Yamaha CL1 Digital Mixing Console

Jul 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Steve La Cerra

Sonic Stunner With Plenty of DSP, Versatile Routing


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Yamaha CL1

The CL series comes in 48, 64 and 72 mono (+8 stereo) fader sizes. The optional R Series expanders come in a range of I/O configurations.

The CL Series marks Yamaha’s introduction of a new generation of digital mixing consoles, raising the bar a few notches above its predecessors, which include the M7CL, LS9 and the venerable PM5D. The CL Series consists of the CL1, CL3 and CL5, the three desks differing only in channel capacity, fader complement and metering. All models feature the same 8-fader Centralogic user interface, two-fader master section (one L/R and one Mono), eight analog Omni inputs and eight analog Omni outputs on rear-panel XLRs.

The CL1 we reviewed provides 48 mono and eight stereo channels under control of the Centralogic section and 8-fader “left” section (see specs for info on available configurations). Additional rear-panel connections include MIDI and word clock I/O, AES/EBU output, Ethernet ports for the onboard Dante network interface and three mini-YGDAI expansion slots. The console has an IEC connector for its onboard power supply, plus a port for connection to a redundant outboard supply. A meter bridge for the CL1 is optional and may be added at any time.

Expanding the analog I/O of any CL system requires either a mini-YGDAI card or a Rio (Rack I/O), a variety of which are available from Yamaha. Eight Rios may be controlled via the Dante network using standard CAT5E or CAT6 cable, either in daisychain or redundant configuration, but up to 24 units can be easily accessed from the CL interface, and maximum channel count is determined by the capabilities of the desk (a network switch is not required for daisychains). CL Series desks are capable of streaming 128 channels of digital I/O (64 in and 64 out) via the Dante network, at sample rates up to 48 kHz. Each CL console ships with a license for Audinate’s Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) software, enabling your computer to see the Dante network as an audio interface.

Versatile I/O

Yamaha supplied the CL1 with a Rio 1608-D (16 analog in/8 analog outs, all XLR), forming a 24x16 system. When configuring, it’s important to be aware of the difference between an input (a console channel) and a port (a physical connection). An Omni port may be directly “patched” to an input channel, whereas a Rio port must be patched via Dante bus to an input channel (ditto for the outputs). After a day of poking around the routing system, downloading DVS and Dante Controller software, getting the licenses installed, etc., I re-initialized the CL1’s memory. The CL1 booted and displayed the message “Device Type Conflict,” with the choice of Close or Jump To Dante Setup. I jumped. Dante Setup showed Rio 3224-D for devices 1 and 2 (the default). I changed the first to Rio1608-D and set the second to No Assign. The third device slot showed DVS (Dante Virtual Soundcard) indicating that the system recognized my MacBook on the network. Clicking Auto Setup in the Dante Input Patch automatically assigned the Rio1608-D inputs to Dante buses 1-16 and thus to channels 1-16, and my MacBook’s outs via the DVS to Dante buses 17-48 (and by default to channels 17-48). All good. Since I did not need the DVS outputs for the club gigs I’d be doing, I repatched Omni inputs 1-8 to channels 17-24.

Taking a cue from experience with the M7CL and LS9, I thought the last two Omni outputs might default to carrying the L/R bus, so I connected them to a pair of powered speakers—and there was sound. Kudos to Yamaha for (1) carrying over the OS, and (2) having designed a very user-friendly OS in the first place. I assigned Mixes 1 and 2 to 1608-D outputs 1-2, and patched these to a power amp feeding wedges for monitor mixes. Any output bus can feed any Omni port or Dante bus, and may be assigned to multiple ports simultaneously. If, for example, you need to route the L/R bus to the P.A. mains and a bar or restaurant system, you simply assign the L/R bus to an extra pair of outputs and run them to the bar (which is what I did after my first night of playing with those I/O routings).

Patching can be saved with a console file, provided the option With Dante Setup and I/O Device is clicked in the File Save/Load dialog.

The 1608-D serves as a stage box, so I put it in a small rack for transport and onstage protection. Initially I used Omni outs 7-8 for the L/R outputs, but on other gigs I routed the L/R outs to 1608-D outs 7-8, requiring no more than an Ethernet cable from the mix position to the stage. (No copper snake to carry!) To facilitate communication during soundchecks I patched a talkback mic into the CL1’s front panel (under the armrest). Any input may be used for Talkback, and Talkback may be routed to any output. No menus. Very convenient.

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