Hands-On Product Review:
Yamaha New EMX Series Mixers
Superior portable powered mixers
By Stacy Winsor
With their innovative features, superior sound quality, plentiful power, and bulletproof reliability, Yamaha powered mixers are the leaders in portable PAs. Their rock-solid EMX Series Mixers have proven themselves to be superior sound reinforcement solutions, and the engineers at Yamaha recently added two more to the family. The compact and portable EMX5016CF and EMX5014C offer versatile input capabilities, SPX digital effects, upgraded ergonomics, and improved power amps with an output of 500W per channel.
Weighing in at less than 25 lbs., the EMX5016CF and EMX5014C mixers are compact, making them ideal for small stages—especially with their optional rackmounting kits—yet their console configuration works well for use by a sound engineer. The linear faders provide precise level control as well as a graphic representation of relative channel levels.
The EMX5016CF is Yamaha’s first powered mixer with automatic digital EQ and a Maximizer function that adds one-button punch to your performance. With a total of 16 input channels including eight mono microphone/line inputs and four stereo pairs that can function as mono microphone or stereo line inputs, 500 watts per channel to handle smaller venues, and easy expandability, this mixer can handle many situations. I decided to bring it along to a bar gig with my funk band to test it out.
It was easy to dial in the sound with 3-band EQ on all input channels while the mid-frequency sweep controls on the eight mono channels let me precisely pinpoint frequencies in the critical midrange. The mono channels also have single-knob compressors, which helped me tame the singer’s unruly vocals, tighten the bass guitar, and get that smooth compressed guitar sound. There is no attack, threshold, makeup gain, or other controls—the engineers at Yamaha took care of all that with their brilliant one-knob design.
The 9-band digital graphic EQ features vocal, dance, and speech presets and three user memories to store your own EQ curves for instant recall. I don’t have the time or the experience to get out the noise generator, calibrated microphone, and real-time analyzer to set my system’s output equalizer to optimally match the room response. With Yamaha’s Frequency Response Correction system, all I had to do was play a CD, connect a mic to channel 1, and press Measure/Correct once to take the measurement, and a second time to automatically set the graphic EQ for optimized response. There’s also an internal pink noise generator for even more precise calibration. When I had it just right, I saved the EQ curve for the next time we play this venue.
I really appreciate the Automatic Feedback Suppression system with precise notch filters. It has a sensitive manual mode so you can pinpoint and attenuate feedback points one by one, but I found the automatic mode effectively squelched feedback all on its own.
I was anxious to hear the effects of the Maximizer—an advanced 3-band compressor you can apply to the stereo bus. When I pressed the Maximizer button, the sound was instantly punchier and the mix had more presence and impact, yet none of the musical subtlety was lost.
Next it was time to take the dual SPX effects processors for a spin. Each processor has 16 topnotch digital effects including reverb, echo, chorus, flanger, phaser, and distortion. They were all musical and useful and you can apply two simultaneous effects without muddying the mix. You can use a footswitch to mute the effects between tunes as well.
I was really impressed with the easy expandability the EMX5016CF offered. Dual aux sends allow flexibility for effect and monitor routing and insert patch points on mono input channels let you add outboard signal processing to individual input channels. Stereo out, stereo sub out, and record outputs let you easily expand your PA and capture performances.
The next night I tried out the EMX5014C —a simplified version of the EMX5016CF —and was equally impressed. The EMX5014C offers 500W, 200W, or 75W per channel selectable power; 14 input channels (up to eight mics); 3-band mid-sweep channel EQ; 9-band graphic EQ on the main stereo output and a separate graphic for the monitor output; a Feedback Channel Locator on each channel; SPX digital effects; single knob compressors on channels 1-6; PFL switches on each channel; dual aux sends; and onboard YSP processing to tailor the signal for optimum use with Yamaha’s Club Series speakers.
These two mixers—in addition to the EMX212S, EMX312SC, and EMX512SC mixers introduced in 2005—make the Yamaha EMX Series Mixers a live sound force to be reckoned with. Their low prices, professional features, compact size, and reliability make them a sure bet.