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Compact amplifier packs a punch

Public address systems have something of an image problem. For many people, they are big, bulky, expensive boxes with masses of connecting cables. But Yamaha's EMX62M is one of a new generation of low-cost PA systems that are easy to set up and pack a mean punch when it comes to amplifying sound.

The EMX62M is ideal for small schools looking for a PA system for a hall or large classroom. Many schools opt for standard stereo systems, but the problem with these is that if you turn up the volume a lot the sound becomes distorted and you could blow the speakers.

The EMX62M offers up to 200 watts of power, which means that you can get a big sound without losing the quality.

The first thing that strikes you about the EMX62M is how small it is. It easily fits on a desk or table. You can also rack-mount it using an optional kit. The case is made of durable black plastic, so it's also fairly light and easy to move.

The second surprise is how easy it is to install. At the back are just three sockets - two for speakers and the third for the power cable.

At first glance, the front panel can look daunting when compared with the average hi-fi system, but everything is logically laid out. At the bottom are input sockets for up to six devices, for example a microphone, CD player, tape deck and musical instruments.

The control panel has an equaliser which lets you adjust the low and high frequencies to suit the listening environment. You can also feed the sound to a monitor and control the level of output signal. Other controls are used for effects and for setting the level of the input signal. A Pad switch is useful when connecting a microphone to the PA system because it allows you to control the signal level to eliminate any distortion. A seven-band graphic equaliser lets you adjust the sound to suit your listening tastes.

So what does it sound like? I linked the EMX62M to a pair of Yamaha S10e, 10-inch speakers (pound;129), then connected a CD player and listened. The sound was loud and clear, and by the time I was close to reaching the maximum output level there was no sign of any strain, although I wasn't sure whether the walls would start shaking.

There are also several digital effects offering reverb, large hall and small hall settings. But more useful, in my view, is a boost switch and Yamaha's EEEngine, which stands for Energy Efficiency Engine. This makes the EMX62M more efficient by only delivering power to the transformer when it needs to. Yamaha says this feature can reduce power consumption by up to 50 per cent and heat output by up to 35 per cent.

All in all, the EMX62M is a very impressive piece of equipment, and if you're thinking of investing in a mobile, compact, low-cost, easy-to-use, quality PA system, then it should be high on your list.

Yamaha EMX62MPrice: pound;299Tel: 01908 366700 www.yamaha-music.co.uk

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