Yamaha MGP24X Review
Jan 21, 2014 11:25 AM,
Reviewer: John McJunkin
Mixer provides affordable quality and horsepower.
I have followed the development of Yamaha’s MG mixer line ever since I started recommending them to amateur podcasters several years ago for their “one-knob” compressor. The series has evolved, with each new iteration adding degrees of sophistication. Even though Yamaha’s new MGP mixers are not part of that same series, they continue along the same trajectory, albeit at a more advanced level—they are the next big leap.
The MGP is a hybrid console, with an analog channel path but with plenty of digital features, as well, including DSP and USB connectivity. Yamaha also developed new technology for this line, including, among other things, its D-PRE Class A mic preamps, updated one-knob compressors, “X-Pressive” equalizers, and hybrid stereo channels with digital ducking, leveling, and stereo imaging options. Two-bus graphic EQ and compression are among other new additions, and iOS implementation is the one new feature that comes as no surprise—virtually every console manufacturer has integrated it at this point. Yamaha avoids the complications (and additional cost) of interfacing iOS devices via IP network, opting for a direct physical USB connection, so we’re not treated to the power of walking around an auditorium or conference space wirelessly, tweaking EQ or levels with an iPad. But even a physically connected iOS device yields a better user experience, presenting high-resolution graphical representations of console parameters in color, and most important, the capacity to adjust them with a touchscreen.
I got my hands on an MGP24X mixer, and its 16 mic/line channels each feature faders, buttons for routing to mono, stereo, and group buses, PFL, and on buttons, and pan pots. There are six auxiliary buses, four of which are permanently dedicated to sending signal outboard and can be toggled between pre- and post-fader operation in pairs. The other two can route signal outboard or to the mixer’s two onboard effects units, modeled on Yamaha’s legendary REV-X and SPX-series processors. Each channel sports a three-band EQ, offering boost or cut of 15 dB for low- and high-shelving circuits fixed at 125Hz and 8kHz, respectively, and peaking mids sweepable from 250Hz to 5kHz. The input section for each channel features a knob that sets gain between -60dB and -16dB. Engaging the 26dB “pad” button augments this range: -34dB to +10dB for microphones. Another button engages a 12dB/oct HPF at 100Hz, and yet another applies 48V phantom power to the channel’s corresponding XLR input. LEDs situated along the channel strip indicate PFL, signal, peak, and phantom power. All 16 channels take in their signal from either an XLR mic input or one of two TRS line inputs, one of which doubles as send-return insert. Inputs 9-16 also feature Yamaha’s newly revised one-knob compressor, which decreases threshold and increases make-up gain as the knob is turned right, and an LED indicates that signal has reached the compressor’s threshold.
There are four stereo inputs: 17/18, 19/20, 21/22, and 23/24. The first two pairs lack compressors, phantom power, pad, and sweepable mids, but are otherwise identical to channels 1-16. The second pair also lack compressors, phantom power, and a pad, but do have sweepable mids and some pretty sophisticated DSP, namely leveling, ducking, and a choice of stereo image. All four stereo inputs have balance knobs in place of pan pots, and intake their analog signals via balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs. The input signal feeding pairs 21/22 and 23/24 can be toggled to digital USB inputs, however, introducing input from a USB drive and an iOS device, respectively. Flash drives, SSDs, or other HDs up to 64GB can be connected to 21/22, and nearly all iPhones and iPods can be connected to 23/24. Each pair has a three-state stereo image switch, offering mono, stereo, and a blend between the two for BGM applications, which helps to avoid radical panning issues with Beatles songs, for instance. Each stereo pair also has a ducker circuit with mixer channel 16 and group 1 available as sidechain control signals, which is useful for announcements over walk-in music or any similar application. Finally, each of these stereo inputs also has a leveler circuit—essentially a broadcast-style limiter to keep levels tame.
Currently, iPads are not supported for Yamaha’s iOS GUI app, known as MGP Editor, but I’d bet my house that Yamaha is working hard to resolve that, and probably to add other functionality beyond that of the current app. Transport controls on the console allow playback, rewind, fast forward, and recording for the USB drive connection, while iOS devices control their own playback. Effects and auxiliary signal routing along with two matrices and a master section are found to the right of the main inputs, and above these are four 12-segment LED level meters, navigation controls, and a smallish LCD display screen that will make you glad you can plug in your iOS device and take control with the MGP Editor GUI. It’s not all that bad, but once you go the iOS way you’ll never want to go back.
The display and navigation controls (or your iOS device) give you control over the mixer’s display settings, mono bus LPF (for driving a sub channel), both internal effects units, graphic equalizer, compressor, leveler, and ducker processing. The GEQ, which is inserted in the stereo bus, has two modes: 14-band, and “Flex9,” which allows you to boost or cut up to nine of the 31 bands of a 1/3-octave graphic. The compressor is also inserted in the stereo bus path, and can be operated at full bandwidth, or as a three-band multicompressor for some additional final mastering-style mix refinements. The returns from the internal effects processors feature a clever scheme allowing the output of one to feed the input of the other, and vice versa. I like this as it is an easy way to apply reverb to a delay or chorusing to a reverb.
So, how does it sound? The new mic preamps sound very good—they’re warm and fat, crisp and clean. The “X-pressive” equalizers also sound great—very musical to my ear. As I apply the one-knob compressors, I find myself wanting full parametric control—threshold, ratio, attack, decay, make-up gain—but despite the lack of detailed control, they work well as advertised, increasing make-up gain while decreasing threshold as you twist the knob clockwise. If you really need better compressors, every channel has an insert point. The leveling, ducking, and stereo imaging tools in the stereo channels are very useful for installed sound, BGM, and house-of-worship applications. The effects processors sound like their Yamaha ancestors, and focus on a smaller range of more useful presets, rather than hundreds of “when would I ever use this” effects. There were a couple of minor disappointments: the inevitable crowded knobs and short-throw faders we get when the manufacturer looks to shrink the footprint of the mixer, the as-of-yet weak iOS implementation, including the lack of IP (and hence WiFi) support, and I’d gladly give up the limiter on one of the stereo input channels to have a good limiter in addition to the EQ and compressor on the two-bus.
Overall, this console sounds great, is easy to use, and offers a lot of flexibility in operation, making it useful in a range of applications. The capacity to record directly to a USB storage device is very useful—WAV resolution for best quality, MP3 resolution for immediate upload to the Internet—and the capacity to record from one of the matrices so you’re not just grabbing a “board mix.” The MGP24X will serve well in corporate AV applications, music mixing, and house of worship, among others. It packs quite a bit of horsepower for the price, and exhibits Yamaha quality. I’d definitely recommend taking a peek.
Pros: iOS control and I/O, USB I/O, substantial DSP, flexible for a range of applications
Cons: Crowded control surface, iOS implementation still needs work, including IP support
Applications: Conference, boardroom, auditorium, AV, public address, sound reinforcement
Price: $1,199.99 (street price)
Mixing channels: 24 line inputs (16 mono and 4 stereo)
Group: 4 group buses + stereo bus
Aux: 6 auxiliary sends + 2 FX sends
Matrix: 2 matrix outputs
Mic inputs: 16 with HPF at 100Hz, 12dB/oct
Phantom power: 48V phantom power per channel
Line inputs: 16 mono + 4 stereo, channel insert; 16 returns, 1 stereo
Digital I/O: USB device, iPod/iPhone
Total harmonic distortion: 0.02% (20Hz – 20kHz @ +14dBu)
Frequency response: +0.5/-1.0dB 20Hz – 20kHz, ref. nom. output @ 1kHz
Hum & Noise Level:
Equivalent Input Noise: -128dBu
Residual Output Noise: -94dBu
Crosstalk: -74dB @ 1kHz
Power requirements: 100-240V 50Hz/60Hz
Power consumption: 86W max
Dimensions (WxHxD): 32.2’’x6.7’’x22.2’’
Net weight: 34.2lbs.
John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz., and produces and co-hosts a top-rated morning radio talk show in Phoenix. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations and provides high-quality podcast and voice production services.