- TouchFlow Operation
- QuickPro Presets
- 1-Knob Compression and EQ
Upon receiving the unit for review, I had it unboxed, patched a mic, patched a powered speaker, and was passing audio all in under five minutes. Ten minutes into my adventure I had my Wi-Fi router connected, the app downloaded to my iPad, and was controlling it wirelessly. I can even proudly say, as a man, I did it all without the use of the dreaded manual. Very well done Yamaha! This is a very intuitive mixer and it was a joy to get this far this fast. Now let’s dig a little deeper and see what it’s got under the hood.
One of the first things that jumps out to me about the Yamaha TF-Rack that separates it a bit from the pack of other rack mount mixers is the front panel touch screen. While I would guess 80-90% of the time I would use the iPad for wireless control, I appreciate that I can literally just walk up to it and make any change necessary. Some of the other mixers in this class have always made me nervous, not that they didn’t work, but because I always wonder “what if?” What if I drop my iPad, what if the Wi-Fi stops working and then all of the sudden, “Oh man, I just missed the guitar solo.” With the TF-Rack that’s not a problem because the integrated touch screen, which they call TouchFlow Operation, is included right out of the box. You can literally operate the entire mixer from the front panel.
If I’m honest, my first impression was that this graphic was for the super beginner level, but after using it a few times I was feeling like, “Why aren’t all gain meters like this?” Basically, it displays left to right, instead of up and down like traditional meters, and is very obvious that you want it in the middle. Green equals good. Let’s be honest though, cool graphic, but how does the preamp sound? Clean as ever! It has a very low noise floor and sounds very transparent.
These are very much worth mentioning because they are actually great starting points. Especially if you are either in a hurry, want to pre-dial up a mix, or just aren’t quite sure what you should do.
1-Knob Compression & EQ
Okay, I have to admit, as a professional sound engineer with bla, bla, bla, years of experience, I wanted to say I don’t need this feature (insert man card again here)… but it is quickly becoming my favorite feature. Combined with the QuickPro Presets above, I was able to quickly choose some channel presets, and I honestly agreed with 90% of the parameters. Obviously, we all know not every guitar, snare, or vocal is the same, but these settings were very much in the ballpark. Now, add the new controller we didn’t know we needed called “1-Knob” and use it to adjust the Compression or EQ. Set it to “Intensity” mode and the more you dial it up or down the more or less all of the parameters linked to it increase or decrease. For the unseasoned engineer, again this helps you make better choices, but for someone who sees what it’s doing, it just makes adjustments faster. And of course, you can switch it off to make a specific adjustment with the traditional pinch/zoom we have come accustomed to on so may iPad apps.
Yamaha has always had exceptionally nice FX in their high-end boards, and it looks like they’ve brought a bit of that legacy down to this console. I found them to be very useable and great sounding presets.
TF Stage Mix iPad / TF Monitor Mix iOS
As I said earlier, I was very excited at how quickly I was able to get the remote-control software working. I was able to launch both the iPad full mix control app and the iPhone Monitor mix apps, select the TF Rack from the list, and was up and going in no time. I did notice the apps were a little more fluid and responsive than the front panel touch screen, but then again like I said, I doubt I’d mix a show from the front panel. But I could if I needed to. The apps are obviously very similar to their larger brothers in the QL and CL Series consoles, but that’s a good thing in my opinion. Why reinvent the wheel when you already have a great platform?
Knowing Yamaha’s reputation for gear just working and continuing to work for years and years, not to mention the best tech support I’ve ever encountered (most of the time because I didn’t want to open the manual), I am confident I could do just about any gig that this size mixer could handle and feel proud with the results.
Finally, for me the best feature of this 3RU mixer is that I could put it in a nice little pelican case and upon arriving at the gig I could have the band on their iPhones, me at FOH on my iPad, and begin a full sound check in less than 50 lbs, 10 minutes, and zero headaches.