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PL+S 2012: Yamaha launches brand new CL Series of consoles

Ahren Lester
PL+S 2012: Yamaha launches brand new CL Series of consoles

Yamaha have launched the brand new three-model range of digital mixing consoles, the CL series, at this year’s ProLight + Sound event in Frankfurt.

A quarter of a century after first setting the standards in digital mixing, Yamaha’s CL series retains the essential features and functionality that have become standards over the past 25 years.

The new range—which is composed of the CL1, CL3 and CL5—range in mix capacity from 48 to 72 mono plus eight stereo inputs. All three models feature 16 DCAs, 24 mix and eight matrix busses and stereo and mono output busses.

The CL series—which is a collaboration between Yamaha, Rupert Neve Designs, Audinate and Steinberg—also fits all this within a tactile and ergonomic user interface tucked into an elegant and contemporary design.

“The CL series ideally answers today’s needs using today’s technology” explained Yamaha Pro Audio Division’s General Manager, Kazunori Kobayashi. “The collaboration between Yamaha, Rupert Neve Designs, Audinate and Steinberg has made it possible to deliver a sublime balance of sound, performance, and features that results in uncompromised overall mixing capability and quality. After a quarter century of evolution, the CL series represents a momentous new chapter in the history of Yamaha digital mixing.”

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Here is a breakdown of the key features.

User interface

The core of the CL series is Yamaha’s acclaimed Centralogic user interface. This ensures that the consoles will be immediately familiar to the many thousands of live sound engineers already using similarly designed Yamaha tech.

Nonetheless, the interface has evolved considerably on the new consoles. It incorporates a new generation, highly responsive colour touch screen and an array of user definable rotary encoders and buttons.

Similarly, newly designed faders offer optimum feel, visibility and accuracy and are freely configurable to allow control of any combination of inputs, outputs or the 16 DCA faders.

The control surface also provides editable, backlit channel name displays above each fader, with assignable colour bars. The CL1 and CL3 also feature the option of an external meter bridge.

Audio quality

The audio quality and character of the CL series were also top priorities in their development. In addition to featuring newly-designed mic preamps and delays on every input channel and output port, the range debuts a prestigious line up of studio quality processing.

The Effects Rack provides the equivalent of eight SPX2000 effects processors, along with a range of VCM EQs and dynamics, while two further virtual racks provide access to up to 32 channels of graphic EQs.

However, according to Yamaha, probably the most exciting sonic innovation is the introduction of the Premium Rack concept. The Premium Rack—developed by Yamaha’s Dr K (Toshi Kunimoto) and his team—provides a range of extremely high quality, dynamic processors and EQs.

Yamaha also collaborated closely with Rupert Neve to incorporate the highly acclaimed Portico 5033 EQ and 5043 Compressor as key elements in this new concept. These processors are included as standard in the CL series, eliminating the need for any plug-in management.

The outcome has already impressed Rupert Neve himself: “For the first time we have the capability of bringing Rupert Neve sound into the live audio field, entirely due to Yamaha VCM technology,” he explained. “I believe that it is indistinguishable from the original analogue sound.”

Scalable solution

A important element in ensuring that the CL series was so flexible is the pair of accompanying I/O racks: the Rio3224-R and Rio1608-D. What is more, this is helped by the fact that consoles are the first to feature built-in Dante networking as a standard feature.

A scalable system is easily constructed using the CL series by simultaneously attaching up to eight I/O racks via Dante. This can provide up to 256 input sources. Furthermore, pairs of CL series consoles can also be cascaded to handle larger mixing requirements.

Connection of basic systems is easy, using the console’s auto-configuration facility. Two or more consoles can share the inputs from one set of I/O racks without fear of unexpected level changes due to the inclusion of Auto Gain Compensation within the I/O racks themselves.

In addition, with the new Dante 32-bit mode of operation, gain compensation can be provided without audibly affecting the dynamic range.

“We are extremely excited to be collaborating with Yamaha on the extraordinary new CL series and I/O racks,” added Audinate’s CEO Lee Ellison. “Dante provides a flexible, low latency, highly scalable, plug and play networking solution to connect Yamaha networked systems, Dante Virtual Soundcards or any other Dante networked device. We believe the combination of technologies integrated in this new platform will provide an unsurpassed digital experience.”

The Rio3224 also includes four stereo AES-EBU outputs, keeping signals in the digital domain right through to the amplifier. The new consoles feature three MY card slots on the rear panel, maintaining compatibility with every existing audio format as well as newer cards like the MY8-Lake speaker processing card and the MY16-Dugan auto mixing card.

The three card slots also allow for additional i/o alongside the consoles’ onboard eight mic inputs and eight line outputs.

Software control

The CL series also includes the new standalone online/offline editor (which can run on PC and Mac), CL Editor.

This features all the functionality that users will be familiar with from other Yamaha Editor software. Importantly, it does not require Yamaha Studio Manager as a host.

Further new software applications include a new version of StageMix for iPad. This offers comprehensive wireless remote control and has been expanded to include new features such as channel naming, DCA fader control and tap tempo.

Crucially, both CL Editor and StageMix can be run simultaneously, allowing very flexible options for engineers, sound designers and system technicians alike.

Meanwhile, Yamaha’s new File Converter software has been upgraded to allow straightforward exchange of console files between the CL series, PM5D, M7CL and LS9.


Every CL console customer will receive a copy of the new Steinberg Nuendo Live recording software. This has been designed specifically for live recording applications. Available from July 2012, it will include unique features not found in any other live recording software and will be tightly integrated with CL consoles to provide optimum ease of use.

When combined with Audinate’s Dante Virtual Soundcard (also included with every CL console) engineers can easily use the Dante network to record up to 64 tracks of audio to either a Mac or Windows PC.

“Nuendo Live is not only ultra stable and easy to use, but it integrates seamlessly with the latest generation of Yamaha live consoles,” stated Steinberg’s Managing Director, Andreas Stelling. “This is another successful example of the strong ongoing relationship between Yamaha and Steinberg.”

In addition, basic stereo recordings can be done via a convenient two track USB recording and playback function.

The Consoles

All specifications other than fader layout and input channel capacity are consistent throughout the lineup:

  1. CL5: three-section fader layout (16 + 8 + 8) for 72 mono and 8 stereo input channels. 
  2. CL3: two fader sections (16 + 8) in a mid-size console with 64 mono and 8 stereo channels. 
  3. CL1: dual 8-fader sections in a space-saving design, handling 48 mono and 8 stereo input channels. 

CL5 scheduled to be released in spring 2012, CL3 and CL1 in summer 2012. 

The I/O Rack Units

Both types connect to the console via Dante network protocol for low-jitter, low-latency digital audio. 

  1. Rio3224-D: 5U size, with 32 ins, 16 outs, and four AES/EBU outputs. 
  2. Rio1608-D: 3U size, with 16 ins and 8 outs. 

Rio3224-D scheduled to be released in spring 2012, Rio1608-D in summer 2012.

Tags: Broadcast, Installation, Live Sound, Studio, yamaha, rupert neve, steinberg, audinate, dante, PL+S 2012, yamaha cl series

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