A D V E R T O R I ALThe Yamaha AW16G featuresa clear, intuitive interface that makes setup and recording a breeze.Dedicated buttons let you freely switch between the functions you usemost, such as Record and Monitor modes, and a Quick Rec function letsyou quickly assign inputs to recording tracks.The AW16G's eight inputsinclude two XLR mic inputs for channels 1 and 2; balanced, 1/4-inchinputs for channels 3 through 7; and both a balanced and an unbalanced,high-impedance (guitar) input for channel 8. Other ports includeoptical S/PDIF digital I/O, MIDI I/O, a footswitch jack, main andmonitor outputs, and a headphone output.
It’s no small feat to combine a mixer, recorder, mixdown deck,and CD burner in a single, portable package, but Yamaha brings years ofexperience to the task. That includes thirty years of buildingprofessional mixers. You can hardly go to a major concert withoutseeing a Yamaha mixer doing front-of-house sound and onstage mixing.Add Yamaha’s fifteen years of building digital mixers: thecompany is a world leader in the field, from the groundbreaking DMP7through the paradigm-shifting ProMix01, 02R, and 01v to the current02R96, 01v96, PM1D, and DM2000.
The Yamaha AW16G’s legacy capitalizes on over a decade ofdigital recorders. Although the unit is not the first of its kind, ithas delivered on the promise of a small-format, fully professionalhard-disk recorder and CD burner that doesn’t break the bank. Itstwo bigger cousins, the AW2816 and AW4416 offer great expandability,but what makes the AW16G so right is that it is just what you need fora small home studio or on-the-gig recording rig. The AW16G featureseight inputs—two XLR and six 1/4-inch TRS jacks, plus a Hi-Zinput for guitar or bass—eliminating the need for a directbox.
Talk the Talk
I am a musician who learned about recording the hard way. Onmy first recording session with my band, I realized that I could notcommunicate with the engineer in his language. I immediately saw thatrecording was an important tool in the creative music-making process,and I owed it to myself to learn all about it. Back then, recordinggear seemed to be the exclusive domain of rocket scientists. However,over the past 30 years, the world of recording and the world of themusician have come very close together. The AW16G is a great example ofthat.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the AW16G talks yourlanguage. For example, musicians don’t care that you are 2minutes and 24.567 seconds into the recording; they want to know if youare at measure 78. The clock in the AW16G tells your kind of time. Youcan teach it your song’s tempo and time signature, and it willfaithfully count measures and beats for you and even provide you with ametronome to play along with—no matter how complex the meter. Ifplaying along with drum grooves is your thing, the unit has four stereosampling pads that let you record, import, and place four banks of yourfavorite sample loops. Loop tempos automatically adjust to your song.You can grab audio from virtually any source, including your owntracks, commercially available CDs, or from the onboard 250 MB libraryof loops.
Maturity in a product line is an important consideration; itmeans that the product has a history and has already benefited from thefeedback of thousands of users. You may not appreciate that at theoutset but it will reward you many times over as you go along. TheLibrary concept in the AW16G is one such benefit of maturity. A Libraryis a database of tried-and-true setups that you can recall; some arepresets that let you learn from the pros if you are new to recording. ALibrary can also contain favorite setups that you’ve created.
The Input Library lets you instantly recall a channel setup thatcould include a 4-band parametric EQ, a speaker simulator, a dynamicsprocessor, and an effects processor. You may spend an hour getting theideal guitar setup, but when your guitarist returns next week to redo afew licks, you can recall that recording setup instantly. You can evenimport setups from previous sessions. The Library offers presets forelectric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and vocals.
Perhaps you have never worked with a professional 4-band parametricEQ, and you do not have a clue about the way to properly EQ a kickdrum. You can recall an EQ for bass drum from the AW16G EQ Library. Ifyou’re an old pro and know what you want, just set up yourfavorite EQ and name and store it in the Library for future recall.
Getting Your Duckers In A Row
Dynamics processors are probably one of the most significanttools in the AW16G arsenal. These are leveling amplifiers that you canassign to each channel to help control and maximize your signal. Youcan configure a dynamics processor as a compressor, limiter, expander,noise gate, compander, or ducker. You don’t just get one dynamicsprocessor in the effects section; this is a professional unit, with adynamics processor for every channel, input, track, and even the stereosampling pads and stereo output. Back in the day, your pro studiosmight have two, if you were lucky.
Perhaps you already know just how important dynamics processing isto getting a solid, “in your face” recording. But even ifyou are new to all this, you will be grateful for the Dynamics Library:preprogrammed setups that you can recall, apply, and tweak. You canrecall an appropriate setup from the AW16G Dynamics Library for, say,kick drum or vocals, and then tweak it for the sound that will makeyour recording stand out from the crowd.
Yamaha is a pioneer in DSP technology and has been buildingstudio-quality effects processors for many years. There are two effectsblocks. You can move and patch these blocks wherever and whenever youneed them. Although many feel that they do not need help in settingthem up, the AW16G provides an Effects Library section. If you come upwith any cool settings, you can name and store it in the Library.
The Master Library will help you in the all-important final mixdownprocess where you put it all together. As with the Input Library, theMaster Library is a combination of several different processor blocksworking together to make your final mix something special.
The Library concept is important because it is there for you tolearn from and archive your best work. When you start a new session,the unit will ask you if there is any work you would like to importfrom a previous session. You can recall your favorite setups from thevarious libraries.
Easy Does It
Ease-of-use is a concern of many aspiring engineers. TheAW16G is designed to make the complex job of professional recordingeasy. Assigning inputs to tracks could not be more intuitive.
You connect your inputs from the Direct assign screen to the track.You can pair inputs for stereo signals and tracks can be paired too.The Selected Channel section makes navigating the operating system abreeze. Below every input-gain control and above every track fader youhave a lighted Select button. When that button is illuminated you havea set of knobs that get you to any of the main controls for theselected input or track channel: EQ, Dynamics, Effect 1, Effect 2, andPan/Balance. Push the EQ knob to see the selected channel’s EQgraphically and clearly. You have four Frequency Band Select buttons tomake equalization easy and intuitive. Press the knob again, and youenter the Library. It is that easy to get around.
The unit easily handles cut-and-paste editing, waveform views,marker placement, erasing, deleting, moving, and inserting. You canleave markers at key locations in your composition. The A and B workingmarkers mean that you never have to write down time positions. You canplace markers with single-sample accuracy (1/44,100th of a second),zooming way in on the waveform, auditioning the wave, nudging themarker, and positioning it with accuracy that boggles the mind. Whenyou need to make an edit, just press A and Enter to recall the positionand that value is entered automatically. Defining your cut points couldnot be easier or more accurate.
Plays Well with Others
Yamaha is aware of real-world recording situations: you arenot locked into the tools onboard the AW16G. The AW16G is a sturdy,road-worthy machine that can go to the rehearsal or record the gig soyou can bring it home and work with the best tools available. The unitis designed to work in conjunction with the latest and greatestsoftware audio editors on the planet. You can easily and rapidly exportyour tracks to a CD as individual WAV files and move them over to yourcomputer. You can then import them back to the AW16G for mixdown andmastering. You don’t have to choose between a computer recordingsystem and a dedicated tool like the AW16G.
If you’re running a MIDI rig, it’s good to know that theAW16G can send MIDI Clock or MIDI Time Code and can serve as acontroller for a wide variety of sequencers. Yamaha provides templatesfor many of the popular programs, and with the Learn feature, you areseconds away from creating your own templates. The Learn function makesit easy to program the sliders and switches as MIDI controllers forjust about anything you want.
You never have to know the command. Arm the AW Learn function, sendit the target control message, and you’ve assigned it. All ofyour mix parameters can be sent via MIDI for complete automation.
Are you performing an overdub session in your living room? You canconfigure the Stereo and Aux outputs as two separate, prefaderheadphone mixes, letting you monitor a separate mix from the musicians.It’s a professional system every step of the way!
Whether the AW16G is your whole studio or just one part of a growingsystem, you could not find a more powerful and user-friendly tool. Thatis why it receives awards and is in such great demand. Of course, thesound quality is great —after all, it’s a Yamaha product.Take it for a test drive, and you’ll see and hear why critics andmusicians the world over agree, the AW16G is the one that reallydelivers!
Phil Clendeninnhas been a Product Specialistand Technology Jedi for Yamaha since 1987. He is a musician, recordingengineer, and Grammy-nominated songwriter. After 25 years, you can hearhis music again on Tarika Blue and The Very Best of Tarika Blue(Downtown Sound Records/Soul Brother Records).
portable digital studio
Yamaha Corporation of America
tel. (714) 522-9011