Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10

Hey JAX and Surrounding Areas – It’s Time to Meet
October 11, 2016
Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 (part 2)
October 11, 2016

Hands On – Yamaha RIVAGE PM10

I was recently privileged to spend a couple days in “Music City” with Yamaha Commercial Audio’s new flagship large format mixing console, the RIVAGE PM10. Yamaha hosted a 2-day training session on the new console, and in typical Yamaha fashion the entire session was incredible.

Yamaha announced last year that the long awaited console would arrive in 2016. As press releases, rumors, and news of the upcoming product line circulated, I noted that the new console is model “PM10”.  No “D” inserted somewhere to indicate it is a digital console – of course it is. Just the classic “PM” for professional mixer, and the number 10. Yay. A corner turned.

The new RIVAGE PM10 system represents both the culmination of decades of digital audio technology, and the presentation of wholly new products and ideas from Yamaha. To say this is one of the most advanced systems on the market, while at the same time, quite possibly, the most versatile is easy. Yamaha has always been an innovator and has always represented reliability and stability. But honestly, many feel that has not always meant being at the top of the class in the “creativity” or “musicality” department. This is not just true of their audio products either. Look at their grand piano and orchestral instruments.  Another manufacturer may not have the same track record for consistency, reliability, stability, longevity, etc., but MAN!, these other guys just have “that sound”! For as long as I can remember, that has been the one “knock” on Yamaha products. They just worked. Well. VERY well. And they were “clean”. Sure, there was the DX7 keyboard, the SPX and REV effects processors, the pro Jazz line of Yamaha trumpets and trombones, the CP70 electric pianos, and a smattering of other Yamaha products that were crowd standouts, but those were the exceptions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, after last week, I can attest to the fact that the PM10 does NOT fit that mold. This console is, quite literally, a game-changer.

I don’t feel I can do this product justice within the constraints of a single blog post, so we will stretch this out over a few posts. (read Part 2 here and Part 3 here) Today, we will look at some of the basic information – most of which you can find at the Yamaha Commercial Audio website. I just don’t want to dive into what makes this console so special without first hitting some of the design and specification high-points. There are a LOT of those high-points to cover too. This is an elite, flagship class console, and as such has all the bells and whistles one would expect from such a product. Part one of my post will be mainly technical, but you definitely want to read my next couple posts to get the whole picture.

As for the name “RIVAGE”, Yamaha made it quite clear at the Nashville training session that these are just the first products in a brand new product line. That is good news. I would assume we will see additional chassis sizes, components, I/O boxes, etc. in the coming months and years. It also demonstrates the typical Yamaha commitment to a product line. Expect the RIVAGE line to be the top-tier Yamaha Commercial Audio product range for the foreseeable future. And that, my friends, is also very good news.

As mentioned, Yamaha has plenty of information on the Commercial Audio website, including quite a few videos offering a more detailed look at the PM10 console and providing insight into the design history of the desk. I will not, therefore, go too deep trying to cover all the details that took two days for Yamaha to cover with us. Let me just touch on some of the impressive highlights, and share my thoughts. Starting with…

First impressions: The control surface is, in a word, comfortable. Soooo comfortable. Everything is in reach – and yet there is enough real estate for two to mix comfortably – which is entirely possible, but more on that later. Two well sized and placed 15” touch screens reside above two of the three 12-fader bays. Smooth and comfortable faders with perfect resistance that are well spaced along with plenty of assignable encoders, as well as typical “cue”, “on”, and “select” buttons. Well, sort of typical. We will get to the very flexible dual monitor function in a future post. It is also worth noting here that the faders, like virtually every other part of the RIVAGE system are a new design with improved resolution. That means the sound “quality” is the same at 0 dB as it is at -40 or -60 dB.

If you have mixed on Yamaha consoles already, you will begin to find your way around this desk immediately.  Be aware however, while the console has a certain familiarity, virtually every detail is new and/or improved for the RIVAGE line. Familiar? Yes. Brand new and better? Absolutely.

You may be wondering if two touch screens offer enough control. Yamaha chose (I believe wisely) to expand their “Centralogic” and dedicated channel strip design from their previous offerings to add a dedicated input section to the PM10. This new input section is extremely well laid out and easy to access. Virtually every channel function is available, including inserts, assignments, and all aux and matrix routing. Because it resides on the upper part of the desk, next to the monitors, the person mixing is making all adjustments from a head up orientation. Big plus. This also helps the desk maintain a relatively shallow physical footprint, meaning an easy reach – even for operators with shorter arms. It also allows the assignable buttons and encoders between the center and left fader bays to be comfortably sized and well-spaced – with room for LCD labels.  And yes, virtually everything has an LCD label. Goodbye board tape. Plus, if you need a third monitor, there is a standard DVI port to add your own.

So what does this attractive surface control? How about up to 144 ins and 144 outs, all operating at 96kHz with internal 32bit processing. Those 144 mix-channels are available courtesy of Yamaha’s new for RIVAGE proprietary TWINLANe data transfer engine, which can handle 400 bi-directional audio channels on one fully redundant network. Let me say that again: 400 bi-directional audio channels at 96kHz. A RIVAGE system consists of the mixing surface, the DSP engine (one per surface) and one or more stage boxes. The stage box(es) connects to the DSP engine via multi-mode fiber and can be located as far as 300 meters away. The control surface connects to the DSP engine via CAT5e/6 at distances up to 100 meters. By the way, the TWINLANe 300 meter limit is node to node.  That means you can have, for example, one I/O rack at one location 300 meters from your console, and a second rack up to another 300 meters away.

Inputs are not limited to the stage box. The CSR10 control surface has eight each analog ins and outs, and 8 (4×4) AES. Additionally, there are two MY card slots on all three hardware units.  You can use these for additional ins/outs, conversion to legacy digital formats, Dugan auto mixing, Aviom cards, etc.

But wait, there’s more. Yamaha is also introducing for the RIVAGE series new “HY” cards. These are high channel count cards. The TWINLANe fiber uses model HY256TL card for fiber connectivity (400×400 channels). There is also a new HY144D card. The “D” is for DANTE. A single HY144D card can support up to 128 bi-directional channels of DANTE audio, also with redundant connectivity. With all these options available, you can literally get any flavor of audio in and out of a RIVAGE system. Or, you can multi-track up to 128 channels via DANTE (at 96k).  This means the PM10 is ready to use on the road, or in a fixed install – regardless of how much or what type(s) existing infrastructure needs to be kept intact!

And I have not even touched on the “good stuff” yet.

Here are some quick numbers for those keeping score: 144×144 mix channels, 38 Faders, 72 Aux buses, 36 Matrix mixes, 24 DCAs, 12 Mute Groups, DVI external monitor out (assignable), A/B inputs for every channel, up to 8 inserts per channel (in addition to the already included two discrete dynamics, plus channel EQ with separate variable HPF and LPF), minimum 48 (up to 96) GEQ/PEQ slots, and scads of custom buttons, encoders and custom fader bays. Here is an important number as well. End to end latency on the TWINLANe fiber network is an imperceptible 12 samples at 96kHz. And that doesn’t cover everything – like I said, see the PM10 page for a full rundown.

The real shining stars are not what is in the list thus far though. What really sets the PM10 apart from anything and everything else available today are the new Yamaha Hybrid Mic Pres and the extensive use of Yamaha VCM Technology. To find out more about those features, check back here for my next post. You don’t want to miss it, because this is where we leave numbers behind and see what really sets the PM10 apart from anything else on the market.

#YamahaPM10 #RIVAGEPM10 #YamahaCommAudio #AVVector