Yamaha STAGEPAS 500 Gear Review

2/20/2008 [Live Sound]

Gear Review by Dan Walsh of Singer & Musician February 2008

What It Is
The STAGEPAS 500 is the "V-8" version of Yamaha's immensely popular STAGEPAS 300, which we reviewed in SAM #35 (10/05). In a nutshell, both models are self-contained amp/ mixer/speaker systems that provide you with a simple, lightweight and reliable PA that sounds great when performing for crowds of up to 200 or better (depending on the room).

On the 500, there are two more inputs (for a total of 10) and the power has been boosted from 100 watts and side to 250. Like the 300, the 500 has the same kind of innovative configuration and same overall look. For example, the mixer/amp fits into the back of one of the speakers, but easily pops out with only the turn of two large-headed, springloaded, built-in (i.e. you can't lose 'em) screws. (All you need is a coin-I found a nickel works best). Or, you can leave the module attached and treat the speaker/mixer combo like you would any other powered speaker. This is a full-featured PA mixer mind you, and not just a mini-mixer with a couple of XLRs or 1/4" inputs and a volume knob.

Still present on the 500 are XLR inputs on channels 1-4, with mic/line selectors. These are equipped with built-in digital reverb. For increased control over vocal sound, as well as instruments like guitar or bass, channels 1 and 2 now feature built-in compression and limiting with LIMIT/COMP switches. These help you avoid dangerous overloading and also craft a smoother, punchier sound. Phantom power is provided on channels 1-4 so you need not leave your condenser mic at home. Three stereo line inputs complete the picture, one 1/4" only, one 1/4" and RCA selectable, and one RCA only.

The mixer is extremely light, considering the relatively powerful amps that it houses. This makes possible the addition of an \ optional mic stand mount, especially useful for solo musicians. There's even a visual guide for setting up inputs, printed right on the storage speaker's back panel, to aid non-techie folks in getting up and running.

The two-way speakers are Yamaha's triedand-true molded style, which resist scratching remarkably well. In an unintended field test, they ended up bouncing around in the back of my van. Being in traffic, I couldn't pull over immediately to fix the situation. But once I stopped and popped the trunk, I was relieved to find not a scratch in evidence.
StagePas 500 Product

How We Used It
In the course of a month, I had several opportunities to put the STAGEPAS 500 to the test in a variety of locations, and each time there were over 200 people in attendance. The first was at a restored lakeside "bath house" with a large central meeting hall where the STAGEPAS 500 was used as the sole PA for two voices and two acoustic guitars with pickups, and a set of hand drums. The smooth concrete floor and brick walls provided a challenging natural reverb, but once the room filled up, the STAGEPAS 500 stayed nice and crisp with very little EQ tweaking. Possibly the most challenging gig was a church event where the band included acoustic guitar (with their own preamps, plugged in), keyboard, three vocalists, and a violin and flute at the church event. The mixer's 10 inputs made this possible, although I maxxed out the inputs available. Each instrument and voice was easy to set, level and EQ-wise, giving me a very pleasing mix in both locations. In both cases, I also needed to provide recorded music for breaks and background, which was easily accomplished by connecting my laptop straight to the STAGEPAS mixer.

The bottom line on this system is that it is a flexible performer. It can handle modest sound reinforcement (like the small bands) with ease. If you are looking to add a user-friendly, quality sounding portable PA to your arsenal, take a listen and a look at the Yamaha STAGEPAS 500. www.yamaha.com/proaudio MSRP: $1,249
Singer & Musician February 2008

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