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This article was originally published in issue #43
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'Hey Andi - do you have time to review a Yamaha Mixing Console?' Heck, yeah! I was a little surprised when it arrived in a box measuring 23 ½ x 24 x 11 ½ cm, though, but at least I get to use the term 'Swiss Army Knife' in a review!
OK, the AG06 is NOT a mixing console in the sense of being something that you’d mix songs on; no faders, no channel EQ, no pan pots and so on. It IS a very convenient way to connect different things to a computer, with some useful selection options. You can use the unit with a computer or tablet at sample rates up to 192 kHz (check the website for current details) with power from a USB B or micro USB socket depending on what it’s connected to. In adverts, the AG06 is often billed as being ideal for gamers, and I can see that, but it clearly has other uses, too.
Taking the top-panel features from left to right:
Channel 1 has a combi XLR/jack input for microphone or line level inputs, switchable phantom power, 26dB pad, input gain control, buttons for comp/eq and effect, and level. The comp/eq button gives you a preset effect designed for speech (levels-out volume and cuts low frequency noise) and effect adds a preset reverb.
Channel 2 has a similar input socket with mic/line instead of phantom power, and a preset amp-sim instead of comp/eq.
Channels 3 and 4 have line level jack inputs with a simple high/low gain button and level control.
Channels 5 and 6 have unbalanced RCA connectors for CD players or similar sources - again with a simple high/low gain button and level control.
Additional inputs allow a gaming style headset with a microphone to be connected to channel 1 and there’s an aux input for a stereo mini-jack from a phone or media player.
Metering is very basic - green LED for signal, Red for clipping - just set levels so that red just flashes on the loudest parts then back-off a little.
Output sockets connect to your external recorder (or anything else at line level) monitors and headphones (the latter is muted when a headset is plugged-in) and there are options to adjust output and computer return levels, mute channels 1 and 2 (useful for monitoring cues from a DAW) and for sending inputs from Channels 1 and 2 dry to the computer (so you can monitor with effects but record dry), sending the whole input to the computer, or mixing the inputs and cue signals and sending to the computer (used for webcasting) - you’ll may want to read the quick-start guide to avoid getting feedback here!
Sound quality is plenty good-enough (Yamaha has been building cost-effective audio kit for a long time) and the range of options is surprisingly useful. The built-in comp/EQ seems to be quite reasonable for what it’s designed for, and I have to admit that I found the amp-sim to be oddly satisfying to play with. The reverb effect sounds decent, and you do get a lot of additional control with the dedicated AG-DSP control software (it’s a separate download from the driver) which also adds EQ and pan controls.
I have my audio I/O pretty well sorted, so I just left the AG06 within reach of a teenager (without the instructions). A few days later it had a guitar, headset and ‘phone plugged into it and he complained bitterly when I took it back!
Be careful when you sort through the packaging by the way - along with the huge stack of multi-language owner’s manuals, you will find download sheets for both Cubase AI (for computer) and Cubasis LE (for iPad).
Overall this is fairly unique piece of kit - an input mixer if you like, rather than a fully fledged mixer, and a real Swiss Army knife. There, I said it.