Musician, mixing engineer, and sound system designer, Chris Taylor brings a lifetime of experience to Yamaha console design and development.
Chris began his career as a musician, playing in local bands, churches, and recording in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He soon landed a spot as guitar player with “Up With People,” which was the beginning of a lifetime of touring and travel.
Chris’s audio career began by earning an Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering and the establishment of his own sound production company. He provided sound equipment for a long list of Country, Contemporary Christian, and R&B tours that included Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Amy Grant, and The Bar Kays.
Wanting to concentrate more on the artistic side of the touring industry Chris dissolved his sound company. He began providing mixing and production skills to Contemporary Christian artist such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and DeGarmo and Key Band. During the next number of years Chris mixed other tours for such artist as Barbara Streisand, David Foster, Janet Jackson, Jewel, Kitaro, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Michael Jackson.
Other achievements include mixing for TV Award Shows, as well as handling audio coordination and design. The 1995 Grammy Awards, CMT Video Awards, Dove Awards, and MTV awards are a few of these projects. Broadcast concert shows Chris worked on were Garth Brooks Live in Central Park, Barbara Streisand HBO Special, David Foster Hit Man, and Josh Groban PBS Special. For his contributions to these broadcast audio events Chris received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Mixing, and an Emmy contribution award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing. The extensive portfolio also features a number of audio and video recordings, including a Grammy Award winning album by Ashley Cleveland.
In 2003 Chris joined Yamaha first working as a District Sales Manager for Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems in the US. After 3 years of sales experience he became R&D manager for Yamaha Japan and is currently engaged in helping Yamaha build professional audio consoles.
The process began with the R&D team getting together to decide how Yamaha’s new flagship console should look and operate. We had been working closely with console users for years and had a good understanding of their needs, so we began discussing the features that we knew Yamaha users liked and used. For example, the complete Selected Channel sections on the PM1D and PM5D were widely appreciated, although other manufacturers were moving away from that concept. We decided that a comprehensive Selected Channel functionality would be essential. When these intense discussions were done the basics of the PM10 surface and controls had been established.
The next step was to develop a suitable plug-in plan. We made a list of possibilities, and decided that Rupert Neve products would be the most appropriate and the most appreciated products for this Yamaha flagship console. The R&D team then set the stage for a strategic alliance between Yamaha and Rupert Neve Designs that would lead to some of the outstanding audio technology included in the PM10 console. Other partners contributing to the plug-in devices for the PM10 include TC Electronic and Eventide.
I became involved with Dr. K’s team, working with the VCM technology that has become a vital part of the Yamaha PM10 console.* My involvement with the VCM plug-ins was mostly from a sonic quality perspective. I worked with the team to development the transformer emulation in the hybrid microphone preamplifier and also the improved channel strip equalizers.
As we got closer to completing the operating system and hardware, some distinguished mixing engineers were brought in to evaluate the mixing system and offer their ideas. Those experts also helped to verify the quality of the new Transformer/SILK hybrid preamplifiers. Evaluations of this type continued through the project that included listening tests carried out at Yamaha headquarters in Japan.
During the prototype stage, to test the reliability and usefulness of PM10, members of the US R&D team took the consoles out and did live concerts to evaluate the operation and sound quality of the console.
* Dr. K (Mr. Toshifumi Kunimoto) heads the K’s Lab team at the Yamaha Research & Development Division where VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) technology was developed.
The Yamaha designed Hybrid Microphone Preamplifier combines low distortion, low noise, high input impedance, excellent common mode rejection, and accurate reproduction of the input source. The ability to add a transformer emulation including Silk adds more depth and color approaching an analog sound from the days when digital consoles did not exists.
This new Hybrid Microphone Preamp gives engineers the best of both worlds. The mixing engineer can have the best clean digital sound available as well the ability to add the color of a great analog console, and the choice can be made on a channel-by-channel basis. The RIVAGE PM10 is the best-sounding console that Yamaha has ever made, and arguably the best-sounding live console on the market today.
The sonic evaluation was a comparison between three consoles. We used a relay switching system that simultaneously switched both the inputs and outputs of each console. Representatives from the EU, US, Japan and internal staff were brought in to perform the blind comparison listening test. The listeners were allowed to choose the music source and switch between consoles as they pleased. All listening tests were carried out without using the PM10 digital transformer or SILK features. That was the fairest and most accurate comparison we could provide.
The user interface was mostly developed by the internal team with input provided from well-known mixing engineers. Because Yamaha consoles have been used in a major way at the monitor position we spent an extra time not only on FOH operation but also on monitor mix operations.