We have a new campus coming online and it’s in need of a console and monitoring system. I light of that we have been demoing a Roland M-480 digital console along with Roland’s personal mixers. It’s a pretty nice package and we have decided to go with it for our new campus.
Keeping with the whole Roland family the M-480 serves as the master control for FOH mixing and setup of the M-48 personal mixers. Audio routing is all done through their REAC digital snake system over standard CAT6 cabling. You have a couple of different digital snake head options to pick from. For our demo we had a 16 x 8, they also have a 32 x 8 and 40 input versions.
The Roland M-480 is a great small format digital console. Pretty easy to use and smartly laid out. Instead of a touchscreen you have lots of buttons on the control surface to access what you need. The EQ and dynamics are all very useable. The faders are laid out in several layers including one layer that you can customize the layout to suit your preferences.
The M-48 personal mixers are pretty incredible. What makes these unique is that once they’re on the network you can feed the console any channel (up to 40) to any channel. The 16 channels can be 16 individual inputs, 16 groups of inputs, or any combination.
This opens up a world of flexibility. Each mixer can be customized for each user. So the drummer could have the drums laid out with all discrete inputs then have a sub-mix of vocals on one channel. Then the vocals could have discrete control of vocal channels with drums on one channel, band on one, etc. Even when you group things to one knob you still can have everything panned within that group. A stereo group also only takes up one knob so you could have 16 stereo groups if you wanted to. Other systems you lose mixer channels when you go stereo.
Now everyone can have exactly what they want. No more sharing one set of 16 channels for everyone on stage like you would be stuck with in other systems. Once you decide what you want to send to what mixer you can apply EQ, pan, and reverb to each channel.
You also get a lot of other features with the mixers including a built in ambience mic. That’s great for band members that don’t have vocal mics. Now you can talk to each other without having to pull ears in and out. There’s also a line input to add another source to rehearse from or a local input like a click track that doesn’t need to go to the house.
Setup of the personal mixers can be done through standalone software if you don’t have a Roland digital console. If you have a console like the M-480 then everything can be done through the console, pretty nice.
Whether you just want the M-480 console, or the M-48 personal mixers, you need the REAC snake system either way. This makes it a little more expensive if you only want a personal mixing system. But if you get the console and the personal mixers now it’s a more reasonable package and everything plays nice together.
If you’re in the market for a system like this definitely give the Roland gear a look. So far we have been happy with everything and the service has been good when we’ve had questions.