Review: Yamaha STAGEPAS 600i

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molly martin and megan mccormick2
List $1249 / Street price $900

As songwriters, many of us consider the public performance of our work to be critical to getting a song right. And, certainly, the only way to promote a song is to have it heard. Having a good sound system can help you on your songwriting journey. The Yamaha STAGEPAS 600i is a high-quality, 680-watt, all-in-one sound system that is extremely portable, easy to set up and adjust, and can help you get a great sound for small venues and intimate performances.

With a new enclosure design and increased power, the 600i is easily comparable to larger systems and powered speakers. Weighing just under 25lbs per speaker, this system is built to be light for easy transport and set-up. All the needed pieces for the system are packed into the clever speaker design, including two 20-foot speaker cables, a power cord and a detachable, 10-channel powered mixer. The full-featured mixer can be snapped out for tabletop operation or affixed to a mic stand using Yamaha’s BMS10A adapter (not included). Clearly, a lot of thought went into this design.

Each 600i two-way bass-reflex speaker houses a 340-watt Class D amplifier and an efficient 10-inch loudspeaker that gives the system a remarkably big sound for its size and weight. Crisp, high frequencies are delivered cleanly by a 1.4” voice coil compression driver. The enclosure design can be mounted on standard 1-3/8”(35mm) mounting poles providing a horizontal coverage angle of 90° (60° vertical) or used as a floor monitor with 50° orientation.

The 600i’s 10-channel mixer is packed with all the useful features you would expect, plus some handy surprises. SPX digital effects provide four different high-quality reverb settings. One knob operation allows you to change the reverb type (hall, plate, room, echo) and time for the system. In addition to a three-band EQ (high/mid/low) for each channel, there’s also a master EQ control that provides a handy way to quickly adjust EQ for the entire system. The 600i even has built-in feedback suppression circuitry.

molly martin and megan mccormick

Lots of options for inputs make this system very versatile. Channels 1 through 4 allow for microphone or line input with XLR connectors with phantom power for condenser microphones available for channels 1 and 2. Channels 3 and 4 can accept 1/4” instrument cables, as well as XLR connectors, and channel 4 has a handy high impedance switch that permits the channel to be set for a passive pickup input, like a guitar or bass without a preamp or direct box. Channels 5-10 are reserved for instrument inputs with 1/4” inputs and are switchable for stereo or mono operation. For even more versatility, channel 7/8 can accept RCA phono connectors and channels 9 and 10 have an 1/8” miniplug for iPOD, computer or other media input. You can also use a USB-type connector for an iPod or iPhone to channel 9/10 for high-quality playback while also charging your device.

In addition to left and right main outputs, the 600i has an output for a subwoofer that automatically assigns a high-pass filter to the main outputs when a subwoofer is connected. A monitor output allows you to further expand your front-of-house system or set up a monitoring system. What you can’t see from the outside of the mixer is the high-quality digital signal processing (DSP) with smart limiter circuits that are active all the time to prevent distortion at all sound levels and  protect vital system components.

Put to the test, the 600i worked ideally for solo performances with one voice and both guitar and piano accompaniment. It could easily handle most bar and coffeehouse gigs with power to spare. The system was easy to set up and, in one case, the monitor output came in handy to provide a line level output to a house system. The 600i also did surprisingly well for a light-weight system when challenged with a vocal trio supported by two guitars and bass. Despite a noisy room with poor acoustics, three-part vocal harmonies came through solidly and the system had plenty of bass reproduction to handle the instruments. Again, we found the system to have power to spare. For doing larger venues with bass and drums, consider adding a powered subwoofer and some heavy-duty speaker cables.

With a new design, plus a versatile mixer with lots of input choices, the light-weight and powerful STAGEPAS 600i is ideal for the singer-songwriter who is looking to get great full-range sound in intimate environments. It’s well thought out with lots of versatile features and you’ll be surprised at how much big sound this little system has to offer.

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