Yamaha’s new all‑in‑one speaker packs a lot of sound into a portable package.
As the parent of a musical teenager, I’ve done a bit of research recently on high‑quality, portable, personal PA/backline products. And I’ve come to the slightly surprising conclusion that, apart from the Roland Cube Street EX, there’s not many options out there. So when a Yamaha news story announcing the Stagepas 200 dropped into my inbox I was intrigued. I have some experience of the previously mentioned Roland Cube Street EX, even occasionally using one as double bass rehearsal backline, and know it to be a very capable product, so would the Stagepas 200 offer a viable alternative?
In the flesh, the Stagepas 200 feels like it means business. Somehow, to my mind, there’s something innately purposeful about cube‑shaped products, and the Stagepas 200 presses that button perfectly. The Stagepas 200 also presses my “Oh, that’s neat!” button, because attached to its underside are two dense rubber moulded components that play the role of non‑slip feet while clipped in place, but can be un‑clipped and attached, one to each side, to become floor stands that angle the enclosure upwards, at 30° or 60°. Also neat is that the Stagepas 200 is fitted on one side with a ‘top‑hat’ (35mm diameter) speaker stand hole, so it can potentially be mounted at height. Having the mounting hole in the side usefully ensures that the control knobs remain accessible when the Stagepas 200 is raised. Lifting a Stagepas 200 up onto a speaker pole is not entirely without effort, though, because despite its compact dimensions, it weighs a relatively heavy 12kg, even without its optional 79.9 Watt/hour lithium‑ion battery pack. The surprising weight, though, adds yet more heft to the feeling of serious intent.
Behind its sturdy, perforated metal grille, the Stagepas 200 incorporates a 200mm‑diameter, 50mm voice‑coil bass/mid driver with a concentrically mounted, 25mm‑throat, 31mm voice‑coil horn‑loaded compression high‑frequency driver. Two triangular ports, located in the corners either side of the bass/mid driver, provide reflex loading that extends the low‑frequency bandwidth beyond what would be feasible with a sealed enclosure, and helps reduce bass driver diaphragm excursion. The two drivers are powered by Class‑D amplifiers rated at 150 Watts and 30 Watts for LF and HF respectively, and the crossover between them is specified at 2kHz. Yamaha claim a system frequency response of 60Hz to 20kHz.
I took the review Stagepas 200 to my usual speaker measuring space and launched FuzzMeasure to undertake a little acoustics analysis. Diagram 1 illustrates the axial and 30° off‑axis frequency response. Three things stand out. Firstly, despite its various discontinuities, the frequency response is actually somewhat more linear than I expected. It’s not bad at all. Secondly, one of the noticeable bumps in the response is slap‑bang in the middle of the ears’ most sensitive region at 1kHz, so is likely to make a significant contribution to the overall tonality of the Stagepas 200. And lastly, I was also expecting the Stagepas 200 off‑axis response to fall away more quickly than it does as frequency rises. This is another good result, meaning it’s not acutely directional.
Switching attention to the input side of the Stagepas 200, it offers five inputs in total, configured as three mono and one stereo. The three mono inputs, accessed on XLR/jack combi sockets, all offer a gain knob and mic/line‑level sensitivity switches, with inputs 2 and 3 also adding a high‑impedance option. All three can also supply 48V phantom power, which is switched globally.
The inputs additionally incorporate a single‑knob EQ function that produces bass cut going counterclockwise and midrange cut going clockwise to around half the knob’s total travel. Turn a knob all the way to its endstops either way, however, and it engages preset EQ, gain and compression profiles. The intention with the EQ and preset profiles appears to be to offer quick, one‑knob access to processing suited to voice at one and of the range and instrument inputs at the other. This all seems to me to be an idiosyncratic approach to live sound and I would personally have preferred something more conventional. However, both control‑panel real estate and, I guess, budgets are limited, so perhaps with only one knob possible, Yamaha should be praised for squeezing in a good deal of functionality.
In Diagram 2 I’ve illustrated FuzzMeasure frequency response curves revealing what the Channel 1 EQ knob does by default at its preset positions. The red curve shows the StagePas 200 axial frequency response with the EQ flat (as in Diagram 1), while the blue and green curves show the channel EQ at maximum ‘mic’ and maximum ‘line’ modes, respectively. While the ‘mic’ curve (blue) shows the expected low‑frequency roll‑off and a few dB of high‑frequency boost, it also results in around 6dB of extra full‑band gain. The ‘line’ curve (green) again shows 6dB gain but with precious little actual EQ effect.
Also perhaps falling into the ‘somewhat idiosyncratic’ category is the Stagepas 200’s approach to effects. Channels 1‑3 each have an effects knob that simultaneously controls both effect level and effect type. The first quarter segment of knob rotation generates increasing reverb, the second segment produces increasing reverb and delay, the third segment brings in increasing reverb and chorus and the fourth segment results in increasing reverb, delay and chorus. The master output section, which I’ll get to shortly, incorporates a single knob that enables the global selection of different reverb and delay types.
Input channels 4+5 are combined as a stereo line‑level input that offers the same EQ facilities as channels 1‑3, except that there are no sensitivity options or an effects knob. Connection to channels 4+5 is achieved via a single TRS jack socket, so if a stereo source with separate left and right outputs is to be connected, a suitable cable (twin TS jack to single TRS jack) is required.
The Stagepas 200 also offers Bluetooth connection to wireless audio sources, and once paired with such a device (achieved simply by pressing and holding the Bluetooth button), Bluetooth audio is effectively bussed in on channels 4+5, with its level adjusted by the channel volume control. What’s slightly surprising is that, when playing Bluetooth audio, the stereo 4+5 analogue input is still available. Balancing the volume between Bluetooth and conventional audio in those circumstances is slightly tricky but it does mean that, including Bluetooth audio, the Stagepas 200 has seven input channels.
The Bluetooth connection also allows the Yamaha Stagepas Controller iOS or Android app to be employed for remote setup and control. The app enables far more sophisticated and comprehensive configuration than is available though the Stagepas 200 hardware knobs, and reveals some otherwise hidden functionality in terms of channel EQ, effects, compression and even mic modelling. I’ve included a few screenshots to illustrate some of the functions the app makes available.
Following the input section, the master section incorporates a global EQ knob that offers what Yamaha call ‘club’ and ‘speech’ profiles, respectively clockwise and counterclockwise. There’s also the previously mentioned effects selection knob, a master volume control and a Feedback Suppressor button. There’s nothing in the Stagepas 200 manual to explain how the feedback suppression works but a simple experiment with a vocal mic confirmed its basic effectiveness — although my advice would always be to consider changing how a mic and PA are set up before resorting to feedback suppression. The master section also sports a Monitor Link knob that adjusts a TRS jack line output to which a second Stagepas 200, or perhaps a venue PA system, can be connected.
Returning to the master section EQ, Diagram 3 shows the frequency response at full speech (green) and full club (blue) settings compared again to the flat response (red). As with the channel EQ, a slightly surprising overall gain increase occurs along with the tonal adjustment. And it was very apparent when taking the FuzzMeasure data that full club EQ, with its 10dB or so of extra low‑frequency gain, asks questions of the Stagepas 200 bass driver and reflex ports that they are not really able to answer — significant low‑frequency distortion and port noise was audible.
I mentioned earlier that the Stagepas 200 can optionally be battery powered. The Yamaha BTR‑STP200 battery pack can be bought separately and connects beneath a panel on the underside of the unit, secured by four screws. Yamaha advertise a 10‑hour battery life and I was intrigued to see how realistic that claim was. So I set up the Stagepas 200 with a fully charged battery and left it playing wide‑band pink noise at just shy of 90dB SPL (1m), with a DAW recording the result so that I could see how long it would last. It was still going 12 hours later, although the battery indicator was flashing to indicate less than 20 percent charge remaining. I think we can safely conclude that Yamaha’s battery life claim is justified — pessimistic, even.
In use the Stagepas 200 turned out to be everything I’d secretly hoped for.
In use the Stagepas 200 turned out to be everything I’d secretly hoped for. Employed in a personal PA role, with guitar and voice, it plays easily loud enough for outdoor busking or small indoor gig use, and it does so with a satisfying sense of clarity and precision. I suspect the 1kHz bump apparent in the acoustic analysis plays a role here: it adds noticeable intelligibility to voices. The lack of extreme directionality shows too, with only a gentle change of balance being apparent when listening off‑axis — higher frequencies don’t just suddenly disappear. The default EQ and effects settings are generally perfectly usable but I’m pretty sure, if I were to use the Stagepas 200 long‑term, I’d dive into the deeper settings provided by the Stagepas Controller app and tweak things more to taste. I tried the Stagepas 200 with both battery and mains power and heard no obvious subjective difference either way.
Along with testing the Stagepas 200 with guitar and voice, I also used it for electric bass backline duties at a gig. The context was a band comprising bass, cajon, guitar, piano and two vocals, playing in a seated venue that holds just shy of 200 people. The Stagepas 200 passed the test with no problems. With a relatively small bass driver and a frequency response that doesn’t reach below 60Hz or so, it naturally struggles to reproduce bass fundamentals below, say, low C, but clear audibility, reliability and overall tone are more important to me than stage‑shaking bass, and on those parameters I couldn’t really ask for more of such a compact unit.
The Stagepas 200 may have a few quirks in terms of the way channel EQ is implemented and configured, but it is without a doubt serious competitor at last for the Roland Cube Street EX, and it genuinely makes me want to go out busking. And I never thought I’d write that.
Alternative products that offer the versatility and quality of the Yamaha in a compact and easily portable format are few and far between. The closest options are probably the previously mentioned Roland Cube Street EX, alongside the Electro‑Voice Everse 8, Mackie’s Thump Go, the Bose S1 Pro and the JBL EON One.
- Build quality.
- Sound quality.
- Battery life.
- Channel EQ setup a little idiosyncratic.
The Stagepas 200 is a genuinely well conceived product that achieves, pretty much flawlessly, everything it sets out to do. It sets a very high standard for compact, portable battery‑powered PA.
Stagepas 200 £783, Stagepas 200 BTR (includes battery pack) £939.60. Prices include VAT.
Stagepas 200 $719, Stagepas 200 BTR (battery option) $849.