 12 user-defined keys, the controls for which are located down by the stereo master fader. There are actually eight banks of settings, labeled A-H, for each of the 12 buttons. You could store anything from machine controls to individual surround monitor settings - a whopping 96 user-defined settings.

Because a great deal of my production work involves voice recording, I was interested in the DM1000's mic preamps. Sixteen of the console's 20 analog XLR inputs are equipped with preamps and they sound terrific. Using a Shure SM7 plugged straight into the console, I recorded a couple of different spots: a warm-and-fuzzy radio read and an in-your-face flamethrower for an auto dealer.

I first laid down the tracks with no EQ or compression. The DM1000's preamp gave a crisp and clean sound to the loud, punchy read and cozied right up to the softer voicing - in fact, sounding warmer than I am used to in the digital domain. Adding compression and EQ in moderation produced the desired effects without any noticeable problems.

The DM1000's owner's manual is a thick 380 pages, plus another 33 for the Studio Manager software. It is worth a thorough read. Still, I mastered most functions without the manual; and I am no technician. The routing, patching and scene memory functions alone make the DM1000 worth owning, not to mention the four 32-bit/96-kHz stereo digital effects processors.

Features like surround and layering won't be used in many broadcast and production environments but could be useful elsewhere (and surround is of growing interest to radio, too). For live sound, the console packs a lot of punch and solves a lot of problems. Its relatively small size is attractive, too, as is its rack-mount capability.

The Yamaha DM1000 digital production console offers production essentials in a compact, affordable, user-friendly package - a winner for stations, studios and live sound.

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