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RIVAGE: The Next Generation

George Petersen • June 2020Technology Spotlight • June 8, 2020

The RIVAGE family expands with new DSP engines, a V4 firmware update for all users and two 38-fader console controllers, including the CS-R5 shown here, with its three 15” capacitive touch screens

Yamaha’s PM5 and PM3 Join its Flagship Digital Console Family

Six years ago, at Japan’s InterBEE show, Yamaha launched the RIVAGE PM10 digital mixing console, a major step forward in the evolution of the company’s PM Series digital mixers for live sound applications. The RIVAGE PM10 was a revolution in the making, surpassing the performance of Yamaha’s 2001 PM1D, its first PM series digital sound reinforcement mixer, which — together with 2003’s PM5D — set a standard in shaping the digital console market for more than a decade.

From its very beginnings, the RIVAGE PM10 was never considered a single standalone product, but the basis for an entire customizable mix system consisting of the CS-R10 control surface (or 2017’s 26-fader CS-R10-S compact controller) mated to an external DSP engine, various I/O stageboxes and modular interface cards for a host of duties. A year later, the PM7 debuted, which took an integrated approach of bringing the DSP within the console, rather than using an external engine.

Another plus of the RIVAGE series are dozens of premium plug-ins included with the system, and created in collaboration with Rupert Neve Designs, TC Electronic and Eventide, as well as Yamaha-designed emulations of classic studio gear and integration of the Dan Dugan Automatic Mixer.

So far, so good. In fact, Yamaha has continually updated the entire RIVAGE series with additional peripherals and firmware updates that add functionality and more features, such as interfacing with L-Acoustics’ L-ISA format for immersive audio production.

The most compact console in the series, the CS-R3 control surface has 38 faders and a single 15” touch screen

‡‡         Enter RIVAGE — The Next Generation

On May 20, 2020, Yamaha unveiled the next phase of RIVAGE, but rather than the “throw away all your old gear” approach so common in digital audio, the new additions to the line enhance and expand the versatility of the existing products.

The “stars” here are the new RIVAGE PM5 and RIVAGE PM3 consoles based on the corresponding CS-R5 and CS-R3 control surfaces. Both have 38 faders (in three banks of 12 faders + 2) and essentially the same complement of local I/O [eight mic/line Inputs, eight line omni outputs, four AES I/O (CS-R5 only), two MY card slots], plus eight in/out GPIO’s and redundant power supplies.

Shipping this summer, the larger (57.8 x 23.3” footprint), 93-pound CS-R5 control surface sports three 15” highly visible capacitive touch screens and a Selected Channel section. The latter is more condensed than the in the PM10, as more of the functions are moved to the screens. The CS-R5 also features channel meters next to faders for mono/stereo levels as well as dynamics; channel names/colors across bottom of screen (in lieu of channel name LCDs) and four banks of 12 user-defined keys.

Due out this fall, the CS-R3 control surface (the most compact console in the series) has 38 faders, a single, 15” capacitive touch screen and condensed Selected Channel section, and two banks of 24 user-defined keys — all in 84-pound package with a 45 x 25.3” footprint, approximately the size of a CL5.

“The CS-R3 surface may be smaller — but it’s 100% RIVAGE through and through,” says Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems application engineer Kevin Kimmel. “Best of all, it won’t be intimidating at all for QL or CL users to step up to the RIVAGE platform and be comfortable with it. And with less hardware and more screen, the workflow changes a little bit, but it’s all still there, with 38 faders and the Selected Channel on the new CS-R3 and CS-R5.”

From an ergonomic slant, a workflow perk stems from size. “The new controllers’ short front-to-back depth (approximately two feet) not only brings all the channel functions under easy reach,” Kimmel notes, “but the shorter distance between the faders and the tops of the screens also improves sightlines by bringing all the controls closer to the user.”

The Dual Console Mode function allows using a second control surface as a sidecar. Any control surface can be used for FOH one day, as a monitor console the next, or as a sidecar as the need arises. As all RIVAGE models (except the 26-fader CS-R10-S) feature the same basic three banks of 12 faders configuration, that same fader layout can be maintained when using different control surfaces on different days.

At left: the RPio622 stagebox; top right is the 288-input DSP-RX-EX engine and at lower right, the 120-input DSP-RX engine

‡‡         DSPs — The Hidden Treasure

While the RIVAGE series mix controllers (both old and new) tend to grab the headlines, the real magic is in the outboard DSP, and with all these family additions, come the new DSP-RX and DSP-RX-EX DSP engines. Both of these (as well as the existing DSP-R10 DSP unit) can be used with new RIVAGE CS-R3, CS-R5 as well as the existing RIVAGE PM3, PM5 and PM10 controllers. (Of course, the RIVAGE PM7’s DSP is built-in to the CSD-R7 console itself). As a plus, any RIVAGE console file can be used with any of the DSPs and each of the mix surfaces without the need for file conversion.

All of the DSP engines are housed in 5-rackspace enclosures and include four HY-card slots, two MY-card slots, and redundant power supplies, yet the similarities end there. The original DSP-R10 offered up to 144 inputs, 72 mix outs, 36 matrix outs and two stereo channels. Shipping this summer, the new flagship DSP-RX-EX engine features 288 inputs, 72 mix buses, 36 matrix outs and 512 plug-in slots. Also due this summer is the DSP-RX engine, providing 120 inputs, 48 mix outs, 24 matrix outs and support for 384 plug-ins. However, before you belittle the DSP-RX, keep in mind that an optional DEK-DSP-RX expansion kit can upgrade it to the full functionality of a DSP-RX-EX, making it ideal for anyone seeking to enter the RIVAGE ecosystem at a lower-priced entry point, then upgrading as needs (or funds) increase at a later date.

As all RIVAGE PM system components are compatible, components from earlier systems will work in combination with later systems. That goes for I/O racks as well as DSP engines. Additionally, with all consoles (except the onboard-DSP PM7), the new engines support DSP mirroring where two DSP-RX or DSP-RX-EX engines can be used in a mirrored configuration in situations where failsafe redundancy is required.

“Also, in situations such as a college or a large church with several satellite facilities that want one unified platform — they can now all be on RIVAGE,” Kimmel added. “I’m genuinely excited about it.”

‡‡         Icing on the Cake

Regular software and firmware upgrades have long been a part of Yamaha digital consoles, including the RIVAGE PM StageMix iPad remote controller and the RIVAGE PM Editor and the Win/Mac Console File Converter for sharing data between RIVAGE PM series, CL/QL series, PM5D, M7CL and LS9 consoles.

Released simultaneously with the PM5 and PM3 hardware, RIVAGE firmware V4 adds a host of new capabilities, including channel count increases for the PM7, which goes from 120 to 144 inputs and ups the Matrix outputs to 36. V4 updates for all RIVAGE systems include: an improved GUI; up to 48 mountable Dante devices; support of the MonitorMix iOS/Android app; opening of the DSP’s first HY-slot to MADI, Dante or TWINLANe cards; increased flexibility with BayLink and Selected Channel functions; and the addition of the Eventide SP2016 Reverb plug-in.

‡‡         The Wrap

“We’ve had some top FOH engineers in here to see it and they were really excited about it,” beams Kimmel. “This includes the CS-R3, which will accommodate so many applications — especially in terms of bands with fly dates or situations with a real estate issue — where you can run your PM10 shows on a small surface. This also allows a lot of customers who wanted to get beyond the CL — in terms of channel count or because RIVAGE wasn’t previously in their budget — to get into this platform. That’s huge.”

Pricing was unavailable at press time, but will be announced this summer. For more info, visit

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