Grouptest: Yamaha Ses­sion Cake

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Yamaha have en­tered the por­ta­ble mon­i­tor­ing mar­ket with Ses­sionCake. Two mod­els make the lineup, but which slice of the ’Cake does Si­mon Ar­blaster pre­fer?

Yamaha’s Ses­sionCake head­phone mon­i­tor­ing amps work on the very sim­ple premise of al­low­ing you to “take your ses­sion any­where”. Real­is­ing that we’re all very busy peo­ple and not al­ways able to gain ac­cess to be­spoke prac­tis­ing fa­cil­i­ties, Yamaha have sought to cre­ate light­weight and com­pact mon­i­tor­ing de­vices that can be daisy-chained with one an­other.

What’s in the box?

Cater­ing for gui­tarists, bass play­ers, elec­tronic mu­si­cians and singers alike, Ses­sionCake comes in two flavours; the red SC-01 aimed at gui­tar/bass, sport­ing a sin­gle 1/4-inch Hi-Z in­put and the blue SC-02 which is aimed at ev­ery­thing else, with two Hi-Z (stereo, left - mono) and XLR in­puts. Both mod­els fea­ture aux­il­iary in­puts, head­phone outs, daisy-chain I/O and share the same ro­tary con­trols for your own mix and lev­els to share with the group. The chas­sis is an all-plas­tic af­fair, but both mod­els still re­tain a rugged­ness wor­thy of any por­ta­ble de­vice and the rub­ber feet and weight pro­vide enough grip to pre­vent slid­ing off the desk. Each unit also comes bun­dled with a four-pole, 3.5mm cable. More on this later.

The chain

Ease of use seems to have been a high pri­or­ity dur­ing the de­sign process and it cer­tainly feels that way. You have con­trol over your own in­put sig­nal, the in­com­ing (chained) sig­nal, the phones level and you’re also able to pan your sig­nal, which is then shared with other units when chained to­gether. It’s worth not­ing that, ac­cord­ing to the man­ual, you can chain up to eight units to­gether. Un­for­tu­nately we were un­able to test this as we only had two for test­ing, but pre­sume that any more than eight would be­gin to suf­fer from sig­nal degra­da­tion.

Sum of its parts

As part of a ‘col­lec­tive’ mixer, each Ses­sionCake per­forms ad­mirably. We like the fact that the Pan po­si­tion is shared across the group, as is the aux sig­nal; mean­while, the Me and Phones ro­taries only af­fect the out­put to your head­phones. How­ever, there is one slight mis­giv­ing when it comes to the aux in­put, which is the lack of vol­ume con­trol. The re­liance here is on the host de­vice. It would be nice to have the op­tion to boost the sig­nal on each mixer. On the plus side, you are able to record the sig­nal back into your iOS de­vice with the in­cluded four-pole cable and utilise ef­fects, or amp mod­els.

No hold­ing back

Even though the premise as a whole re­lies on other mem­bers of the band also own­ing a slice of the ‘Cake, the mini-mix­ers are still worth con­sid­er­ing as stand­alone de­vices. There have been too many times that we have needed a quick mon­i­tor­ing so­lu­tion and the Ses­sionCake has fit the bill on that front per­fectly.

One im­prove­ment we would like to see would be a dig­i­tal con­nec­tion to your iOS de­vice added. The fold­back for record­ing to your iPhone or iPad with the 3.5mm con­nec­tion ob­vi­ously lim­its you to older phone mod­els and is only pos­si­ble in mono.

Hav­ing a dig­i­tal con­nec­tion would open up the Ses­sionCake as a se­ri­ous con­tender in the iOS au­dio in­ter­face mar­ket.

SC-02 £120 QUICK SPEC: Left and right 1/4-inch Hi-Z in­puts (left mono), XLR in­put w/mic gain, 3.5mm aux in­put (four­pole), 3.5mm head­phone out­put, mute di­rect switch https://europe.yamaha.com

SC-01 £100 QUICK SPEC: 1/4-inch Hi-Z in­put, 3.5mm aux in­put (four-pole), 3.5mm head­phone out­put, mute di­rect switch https://europe.yamaha.com

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