Songwriters who are called upon to perform in various intimate venues need a sound system they can count on, but also one that is easy to move and set up. While some of today’s small sound systems offer great sound for acoustic players, few have as much flexibility as Yamaha’s Stagepas series and, unlike smaller systems, the BT400 doesn’t limit you to solo performances in small venues.
I broke out the Stagepas 400BT for a party where I knew that in addition to my acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals, there would be background music required for breaks and a second microphone for announcements. The 400BT handled all that with no problem. Plus, it was easy to set up and adjust to get a great sound in the venue.
I found that the 400BT easily provided enough power for my event. Just as important as being loud enough, the unit provides all the typically needed connectivity options so you can play solo or with friends. You might not use all of them for every gig, but they are there if you need them. Plus, it also comes with fully integrated Bluetooth wireless audio so you can stream audio to the StagePas system from any Bluetooth-paired device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
The 400BT mixer has many of the features of Yamaha’s professional mixing consoles including a good sounding reverb, input limiting, and feedback suppression. It also provides a two-band EQ on each channel, and while I typically like to have more adjustability, the two bands worked fine for my setup. Four mic/line inputs feature XLR jacks, with phantom power on the first two channels and 1/4″ XLR combo inputs on channels three and four. Channel four is also switchable to high impedance instruments with passive pickups, which is a nice feature. In addition, there are two stereo line input channels (switchable for mono operation), plus RCA and 1/8″ stereo mini inputs so you can plug in just about any source anyone offers you. I play quite a few private parties and it’s not unusual for someone to have a CD or iPod with something they would like to hear or want to amplify the soundtrack of a slideshow or presentation. For keyboard players, the stereo/mon feature of channels five and six give the opportunity to play stereo–another feature not typically found on smaller PA systems. If your musical setup requires a little more oomph, there is a 600BT version which offers 680 watts of power and a few more bells and whistles of flexibility.
Along with versatile inputs, another nice feature of the 400BT not typically found on smaller systems are useful outputs. Monitor and subwoofer outputs on the 400BT can help you get a better sound in larger rooms. To get a monitor mix or more low end, you can easily connect powered speakers or subwoofers to the outputs provided.
As with other Stagepas systems, the mixer and amplifier unit locks securely into the back of one of the speakers. You can leave it there when you perform or unlock it and put it on a table for easier viewing and adjustment. The mixing controls are laid out well and clearly marked. The back of the second speaker has a handy compartment for storing speaker cables and power cord. The speaker cables provided with the 400BT are light gauge wire with molded ends. I’m sure they are sufficient for good sound and a solo acoustic gig, but for my event I preferred to use my own heavier speaker cables and would opt to do this whenever cables need to be run on a busy stage.
Yamaha bills the StagePas 400BT as a great-sounding, all-in-one PA solution for smaller venues. That’s exactly what it is. For me, the best features are the unit’s portability, logical layout of the mixer, quality sound and effects (of course), and the extensive connectivity that the mixer offers. It’s a well-designed and impressive package especially at its price point.
Street price – $699.99