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REVIEWED
SPONSORED BY
Yamaha Stagepas 600BT
By James Mackie.
The Yamaha STAGEPAS has been around for many years, in a number of different versions, which has allowed the product to be refined to offer a unique all-in-one PA solution that packs an inordinate number of features into an extremely small setup. This review will focus on the latest top-of-the-range model, the STAGEPAS 600BT, although the concept remains the same across all of the STAGEPAS models: ultra-portable active PA solutions complete with multi-input mixing.

The STAGEPAS 600BT takes the form of two 10” passive speaker cabinets, one of which features a slot that holds a compact active PA mixer, while the other has a rear compartment for the storage of leads. This means that a fully-featured PA rig can be contained within just these two speaker cabinets, making it extremely portable and therefore ideal for when storage or transport space is limited.

From a mobile DJ perspective, the system could be used for playing small parties, however I think it is much more attractive for wedding ceremonies or speeches. This is an area that I know many DJs are expanding into, and the STAGEPASS 600BT is ideal because of its compact design combined with an extremely versatile mixer section.

Despite being small enough to fit in the back of one of the speaker cabinets, the mixer offers seven input channels (four mono and three stereo) as well as a wide range of EQ and signal processing tools built-in. This makes it ideal for use at wedding ceremonies and other similar occasions, even if multiple mics and even musical instruments need to be incorporated into the mix.

All of the input channels feature independent level and three-band EQ controls, and there are also Master level and EQ dials. The master EQ has an implementation that I’ve never seen before, but one that I thought was ideal for this system as a way to not only save space but also make it easy to operate. A single dial is labelled with ‘Speech’ at one end, ‘Music’ in the middle and ‘Bass Boost’ at the other end. This allows the system to be easily tailored to a specific application, but with more flexibility than the EQ pre-set switches that are more common.

The four mono channels are all switchable between mic and line level, while the fourth channel also features a ‘Hi-Z’ switch which allows for the direct connection of a guitar or other similar instrument without the need for a separate DI box. This is an extremely useful feature when you’re providing ceremony PA and may find that the ‘featured musicians’ are friends and family rather than professional performers.

The first two channels feature standard XLR input sockets, and can be set to supply ‘phantom power’ for microphones that require it (such as boundary or shotgun mics). The second two channels feature combination XLR / ¼” jack sockets for added flexibility. All three of the stereo channels feature twin 1/4” jack sockets, while one also offers the option of RCA phono sockets and another features a 3.5mm mini jack connection. They are also switchable between stereo and mono, allowing for flexible connection of music playback sources, stereo instruments (such as high-end keyboards) and mono instruments such as guitars (via a DI box).

An in-built reverb effect can be applied independently to each of the first four channels using dedicated dials. A master control – again with a uniquely simple yet powerful single knob control interface – then allows selection between four different effect types (Hall, Plate, Room and Echo) each with variable delay time. There is also a push button with status LED for activating and deactivating the delay feature, which I can imagine being useful to prevent it being applied accidentally when not required. There is also a reverb footswitch connection, which is designed to be used by a singer who wants to activate the effect when they are singing but then subtly disable it while they speak between songs.

I found the reverb extremely easy and intuitive to setup. I had it sounding great in no time at all and was very impressed with the results. It’s ideal for adding a subtle effect to enhance sung vocals and will be more than enough to keep happy even the most diva-ish singer you’re likely to come across!

Yamaha have also managed to shoehorn a feedback suppression circuit into the mixer, which is activated by a simple push-button with a corresponding on/off status indicator. Having come across this type of feature in the past, I must admit that I was very sceptical as I’ve previously found that they make very little difference. However, I was pleasantly surprised when testing out the STAGEPAS 600BT! It worked remarkably well, significantly reducing the ‘howl’ when a mic started to feedback.

The final aspect of the mixer that needs a mention is the signature feature of this incarnation of the STAGEPAS system: Bluetooth. The mixer features an in-built receiver that allows wireless connection of a smartphone or tablet for music playback. The Bluetooth circuit routes to the final mixer channel and there is a dedicated push button for pairing and an associated status LED. I must admit, that on first attempt I failed to pair my phone following the instructions in the manual. However, after I switched the mixer off and back on again it then paired without issue and the connection remained stable and reliable from that point on.

In addition to the two ¼” jack sockets for connection of the mixer to the two supplied speakers, there is also a separate passive mono ¼” jack output socket for the connection of a separate active subwoofer. In addition, a separate stereo pair of ¼” sockets are provided for the connection of a separate powered monitor speaker. This output has a dedicated level dial, however it isn’t possible to alter the mix of input signals separately for the monitor.

As I have already mentioned, the mixer clips into the back of one of the speakers for convenient transportation. The mechanism for holding the mixer in place is nicely robust and it is held securely in place until you slide the plastic release switch. It did occur to me that perhaps the Yamaha design team missed a trick in not allowing the mixer to be reversable and slot in with its controls facing inwards to provide protection for the knobs and switches during transit.

Since all of the connections are positioned on the front of the mixer panel, I don’t see any reason why the mixer couldn’t be operated from inside the speaker should you wish. However it can also comfortably sit or a table or desk, and is fitted with screw holes for attaching an optional adaptor (BMS-10A) which allows it be attached to a standard mic stand. This allows for a very compact standalone mixing station, ideal for use in venues with limited space.

The compartment in the back of the second speaker offers ample space to store the supplied mains IEC lead and speaker cables as well as a few XLR cables and even a mic or two. I did feel that the system was let down a little by the speaker leads. They are of a good length (6m) but feature the ‘figure of 8’ style of cable and have a rather thin and cheap feel where the rest of the system oozes quality.

The speaker cabinets themselves are constructed from moulded plastic and have a robust feel without being too heavy (each speaker weighs 10.9kg, while the mixer is an additional 3.8kg). The 10” low frequency cone is paired with a 1.4” voice coil compression driver, allowing for a 55Hz – 20kHz frequency range.

Large rubber feet on the bottom of the cabinets allow them to stand directly on the floor, while they are also fitted with pole mount sockets for use with standard speaker stands. These feature Yamaha’s StageLok™ technology which allows the speaker to clamp to the stand for secure mounting.

The stereo amplifier built-in to the mixer drives each speaker with 280W (continuous) / 340W (peak) of power allowing them to deliver an output of 129 dB SPL (measured at 1m). When I tested the system I was impressed by both the sound quality and the volume that could be achieved. I did notice a little bit of background hiss, but not enough that it would be a problem in a room full of people. Also, as you might expect from 10" speakers, some of the deep low end was missing. However this could easily be rectified by pairing the system with one of Yamaha’s active sub cabinets such as the DXS15mkII.

I’m confident that the STAGEPAS 600BT would be adequate on its own for filling some of the smaller hotel function rooms that I play. And, with a separate sub added, it should be able to cover most of the medium-sized rooms that are the mobile DJs’ bread and butter. However, it is this system’s mixer section that really makes it stand out. The level of connectivity and advanced feature-set that has been cleverly engineered into this extremely compact product is really impressive. For that reason, I really do think this is the ideal system for mobile DJs who also provide PA services for wedding ceremonies and other similar occasions that call for both amplified speech and a mix of pre-recorded and live acoustic music.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 93, Pages 80-82.
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