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Yamaha Wins On Price

by David Fox

The ideal post-production digital audio mixer would pack a lot of features into a small unit at a low price, and this is just what Yamaha does with its 02R, 03D and ProMix01v systems, according to Tony Cloarec, executive director, Oasis Television, who uses them throughout the large London facility.

Adding Digits To The Mix

Oasis chose Yamaha because "they were the most suitable mixers available" at an "unbelievable" price, says Cloarec, who maintains they have all the facilities needed for post built-in, so you don't need to use any outboard devices. "There is far more in them [both the 02R and 03D] than you would ever use in an edit suite," he says. "When you see the price there is no point looking any further. No one else can come anywhere near them."

Oasis has nine linear suites, of which six are digital - five of which use 02Rs and one an 03D. It also has 03Ds in three Avid 9000, and one Lightworks VIP, online suites and a Jaleo compositing suite. Its 12 offline suites use Yamaha's budget ProMix01 mixers, which are "fantastic" for offline, but, he adds, not suitable for online work except in the simplest suite. The 01 was superseded by the £1,400 01v 20-bit, 24-input unit.

Oasis, which does about 80% of its work for broadcast, has been using the £5,499 02R since it was launched in 1995 and the £2,499 03D since it came out in 1997.

Cloarec believes the 26-input/4-buss 03D "is more than adequate for a non-linear suite," while the 40-input/8-buss 02R is better for linear suites, where its greater number of connections is needed. As the facilities of both are similar, choice "depends on how many inputs and outputs you need," he says.

"You have the ability to have automated mixes, to add effects, compression and other dynamics, all in the one unit. If you're controlling it with a Sony 9100, you can download that information and save it as part of the EDL."

He chose 02Rs for the tape suites because it allows them automatically reproduce even the shortest mixes, such as four frame dissolves, created by the offline editors. His only complaint is that it is "a little large" for edit suite use but, that apart, it is "absolutely perfect for post-production. It's a lovely mixer. All the editors really enjoy using it."

Even though they are essentially 20-bit machines (with 32-bit internal processing), he maintains that "no one ever says, 'but what about the technical quality?', because that question doesn't arise." In fact, since its latest revision, the O2R can now be used for 24-bit digital recording, but only by using two recorder tracks per channel.

"We make quite heavy use of the effects as well. When you are editing music, reverb is very useful, especially as we do a lot of on-air promos, where the ability to treat voice over tracks differently is very useful," he adds.

"I've yet to see anything from any other manufacturer that comes anywhere near what the 02R and 03D can do at any price for post production," he says. The 03D now has Esam software built-in, which allows it integrate closely with the editor (so that on the Lightworks VIP, for example, it can be fully controlled from the timeline), but Oasis uses an interface box from Digital Solutions (which it helped design) for the 02R as it didn't have Esam.

Oasis also has three high-end digital audio suites, with AudioFiles and Logic 3 desks, for "really serious sound work, including Dolby Surround." Although the 02R could be used for surround sound, he wouldn't use it that way as the video editors aren't experienced enough and the edit suites are not suitable equipped. The audio suites are so busy he intends adding at least one more (perhaps two) in the coming months. It will probably be the same as the others, but if they do decide to have a smaller suite he'd consider using an 02R.

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THE COMPETITION

Yamaha does face competition in the small digital audio mixer market, whether from TV specialists, like Graham-Patten Systems, to low cost alternatives, such as Tascam's TM-D1000.

Designed For Editing

Graham-Patten Systems' compact, 4-buss, $10,000 D/Esam 230 can have up to 24 inputs (analogue or digital). Unlike most other mixers, it is "designed specifically for video editing, so its interface is very like that of a vision mixer," says Jay Kuca, its director of marketing. Indeed, users normally set up program and pre-set banks which it switches between to effect a transition, so that the video editor only has to think about one way of working.

However, the unit doesn't have any built-in effects processing, "because that's typically not required in the edit suite," he says. It does have four-band parametric EQ and adjustable delay on all inputs (so that the audio delay can be matched to any video delay arising from digital video processing).

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On The Upgrade Path

Mackie's Digital 8•Bus is a 24-bit, 24-fader (56-input/72-channel) desk designed for tracking and mixdown, and initially the £9,000 system wasn't trying to address the post market, although "it's undoubtedly a stunning product," claims Martin Warr, technical sales manager, Mackie Designs.

Its operating system has the look and feel of ProTools, so that it is "completely obvious and straight forward to use," he says. Features include automation for almost all functions, 12 Aux sends, sophisticated EQ, compression, gating and effects, and nine slots for hardware expansion (i/o, effects and sync cards).

Upgradability is a prime consideration for Mackie, and it is claimed to be the only digital console offering third-party software plug-ins. It has an exclusive relationship with George Massenberg Laboratories (high end EQ and compression experts) to provide software plug-ins for up to 4 channels of mastering EQ. Another important feature, he says, is the low jitter clock i/o developed for it by Apogee Electronics, which he claims is the most accurate available for syncing to video.

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An Old Familiar Friend

According to John Anderson of Panasonic Pro Audio: The Ramsa WR-DA7 is designed for ease of use and "feels like an old familiar friend," like a standard analogue console, so users can access its extra power with a short learning curve.

It has 32 analogue and digital inputs, plus 6 Aux return inputs, with 8 busses (with 21 moving faders) and 24-bit Digital-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analogue converters. For video post production, the console has integral RS-422 and RS-485 connectivity and optional SMPTE time code. The small footprint desk can also accept other expansion cards to cope with different formats.

The £3,500 WR-DA7 has a full, 4-band parametric EQ and dynamics on every channel, 5.1 surround sound, and 50-scene memory. Comprehensive automation packages are available for Macintosh, PC and MIDI machine control. Two units can work in tandem with full bi-directional control.

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That's The Spirit

The Spirit Digital 328 16-channel/8-buss (42-input) console may be digital (with 24-bit AD/DA converters and up to 56 bit internal processing), but it too is analogue in style, for that traditional mixer look and feel, so it should be easy to use as all functions are instantly accessible from its control surface rather than through software pages.

The 328 features 16 XLR inputs, 3-band fully parametric EQ and has two Lexicon effects processors built in which can be assigned to any input. However, compared to the Yamaha, which has dynamics on each channel, the Spirit has only two assignable dynamics processors, "but that shouldn't be too limiting for editing work. Besides, it does have analogue inserts on every channel," says Simon Sinclair, Spirit European sales manager. It does also come equipped as standard with two optical ADAT outputs and two TDIF outputs (optional extras on the Yamaha 02R that Spirit is targeting), as well as AES/EBU, SPDIF, RS-422, and timecode in (SMPTE and MTC). It also has snapshot automation with up to 100 memory scenes.

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Small And Affordable

Tascam's TM-D1000 digital mixer is claimed to be "the world's smallest and most affordable digital mixer." It costs just over £700, and provides audio control and interfacing for desktop Digital Audio Workstation or off-line editing facilities.

It has 21 faders controlling 16 input channels (each with 3-band sweepable HF/LF and fully parametric mid EQ), four group/aux masters and the main stereo output. There are eight analogue inputs at line level, four of which have balanced XLR with phantom power and insert points for analogue processors. Eight digital I/Os use Tascam's TDIF format, for direct interfacing with its DA 38/DA 88 and DA 98 digital recorders (a separate convertor box interfaces to the ADAT format), and accept up to 24-bit digital signals. A stereo digital input and two stereo digital outs support both AES/ EBU and SPDIF formats and the four group outs can also act as aux sends.

It also has two built-in stereo digital effects processors and four assignable dynamics processors. Optional expansion cards provide eight more channels of TDIF digital I/O, four channels of AES/EBU or SPDIF I/O, a sample rate convertor, or an additional effects board to double the on-board capability. There are 128 snap-shot scene memories for EQ, Aux, pan, Mute and Effects set ups, which can be controlled from an external sequencer via MIDI.

Tascam's TM-D4000 mixer offers 32 mono and two stereo inputs, 16 motorised fader equipped channel strips, 24-bit A/D analogue inputs, and optional AES/EBU, TDIF or ADAT I/Os, six aux sends, 4-band programmable EQ, and surround sound panning for less than £3,000.

Nov 2000

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© 2000 - 2010

MORE...
Yamaha - http://www.yamaha.com/
Mackie - http://www.mackie.com/
Zeep Project Manager Pro - http://www.zeep.com
C-Mexx Visualizer - http://www.c-mexx.com.
D8B user Web site, including good FAQ, downloads and discussion forum - http://www.d8bexchange.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mackied8b - lots of members, lots of activity
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/01v
- another very lively busy group which, despite its name, also deals with the O2R and Yamaha's other digital mixers.
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David Fox

Reader's Comments

Subject:YAMAHA O2R V2 verses MACKIE D8B
I want to spend my money wisely and salesmen have had me buying things I don't need. I just want an unbiased pros opinion Thanks. BADGER

To: Badger From: David Fox   RE: O2R Versus D8B

It depends on what you need - and how much you have to spend. The O2R costs less and if you are merely using it as part of an edit suite, the extra flexibility and musicality of the D8B won't be necessary. The O2R has also become the standard digital mixer in video editing, so if you are setting up a professional edit suite which will be used by other editors, then having the same set up as so many others means more people can use your suite more easily.

If you will be doing a lot of musical work, especially if it involves recording music, then the more intuitive interface of the Mackie (which is more like a traditional analogue console) will probably be a bigger factor in your decision. For video editing, ultimate sound quality is not an issue, both desks will more than meet your aural demands, including 5.1 surround sound.

You pay more for the Mackie, and you get more, such as the ability to add third-party plug-ins, the meter bridge (which makes a difference for multi-channel work), more user-friendly controls (like the rotary control V-pots for changing EQ, panning, compression, gating, trim and other parameters. These give a graphic indication of the level you enter, and make it easy to quickly see where everything is panned, for example), some users argue its 24-bit A/D and D/A converters are more musical than Yamaha's, good fader resolution, offline automation editing (making it easy to copy part of a mix), the ability to toggle between settings, more inputs, more channels, and almost all its specs are equal to or better than the O2R. You can also add an optional, matching 24-track disk recorder.

The O2R doesn't have the best user interface, with a small display to access all those menus. It hides a huge amount of powerful features (although inadequate memory can limit what you can store). There are several software packages that allow you access and edit everything on the O2R on a computer, two of which are: C-Mexx Visualizer, on Windows, and Zeep.com Project Manager Pro on the Macintosh, both of which also add to the system's functionality.

A couple of quotes I found online: Mackie D8B Digital 8-Bus console - 56 INS. 72 CH+DYN+FX - 7625.00 (inc VAT) Yamaha O2R Digital mixer - Dynamics + FX on all CH, 40 INS - 4445.00 (inc VAT)