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The ‘portable’ sector of the PA market is growing fast with manufacturers competing to meet the demand for systems that are compact, easy to transport and simple to use. Pro Audio veterans Yamaha made a splash in 2006 with the STAGEPAS series, a range of portable PA’s consisting of two speakers and a mixer/amp unit. Providing great sound quality whilst only taking up a tiny footprint, Yamaha STAGEPAS systems have been a long standing favourite for solo performers, community centres and schools.
Now Yamaha has revamped the STAGEPAS range with the 400i and 600i. From the moment the first demo units arrived at our showroom, they became a firm favourite with the staff and customers. Yamaha have built on the success of the first STAGEPAS systems with an even better quality sound output and a set of features that makes performing a breeze, even without any technical skill.
Out of the box the first impression we got was how sleek and stylish the units are, their low profile and good looks making them something you’d be happy to take on stage. As with the original range each system comes packaged as two speakers (8” for the 400i and 10” for the 600i) with a mixer amp unit that can operate independently or be mounted into the back of one of the speakers. Both systems are highly compact and lightweight so they can easily be taken in and out of venues.
Set up couldn’t be simpler – the speakers connect to the mixer amp via two ¼” jack speaker leads and audio sources (mics and instruments) to the clearly labelled mixer. As well as going into the back of a speaker the mixer/amp can be placed on a flat surface (no sockets on the back!) or even mounted on a microphone stand. The speakers can be placed on standard 35mm poles with the integrated speaker stand socket (one of many improvements from the originals) or wedged on the floor, giving you the option to use one speaker as a stage monitor whilst one is directed at the audience.
Yamaha is a brand we always associate with fantastic sounding gear and an above average price to performance ratio, however we were still taken aback when we first put some music through the 400i and 600i. The sound output is exceptionally loud, natural and clear with a solid low frequency response, even on the 400i – surprising considering most systems with small speakers suffer from an uninspiring bass output.
Solo performers, duos and even small groups will find enough connectivity here, with connections for guitars and keyboards ready to go without needing external DI boxes. Each mixer has 4 XLR inputs (two of which also provide the option ¼” jack inputs with one providing a Hi-Z switch for guitars), one ¼” jack/phono stereo input and one ¼” jack / 1/8” jack stereo input (the 600i has one additional ¼” jack stereo input bringing the total to three).
Looking more in-depth at mixing capability it becomes clear these systems were designed to allow people without much experience of sound engineering to still get a reliably great mix. Unlike other mixers where the gain and level must be set individually, on the 400i and 600i each channel has a unified level control. Even if you do run the mixer too hot there’s no need to worry as the mixer has a built-in limiter, averting one of the most common live sound engineering mishaps which can cause highly unpleasant distortion or even damage equipment. There is EQ control on all channels (2-band on the 400i and 3-band on the 600i) at set frequencies to allow musical EQ adjustments to be made easily. Channels 1-4 each have an independent reverb knob for dialling in effects.
On the master section one of the highlights is the most intuitive in-built effects unit on any mixer we’ve seen, with a single knob you can select between 4 unique reverb types and adjust how ‘large’ the reverb is simply by changing its rotation. The Feedback Suppressor switch and Master EQ knob are two really clever features that really speed up the mixing process. Typically killing feedback requires a lot of technical expertise or expensive equipment to pull off, not here as the 400i and 600i provide a single Feedback Supressor switch which, when turned on, listens out for feedback through the inputs and ‘kills’ the frequency causing the feedback before it becomes a problem. The Master EQ knob gives simple control of the overall frequency balance of the mix, allowing bass frequencies to be boosted for musicians and DJs or cut for more clarity when giving presentations.
The master section provides additional connectivity to boost the functionality of the systems. As well as sockets for each of the speaker leads there are outputs to connect external stage monitors and a subwoofer, meaning you can decide to integrate extra speakers into your setup for monitoring and low frequency response without any fuss. A footswitch control is provided too for hands-free switching of the effects unit.
We’ve barely been able to keep up with demand for the STAGEPAS 400i and 600i, and we hope that you come and find out why for yourself.
The Stagepas 400i and 600i are available to buy online, and are also usually on demo at our showroom in Headingley, Leeds. They’re getting snapped up quickly though, so if you’re making a special journey be sure to call ahead to make sure. The links below take you to our online shop, where both models are available to purchase. Remember, we price match and offer a 14 day no-quibble returns policy, so you can purchase and return the goods for a full refund if you’re not fully satisfied.
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