In all but the smallest of venues, I’ve never been a fan of all-in-one sound systems. For me, it was
always a tradeoff. If I wanted the convenience of an easy load in and quick set up, I was going to lose
the richness of the acoustic guitar or the mellow low end of the keyboard sounds. Yamaha’s new
STAGEPAS 1K Portable PA system has changed that for me and I think it will be a ‘game changer’ for
a lot of musicians, especially duos and solo performers, who are required to provide their own sound at events and want to have great–not just okay–sound.
I’ll get right to the point on my favorite feature of this system: You can set this system up, from protected in its heavy-duty bag to sound check, in about 30 seconds. No kidding. Because the mixer is built in the base and the other column sections plug together, there is only a power cable to the wall and you are done.
Once you are plugged into the five-channel mixer, even soundcheck goes quickly. I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the advertised one-knob EQ on each channel and a master output “Mode” knob for compression settings simply labeled with “Speech” or “Music”, but in combination they work and work well to quickly get you the sound you need in many different situations.
I used the 1K in a ‘boomy’ reception hall and in a crowded bar, as a solo guitarist with vocals, with piano/guitar duo with vocals, and with a small band (drums, keyboard, guitar and vocals). The system worked very well in each case. While I might have gotten away with a smaller system for the solo gig, I certainly got better sound and a smaller, all-in-one system would not have cut it with the band. The 1K provides four types of SPX digital reverbs that are easy to ‘dial in’ and did a great job on our vocals and guitars.
I make a conscious effort to not look at the technology (or price) of any piece before I review, but it’s hard to miss that Yamaha advertises an impressive 1,000 watts of power for this STAGEPAS system and that gives the system a lot of potential for covering larger rooms. You can even combine systems for more inputs and more power. What you can’t see, however, is the well-designed J-curve line array of 10 small-diameter (1.5”) speakers hidden in the column that are supported by the system’s 12” subwoofer. Not only does this combination effectively cover an impressive frequency range, but also covers an equally impressive 170° horizontal and 30° vertical coverage area that directs high-quality sound out into the room exactly where you need it.
The 1K’s built-in digital mixer provides three mono mic/line inputs for mics or instruments (two channels are designed specifically as hi-Z inputs for guitars and other high-impedance sources), plus a stereo line-in and Bluetooth connectivity. There is a monitor output that provides a convenient way to add a powered speaker on stage and a link output to extend the system with another STAGEPAS 1K.
Like many other professional systems, Yamaha delivers a free STAGEPAS Editor remote application for this system so you can make adjustments to your mix via Bluetooth. You can also use the app to save scenes with settings for performances or event configurations. That can additionally shorten setup time. Bluetooth connectivity also enables you to conveniently stream stereo audio from your smart device on breaks.
After using the 1K in a variety of situations, I can see only two possible limitations potential users might want to know about. They may never impact you, especially if you are a solo or duo performer. First, the system is clearly large enough to support a small band, so one or two additional mic inputs on the mixer would help guarantee that the system would work in more situations. For me, an extra open mic input is like insurance, so you have a channel available in case you want to add a sax, flute or percussion player.
Of course, you can always add a mixer for those occasions where you need more channels. Second, while having so much in a well-designed bag makes set up a breeze, the weight (about 44 lbs) could present a problem for some musicians. Wheels are definitely recommended and, in fact, Yamaha provides an optional dolly to help solve the problem. However, when you consider that the weight of the complete 1K system is just slightly more than that of one typical powered speaker, it certainly softens the blow. Plus, you can wheel your entire system into a venue with one trip. One trip always works for me.
All in all, the STAGEPAS 1K is a great system and well worth considering if you need plenty of great sound and appreciate a quick set up. It’s easy to set up and use, and it works well in many different situations Most importantly for professional players, with fewer wires and connections, there are fewer points of failure.
Street Price: $1,199.99