M7CL Tips & Tricks
By John Mills
In this article we are going to hit a bunch of tried and true tricks you can use on the Yamaha M7CL. Why am I only highlighting the M7CL? Good question. But it begs a very simple answer. It is by far the single most popular digital soundboard that churches use. It’s also a very respected board among touring groups. All that said, most of these tricks can work on other digital consoles and 98% of them apply to the M7CL’s baby brother the Yamaha LS9 as well.
The beauty of digital consoles in general is obviously the ability to make presets. Yamaha calls them Libraries. I make a library entry for every one of my inputs as well as every one of my players. For instance, I not only have an acoustic guitar eq preset, I have multiple ones labeled ACOU-Dan-Taylor410, ACOU-Dan-Gibson, ACOU-Steve-Washburn, ect. Then depending on what player or which one of his guitars shows up with him on Sunday, I have a good starting point for their EQ. I also do the same for Compressors.
Quick second EQ / Compressor setup:
I’ve had a few times where I really need a very specific eq or compression change on a certain instrument. Using “Channel Copy” I duplicate the channel to the next adjacent channel. Then I assign the Head Amp to the same inputs as the original channel. For instance let’s say I wanted two different acoustic guitar sounds during a song. Acoustic is on channel 14, I “Channel Copy” channel 14 to channel 15, then I SEL channel 15 and assign the preamp to preamp 14. Get the picture. I have Preamp 14 on both Faders 14 and 15. Then I make the radical changes to channel 15 and I cross fade from 14 to 15 during that portion of the song.
Reset EQ Gain:
I use this feature a ton. If you cut or boost something on a channel EQ, just push the Q and Gain encoders at the same time on that band and it will reset to zero.
I always “Recall Safe” all the parameters on my pastor, announcement mic, iPod, video and CD channels. That way if someone is talking on the Announce mic, or I am playing music before the service from my iPod, ect, I can recall a scene without affecting what is going on.
Recall a Scene while someone is talking.
What if you do not have the mic in recall safe and you need to switch scenes. I used to wait for the person to take a breath, or for the audience to clap, and would then hit recall, but that always made me very nervous. There was no way to be sure what the new scene sounded like or if there would be a volume change, or worse yet if the fader in question was muted in the next scene. Try this simple trick. Hold down SEL on the channel you want to temporarily “safe” while you recall the scene. That channel is temporarily “safed.” Which means the channel you are holding SEL on will not change to the parameters in the new scene when you hit Recall. After they stop talking and another person in the new scene you recalled starts talking, you can safely hit recall again and that fader will be updated.
Preshow Music: I use this trick on preshow music coming from my iPod. Feed the Announcer or MC mic to the side-chain input on the iPod channel’s compressor. Then if someone needs to make an announcement, and I am not at the console, all they need to do is talk on that mic and the iPod automatically turns down. The announce mic needs to be in the same group of 8 chs that the iPod is for the side chain to work.
Telephone Call Interface: It is annoying to have the person on the phone try to continue talking while the local mic is talking. How about this trick: Feed the local mic into the sidechain on the phone interface compressor. Set the compression pretty hard and when the local mic talks, the phone audio compresses, or get’s “ducked” behind the live mic.
User Define Keys or UDKs:
The best part of the M7CL is the 16 UDKs. I use them for all kinds of things depending on the type of show I’m doing.
Bookmark – This is arguably the most useful and customizable button on the board. I use this to book mark my house Graphic EQ, Vocal reverb and Vocal delay effect pages. That way I can get to them quickly. First assign the BOOKMARK function to one or more UDKs. Then view the desired page. Now, hold UDK button for 2 seconds until it lights up. Every time you click that button you will return to the page you book marked.
Mute ALL – make a mute group and assign ALL channels to it. Then put it on a UDK. That way if you need to mute the whole console because “something” is feeding back you can just hit that one button. Just don’t put it right next to the next tip.
Tap Tempo – You can assign a UDK to an effect processor. I use the Tap Tempo to set the delay time on my Vocal delay effect. Select a delay and change the
Set to Nominal – If you hold down this UDK and select a fader or encoder it will reset itself to unity.
Mute FX Sends – Make a mute group but instead of muting the fx return faders, put the mute group on the aux sends feeding the inputs to your effect processors. This way when you mute the effects, the effect decays naturally and doesn’t sound like you muted it.
Sends on Fader – Use this one to select the aux send you have assigned to your worship leader ear monitors or wedge mix. When you hit this button, the console faders “flip” to show you what you are sending down that aux. This is very handy when using the M7 as a monitor board or for the monitor sends you are mixing from FOH. Assign each mix to a button and flip between monitor mixes very quickly, click again to return to your FOH mix.
One last trick… If you’ve been hiding under a rock and missed it, Yamaha released an iPad app for controlling the M7CL, take a trip out to the Yamaha wesite and/or iTunes and get the Stage Mix app for your iPad. It gives you a very slick interface to control the console remotely.
And on a related note… if you’ve been struggling with how to justify an iPad purchase… my friend Chris twitter(ed) the following: “Thank you Yamaha Stage Mix for allowing me to sit with my wife in church again.” This might be the first ever piece of technology she really does want you to get.
Next month we’ll cover a couple analog console tricks and pretty cool one for you digital console friends on how to warm up your digital sound.
Till next month,