Yamaha DSP Factory Digital Mixing Card | Pro Audio in Review

September 11, 2009 by  

Look at almost any hard drive disk recording software advertisement and you’ll see terms and phrases like “complete” and “everything you need” bandied about with reckless abandon. If you the ads are to be believed, then every piece on the market provides all the tools necessary not only to record full-blown production on your computer but also to mix and master your songs and prepare your grammy acceptance speech.

The truth is that no single software program can pull off all these feats, no matter how good it is. Yamaha DSP Factory Digital Mixing Card | Pro Audio in Review What’s more, the software’s capabilities will only be as effective as your hardware allows. If you computer’s A/D and D/A converters aren’t top-notch, the audio quality won’t be very good either. And even if they are, a computer is very noisy environment, electrically speaking, and the audio passing through soundcards is often plagued with the harsh generated by neighboring components.

Another hidden “gotcha” is that the performance of any software program is determined by the host computer’s CPU speed and the amount of installed RAM. A program may boast the greatest plug-ins ever invented, but you might be unable to launch more than one or two at a time if you system’s not supercharged. These limitations can also restrict the number of tracks you can play back simultaneously, the number of aux sends you can create and so on.

Yamaha’s DSP Factory is designed to address these problems. Used in conjunction with your favorite piece of hard disk recording software, it really does provide a complete “studio in a box” solution. The core of DSP Factory is a computer card called the DS2416, which fits into a standard PCI slot on any Wintel or Power Mac computer. Priced at just under a grand, DSP Factory may seem like an awfully expensive soundcard—until you consider the fact that it is essentially putting 16 channels of Yamaha’s acclaimed 02R digital mixer inside your computer, complete with dual effects processors. What’s more, each channel has full dynamic processing and four-band parametric eq, just like the 02R, plus six aux sends, with routing to any of 10 buses (eight individual buses plus stereo).

There are two big advantages here. The first is that all of DSP Factory’s power is derived from five DSP chips on the card itself—not from your computer. So even if you don’t have the super-wiz-bang system of all time, you can still do bags of processing. The card’s A/D and D/A converters are superb quality (I’ve never heard better audio fidelity from a soundcard), and there are also standard SPDIF stereo digital inputs and outputs, so you can easily bounce tracks to and from your DAT or other digital recorder.

The second major advantage is that DSP Factory is highly expandable. The card itself provides only four inputs and outputs (two analog, two digital), but you can add multiple I/O’s via the optional AX44 or AX88 expansion boxes. The AX44 mounts in your computer’s drive bay and adds four more unbalanced ins and outs, while the more the more professional AX44 is a single-space rack unit which offers eight balanced ins and outs, with 24-bit converters. There is also an optional module called the AX16AT, which provides 16 channels of ADAT “light pipe” input/output. When you consider that each DS2416 card can drive up to two expansion units and that two DS2416 cards can be ganged together in the same computer, that’s a lot of I/O. In fact, a fully configured system would give you a whopping 40 input channels—same as the 02R.

Perhaps best of all, you can run DSP Factory with pretty much any software. There is currently support for cubase VST, Logic Audio, Cakewalk Pro 8, Minnetonka MxTrack and many others, and Yamaha even offers a free patch utility (downloadable from their website) that allows you to use DSP Factory with software packages that don’t yet provide direct support.

The End Line

Although the DS2416 card us simple to install, be forewarned that the various expansion options are not. If you’re uncomfortable poking around in your computer’s innards, you might want a more experienced friend to help out. DSP Factory ships with no software whatsoever other than a test utility, so you’ll also need to install a hard disk recording application before you can really use it. But the sheer power and audio quality of the system offset these minor niggles. If you’re into hard disk recording, DSP Factory provides more of a complete solution than just anything out there. – Discontinued product


One Response to “Yamaha DSP Factory Digital Mixing Card | Pro Audio in Review”
  1. Aleksandra says:

    Melanie – Hi, I was looking into a new carema bag and was torn between the KM Hobo or an Epiphanie bag. Which do you use more often? Which will work for a hefty carema and a longer lens (18-200)?Thanks!

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