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This article was originally published in issue #24
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Yamaha’s DXR and DSX series of active speaker enclosures has been around for a couple of years now. Designed in conjunction with speaker giant NEXO, the DXR range comprises a choice between three enclosures offering 8”, 10”, 12” and 15” bi-amped speakers, complimented by a range of active subs, including the DXS 15.
First impressions are always important and I was present when Yamaha launched the DXR range at the 2012 NAMM show, coming away impressed by the demonstration of the range’s impressive power and sound quality, not to mention its sleek and purposeful design. By all accounts, PA buyers have felt the same way, too and sales of these new(ish) Yamahas have been excellent, right around the world.
The DXR 12 that Yamaha sent us for review features a moulded ABS enclosure whose angled design allows the enclosure to double as a wedge monitor when the unit is laid on the floor. A perforated steel grill protects the vulnerable speaker but the most impressive feature about the design of these enclosures are the generously sized aluminum side handles that make lifting and positioning the enclosures a thankfully easy task. Weighing in at a manageable 42.5lb (19.3kg) the DXR also feels very forgiving when lifting the unit into the car at the end of a long evening.
The dual-angle pole mount socket is another boon, giving the user the option of aiming the enclosure straight out into the audience or else slightly downward, useful if the speakers are mounted on a high stage and you need the cabs to focus toward the audience rather than blasting the sound over their heads.
It's true that the Yamaha isn't exactly a budget box - but what you are getting for your money is that typical Yamaha attention to detail and high audio and engineering quality. In common with all the DXR series, the 12” model has a lot going on inside. Yamaha is one of the music world's most advanced electronics companies and it shows. The three channel system makes extensive use of digital circuitry with a 48-bit processor controlling a range of features including crossover activity and protection. Another example of the Yamaha's digital sophistication is the onboard DSP’s D-Contour switch, which automatically configures the enclosure’s voicing for FOH, or as a floor-mounted wedge.
There isn't room here to go into the technical details but if you're impressed by such things (and there is good reason to be!) check out Yamaha's website for an explanation of exactly what it is going on. In short, in FOH/MAIN mode, the DSP boosts the low-frequencies to compensate for the loss of bass you often suffer when speakers are used on stands, while in MONITOR mode, the lows are constrained to enhance the clarity of your sound. The products of all that technological wizardry are then pumped through an advanced Class D power amp which is capable of delivering 1,100Watts or, more importantly, 133dB.
In use the DXRs sound very crisp and articulate with a nice tight low end and no trace of upper mid-range harshness, complemented by a refreshingly smooth treble response. The built-in limiter is on hand to rein in any speaker peaks, with LEDs on the front panel that indicate when the signal level is getting a bit too hot. If you don’t fancy the idea of fluttering LEDs distracting your audience the Peak limit warning lights can also be deactivated without disabling the limiter.
My only minor gripe is that Channel 1 could really benefit from a combi-jack input to accept both XLR and jack inputs, while a balanced line jack input on channel 2 might also come in handy. That said the I/O complement is still pretty thorough, with an option to operate the speaker as either a full-mono or half-stereo configuration. In stereo mode the left channel is routed internally whilst the right channel is automatically sent to an external speaker via the Link (remote) output, which is handy for a vocalist looking to demonstrate the full effect of their expensively recorded stereo backing tracks!
And so on to the DSX sub which is similarly rugged, its ply construction is finished in touch black anti-scratch resistant paint and its sturdy 83.8 lb (38kg) weight feels very manageable thanks to its large recessed carrying handles and compact dimensions.
Again, it has a Class D amp, which is rated at 600w (continuous) and it, too, benefits from Yamaha's excellent DSP circuitry, keeping the 15” speaker well under control to deliver a good, tight, bass response, claimed to reach down as low as 42Hz .
The built-in fans, which are pretty quiet, also do a fantastic job and even after a lengthy testing session the rear panels on both the sub and top enclosure remained cool to the touch.
The Yamaha rig offers a fine combination of smoothness and power - it never sounds like it is struggling at high volume levels, whilst retaining its fulsomeness at lower levels. All this plus a very good features set makes this a very tempting proposition for bands or solo performers looking for a compact rig that will truly do them justice. It's a refined, high performance system which never sounds, or behaves, in anyway strained.