Whether you're a podcaster or musician, one of the most crucial steps you can take to elevate your audio productions to the next level is to invest in a standalone audio mixer like the Yamaha AG03. In this Yamaha AG03 review, we'll take a closer look at this versatile mixer from one of the biggest names in audio while contrasting it against some of its competitors.
With a variety of inputs and controls and sound far superior to a simple microphone-and-PC setup, a high-quality mixer has the potential to open up your creativity while giving you the professional-quality sound and multi-layered production you've been looking for. With technology becoming available in ever-smaller packages at increasingly low prices, audio mixers are no longer limited to professional studios. Mixers can now be found that fit almost any budget, making pro-level sound available even to the amateur hobbyist.
Yamaha AG03 Review
We'll begin this Yamaha AG03 review with a quick overview of the mixer itself. The Yamaha AG03 is a 3-channel external audio mixer that is specifically tailored for podcasting and webcasting but is versatile enough to do just about anything. Featuring clear, easy-to-use functions that will be intuitive even for a beginner to learn, the Yamaha AG03 also features the connectivity necessary to connect to and operate in conjunction with your modern devices, making it a mixer that can grow with you.
The Yamaha Name
One important intangible that comes with the Yamaha AG03 is, of course, the legendary Yamaha name. For decades, Yamaha has been a trusted brand in everything audio related from its legendary concert pianos to its electronic components. Even though the AG03 won't set you back thousands of dollars like some Yamaha equipment, it does borrowsome of the technology developed for use in Yamaha's top-end products.
For example, the AG03 features the same premium-quality mic preamps that Yamaha originally developed for use in its highest-grade recording consoles, resulting in deeply rich nuance for both vocal and instrumental sounds.
When it comes to determining the right audio mixer for your needs, it's important to look beyond obvious features such as sound quality and price to consider functionality. Audio mixers come in a wide range of sizes and styles, and which one is right for you will vary based on how you intend to use it.
For instance, someone who will largely be leaving the mixer in one location, such as a home recording studio, will value portability less than a user who intends to take the mixer from location to location, for example to record podcast interviews. At this point in our Yamaha AG03 review, we'll take a closer look at the AG03's specs and functionality.
Connectivity is an essential aspect of any modern audio mixer. With podcasters and musicians today incorporating everything from instruments and microphones to PCs and mobile devices, a versatile mixer requires wide-ranging connectivity. Thankfully, in this regard, the AG03 delivers.
Plenty of Jacks
First, unlike many audio mixers, the Yamaha AG03 includes two 3.5mm audio jacks, which allows the mixer to accept input from the wide range of audio devices on the market today, including mobile devices and microphone headsets. Along these lines, Yamaha has designed the AG03 so that one of its 3.5mm input jacks is for auxiliary input and one is for a microphone headset; perfect for recording your latest podcast.
Even better, the Yamaha AG03's audio jacks feature plug-in power, meaning that they can power devices such as a 3.5mm lavaliere microphone simply by plugging the mic into the 3.5mm input jack. This is a feature that many audio mixers unfortunately do not provide, and it enhances the AG03's portability and ease of use significantly.
In addition to the 3.5mm jacks, the Yamaha AG03 also features multiple USB ports, an essential for today's podcaster or musician. The AG03 includes dual input and dual output USB, making the possible arrangements literally endless. For example, the AG03 is Apple iPad compatible (second generation or later) and works with software such as Cubasis LE, which allows for on-the-fly recording, editing, and mixing.
One feature that needs mentioning in any Yamaha AG03 review is its portability, which is one of the AG03's biggest features. Capable of being powered via USB bus power (for example, when connected to a laptop) or its own mobile battery, the AG03 can go wherever you need it to.
Measuring roughly 5 inches by 2.5 inches by 8 inches and weighing in at under two pounds, the AG03 is also small and light enough to fit into a backpack or gear bag, making it the perfect mixer to pack with you from jam session to jam session, or to bring along to capture pro-quality podcast interviews. By delivering professional-level audio in a highly portable (and affordable) package, the AG03 is truly the audio mixer for the podcaster or musician on the go.
This is the point in this Yamaha AG03 where we discuss what can be a product's most make-or-break feature: its price. While a bit more expensive than some of its competitors, the Yamaha AG03 still comes in at a price point that won't bust the budget of many dedicated hobbyists. For all the features and high-quality design the AG03 packs into a versatile, highly portable package, it represents an excellent value.
How It Compares
At this point in our Yamaha AG03 review, we'll take a closer look at how the AG03 compares to some of its top competitors.
Yamaha AG03 3-Channel Mixer
Ease of Use
The Yamaha AG03 is all about portability and connectivity. With simple, easy-to-understand controls and a variety of inputs arrayed in an uncomplicated design, the AG03 incorporates pro-level features into a design that beginners should have no problem learning.
While some Yamaha equipment sells for thousands more, Yamaha takes pride in producing high-quality products, even at the lower end of the price spectrum. The AG03 is no exception, incorporating components originally designed for Yamaha's top-of-the-line audio equipment.
Yamaha only honors warranties on products purchased at Yamaha authorized dealers. Yamaha provides a 2-year warranty on AV equipment.
Behringer Xenyx Q502USB
The Behringer Xenyx Q502USB is a 5-input 2-bus mixer that includes a XENYX mic preamp and compressor and a USB/Audio input. While it comes in at a lower price that the Yamaha AG03, the Q502USB lacks the AG03's relatively large number of inputs and outputs while also lacking the legendary Yamaha name and the technology that comes with it. However, for those looking for a highly portable mixer at a highly affordable price, the Behringer Xenyx Q502USB could be the right choice.
Ease of Use
The Behringer Xenyx lacks the Yamaha's clean, uncluttered design, which can make it a bit more difficult to learn and more cumbersome to operate during live recording. However, it is still relatively simple and easy to learn as compared to other models in its price range.
While lacking the legendary Yamaha name and quality, the Behringer has a solid feel and is capable of producing high-quality sound. The Behringer likely will suit the needs of most podcasters and musicians for a long time to come, as evidenced by Behringer's offering the longest warranty period on any audio mixer we looked at for this Yamaha AG03 review.
Behringer offers a three-year warranty program: the longest among the manufacturers we looked at.
Allen & Heath ZEDi-8 Hybrid Compact Mixer
At the higher end of the price spectrum for mixers we're looking at for this Yamaha AG03 review, the Allen & Heath ZEDI-8 offers an abundance of features and a large layout in a less portable design. Depending on your needs and budget, this highly capable audio mixer could be your best option.
Ease of Use
With a spacious, uncluttered layout made possible by its larger design, the Allen & Heath ZEDI-8 is easy to use, with plenty of space between knobs and plugs.
With portability less of a consideration, the Allen & Heath ZEDI-8 features a weighty, high-quality design that creates a solid feel. Allen & Heath says that it designs its equipment to meet the rigorous standards of touring musicians, and the ZEDI-8 is no exception, though it may be a bit too large and heavy to throw into a backpack for your next jam session or podcast interview.
Allen & Heath offers a limited one-year warranty.
Pyle 2-Channel Audio Mixer
At the low-end of both price and features on the spectrum of mixers included in this Yamaha AG03 review is this 2-channel audio mixer from Pyle. For those on a tight budget or who don't need all the bells and whistles offered by more expensive mixers, the Pyle 2-channel audio mixer is worth a look.
Ease of Use
With fewer features and inputs comes greater ease of use, making the Pyle perfect for those who are just learning about audio mixing. However, with fewer features also comes less versatility and room to grow.
The Pyle lacks the solid feel of some of the more expensive mixers we looked at for this Yamaha AG03 review. However, it is also among the smallest and lightest, making it among the most portable. Also, with its budget-friendly price and introductory design, you may find yourself growing out of the Pyle mixer well before its useful days are over.
Pyle offers a one-year warranty, which is acceptable given the price.
With the high number of audio mixers available on the market today, each with its own combination of features, it can be overwhelming trying to get a handle on exactly which model is right for you. With mixers tailored toward podcasting or musical recording, analog or digital, and portability or studio-recording, there is certain to be a mixer that suits your needs and budget...if you can find it.
If you need to save money, you can certainly get some good use out of the Pyle, and it might also be a good choice for someone just starting out. We also have to like the Behringer for its solid reliability and excellent, industry-leading warranty. But this is a Yamaha AG03 review, and in the end that's our favorite.
How We Feel About the Yamaha
The Yamaha AG03 is a versatile machine that is highly capable for both vocal and instrumental recording. While lightweight and portable, it also features a wide array of inputs and outputs, including dual USB input and dual USB output, making the possibilities for expansion infinite, particularly when one considers its iPad compatibility.
Another feature the Yamaha boasts that the other mixers we looked at for this Yamaha AG03 review can't offer is the legendary Yamaha name. While at the lower end of the price spectrum for Yamaha audio equipment, the AG03 still incorporates some of the technology originally developed for top-level products costing thousands more. This means even more bang for your audio buck.
While determining what the right audio mixer is for you will vary based on your individual needs and tastes, we believe after performing this Yamaha AG03 review that you cannot go wrong with this audio mixer. With its high-quality output, abundance of features and connectivity, and budget-friendly price, the Yamaha AG03 would be a great addition to any audio production setup. We give this offering from a legendary name a solid 5 stars out of 5 when compared to the competition.