I was posted onto a live audio gig last week where I got to use an elderly Yamaha 01V for the first time in about 8 years.  Initially I had misgivings given how old the board is (launched in 1998 according to Wikipedia – tallies with memory) and how long it had been since I’d faced one in anger. As setup commenced I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to mix on this machine.  Sure, I only had five live inputs to deal with, so it wasn’t exactly a full band mix; but I did need to pinch out two monitor mixes from house position.

I found myself quickly remembering where everything is, and some cute foibles about getting into the EQ and using more patience than with more modern desks, as quick adjustments on the rotary encoders often got misinterpreted and intended cuts come out as boosts, or vice-versa.

So how did it sound?  Well, once I reminded myself of how the pre-amps can be rather noisy and sorted my gain structure out a little, my impression was that it sounded a little more harsh than more modern digital mixers.  I didn’t seem to need nearly as much gain on the pre-amps as I’m used to with other systems, and I had to be careful too because there doesn’t seem to be as much headroom in the main mix bus as I’d been used to. But the compression and EQ all did what they were supposed to, and even the on-board reverb sounded surprisingly good with a few tweaks here and there to warm it up a bit.

In the indoor confines of a darkened sound booth, the monochrome LCD was a joy to use too – I could see it at pretty much any normal angle and didn’t struggle to read it at all.

Flipping between layers to set main, monitor and effects mixes was a pleasure, as was the continual access to the “Return 1” ON/OFF button so I could switch off the reverb when the artist talked rather than sang.  All the moving faders jumped to their correct positions without fuss – a testament to build quality and good hygiene by previous users!

All in all I was surprised at how little I actually focussed on the machine and just got on with the job.  The raw simplicity of the device compared with the workflow of, say, a Behringer X32 compact to get the same work done was striking – I think other manufacturers could learn a lot from those early days of keeping key things available at a single button-push.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come since the launch of the 01V in terms of raw sound quality and user-interfacing, but I was stunned at how genuinely useful this board was in a real-world gigging situation. I won’t let the thought of using one scare me again, so long as it’s been reasonably well looked after.