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Yamaha AG06 : Review Of a Pro Mix Engineer

The number of affordable interfaces and mixers available on the market today is impressive. The Yamaha AG06 is one of them. But how does it compare to its competitors? Is it a good quality interface? Does it have a good value for money? Let’s see it together!

Yamaha AG06

Quick Description of the AG06

The Yamaha AG06 is a USB interface and mixer built for minimal recording. It has 1 mic input (with +48V), 6 line inputs and 1 instrument input.

Thanks to its virtual interface, the AG06 allows you to add compression, reverb and full-parametric EQ on channel 1 and amp simulation and reverb on channel 2.

The mixer can support a sample rate of up to 192 kHz and a bit depth of 24 bit. The latest AG06 model, the Mk2, has a more intuitive and easier to use analog panel than its predecessor.

Yamaha’s interface does not require power as long as it is connected via USB to a computer. It is available in either black or white.

Yamaha AG06

Selection Criteria

When thinking about buying recording equipment or anything related to music production, always keep in mind that there are no good or bad products. Only products that are more or less adapted to your needs.

It is therefore essential to separate this review into several criteria in order to judge its value for your needs.

Here are the criteria that will be taken into account for this review of the Yamaha AG06:

  1. Build quality
  2. Handling
  3. Sound quality
  4. Features
  5. Value for money

1. Build quality

What materials are used in the shell of the mixer? Are they of good quality? Does the product seem sturdy? And what is the potential life span of the type of material used?

This is an essential criterion to consider when choosing a mixer. This will help you to avoid unpleasant surprises and having to return it (too) quickly to your dealer or a technician.

2. Handling

How easy is the product to use? Is the panel intuitive or complicated to understand? And what about the accessibility and ease of handling of the buttons and faders?

An intuitive and easy-to-use analog tool can boost your productivity in the recording or production phase. And on the other hand, an unintuitive machine can slow down your workflow.

3. Sound quality

When it comes to purchasing recording equipment, sound quality is obviously an essential factor. In the case of a mixer, it is especially on the quality of AD/DA conversion that one must pay attention. But also the quality of the preamps.

Is the interface capable of recording clearly, accurately and without artifacts? Does it give a certain character to the source? And what about the signal-to-noise ratio?

4. Features

Does the audio interface offer many features to the user to improve the quality of its recordings? And what about the quality of its features? Are they useful and efficient?

Even simplistic features can sometimes boost your workflow and thus your productivity and creativity. Which means… better recording quality!

5. Value for money

And finally, the last question to ask when it comes to audio equipment: is this product worth its price in terms of overall quality? It’s obviously hard to say when you’ve never had the product in your hands. That’s why I’ll share my experience with you to evaluate its quality-price ratio.


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1. Build quality

Rating: 4 out of 5.

At first glance, the Yamaha AG06 looks very robust and strong. And despite a plastic front panel supported by plastic side parts, the first handling confirms indeed this feeling of robustness.

Thanks to the metal back panel, the Yamaha mixer seems to be irreproachable at first sight in terms of build quality. But what about the buttons, knobs and audio inputs and outputs?

Knobs

Let’s start with the knobs. First positive point: they are easy to manipulate. The resistance is ideal and allows you to adjust each knob precisely. And this without having a feeling of lightness, as it is too often the case on affordable mixers.

But you have to be careful with the knobs of the AG06. Because most of them move slightly from their mounting point when you turn them. This unfortunately gives a “cheap” and unfinished feeling.

Buttons

As for the buttons of the AG06, there is nothing negative to come out of them. They press correctly and are always accompanied by a “click” that gives the user confidence.

Only the internal effect buttons on channels 1 and 2 are slightly lacking in stability and robustness. But this is not really a problem since they are accompanied by small illuminated switches.

Yamaha AG06

Outputs and Inputs

Let’s finish with the audio inputs and outputs. As for the two main XLR/Jack inputs, they do the job, but not more than that. Although they are Neutrik connectors (pro quality and reliable), these two inputs lack stability and security.

In fact, when you plug a male XLR into these inputs, you never know if you are well connected or not because there is no security on the input. This means that the connected XLR can be removed at any time by pulling on it very slightly. This can sometimes lead to bad surprises when recording.

The Jack inputs are on the other hand of irreproachable quality. Stability, robustness, rigidity,… There is nothing negative to say about these inputs and outputs of the AG06.

The Yamaha mixer loses a lot of points with its additional mini-jack inputs. The idea was good from the Japanese manufacturer, but the quality is not there. I don’t recommend to use these inputs and outputs, because you’ll have the impression to break your AG06 as it’s so complicated to connect and disconnect mini-jack cables. It’s sincerely very badly built, but… it’s secondary, so it’s not important in itself.

2. Handling

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

For a small interface, the AG06 has a lot of buttons, faders, knobs and features. This may attract some people, but also repel others. Because many music recording enthusiasts think, sometimes rightly, that a tool with a lot of knobs and buttons like the AG06 is always complicated to use and to handle. But is this really the case with this Yamaha interface?

Let’s split this point into two sub-points: the first handling and the long term handling.

First Handling

The first handling of the AG06 can be complicated due to the numerous audio inputs and outputs, especially if you don’t have much technical knowledge in audio. But Yamaha is a smart manufacturer.

Thanks to the small symbols placed next to each input and output of the AG06, it quickly becomes intuitive and easy to learn.

This interface is actually designed for any type of user. Whether you are a music producer or a musician without much technical knowledge, this mixer will fit your knowledge.

Yamaha AG06

Long-term Handling

Regardless of your technical knowledge of audio, the ease of use of the AG06 becomes almost commonplace after a few days.

In the long run, you won’t even need the symbols to boost your workflow. The almost perfect organization of the interface will be enough to make several audio signals travel through your studio.

The upward facing front panel also makes the AG06 a much easier interface to use than some of its competitors (Scarlett, for example).

The only part of the interface that can be difficult to understand, even after weeks and months of use, is the “to PC” switch in the middle of the interface. “DRY CH 1-2”? “INPUT MIX”? “LOOPBACK”? What to choose for your setup?

Don’t hesitate to have a look at the user guide or to watch some tutorials on YouTube. There are a lot of them on this AG06.

3. Sound quality

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The sound quality of an interface or a mixer will always come largely from the quality of the conversion. In short, is the analog signal that comes into the interface being converted properly in your computer? And is the digital signal that comes out of your computer correctly converted into your headphones and speakers?

In the case of the AG06, artifacts are rare or non-existent. The recorded signal is often very stable and faithful to the audio source. In short, in terms of reliability, and for an interface of this range, there is nothing negative to reproach the Yamaha AG06.

As far as preamplification is concerned, it’s largely enough to do simplistic recording (vocals, guitars,…). But you won’t have to push the gain too far to fully enjoy your recordings made with the AG06. Because background noise can quickly appear and mask the details of your recordings.

Yamaha AG06

Compared to its competitors, the signal to noise ratio of the Yamaha mixer preamps is quite good, without being transcendent, which is totally normal for a tool of this range. It’s clear that this kind of interface will not sculpt your sound with precision and character, as other more high-end interfaces could do.

But if you are a musician, artist or amateur music producer and your goal is only to record music in a simple and direct way, the sound of this AG06 will definitely please you!

4. Features

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Yamaha’s AG06 ranks high in terms of features. Both in its analog panel and its interface, the mixer and interface offers features that no other brand offers… And that can be very useful at the recording or production stage!

Virtual interface

Yamaha AG06 Virtual Interface Expert Mode

The virtual interface (called DSP controller) that you can download from the Yamaha website is the element that makes this AG06 score a lot of points.

From this interface, you will be able to manage your compression, EQ and reverb parameters with precision. You can also manage the color of the amp simulation through a well designed interface.

If you don’t have advanced recording skills, you can even enjoy the presets that Yamaha makes available to the user. Very handful for amateurs! The virtual interface of the AG06 even offers you presets in the reverb section, a real luxury!

These internal processing and effects are not incredible in terms of parameters or tone, they just do their job, and they do it very well! The EQ allows you to work in detail, the compression too. The amp gives you a basic but effective amp tone. And the reverb, soft and airy, is great with vocals or guitars.

Yamaha AG06 Virtual Interface Easy Mode

Of course you don’t have to open this interface in expert mode and use all the internal processing and effects of the AG06. You can also put this DSP controller in easy mode to enjoy something much more sober.

Analog Interface

But the virtual interface is not everything for AG06! The interface itself also offers a lot of possibilities in terms of recording complexity. For a small interface like this, the number of features on the front panel is impressive!

First interesting feature on this AG06: the input 3/4 that allow you to bring in a stereo source at line level. This will typically be a synth (hence the symbol). But any stereo source delivering line level can be plugged into this stereo input.

To the right of this stereo input 3/4, you will find the RCA/cinch input 5/6. It is typically a consumer CD player that you can plug into this stereo input. But again, it could be something else. A loop station for example! As long as the line level is respected, you’re free to put in whatever you want.

Yamaha AG06

In terms of outputs, we are also served with this AG06! In addition to the stereo output dedicated to monitoring, the AG06 also provides you with a second stereo output. Here again, you’re free to send your output signal wherever you want. Second monitoring pair, recorder, reamping,… Many possibilities are available to you!

If you also plan to use this AG06 for online gaming, you can also enjoy the mini-jack inputs and outputs located in the middle of the interface. But be careful with the stability of the connectors!

5. Value for money

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a 5 star rating for the AG06 in terms of value for money! For all its features, its sound quality, its easy handling and its superb flexibility, the AG06 is well worth its price.

What you have to realize is that, in reality, this AG06 is not a 2 channel mixer, but an 8 channel mixer/interface! Even if you don’t have any gain control from the 3/4 outputs, that’s still 8 channels of audio usable for recording or any other use.

At this price, I think it’s impossible to find an interface with so many features, so flexible and intuitive and that offers a very good preamp and conversion quality!

In short, if you want a first interface for your recording or production sessions and if you value value for money, then go for it! Because this AG06 is made for you!

Conclusion

Yamaha’s AG06 is an interface and mixer with impressive features, flexibility and sound quality. For an entry-level unit, Yamaha offers a multi-channel tool that will suit musicians and amateur music producers alike.

Rugged and portable, the AG06 can deliver more than it looks like for years to come. With its super-intuitive virtual interface, Yamaha’s mixer is quickly becoming one of the easiest audio interfaces to use and handle in its price range.

If you’re looking for a simple, cost-effective interface that can offer you some advanced features like compression, EQ and reverb, go for it! Because you won’t be disappointed with this AG06.


My favorite tools for mixing pop and hip-hop music:

Plugins

In the field of auto-tune, I’m convinced that nothing’s better and more efficient than Antares Auto-Tune Pro. As for the EQ’s, FabFilter Pro-Q3 and Slate Digital Infinity EQ are, in my opinion, the best tools. For compression, I have 2 favorites plugins: Waves RComp and UAD EL8 Distressor.

As for reverb, I’m a big fan of the Soundtoys Little Plate, but generally, I go for the Valhalla VintageVerb for its versatility. I also love the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 and the UAD Pure Plate for its organic side.

Headphones

The closed headphones I love and will always love using for mixing pop and hip-hop music are the Beyerdynamic DT-770. As for the best open-back headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD600 headphones, and I’m really happy of them!

Monitors

Having a pair of Yamaha HS7 in its studio or home studio is always cool for more excitement while listening to your mixes. The Adam Audio T7V monitors are also super accurate. In my studio, I also have a pair of Genelec 8030 for their reliability.

Hardware gear

For anyone who wants to start using hardware in their mixes, I always recommend these 2 units from Klark Teknik: the EQP-KT and the 76-KT. Don’t forget to use good converters, such as the Apollo interfaces. This is essential for a good rendering.

IDeez

IDeez (real name Gauthier Claude) is the owner and head engineer of IDeez Studio. He has been working as a mixing engineer in pop and hip-hop music for several years and collaborates with many artists and independent labels around the world. His goal is to provide quality online mixing services and to teach, through his blog posts, the principles and techniques of mixing in pop and hip-hop music.

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IDeez

About IDeez

IDeez is the head sound engineer of IDeez Studio. He studied BA and MA in sound engineering at IAD (Belgium) and has been a specialist in vocal mixing for several years, especially in pop and hip-hop music. His goal is to help artists, rappers and singers in their mixing process through online mixing services, tutorials, blog articles and e-books. Contact him for any information!

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