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Yamaha DM3

Digital Mixer & USB Audio Interface By Mike Crofts
Published December 2023

Yamaha DM3

Yamaha’s new compact 'mixerface' console packs a lot of powerful features and functionality into a portable package.

The new Yamaha DM3 is a compact digital mixing console capable of taking 18 inputs to mix, with 16 onboard mic preamps and an ‘eight plus one’ fader configuration. The internal processing runs at 96kHz throughout, although there’s an option to set the clock at 48kHz if required. The preamps are, I understand, all‑new designs but borrow from some of Yamaha’s higher‑end products. Apart from the main stereo bus, there are six further aux mix buses, plus two matrix buses and two internal effects buses. Local ins and outs are all XLR on the rear panel, with four of the inputs having combi XLR/TRS connectors.

The DM3 is designed with various modes of operation in mind, and to that end, some of the physical buttons can be used for remote DAW control. Direct‑to‑stick stereo and 18‑channel multitrack recording is catered for, a feature aimed at portable live recording/streaming applications. When connected to a wireless router, the mixer can be remote‑controlled using an iOS device or Mac/Windows computer, and up to 10 individual mobile devices can connect and control different mixes. The DM3 weighs a mere 8.5kg, and is a truly compact piece of hardware, measuring only 320mm wide by 455mm front‑to‑back.

There are, in fact, two versions of the DM3: the DM3 Standard, and the DM3. Both have the same 18‑input mixing capability, but the latter includes 16‑in/16‑out Dante connectivity to connect with Dante‑equipped stageboxes, speakers and recording systems, as an alternative to the local I/O. The DM3 Standard (DM3S) has local I/O only, and this is the version I had for review. I mostly looked at this mixer from a live sound point of view, though it does have many other tricks up its sleeve.

DM3 - Out Of The Box

The shipping box itself gives quite a strong first impression, in that it’s far too small to contain an 18‑channel digital mixing console — or so you might think! The DM3 really is a diminutive piece of hardware, and would fit inside a rucksack‑style carry bag if necessary. After unpacking and powering up the DM3S I was struck not only by its tiny size but by the very large touchscreen that occupies pretty much the whole of the upper part of the surface. The look and feel of the DM3S, even before powering it up, give an impression of quality; it’s designed in Yamaha’s trademark style of straightforward, no‑nonsense ergonomics, and has a very ‘pro’ look.

As soon as I switched it on and the screen came to life I immediately began comparing it to Yamaha’s existing TF consoles, as the screen layout is almost identical in style. It’s not ‘just’ an updated TF though, even though it obviously shares much of the workflow — more on that a bit later. The powering‑up process took a shade over 40 seconds from hitting the switch to a state of readiness, and involved connecting an external power supply to a sturdy four‑pin connector on the rear panel. I suppose having an external PSU is one of the compromises involved in making such a compact product. For a studio install it’s not a problem at all, but as a travelling tool, the PSU is just another thing to carry around, and would have to be accommodated when considering flightcase capacity. Having said that, the PSU is not a wall‑wart type; it’s a heavy‑duty in‑line thing that looks and feels solid and tough, and the DC input connector is a quality piece of hardware that’s not going to get accidentally disconnected or easily damaged. I suppose if you’ve got to have an external PSU, this is the way to do it!

All versions of the DM3 feature 16 mic/line inputs (four of which are on combi XLR/jacks), plus eight line outs, a USB port for interfacing, and an Ethernet port for remote control. The non‑Standard version (pictured) additionally has two Dante ports, for up to 16 remote I/O.All versions of the DM3 feature 16 mic/line inputs (four of which are on combi XLR/jacks), plus eight line outs, a USB port for interfacing, and an Ethernet port for remote control. The non‑Standard version (pictured) additionally has two Dante ports, for up to 16 remote I/O.

Updating The Firmware

The first thing I did was update the firmware to the latest version, by downloading it from the Yamaha website and transferring it to the mixer with a USB stick. The update process is virtually foolproof, and only takes a few minutes.

Once switched on, it’s apparent straight away that the large touchscreen is the centre of operations, as there are very few hardware controls on the surface. The screen itself is pin‑sharp and a joy to interact with, being smooth, multi‑touch‑responsive and benefitting from an excellent design layout with lots of functionality. The channel overview (Home screen), for example, not only displays all the parameters and processing blocks in real time but also allows direct touch control of the main functions. Or you can pop out dedicated control screens to access everything in a larger view with additional control options, if available. The information displayed on the screen is presented using the tried and tested TF layout, so anyone familiar with the TF world can just crack straight on with the DM3.

Yamaha DM3 screen display and selector buttonsYamaha DM3 screen display and selector buttons.

The size of the screen allows several functions to be included here rather than have actual hardware controls elsewhere on the surface; for example, the buttons used to select auxiliary bus sends on faders are on‑screen only, and the scribble strip is always bannered across the bottom of the screen, lined up directly above the channel fader strip.

The only controls on the upper part of the surface other than the screen are the headphone jack and level knob, and a single USB port. The lower two thirds or so contains the nine control strips, each having only a 100mm motorised fader and three real buttons for channel select, monitor cue and channel on/off. As always, Yamaha prefer a channel on button rather than a mute switch; it does exactly the same thing, in effect, except that when it’s lit it’s operational and when it’s dark it’s muted. The left‑hand bank of eight fader strips are for the channels selected in whatever layer is active, and the rightmost fader is the related master for that layer. The faders operate quickly and smoothly and are almost silent, adding to the overall impression of a quality build.

Yamaha DM3 digital mixer: right-side Home and User-defined buttons.Yamaha DM3 digital mixer: right-side Home and User-defined buttons.Over to the right of the faders is the familiar (to Yamaha users) data wheel ‘touch and turn’ knob that is used to adjust any parameter selected and highlighted on the screen, and below this are 13 buttons arranged in two groups.

The first six are used to select the active fader layer; inputs 1‑8 and 9‑16 are obvious; FX/Mon switches to the stereo (USB) input, effects sends and returns and monitor level; Output brings up the six aux buses and two matrix masters; and there are two user‑defined custom layers, which can be populated with whatever is needed for any particular application or show. The custom layers are, depending on the application, what makes a compact console with only eight channel faders perfectly suitable for mixing larger shows. On the subject of custom layers, it’s worth pointing out that the DM3 does not offer DCA groups. However, it does have a particularly neat channel linking facility whereby a number of channels can be controlled together. It’s very much like linking two channels as a stereo pair in any digital mixer, but with the ability to expand this to several channels, thus allowing a single fader to be assigned in a custom layer, DCA‑fashion.

Anyway, back to the buttons. The blue Home button can be programmed to act in different ways, but generally always takes you back to an overview screen of some sort (either a group of channels, or all the parameters of the selected channel, which is how I always use mine). This button also appears in the top‑right corner of the touchscreen (above the bargraph meters) — handy if that’s where you’re working when you need it. Finally, the bottom‑right section provides six user‑defined keys (one of which is the tap tempo button in default mode) that can be assigned to a number of other functions — including scene changes, mute groups, and so on. These buttons can also act as DAW controllers if the DM3 is being used as part of a studio setup.

First physical impressions were very positive, then. The DM3 is a very attractive and neat (verging on ‘cute’) little mixer, and although lightweight, the metal case is certainly solid enough not to be pulled around by connected cables.

...with the ability to work at both 48 and 96 kHz, and built‑in 18‑in/18‑out USB interface, it could most definitely serve as the core of a studio setup. The ability to interface with and control DAW software is something that will be of interest to many potential users.

Time To Party

So the DM3S is simply a compact mixer with 16 inputs, or 18 if you count the USB replay stereo channel. Although it’s fully digital and has more onboard processing than any compact mixer should ever need, for live use you basically have 16 inputs. I suspect it’s something that the corporate guys will love, especially considering the ergonomics, and although the DM3 doesn’t retain the automixer facility from the TF series, there is a per‑channel ducker/gate option that would be very useful for conferences and podcasts, for example. Connecting up and getting under way was very easy and fast, and even if you’ve never previously tangled with a TF, everything is clear and clean on the screen layout — the DM3 doesn’t rely on icons and lots of menus to get where you want to be going.

Yamaha DM3After I unpacked the DM3, I decided to take it out on a party band gig. I do sound for a four‑piece band whose normal setup includes a Yamaha TF1, so I thought that the DM3 would be ideal. It certainly occupied less van space, and looked a bit lost in the middle of the large conference table the venue supplied, but 16 channels is exactly what this band normally use: eight for the kit, one for bass, two guitar amps, two keys and three vocals — bang on 16. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the music player that we play through a stereo channel in between sets... As the DM3 doesn’t have any unbalanced inputs to the stereo channel, I had to repurpose the keyboard inputs (the easiest option as they had flat EQ anyway).

It’s surprising how much easier it is to mix this sort of gig with a compact desk — there’s just more room for everything! Having only the eight channel faders wasn’t an issue at all, as a custom fader layer gave me everything I needed to fiddle with right there. The two custom fader layers are a nice touch, especially on a console with only one bank of eight faders, and give you additional quick‑flip options when used in conjunction with the permanent layers. It’s also good to have the custom layers accessed by a single button rather than having to press two at the same time, as is the case on some other mixers.

Having all the audio inputs and outputs on the back of the mixer itself, instead of on a remote stagebox (as would be possible with the Dante‑equipped version) wasn’t an issue at all, although for any application where the mixer would have to be at a distance from the sources I would struggle, having sold my analogue snake years ago!

StageMix & MonitorMix: Remote App Control

I also used the DM3S on another job where I would normally deploy a ‘stagebox/mixer’, where control has to be achieved by a remote PC or tablet working over WiFi or Ethernet. The main reason for using this kind of setup is the smaller footprint at the control point — it’s usually in educational or corporate settings where a low operator profile is called for.

The DM3 can work in this way too, either by connecting it over Ethernet to a network (or directly to a computer), or by hooking up a wireless router. There are a few different software control options. Yamaha’s DM3 Editor runs on Mac and Windows computers and offers full control over the mixer, as well as scene and patch list editing. This works offline, too, so you can fine‑tune your settings before a gig, save them all to a USB stick and then transfer them to the mixer later.

Alternatively, and with a WiFi router connected, there are two mobile apps available: DM3 StageMix and MonitorMix.

  • StageMix is an iPad‑only app that offers full control over the mixer, and is intended for Front Of House (FOH) duties.
  • MonitorMix however can run on both iOS and Android devices, with each device controlling only the levels of one mix. This is intended for use by musicians on stage to adjust their own monitor or IEM mix.

The DM3 StageMix app.The DM3 StageMix app.

With the DM3 in the stagebox position, I used the StageMix app to mix from an iPad, and everything worked a treat. StageMix works in exactly the same way as it does for the TF series, with tabs along the bottom for selecting Home (fader view), Input (preamp settings), EQ, dynamics pages, and so on.

The DM3 setup was not physically smaller than my usual remote mixing setup, but the main point is that I had now used the DM3 on two different gigs where I would normally use two different mixers, so that’s a definite tick in the ‘needing to own less gear’ box.

I had now used the DM3 on two different gigs where I would normally use two different mixers, so that’s a definite tick in the ‘needing to own less gear’ box.

One final live test was to do what I do with all my review gear, and that was to set it up in my own rehearsal setting with a 17‑piece band, where we use section mics on the brass, two vocals and kit/bass rhythm section, requiring 13 or 14 inputs in total. In this application, I usually have the mixer at my bandleader position right in the middle of the action and, once checked, leave it pretty much alone apart from muting out vocal mics in some numbers, as there is a lot of ambient sound coming from the stage itself. All I can say is that this session reinforced my view that the DM3 is a quality piece of kit, and is so easy to use that even our bass trombone player could probably figure it out.

Hidden Treasures

As stated at the outset, I’ve looked at the DM3S very much from a live sound point of view, and as you can tell, I very much like it. It has its limitations, and there are a couple of things I wish it had — mainly a phono stereo input and an internal power supply — but these don’t detract from its qualities as a very capable mixer with easy, flexible workflow and an excellent audio path. Although not really my field of work, there are obvious podcast/live streaming applications for the DM3, and with the ability to work at both 48 and 96 kHz, and built‑in 18‑in/18‑out USB interface, it could most definitely serve as the core of a studio setup. The ability to interface with and control DAW software is something that will be of interest to many potential users.

There are too many features to cover all of them here, so as always I’d encourage anyone interested to dip in to the Yamaha website and download the various setup guides, data sheets and reference manuals that are freely available. Another great way to get some idea of the workflow is to download the DM3 Editor software and play around with it for a while. And do check out the channel linking function, and in particular explore the way the faders interact: set the linked faders at different positions before you link them, and see how they move together with different gearing (travel speed) as they approach the ends of the fader track. Very impressive, and just one example of how this thing is engineered. Another point to note is that some functions can be accessed in more than one way, using one or more screen views or sometimes using the screen or surface buttons, and this makes the workflow that much more convenient.

All in all, I really liked the DM3S, and found that, although it lacked a couple of things that I’m used to, it does what it does exceptionally well, and it actually does more — a lot more — than you might think. I’m sure it’s going to be a favourite on corporate gigs, and considering the option of having a Dante‑equipped version available for those applications that need it, I reckon it’s going to become a very successful addition to the Yamaha line.  


  • Reassuringly sturdy build quality.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Easy to use, thanks to the large colour touchscreen and Yamaha’s intuitive control scheme.
  • 48 / 96 kHz built‑in 18‑in/18‑out USB interface.


  • External power supply.


The DM3 is small enough for those ‘stagebox/mixer with tablet’ jobs, but packs enough hands‑on control for traditional FOH mixing. Equally it can form the centrepiece of your home studio.


DM3 Standard £1699.99, DM3 with Dante £1999.99. Prices include VAT.

Yamaha UK +44 (0)1908 366700.

DM3 Standard $1699.99, DM3 with Dante $1999.99.

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