Yamaha 01V

Digital Mixer

Published in SOS July 1998
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Reviews : Mixer

YAMAHA 01V DIGITAL MIXER

In 1995, Yamaha's Promix 01 smashed everyone's preconceptions of how much a digital mixer should cost. Now the new 01V is changing the rules again, offering features more akin to those of the three-grand 03D than the Promix 01 – and it costs £500 less than the Promix did when launched! HUGH ROBJOHNS is most intrigued...

 

The 01V assumes a position as the entry-level product in Yamaha's digital mixer line-up, effectively replacing the Promix 01 and unifying the highly evolved operational philosophies and practices developed through the 02R and 03D across the complete range. Of course, the digital mixer market is now becoming a hotbed of competition, with the new Soundcraft Spirit 328 and Tascam TMD1000 (see this month's news pages) on the horizon. The Yamaha 01V looks positively cheap next to some of its digital competitors, yet it benefits from the familiar interface, the onboard effects and dynamics processing, and the undeniably advanced technology that made the 02R and 03D possible.

Essentially, the 01V is more a simplified 03D than an updated Promix 01. However, whereas the 03D has full onboard dynamic automation, the 01V has snapshot automation, but requires the assistance of a MIDI sequencer to provide full dynamic automation. Like the 03D, it can accept one of a selection of plug-in interface cards, which increase the number of ins and outs in either the digital or analogue domain, depending on the card you pick (more on these in a moment). There are 16 main analogue inputs arranged as 12 mono mic/line channels and two line-level stereo pairs, each with its own dedicated fader. Rather then dedicated stereo, buss and aux outputs, there are four assignable so-called Omni outputs that can be deployed as required.

pros & cons

YAMAHA 01V £1399

pros
Good user interface.
Flexible analogue and digital connectivity.
Makes the all-digital studio even more affordable.
Powerful and capable EQ and Dynamics.
Motorised faders.

cons

Potential traps in the monitoring section.
Even harder to think of an excuse not to go digital!

summary

Following in the footsteps of the 02R and 03D, the 01V is an excellent addition to Yamaha's 0-series. Pitched just below the 03D in terms of facilities, but well below it in price, it gives little away in flexibility and nothing at all in terms of signal quality. Only lacking the in-built dynamic automation of its siblings, the 01V is a very capable and well-specified machine which will suit a very wide range of applications.

OVERVIEW

Pre-launch publicity has suggested that the 01V is intended to appeal to anyone considering upgrading an analogue mixer in a sophisticated music system. With that in mind, the 01V offers enough facilities and flexibility to convince of the advantages of going digital, but in such a way that the learning curve is shallow and eases the user gently into the unfamiliar world of digital mixers.

In terms of hardware, the 01V is based on the same technology as its siblings with Yamaha's custom 32-bit DSPs providing the number-crunching engines. However, the desk has taken advantage of improvements in converter technology by incorporating the latest Crystal 20-bit 128-times oversampling delta-sigma A-Ds and 20-bit 8-times oversampling D-As.

The new desk is a distinctive light silver and it fits standard 19-inch racking with the optional rackmount ears. The majority of analogue connections have been brought onto the top surface for ease of re-plugging, but the rest of the control surface bears a strong family resemblance to the 02R and 03D. The main setup and configuration buttons are on the left-hand side of the 320x80 LCD, and over to the right are a set of dedicated equaliser and pan controls and a stereo bargraph LED meter. A parameter wheel, increment/decrement buttons, cursor controls, and an Enter key fall conveniently to hand in the front right-hand corner of the desk.

As already explained in brief, the 01V provides a wealth of connectivity with 12 analogue mic/line inputs, two dedicated stereo analogue line inputs, and a stereo digital input. If one of the optional expansion cards is installed, another eight digital inputs become available in either ADAT, TDIF, or AES/EBU formats. A fourth card option provides four analogue outputs, which doubles the number of assignable analogue outputs from the desk, and a fifth sports eight analogue inputs. These last two cards will not available until later in the Autumn.

The built-in analogue inputs boast a very adaptable 4-band parametric EQ, delay, plus a flexible dynamics processor, and each channel can access six auxiliary sends, two of which are dedicated to internal effects processors. Channels can be routed to the main stereo output, one or more of the four internal mix busses, or to a direct output. In addition to all the signal-processing capacity on the input channels, the main stereo and auxiliary output chains also have their own 4-band EQs, dynamics processors, and up to 300mS of additional delay.

Input channels are controlled via motorised faders and although the markings on the escutcheon give the impression that these are long-throw faders, they are actually only 60mm in length, identical to those on the Promix 01 and 03D. As with the other Yamaha digital mixers, the faders can be 'paged' to control alternative functions such as the aux and effects sends, master levels, the eight digital input channels, or to control some other remote device via MIDI.

Uniquely, the 01V's four auxiliary sends do not have dedicated outputs. Instead, an unusual 'matrix' facility assigns the four available Omni outputs to provide signals derived from either the four auxiliary outputs, the four mix busses, the stereo main outputs, or direct outputs from any of the 16 analogue input channels. A similar arrangement configures the eight optional digital outputs.

As with the other 0-Series desks, mono channels and auxes can be paired for stereo working, there are three fader and three mute groups, and the desk also incorporates a line-up oscillator.

GETTING CONNECTED

It would be impossible to cover all of the desk's facilities here -- the owner's manual which does exactly that (and very well too) runs to over 300 pages! However, I will endeavour to give you a flavour of the 01V's capabilities, and to highlight the particularly useful or unusual facilities.

The 12 analogue mic/line channels are each equipped with an XLR and quarter-inch jack socket mounted on the top surface -- both electronically balanced and wired in parallel so that either input connector can be used for any source. Phantom power is available on the XLR sockets (switched in two banks) and line levels are accommodated by switching in a 26dB pad. The gain control covers -16 to -60dB, (+10 to -34dB if the pad is switched in) but the 01V offers about 6dB less overall gain than the 03D, which explains why the 01V's mic inputs sound quieter than the 03D's on full gain. The phantom

EFFECTS PROGRAMS

• Reverbs (Hall, Room, Stage, Plate)
• Early reflections
• Gate reverb/reverse gate
• Mono delay
• Stereo delay
• Modulated delay
• Delay LCR
• Echo
• Chorus
• Flange
• Symphonic
• Phaser
• Autopan
• Tremolo
• HQ Pitch (effect 2 only)
• Dual Pitch
• Rotary
• Ring Modulator
• Modulated filter
• Distortion
• Amp Simulator
• Dyna-filter
• Dyna-flange
• Dyna-phaser
• Rev/chorus (series or parallel)
• Rev/flange (series or parallel)
• Rev/Sympho (series or parallel)
• Rev/Pan (series)
• Delay/Early reflection (series or parallel)
• Delay/reverb (series or parallel)
• Distortion/delay (series)
• Multi filter
• Freeze (effect 2 only)
power, pads, and input gain controls do not fall under the watchful eye of the desk's snapshot automation.

The two stereo input channels are equipped with a pair of balanced jack sockets and gain controls covering +10 to -20dB. Channels 15/16 can be switched to accept the signal from the two-track return connectors instead of the jack sockets, and channels 13/14 can be swapped with the S/PDIF digital input through a software menu. Unbalanced -10dBV phono sockets provide the two-track recorder interface and another quarter-inch jack socket provides a headphone outlet.

The remaining interface facilities are on the back of the desk, with a pair of balanced jack sockets providing the stereo monitoring output, and four more balanced jack sockets for the assignable Omni outputs. The main stereo buss analogue output is via a pair of balanced XLRs, whilst a pair of phono connectors provide the only digital interface fitted as standard -- S/PDIF in and out with full 24-bit capability. To the right-hand side are the usual trio of MIDI connectors and a To Host mini-DIN socket for linking two Yamaha 0-series desks together, or to interface directly with a computer. At the bottom of the rear panel is a removable plate hiding the socket for the Option I/O cards. The mains lead is captive, with the power switch located at the base of the rear panel.

A STROLL DOWN THE SIGNAL PATH

The 01V's signal path is better equipped than most analogue consoles, but none of the structure I'm about to describe really exists -- it is all in the mind of the programmers and resides as algorithms inside a bunch of DSP chips! Following the analogue input section and digital conversion, the channel signal reaches an equaliser block which includes a phase-reverse facility and a digital attenuator (the role of which is crucial to the correct operation of the desk and is described in the 'Digital Headroom' box). The 4-band parametric equaliser is extremely comprehensive, yet easy to use, thanks to the dedicated control section to the right of the LCD panel. After the EQ section comes the dynamics processing and then a delay (up to 250ms) which can be specified in terms of distance (in meters), samples, or milliseconds. The balance between direct and delayed signal can be adjusted, as can the amount of feedback around the delay line, allowing simple delay effects to be created. The layout is completed by the On switch, fader, and output routing.

THE EQUALISER

The dedicated equaliser controls are assigned by pressing the Sel button above a channel fader. Access buttons are provided for four separate bands although in fact each can traverse the entire 21Hz to 20kHz range (in 1/12 octave steps). Alongside the four push buttons are three rotary encoders labelled Pan, F (frequency) and G (gain). The provision of a dedicated panning knob in the EQ section is a bit of a mystery, but useful all the same! The F knob determines the centre or turnover frequency of the selected band and the G knob controls the cut or boost (up to +/-18dB in half dB steps). The two mid bands have variable Q (bandwidth) parameters scaled from 10 (extremely narrow) to 0.1 (very broad), adjusted with the parameter wheel or the Inc/Dec buttons. The high and low bands also have adjustable Q values but in addition at the narrow end of the range, an extra position introduces low- or high-pass filters respectively, and at the broad end of the range an additional position imposes a shelf response.

The extreme right-hand side of the LCD shows three virtual knobs corresponding to the Pan, F and G controls, with numerical readouts and a label informing the user which channel is being adjusted. On the stereo input channels, the internal effects returns, and on any paired channels, the virtual knobs are shown with dotted lines leading off the side of the screen to indicate that another channel is also being adjusted. Besides these virtual knobs, the LCD shows a graphical frequency response with a dotted vertical line to indicate the position of the selected band's frequency control. There is also a table of numerical values of all 12 EQ parameters (frequency, gain, and Q or filter type for each of the four bands).

The entire EQ section can be bypassed by pressing the Enter button and it can also be reset to flat by pressing the high and low-band buttons simultaneously. However, this last function would benefit from a suitable marking on the panel (as the 03D has). In common with other Yamaha digital desks, an EQ Library is provided in which to store favourite EQ settings, copy settings between channels, or to recall any of the 40 factory presets.

The ultimate question, of course, is what does the equaliser sound like? Well, anyone with experience of the larger 0-series desks will already know because the 01V uses exactly the same algorithms as its siblings. The EQ sounds clean, but tending towards clinical rather than warm, and is capable of subtle artistic enhancements as well as really quite savage 'corrections'. It is intended to get the job done with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of flexibility -- something it achieves admirably.

DYNAMICS

The elaborate dynamics processor offers a compressor, gate, expander, auto-ducker, or hard and soft companders, plus a further 34 factory preset configurations in the library. The two dynamics LCD pages are accessed from the control panel, the first displaying the virtual controls of the selected processor, and the second accessing the lib

"...there is very little I can criticise about the 01V. It is an excellent mixer which will appeal to a very broad spectrum of users..."
rary functions in much the same way as the EQ pages. There are no dedicated hardware controls for the dynamics section -- the user navigates the screen with the cursor keys, and adjusts the values with the parameter wheel or Inc/Dec buttons.

The LCD shows a 'transfer curve' graph of the output signal compared with the input signal which changes as the controls are adjusted. These controls are much as would be expected: the compressor and expander boast threshold, attack, release, ratio, knee and 'out gain' for example. The channel dynamics modules also have a key facility ('self' by default), so that any other input channel can be used to control the gain reduction. A bargraph shows the input signal level together with the applied gain reduction, but this is where things became confusing! Having set the desired degree of 'squash' to a signal with the threshold and ratio controls, increasing the 'out-gain' setting on the 01V's compressor actually reduced the amount of gain reduction displayed on the GR meter, although the audio continued to function correctly. Yamaha are now aware of this anomily and are making the necessary alteration.

Nonetheless, I have to say that the whole dynamics module is pretty good. It is fairly easy to set up, and it makes a good job of controlling even the trickiest signals. The option of a two-stage auto-release facility on the compressor and expander would have been good, but that is a very minor quibble. The provision of a Range control on the gate and ducker is useful (to set the degree of attenuation applied when the gate is closed or the ducker active), and the combination companders are extremely handy, if a tad fiddly to optimise because of the interaction between the threshold, width, and out-gain controls.

INTERNAL EFFECTS

The two internal effects processors are derived from Yamaha's previous ProR3 and REV500 effects units, and although they do actually offer slightly different algorithms, both provide a range of reverbs (the high-quality pitch-shifting and freeze programs are only available on the second effects channel -- see the 'Effects Programs' box for a full listing). There can be few readers of this magazine who are not already familiar with Yamaha's approach to effects units so I won't bore you with the details here, suffice to say that the entire system is very well equipped, flexible, and easy to use. The effects processors are recalled to the LCD by pressing the appropriate Effects button on the control surface, and its three pages provide the means to recall or save programs, edit their parameters, and determine the pre or post signal source from each channel. A 4-band equaliser is available in each of the effects returns channels, which can also be routed to the auxiliary sends as well as to the other effects send.

I found the effects to be of a commendable standard, although to my ears the reverbs perhaps don't sound quite as good as those on the REV500. However, that judgement is based purely on my powers of recall rather than in a direct comparison and the bottom line is that they still sound very good indeed, and are eminently usable in the circumstances for which this mixer has been designed.

I/O OPTIONS

The optional digital interface cards (which, curiously, are not compatible with the YGDAI cards employed in the 02R and 03D) provide an extra eight inputs and eight assignable outputs, and clearly this facility is intended for use with 8-track digital recorders such as ADAT or DTRS machines, or a computer-based hard disk recorder. The faders for the digital inputs are accessed by pressing the Option I/O button and, in the normal configuration, the digital inputs are provided with nothing more than a 2-band equaliser and routing to auxes 1 and 2, plus the two effects channels, the four mix busses, and the main stereo output. In many situations, this would be fine, but Yamaha have also incorporated the ability to swap digital channels (17-24) with analogue signal paths (1-8), either on an individual or global basis (an improvement on what the 03D offers). Thus, if a tape return needs some dynamics processing or elaborate equalisation and the corresponding analogue channel can suffice with a 2-band EQ, their signal paths can be swapped over. The only confusion is that the entire signal path is swapped -- including the fader, but fortunately the LCD flashes up warnings whenever a swapped channel is selected for tweaking to remind the operator what is going on.

When using the 01V in conjunction with digital recorders, word clocks and synchronisation become important but Yamaha have taken most of the pain out of this with an auto-navigate function which searches for valid clock sources on the S/PDIF or Option I/O card inputs and if it finds something worth locking to, it will. Failing that, this function switches back to the internal clock source at either 44.1 or 48kHz.

The digital outputs (en masse), and the S/PDIF output can be set to any resolution between 16 and 24 bits, with or without dithering, and they can source output signals on a semi-assignable basis. The graphic on the LCD makes the options very obvious but, for example, output 1 can source mix buss 1, channel direct output 1 or 9, aux 1, or the left main stereo output. Output 4 can access mix buss 4, channel direct output 4 or 12, aux 4 or the right main stereo output.

DIGITAL HEADROOM

Most of the high-end digital consoles use 'floating-point arithmetic' -- 24 bits convey the audio signal, and eight bits act as a multiplier or scaling factor (the floating point version of 134,000 would be 134x103). This approach allows very big or small numbers to be handled easily whilst maintaining true 24-bit accuracy and provides an internal dynamic range of a completely ludicrous 1500dB! The big advantage is that if 'normal' signal levels are positioned somewhere in the centre of that wide dynamic range, it is impossible to overload the internal mix busses and, no matter how many channels are combined, the mix-buss noise will never become audible.

However, Yamaha's approach is to use 'fixed-point arithmetic' with a 32-bit internal structure giving a dynamic range of around 192dB -- still a very wide range compared to an analogue desk which might reach 120dB on a good day! The problem is that to obtain the best quality from the A-D converters the input signal has to peak close to the maximum level and if a lot of boost is applied in the equaliser, or if the fader is raised to increase the signal level, there is a risk of internal overload. This can be mitigated by artificially reducing the level of the input signal to create 'digital headroom' of, say, four bits (ie. 24dB of headroom -- not dissimilar to a professional analogue desk). But even this approach is not without problems because the noise floor is only 24dB below the bottom of a 24-bit input signal, and so there is the risk of losing resolution or picking up the digital noise floor if the input signal is faded down in the mix.

Consequently, the digital attenuator placed immediately in advance of the equaliser section is provided to allow the user to reduce the signal level going in to the equaliser (and dynamics module) sufficiently to ensure that when the desired amount of amount of boost is introduced, the system will not be overloaded. This technique allows the analogue input signal to be peaked to optimise the A-D conversion, the digital noise performance of the system is maintained, and sufficient operating headroom is obtained on a channel-by-channel basis by adjusting the digital attenuators as necessary.

OUTPUTS AND MONITORING

I fell foul of a couple of traps on the output side of the 01V. For a start, the balance control on the main stereo output fader is a little unusual (although common to the other 0-series desks) and it took me a while to figure out why everything had a 12dB offset! Another potential pitfall is that the main output monitoring can be selected to either pre or post main fader -- when in pre-fade mode, waggling the main output fader up and down doesn't change what you hear one iota but messes up your recording! However, once you have set the desk up the way you want it, you are unlikely to fall into these kinds of traps, but because of the nature of the desk with its assignable controls and hidden facilities in menu pages, it is possible to think the desk is working in one mode when it is actually in another.

The Omni outputs default to the four aux sends, but can also be assigned to provide analogue mix buss outputs, the stereo main outputs, or direct outputs from channels 1-16. The assignable Omni concept is new to Yamaha's 0-series, and gives you a degree of extra flexibility. For example, you could interface a multitrack recorder in the analogue domain -- but at the expense of available aux sends. There is also a delay facility shared between the Omni and main stereo outputs of up to 300mS which can be very useful in multi-speaker sound reinforcement applications, for example.

The monitoring arrangements are very comprehensive, if unusual, and the appropriate menu page allows the main monitoring signal to be derived from the main stereo output, the stereo cascade input, the four auxiliary busses, or the four mix busses -- all pre or post-fader. A mono facility is provided, as is a useful monitor trim control which allows domestic amplifiers to be used safely with the +4dBu monitor output.

There is also a very elaborate solo system which can be set to one of two modes: recording and mixdown. Mixdown mode is the usual solo-in-place arrangement where non-soloed channels are muted while monitoring the main stereo output -- often referred to as

"The 01V is an awful lot of mixer for the money."
destructive soloing. In Recording mode soloed channels are fed purely to the monitoring system without affecting any of the main recording outputs. The desk also offers the choice of whether the solo switches cancel each other, or mix together when more than one is pressed, and there is a separate trim control to adjust the relative level of soloed signals in the monitoring chain.

MIDI & AUTOMATION

The 01V has lots of MIDI. Everything is controllable through the usual patch change, control change and system exclusive messages, whilst the faders and the On and Sel buttons can all be used to send MIDI control data to operate remote equipment, including MMC commands. The implementation is extensive and there is something like 40 pages in the owner's manual dedicated to the subject!

Integral snapshot automation is provided through 'scene memories', but dynamic automation requires the services of an external MIDI sequencer. The 100 scene memories can be crossfaded (up to 25 seconds) and channels can be made 'safe' to remain unaffected when the rest of the desk is reset. There is also provision to undo unwanted scene changes or to compare a stored scene with the current desk settings. The scene memories store pretty much all the operational controls, with the exception of the analogue ones like the input pad and gain controls.

OPINION

The 01V is an awful lot of mixer for the money. Eighteen analogue inputs, up to 10 digital inputs, 10 digital outputs, and 10 analogue outputs, all in a 19-inch rackmounting frame and with instant recall of most parameters. That adds up to a very powerful package by any standards and the machine is easy to use once you have become familiar with Yamaha's operating style.

It should also be remembered that only a few years ago, you would have paid the cost of this mixer purely to buy effects boxes with the capability of the 01V's onboard effects, and that's before you consider all the dynamics processors. These go a long way towards mitigating the lack of analogue insert points on every channel (something we're going to have to get used to with digital desks), though you can still use the analogue inputs and insert a processor between the recorder's line ouput and the mixer's analogue input. Furthermore, without one of the optional multitrack I/O cards, the 01V is probably best suited to work where recording is done one or two tracks at a time. With an appropriate card fitted, however, you have all the buss flexibility necessary for conventional multitrack recording with a single ADAT or DTRS machine.

In a desk which is trying to be all things to all people, total flexibility inevitably leads to the potential for some confusion, and I have already highlighted one or two instances of that, but on the whole there is very little I can criticise about the 01V, especially at its price. It is an excellent mixer which will appeal to a very broad spectrum of users, professional, semi-professional and enthusiatic amateur alike.

  01V £1399; optional digital I/O expansion cards (MY8AE AES/EBU card, MY8TD TDIF card, and MY8AT ADAT optical card) £199 each. All prices include VAT.  
  Yamaha-Kemble Music, Sherbourne Drive, Tilbrook, Milton Keynes MK7 8BL, UK.  
  UK Product info line +44 (0) 1908 369269.  
  +44 (0)1908 368872.  
  www.yamaha.co.jp/product/homeenglish/index.html  

 

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