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Eight Great Audio Values

Extremely reliable, multifunctional, or nearly indestructible, these products have been selected by AV pros as the ?best value? audio products in the industry.

TOA 900 Series

Consisting of three models — the A-903MK2, A-906MK2, and A-912MK2 — TOA Electronics' 900 Series of integrated eight-channel mixer/amplifiers is designed for installations requiring paging, background/foreground music distribution, and music/messaging-on-hold. The units provide eight module slots to accept any combination of TOA and third-party plug-in modules for custom system configurations. Additional features include external mute and remote master volume terminals for remote operation.

Ed Logsdon, vice president of engineering for D.L. Adams Associates, selected the TOA 900 Series because of the flexibility provided by its modular design. With offices in Denver, and Kailua, Oahu, HI, D.L. Adams Associates is an acoustical consulting firm that provides AV design services. The company's projects include stadiums, arenas, theaters, conference centers, and educational facilities. “With the 900 Series you can insert a variety of modules into the rear panel to create any configuration your project requires,” Logsdon reports. “The unit's I/O capability is extremely versatile.”

Because his firm does a lot of design work for K-12 school and university projects, this unit is a natural fit for areas such as student cafeterias, smaller gymnasiums, and other multipurpose areas. “We recently completed a concert hall at Colorado State University where we used the TOA mixer/amplifier for the backstage and program page system in the lobby areas,” he says. “The 900 Series offers a chime module as well as a new digital playback messaging module.”

After using the 900 Series for about 15 years, Logsdon says the product's reliability is outstanding, plus it's reasonably priced. “The fact that TOA provides digital processing modules for loudspeaker equalization makes the 900 Series that much more versatile,” he says. “The 900 Series has the ability to satisfy a good 80 percent of the smaller projects that exist. Its real strength is the sheer number of choices available for the product, and that represents real value.”


  • A-903MK2: $572
  • A-906MK2: $820
  • A-912MK2: $988

Yamaha PM5D

Yamaha's PM5D digital console is available in two front-end configurations. The PM5D includes 48 XLR/balanced TRS analog mono inputs with manual microphone preamps, plus an additional four stereo line level inputs. The PM5D-RH includes 48 XLR analog mono inputs with recallable microphone preamps, with four stereo inputs that accept mic level signals. The console offers 130 input connections and can simultaneously mix up to 64 inputs to stereo or LCR stereo. The PM5D provides 24 mix buses, onboard DSP, and 500-scene total recall capability.

R. Gwin Edwards, president of Ruston, LA-based American Audio, considers Yamaha's PM5D a very capable console that is highly competitive in price. American Audio is a sound and lighting contracting firm whose work includes a high percentage of church installations. “While features are certainly important, the mixer's price is one of the product's most attractive aspects and represents, in my mind, solid value,” Edwards says. “While there are a number of competing products with similar features, we've found their prices to be, on average, 20 percent more than the Yamaha's. Based upon previous experience with the brand, I expect reliability to be very robust.”

Because the PM5D is primarily a live sound console, Edwards says it's a great choice for churches with active music programs. “Our first installation with the console was a church that holds a variety of events on an ongoing basis,” he says. “They needed direct recall so they could easily switch from one setup to another. While we've only used the console on one installation thus far, we already have commitments for another six projects over the next year that will include this mixer. We're quoting this console on a regular basis, and our clients are readily accepting it. With its features, price point, and excellent manufacturer support, the PM5D is tough to beat and one compelling value.”

MSRP: $48,900 (PM5D), $65,900 (PM5D-RH)

Roger Maycock is the owner of MountainCrest Communications in Downey, CA. A recognized music and sound authority, Maycock has written hundreds of technical articles for trade and consumer publications. He can be reached at

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