Product Of The Month: Yamaha PM5D Series

The Yamaha PM5D Series combines the advanced features and self-contained design of the DM2000 with the operating style of the PM1D. A simple “one box” design includes the mix engine, and 64 input channels (48 mono + four stereo analog inputs, four internal stereo returns) of dynamic 96kHz audio with 32-bit internal processing. All onboard A/D and D/A conversions make use of true 24-bit/96kHz converters. Outputs include 24 mix, two stereo (stereo A and B or L-C-R), eight matrix, eight mute groups, and eight DCAs (digitally controlled amplifiers). The PM5D functions without the use of a meter bridge.

Customers have a choice of two front-end configurations: Model PM5D includes 48 XLR analog mono inputs with manual mike preamps based on the circuitry found in the Yamaha DM2000, each with balanced TRS insert I/Os and with an additional four stereo line level inputs.

Model PM5D-RH includes 48 XLR analog mono inputs with recallable mike preamps, derived from the head amplifier design of the Yamaha PM5000, with four stereo inputs that will accept mike level signal.

The PM5D is equipped with eight internal stereo multi-effects processors, (including the new REV-X algorithm as a standard feature) and will also accept Yamaha's Add-On Effects Packages. All input channels feature four-band parametric EQ, independent compression and gating processors, L-R, L-C-R, and surround panning, and a maximum channel delay of 1,000 milliseconds. Up to eight effects processors and 12 graphic EQs can be manipulated simultaneously, and then be assigned to an auxiliary buss or inserted directly into any input channel.

A channel name display enables the user to identify channels at a quick glance, a widely used feature when switching between the console's two mix layers. The intuitive control surface houses a large color display and 25 user-defined keys, which are available for assignable functions. The console also provides scene-based automation, with 38 smooth, 100mm motorized faders that can instantly be layer-switched. All scene data is recorded with 10-bit (1,024 step) fader resolution.

A direct out function routes signals from any of the 64 input channels directly to any other digital or analog output within the system. A 28×8 matrix system can provide cue monitor mixes, or zone level control for sound reinforcement. Four 24-bit/96kHz expansion slots accept a range of I/O and effects plug-in cards (including the current selection of 8- and 16-channel cards), as well as the Yamaha MY16-C CobraNet card. Dedicated cascade ports enable up to four PM5D units to function in tandem, or cascade with other Yamaha digital mixers, or the Yamaha DME24N and DME64N digital mixing engines.

Bundled Mac- and Windows-compatible Editor Application software is included for online control or offline programming. Users can access all programming functions using the PS/2 keyboard and mouse inputs. A dedicated power supply (model PW800W) delivers clean power to the console's circuitry, and two units can be coupled for failsafe switchover operation without the need of an external switcher.

How it Came to Be

The PM5D Series was engineered for applications requiring high quality digital audio and complete recall, but where space and budgetary limitations may also be a consideration. “In the late 1990s, sound engineers began using digital recording consoles for live applications,” says Masamitsu “Matt” Hasegawa, who, along with Masaaki Okabayashi, led the PM5D design team in Japan, “and by the end of 2000, Yamaha had received a number of requests from 02R users for live PA features. We believed that the digital console would soon become a crucial component for live audio, and decided to include ‘live’ features to the DM2000 and 02R96, which were under development at the time.”

After hearing from a number of live sound engineers during their market research, Hasegawa says that most of them wanted to “go digital” and were asking for a cost-effective version of Yamaha's PM1D console. “We felt it was our mission to make an affordable digital live board,” he adds.

Yamaha's first design priority was to create a flexible mixing console that would be suitable for any live situation, giving customers the option of models with either recallable or non-recallable mike preamps. The second priority was to make the head amplifier circuitry as simple as possible in order to maintain sound quality and minimize signal deterioration. Third, the console's optimized operation style, relatively small size, and ergonomic layout are conducive to real-time, analog-style operation.

According to Okabyashi, the PM5D's feature set is based on the latest version of PM1D's hardware and software, which took into account the requests from end-users who wanted a variety of new features. “For instance, up until now, when there was a change in the program, you had to rearrange the order of scenes,” he explains. “With the Event List feature, you have a separate scene memory cue list and can trigger each scene change via external time code, manual operation, or time interval from the previous scene without having to rearrange the scenes. Even though the order of acts or performances is changed, you can flexibly respond to it. Also, we improved the layout of some of the display screens so you can check all the critical information at once. In addition, the effects section now comes equipped with REV-X, a new generation high quality reverb that was optional with the Yamaha DM2000, DM1000 and 02R96 products.”

Okabyashi says that the PM5D Series was envisioned to be smaller and lighter than equivalent analogue consoles so they could be carried by only two people. “We paid close attention to the user interface so the operator could concentrate on mixing, as if they were on an analogue console,” he says, adding, “we really paid attention to the sound quality. For most professional mixing engineers, sound quality always comes before the user interface.”

What's Next:

“Yamaha will continue to refine its digital and analog product lines for the installation and touring markets through a combination of research and end-user input,” states Larry Italia, general manager, Yamaha Corporation of America, Commercial Audio Systems Division. “Future developments will include both new products and comprehensive updates for current products, designed to provide live sound engineers and contractors with maximum flexibility and user-friendliness.”

Recent developments include the PM1D Version 2, the Installation Series Loudspeakers, the DME24/64N V1.1, Add-On effects packages and the Active Field Control System.

What End Users Say:

“We like the fact that with the Yamaha PM5D, you don't need to carry racks and racks of outboard processing gear; you have the ability to add compression, delay, or reverb to any channel,” says Craig Cassidy, sound designer of the current tour of Smokey Joe's Cafe. “The logical layout, the smaller footprint, the flexibility in assigning outputs, and the scene-to-scene recall are also extremely valuable features for live theatre. We're currently using the PM5D in tandem with the AVIOM16/o-Y1 output card, which allows audio to be distributed via Cat-5 cable directly from the console to Aviom A-16 Personal Mixers.” Jeff McQuay is serving as mixer on the tour. The PM5D console was supplied by Masque Sound.

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