The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show held each year in Anaheim, California is the premier music industry showcase in the United States, and Yamaha had an unprecedented number of new products roll out at this year’s event. A couple of these products stood out to me as really great solutions that could be utilized by churches of all sizes in their worship services.
Lets start off taking a look at something that a lot of guitarists will find interesting — The THR 100.
The THR 100 is a new guitar amp that provides some really unique capabilities for the typical electric guitarist in a worship scenario. The amp is extremely straightforward and very easy to use, even though it contains a ton of really cool tech. If you were to walk up to this amp, you would understand exactly how to make it do what you needed… it also allows the guitarist to tailor the amp to the specific sound they are looking for (this is done by selecting from a number of well-known amp head options as well as extensive control of the output tube and power amp modeling). It comes in a one amp and a dual amp configuration, and it is important to note that I said, “amp” and not “channel.” The dual head is two completely separate amps allowing the guitarist to run two completely different tones at the same time. Each amp can be individually configured for output tube type models (EL34, 6L6GC, KT88, EL84, 6V6), power amp class (A/AB) and wattage output (100, 50, 25). You can even get it with a 2 12 cabinet that features a pair of mismatched Eminence speakers allowing you to run in stereo, or the versatility to run a clean and dirty signal out of the same rig.
All of that alone would be pretty exciting, but this amp goes a step further. One of the most frustrating things for a guitarist is to get their sound just right standing in front of the amp, only to find that the sound in the sanctuary is nothing at all like what they are hearing. You can, of course, make adjustments at your amp to get it sounding better in the house, but then your sound in the amp is all messed up. The THR 100 elegantly solves this issue by allowing you to load amp/cabinet/mic models into the DI section of your amp that will match your front of house sound to what you hear at your cabinet. Now you and your front of house engineer can both hear the guitar tone that you intended.
There was also a very important announcement for the church keyboardist. The Yamaha Motif series of keyboards have been around since 2001 and have enjoyed a huge following in the worship community. These instruments have long been recognized for their versatility and amazing sound quality. In fact, about the only thing that could have made them any better was if they could somehow be more powerful, and at the same time, easier to use. So, after 15 years of solid service, the Motif is being replaced by a new line of keyboards that does just that. Introduced at the NAMM show, the Montage brings a whole new look and feel to the flagship performance keyboard. With 10 times the memory and twice the polyphony of the Motif, the Montage will be able to handle extremely complex layered sounds and arrangements with horsepower to spare. The interface to the keyboard has been completely reimagined and allows for a much more intuitive approach to sound creation and performance. But by far, one of the most intriguing aspects of the keyboard is the Motion Control Synthesis Engine that gives you unprecedented control over your music. You accomplish this by interacting with a vast number of parameters simultaneously allowing you to control and morph your sound in real time. One of the ways you can do this is through the “Super Knob.” With a simple turn, you can take your sound in some amazing directions. In its simplest form, the knob can morph your performance between two sounds (ex. playing a piano and bringing strings or pads into the mix). At the other end of the spectrum, the Super Knob can take a sound and turn it into an EDM masterpiece by controlling filters, beat slicing, beat matching, tone blending and so much more. This is a great keyboard for the worship community because it has the ability to do so much so easily – great sounds and enormous flexibility.
And finally, even though it was released last year, the TF Series of digital mixing consoles is still turning heads, especially with the release of the digital snake allowing for a complete digital audio solution that is comprehensive, volunteer friendly and cost effective. I don’t throw the term “volunteer friendly” around lightly. The ability for your audio staff, volunteer or otherwise, to have the tools they need is critical to what happens on a Sunday morning. The TF is a mixer that can go as deep as you need it to, but has some really innovative features that allow seasoned pros to get up and running quickly, and your less experienced staff and volunteers to quickly access, and use the tools they need to mix audio. The one knob EQ is a great example. Even to suggest the idea of a “one knob” EQ sounds like magic, but the TF offers exactly that. You can choose to interact with the 4 band fully parametric digital EQ traditionally, or you can access the EQ with literally one knob that will quickly and easily dial in the sound you want. We have worked with hundreds of sound engineers to come up with the most common things to do with EQ and packed all of those years of experience into one simple knob. There are also “One Knob” compressor settings that allow a similar level of simplicity, but I have to reiterate that you can also run the console in a very traditional manner as well. This board will get your experienced engineers up and running fast, and your volunteers will be able to access the tools they need through a simplified interface making them and your praise band sound great.
There were so many great offerings this year that it was difficult to pick just a few, but I hope these will at least give you an idea of some of the exciting new products that are out there to help you do what you do on a Sunday morning better.
Mike Overlin, Manager of Worship Resources for Yamaha Corporation, provides a point of contact between the world’s largest musical instrument manufacturer and the worship community. As a musician, he served in the United States Air Force Band, fronted a group at Disneyland, and directed Worship at Living Spring Christian Fellowship in Southern California. His recording and audio background includes gold records for engineering and six years as a Yamaha Pro Audio Product Specialist.