Yamaha QL5--First Impressions; The Good

Photo courtesy of Yamaha

Photo courtesy of Yamaha

Last time, I gave you an introduction to the relatively new QL from Yamaha. I recently installed a QL5 at a local church and spent a good bit of time on it, setting it up and mixing a weekend. Overall, I’m impressed. I’m not ready to give back my Digico jacket, but I wouldn’t turn down a gig mixing on a QL. And in fact, I’m kind of really interested in getting on a CL now. In this installment, I’m going to talk about what I like about the QL. The guys at Yamaha are always giving me a hard time about giving them a hard time, so I’m starting with the good stuff. 

It Sounds Good

One of my biggest knocks against the M7 and PM5D is that I didn’t think they sounded that great. While M7’s get better when you externally clock them, I’m not a huge fan of the mic pre’s and I don’t love the EQ. And the comps on the M7 were not my favorite. The QL changes all that. The pre’s sound good, especially on the Rios. The EQ seems improved and the comps are much more transparent. I had one vocalist this weekend who had a big range. When she got loud, I was smashing her channel pretty hard, and it hung in there nicely. So good job on that. 

It’s Powerful

Being part of the Dante ecosystem means you can do a lot of routing with it. Yamaha has done a good job building an interface that can handle the Dante patching inside the console, which is good because Dante Controller is horrible. However, as a side note, my buddy Jake Cody showed me some tricks that make Controller a little less horrible. More on that later. 

You have 64+8 channels that you can process, and patching them in from internal inputs or Rios is pretty simple. Once you find your way around, anyway. With two insert points per channel in addition to the two dynamic sections and EQ, you have a lot of channel processing options. 

They even included most of the premium effects rack from the CL, though those are for your money channels; you don’t have enough instances to do the whole board with LA-2As for example. But, their, LA-2A sounds pretty good, though I didn’t think it was as easy to get the sound I wanted as the Waves version. 

It’s Compact

The QL packs a lot of power into a small footprint. This will be a boon to portable churches and those with small tech booths. We find we are moving a lot of tech booths out of balconies and closets lately, and not having to dedicate 6 lineal feet to a console is a big deal. And like I said, you can drop it in place of a 32 channel analog system and use it right away. That’s pretty cool.

It’s Flexible

I am sort of addicted to custom fader layers. Having spent a lot of time on the Digico series, I’m pretty used to putting whatever fader wherever I want. If I want to mix and match inputs, DCAs, groups and auxes, I can. The QL lets me do that. The scribble strips are pretty clear, and I like the color coding. You can even assign custom colors to the channels. With 12 user-defined keys and 16 dedicated sends on fader buttons, you can set the console up pretty much the way you’d like. 

I walked into a church I had never been a part of, installed the QL, integrated all their wireless, playback and stage inputs, built the config and mixed a service without any major problems. I was able to find the controls I needed quickly and got the entire band plus 7 vocals and a choir dialed in enough for a service in about 45 minutes. So that’s not bad. And keep in mind, this is the first time I’ve spent any real time on the console.

I was happy with the sound, and more importantly, the church was happy. They noticed a big improvement from their old system, and once they get comfortable with it, they are going to love working on the console. I rarely recommend products I haven’t used at least in some capacity, but I have specified the QL for several of our upcoming jobs. I’m happy to report it did not disappoint. 

For the most part. There were a few things that bugged me, and we’ll hit those next time.

“Gear