[ Thumbnail ] Tools to Engage Users and Unleash Their Creativity #1

Tools to Engage Users and Unleash Their Creativity

#1 In Response to Live Streaming Desires

March 13, 2024

In the past couple of decades, the internet has drastically democratized live streaming. What was once a privilege limited to a select few professionals is now easily accessible, and anyone can become a live streamer with minimal barriers to entry. A diverse range of live content, including musical performances, gaming, and even ASMR*, is streamed daily.

Yamaha introduced the AG series, a lineup of live streaming mixers, to further enhance this democratization of self-expression. Initially released in 2015, the AG series continues to be cherished by a diverse community of live streamers today.

  • ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.” ASMR content has the potential to induce a delightful tingling sensation in the audience.

Launched in February 2023, the AG08 is a flagship model, boasting the highest sound quality in the lineup. With a total of 8 input channels, an intuitive volume control mixing function, various built-in effects, and a dynamic sound pad for enhancing performances, the product consolidates a range of features into a single device. The AG series continues to support users worldwide in their journey of self-expression, enabling them to effortlessly create high quality live streaming content.

Adapting to Diverse Creative Styles

The first mixers in the AG series were launched in 2015 — the "AG03" and "AG06," featuring three and six channels, respectively. The development team drew inspiration from the growing popularity of live streaming on "Niconico Live," a prominent sharing platform in Japan at the time. Their idea was to create a standalone mixer, removing the need to combine multiple pieces of equipment. The products successfully resonated with live streamers, and the AG03 and AG06 expanded their user base significantly as the market grew.

In 2020, the team was tasked to develop the second wave of the AG series. Mizuyuki Shirai, a member of the Creator & Consumer Audio Division, reflects on the moment when the team assessed the market and realized how much things had changed in the five years since the release of the initial models.

[ Thumbnail ] Mizuyuki Shirai of the Creator & Consumer Audio Division
Mizuyuki Shirai of the Creator & Consumer Audio Division

“By that time, live streaming on mobile devices had already become the new standard,” Shirai says. “The live streaming landscape had changed drastically since 2015, when Niconico was the predominant platform in Japan. Our initial focus was to reassess what we could do to accommodate users’ diverse styles of self-expression.”

Inspired by his favorite artist's use of Yamaha synthesizers, Shirai already wanted to work for Yamaha by the time he was in high school. When it came time to choose universities, he even contacted Yamaha to ask the best educational path to join the company. He went on to study electronic engineering and joined a music club where he honed his skills in PA systems, finding joy in bridging the connection between musicians and audiences. Over time, his interest expanded to include mixers. In 2005, Shirai fulfilled his long-held dream by joining Yamaha, diving straight into mixer development from day one.

Being an avid user of mixers, Shirai was unable to resist offering improvement suggestions during the development process. In his third year, his manager transferred him to the product planning team where he could better leverage his ideas. Reflecting on this shift, Shirai remarks, “Since then, I’ve been involved in product planning for mixers and other audio equipment. I consider myself fortunate to be able to pursue my passion in my work.”

The Answer Always Lies With Users

The planning of the new AG series coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people spent more time at home, the live streaming market experienced rapid growth. Initially, the team dedicated their efforts to watching live streaming content to gain insights into the backgrounds, motivations, and equipment used by streamers. Shirai actively engaged by asking questions in the chat during live streams, and reaching out to some streamers for one-on-one conversations. This input enabled Shirai and his team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the "behind-the-scenes" of today's live streams.

The reason the team invested so much effort in understanding users is because they firmly believed that the secret to enhancing product usability lay with the users themselves. Shirai explains. "We had to set aside our biases and preconceptions and approach this challenge with a fresh perspective. Not all AG users are experts in acoustics and sound tech; many simply want to have fun. That's why our focus was on crafting a mixer that could empower people to create excellent sounding content, even with minimal technical knowledge.”

Once a prototype was developed, the team engaged ordinary users to test it, starting from the unboxing experience. They observed the test subjects closely, reassessing any elements that might pose difficulties in using the mixer. This process uncovered blind spots for Shirai. As someone who has used mixers for years, he realized that what seemed obvious to him might be potential barriers for others. By customizing the product to meet users' needs, the team successfully completed the flagship model AG08, along with the AG01 featuring an integrated microphone. Together with the AG03MK2 and AG06MK2, the new lineup is even easier to use than the prior series, allowing users to start live streaming with just a single piece of equipment.

Live Streaming Changes Lives

The latest AG series boasts more functions than ever before, yet it's designed to be more intuitive to operate. Shirai is confident that the product has "empowered many users to focus better on their streaming." As evidence, the AG08 is adored not only by amateurs, the existing user base, but also by professional musicians and VTubers.

As live streaming evolves into a prevalent form of self-expression, Shirai has met many people whose lives have been changed by it. Once such example is a French user who gained popularity on the internet by live streaming his art. What began as a hobby blossomed into a profession, and now he uses his skills to teach at an art school. "Live streaming can forge new connections, opening doors to a life one might never have imagined," reflects Shirai.

How will methods of self-expression evolve in the future? Shirai predicts that creative activities will flourish in the metaverse, providing individuals with more opportunities to collaborate remotely. In essence, the distinction between online and offline will become more blurred in the creative world.

"I think that the more these lines blur, the more important the devices and services related to content sharing will become. That's why I'm committed to creating products that help people express themselves and connect online."

The new AG series, designed for exceptional usability, empowers live streamers to focus on their self-expression and creative endeavors. The next article in this three-part series will showcase the CK series, a stage keyboard lineup that also enhances the user experience—making it possible to play anytime, anywhere.

(Interview date: September 2023)

Next Page #2 Stimulating Creativity through Immediate Playability


Shirai is a member of the Creator & Consumer Audio Division. He first learned to use mixers in his high school broadcasting club, and worked with PA systems in university, where he was inspired to become an electrical engineer. Since joining Yamaha, Shirai has been involved in the design and planning of mixers.

*Bio as of the time of the interview

Three-Part Series: Tools to Engage Users and Unleash Their Creativity

#1 In Response to Live Streaming Desires

#2 Stimulating Creativity through Immediate Playability

#3 Designing the Unexpected