Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 (part 2)

Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10
October 11, 2016
Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 (Finale)
October 11, 2016

Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 (part 2)

In my first post, we looked at an overview of the Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 long list of capabilities. I stopped short of sharing my impressions of two feature that really set this desk apart; Yamaha VCM Technology and the brand new Yamaha Hybrid Mic Pres.

Before I can really do justice to discussing the new preamps, I need to talk more about the VCM technology.

Most of us are aware of Yamaha VCM Technology – or Virtual Circuitry Modeling. The name seems to say it all, a digital model of a virtual circuit. Let’s say you have a favorite 1970s era compressor. Just plugging it into the signal change colors the sound in a way you like. Hit it hard, and the sound is even better. Seems “simple enough” to create a digital model, right? Just create a digital patch that alters the original sound in such a way that you are able to emulate the real product. OK, now, how do you emulate the way the sound changes as you dial in more or less of the “effect”, or how certain overtones and frequencies are affected differently with differing input sources at different levels?

The Yamaha solution is to NOT model “the sound”, but rather to model The separate analog components in the signal chain of that device. That is how Yamaha VCM Technology works. While this technology has been around at Yamaha since as far back as the 1980s, this is the first console that uses VCM technology so extensively.  And it works, literally, just like having the authentic analog devices. If you have worked on the CL/QL series you have experienced the VCM models of the included Rupert Neve Portico series of plug-in processors. Those units are here, too, but now there is even more.

How much VCM technology did Yamaha use you ask? First, VCM Technology is what makes the mic pres “hybrid”. Every single mic pre has a switchable Rupert Neve VCM “transformer” with Rupert Neve trademark SILK technology, available in two variants; “Red” and “Blue”. This is NOT a separate plug in processor or effect that needs to be loaded on a channel by channel basis. The Rupert Neve transformer switch resides right on the Master Channel Strip. It can be turned on/off, and the amount of desired Red or Blue processing dialed in to taste. There is a dedicated processor chip on each input card for the Rupert Neve transformer. Literally, a little white chip with Rupert Neve’s signature! Many familiar with the Rupert Neve Portico products have used his Red and Blue processing already. What was so amazing to me is that Rupert Neve is the “godfather” of analog audio. When he lent his name to the PM5D optional preamps or approved the use of VCM versions of some of his Portico products to be included in the Yamaha CL line of consoles, that was quite ground breaking. This is not to be taken lightly. Mr. Neve has personally signed off on the VCM models of these products, saying they are absolute digital representations of his analog versions. Just to be crystal clear, these are not copies of his “sound”, but actual models of the analog circuitry. The audio is affected exactly the same as if you had routed an analog signal through one of his devices. The extensive use of both his current Portico line as well as vintage Neve products in the RIVAGE System speaks volumes about this partnership between Yamaha and Mr. Neve. My personal impressions of what I heard will be covered in my final post, hopefully tomorrow.

Besides the Neve enhanced mic pres and Neve plug-ins available, Yamaha has gone to virtual circuit modeling of virtually every plug-in processor. The VCM plug-ins and brand new effects include choices from over 40 different models ranging from modern and classic compressors and EQs to reverbs from the likes of TC Electronic and Yamaha, to the (yet to be released) Eventide H-3000 Live. There are two insert slots in each channel signal path, each holding up to four VCM “devices”, for a total of eight inserts per channel. Each insert chain can be placed anywhere in the signal path you desire. There are ample virtual racks for mounting processors and effects. There is plenty of DSP horsepower to handle your needs. Yamaha boasts 384 VCM plug-in slots. That is not actually 384 plug-ins/effects, as different devices require different numbers of VCM units. To aid you in determining how much room you still have, Yamaha has a handy VCM unit calculator that stores your current count! Trust me, you will be hard pressed to hit the limit though.

One more little benefit that is critical. We all know that adding DSP processing adds latency – and that can become a real problem when you have differing plug-ins on various channels – or some with none at all. Yamaha has added Latency Compensation to the PM10. You can simply engage the input Latency Compensation and every input is time aligned to match the maximum latency in your channels. There is also output Latency Compensation if needed.

In typical Yamaha fashion, every input channel has a standard four band parametric EQ and two dynamic processors available all the time. Outputs also have standard processing, including an eight-band parametric, as you would expect.

I also told you in the first part of this review that the RIVAGE is all new. Completely. For decades, if you mixed on a Yamaha digital desk, you could access two variants of the channel strip EQ. The PM10 offers four; all completely new designs. Yamaha has named these four EQ types “Precise”, “Aggressive”, “Legacy” and “Smooth”. Two of the four EQ styles use a variable “Q” approach, while the other two offer a fixed “Q”.  Stylistically, these range from surgical and invisible to dramatic and, well, aggressive! Yamaha has also provided both high and low pass filtering with selectable slopes at each end. And yes, as I will cover in my final post, the difference these can make in your sound is quite notable and very much appreciated!

The two standard “insert” dynamics per channel are no longer limited to just the Yamaha comps, gates, duckers,and de-essers either. All of the “standard” Yamaha dynamics processors have new algorithms. Again, another new VCM model has been added offering vintage style compression…without even going into your multitude of available plug ins! AND – big news here – you have full insert selection at both slots. This is new in the PM10. In the past only certain dynamics processors were available at each point, so if you had already loaded a compressor where the de-esser was set by Yamaha, you had to move the compressor to the other “slot” to to add the de-esser. Not anymore! A welcome upgrade.

And I still have not touched on the split monitoring capabilities, or the cool little touches like headphone hangers, extra lights, extensive scene capabilities, etc. I promise to get there in part three.

This is all great data, but you are still wanting to know one thing. How does it sound?!? And this is the part that blew my mind, because the simple answer is a question; how do you want it to sound?

Come back for my final post (find it here) and I will give you my impressions of the “sound and feel” of the Yamaha RIVAGE PM10.

Page link: Yamaha RIVAGE PM10

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