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sat4n 11/07/2008

Yamaha AW16G : sat4n's user review


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OK. There's no way I can cover everything here, but I'll give you the most important characteristics among those I actually use.

There are eight mono and four stereo tracks, and then another stereo track to which you mix down. Each track (as long as you count a stereo track - e.g. 9/10 - as one rather than two tracks) has independent dynamics processing (compressor, expander, gate) and independent four-band fully parametric eq. You can run two effects at a time.

There are two xlr inputs, six 1/4 inch balanced inputs, and one unbalanced, hi-impedance, 1/4 inch input for recording guitar or bass direct. One of the on board effects is a decent amp simulator (includes cabinet modeling and all the knobs) so recording guitar or bass direct often gets better results than you'd think.

There is also an on board sampler with four trigger pads, and the unit comes preloaded with lots of beats.


The AW16G comes with a big, easy to understand manual and an informative (though unintentionally hilarious) dvd to get you started. Once you've spent an afternoon or two recording stuff you'll be completely off book. It has it's own arrangement and everything, but once you've found everything once you'll remember where it is. The organization is comparatively intuitive.

I've recorded a full band on this and gotten great results. I currently use it mostly for recording demos of my songs to give to my band mates. We (my band) normally record with Logic on my friend's Mac, but the other day we were actually recording the drums on the AW16G and transferring them into Logic because we liked the way the A/D conversion and preamps on the AW16G sounded more. True story.


I'm mostly just recording demos to give to people who have to learn my songs, and so this is actually much better sound quality than I need for that. About four years ago I was in a band that recorded a whole CD on one of these and I was really pleased with the results. If you're really into production and are very picky about sound and control and flexibility, you're probably better off with a computer, but if you just want to get an accurate picture of what a band sounds like, or if you just want something to keep in your bedroom to cook up great sounding demos quickly and easily, this is for you.

My one complaint is that, though there are a lot of beats, they're mostly geared toward hip hop and electronic, and the rock beats are not that cool. I wish there were a lot more of them, because at least then you could pick a slightly lame beat that more perfectly fit the song. I find that I keep using the same three loops over and over, on all my songs. I've done a little bit of sampling from cds adn stuff, but really you should probably get a decent drum machine to go with this.


When I was a kid, we had to record on four track cassette, and even that seemed like a gift from god. This thing is so much better. As computer stuff gets better, and the AW16G gets older, it seems less and less state of the art, but it's still the best scratch pad I can imaging. I don't use it for "serious" recording projects anymore, but I still use it almost every day.