Yamaha TF Series, a Digital Mixer Gaining Trust in Various Scenes - STAR*TECH

Yamaha’s TF series, a digital mixer for PA’s, are characterized with compact bodies and intuitive operability with their touch panels. We visited STAR*TECH, a PA company, which owns a rack mount type model TF-RACK, for this interview. The company has been utilizing the TF-RACK as a main mixer for small and medium sized events, as well as a sub-mixer for larger scenes. Let’s hear the motive of its introduction and the details on how to use it from Mr. Yoshihiro Takada.

User Friendly Design with a Reasonable Price

STAR*TECH has been using Yamaha’s consoles compatible with Dante, including the CL series and the QL series. A decisive factor for introducing TF-RACK was that it was easy to be embedded in Dante network, which is central to such series.

“The TF-RACK can easily access the network if you install the optional Dante I/O card, NY64-D, and is also compatible with a long-distance transmission of audio. Moreover, the TF-RACK is designed for those who are not sound professionals in a user-friendly manner, and has a variety of useful applications, including the TF StageMix (to be mentioned later). It costs reasonable price with these functions, and so we decided to introduce this for its excellent cost-performance.”

There are mainly two scenes where STAR*TECH brings in the TF-RACK. One scene is where non-sound professionals such as the event organizers are responsible for operating the sound, and the other is where the company’s sound engineers operate it.

“The most common case is where we bring in the PA system mainly composed of the TF-RACK just for the setup and rehearse. This is a scene where we ask event managers to operate the system during the session, and we withdraw the system after the session Exhibitions and seasonal events are some examples of this case.”

TF-RACK is equipped with 6 “USER DEFINED KEYS”, where users can assign optional functions, and 4 “USER DEFINED KNOBS” for allocating optional parameters, which are very useful, according to him.

“Recently, a certain amusement park has been using our TF-RACK for its illumination show, and their operators control it. The PA system produces MC and BGM, however, they need to raise the volume on weekend nights since there are many visitors, while the volume should be slightly lowered during daytime so that the visitors may relax in the park.

However, their operators are not sound professionals, so there is a need to adjust the volume without having special skills. That’s when the USER DEFINED KEYS are most needed.

You only need to press a key to complete the volume adjustments for specific scenes, such as “for weekends” or “for daytime”, for example. Anyone can handle it with ease with this function. The volume of the microphone channels and other parameters are assigned in the USER DEFINED KNOBS, which enables the MC to adjust the volume immediately if they want to slightly raise their volume. It can be used easily by non-engineers, and is helpful for us as well, since we can explain briefly as “to press this key for weekends”.

Highlighting Points I USER DEFINED KEYS & KNOBS

Highlighting Points I USER DEFINED KEYS & KNOBS

An example of a panel equipped with 6 USER DEFINED KEYS and USER DEFINED KNOBS. These are useful for even non-sound professionals, as they are shown on the panel in a large and easy manner.

Dante Connection as a Mixer for Talkback

STAR*TECH engineers mainly operate TF-RACK in large sized scenes, using the CL/QL series.

“We patch the talkback input in the CL or QL to the TF-RACK via Dante, then we send them to various sections, such as to FOH booth, monitor section, and each instrument technician’s positions. We had been doing this procedure with a surface mixer that is capable of rack mounting, but the procedure was troublesome due to spacing issues and needing to be drawn out from the rack upon operation. On the other hand, the TF-RACK is a compact 3U size, and has a high mobility, as it can be operated without drawing out from racks. Another good point is how it has an easy set up with touch panels.”

TF StageMix is an application for the Apple iPad, which allows faster operation than the touch panel. In STAR*TECH, when it connects the TF-RACK with an iPad via Wi-Fi or a regular cable, it wirelessly combines cables. According to Takada, “the GUI is considered thoroughly” regarding the TF StageMix.

“What I like about the GUI is that I can choose AUX buses, while displaying the list. Surface models of the TF series are equipped with multiple keys, including the “AUX1” and the “AUX9/10”, where users can choose the AUX buses on the panel. However, those keys are omitted in TF-RACK for the lack of space, so it being taken care of with an application is thankful.”

The TF series updated their firmware to Ver. 3.5 in June, 2017. Their usability advanced further in scenes where professional engineers are not stationed, or for spaces where racks are mounted, as the levels will be easier to manage with DAN DUGAN’s automatic mixer.

Highlighting Points II Mix Application for iPad

Mr. Yoshihiro Takada of STAR*TECH operating TF StageMix, an application for Apple iPad. He says that he likes the GUI, where he can choose AUX buses while the list being displayed.

Highlighting Points II Mix Application for iPad

From the July 2017 edition of the monthly Sound & Recording Magazine. Photograh by Hiroki Obara.