Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Exciting News from Roland Systems

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that the RSS V-Mixing system is on my very short list for a new digital mixer when Upper Room relocates in a few weeks. I have been holding off on making a final decision pending the official release of an accessory that I learned about unofficially a few months ago at WFX (I wrote about it here). I learned the information from someone who had good intel, so I was pretty confident. Today, my excitement grew when I called my dealer, who had just heard the official word an hour earlier (nothing like cutting it close!). So here’s the skinny.
m-400

RSS will be introducing a personal monitoring system that will function much like the Aviom system; with some key benefits. First, it is designed to plug right into the REAC network, so that means no extra D/A, A/D, D/A conversions. Second, by being on the network, all 40 channels that exist on the REAC network are available to each personal mixer. A key to the system is a RSS-designed switch that will deliver power over Ethernet and the digital signal to the personal mixers, so there won’t be a need for wall warts. I haven’t gotten pricing yet, but I’m told it will be comparable to the Aviom. Products are slated to be available in mid-to late-spring.

Personally, I’m seriously jazzed about this. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of the Aviom system. I think it’s great and was all ready to go with it before I learned about this. Aviom offers a huge bang for the buck and sounds great. But there are limitations, the the most significant being 16 channels. 

We have a fairly small band at Upper Room–drums, bass, acoustic & electric guitars, a two keys and a few vocals. Normally, including click and vocals, we’re 15-16 inputs. However, I like to be able to send at least a submix of all the speaker’s mics (pastor, announcements, etc.), talkback and video playback. This would mean we’d have to create some submixes of the band to make that happen, and that kind of defeats the purpose of the system.

With the RSS system, each personal mixer can select any 16 inputs from whatever 40 channels you assign to the REAC B port via the output patchbay. These can be individual channels, mix busses, DCAs, whatever. So that means instead of trying to squeeze everything into 16 channels, we can make up to 40 available, and each musician can choose what they want. Because the needs are different, everyone should be able to get a mix that suits them.

For example, the drummer may want each discreet drum channel to mix, then the worship leader, guitar and bass. A background vocal may be fine with a DCA mix of the drums (or even kick and hat to keep time), but want the other vocals, keys, guitars, etc. With this system, that’s all possible. In fact, it would even be easy to come up with 2 or 3 different drum sub-mixes for even more choices.

There is also talk of having some type of onboard effects for the mixing stations. One of the primary complaints of the Aviom is that it’s a little too dry for many people. This should help, again without tying up a extra channel or three. Not exactly sure how it will work yet, but I’ll let you know when I know (which hopefully will be sooner rather than later!).

Another huge advantage is that because the personal mixers plug right into the REAC network, there’s no need for an addition Aviom My-Card or input module. That makes it even more attractive from a pricing standpoint. Also coming is a software update with some new features based on user feedback. I don’t have any more details than that right now, but I’ll keep pressing for them.

I’m really impressed with what RSS has done with the V-Mixing system. From making 40 channel multi-track recording as easy as plugging in a gigabit Ethernet cable to creating a game changing personal monitoring system, this is exciting stuff for churches. The fact that the desk and digital snake can be had for under $10K is amazing. As budgets keep shrinking for churches (including ours) this is good news. 

I hope to get my hands on a desk in the next week to play with some more and I’ll have some more thoughts on it then. Sorry, Yamaha…I love the M7 and LS-9, but with this latest move, RSS has won this round.

26 Comments

  1. mikeallenmusic@gmail.com

    Sweet! That sounds really robust. It’s cool it can hook in with REAC network too. Does it allow for stereo mixes? Stereo in ears, when mixed right, are fantastic for hearing everything!

  2. mikeallenmusic@gmail.com

    Sweet! That sounds really robust. It’s cool it can hook in with REAC network too. Does it allow for stereo mixes? Stereo in ears, when mixed right, are fantastic for hearing everything!

  3. chris@behindthemixer.com

    While I appreciate your enthusiasm, that’s a lot of money to sink into a Version 1.0 of a hardware product.

  4. chris@behindthemixer.com

    While I appreciate your enthusiasm, that’s a lot of money to sink into a Version 1.0 of a hardware product.

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    I can’t promise it does stereo, but I’m guessing it would. That would be pretty easy to implement, and I think it’s almost a necessity to compete with Aviom. I’ll verify and post more details as I get them.

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    I can’t promise it does stereo, but I’m guessing it would. That would be pretty easy to implement, and I think it’s almost a necessity to compete with Aviom. I’ll verify and post more details as I get them.

  7. jrygel@hotmail.com

    Wow, that is pretty cool. I’ll be impressed if the mixer units really do come in around the same price as the Avioms with all that additional functionality. This looks to be a very well implemented system so far.

    There’s another competitor in this price range coming up also: have you heard about the Allen & Heath iLive T series? Supposedly it will be around the same price as an M7CL for the larger of two surfaces and a 48×24 stage box. In many ways, its an upgrade over the M7 with a digital snake, 64×32 mix engine, more complete fat channel (dedicated encoders for all compression parameters), and digital scribble strips on all the faders. Check it out at: http://www.ilive-digital.com/t/

    It sounds like the T series is a bit out of your price range, but it sounds pretty good, and a little competition for Yamaha in this segment is a good thing: between the Roland and the Allen and Heath, there are now legitimate alternatives to the LS9 and M7, now someone else just needs to make something in the range of the 01v96 . . .

  8. jrygel@hotmail.com

    Wow, that is pretty cool. I’ll be impressed if the mixer units really do come in around the same price as the Avioms with all that additional functionality. This looks to be a very well implemented system so far.

    There’s another competitor in this price range coming up also: have you heard about the Allen & Heath iLive T series? Supposedly it will be around the same price as an M7CL for the larger of two surfaces and a 48×24 stage box. In many ways, its an upgrade over the M7 with a digital snake, 64×32 mix engine, more complete fat channel (dedicated encoders for all compression parameters), and digital scribble strips on all the faders. Check it out at: http://www.ilive-digital.com/t/

    It sounds like the T series is a bit out of your price range, but it sounds pretty good, and a little competition for Yamaha in this segment is a good thing: between the Roland and the Allen and Heath, there are now legitimate alternatives to the LS9 and M7, now someone else just needs to make something in the range of the 01v96 . . .

  9. patrick.sprague@mac.com

    If and when you implement this, I’d love to travel and see you guys using this in action.

  10. patrick.sprague@mac.com

    If and when you implement this, I’d love to travel and see you guys using this in action.

  11. dlo@derricklogan.com

    That’s incredible, Mike! I’m huge on Aviom but this could change all that. Do the consoles w/ more channels? Can you expand them?

  12. dlo@derricklogan.com

    That’s incredible, Mike! I’m huge on Aviom but this could change all that. Do the consoles w/ more channels? Can you expand them?

  13. tim.good@gmail.com

    I have not been overly impressed with the RSS stage boxes for installs…they are great for portable needs, but not allways that nice if you like to keep a clean stage. However the idea of tapping into any of the 40 inputs is a great idea. I am interested to see where this goes. Aviom needs a little competition anyway πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for posting this is the first I have heard this news.

  14. tim.good@gmail.com

    I have not been overly impressed with the RSS stage boxes for installs…they are great for portable needs, but not allways that nice if you like to keep a clean stage. However the idea of tapping into any of the 40 inputs is a great idea. I am interested to see where this goes. Aviom needs a little competition anyway πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for posting this is the first I have heard this news.

  15. phil@philrowley.net

    The ability to select discrete sources for each band member is cool, but don’t forget that most worship bands only “need” certain things in their mix. Giving them more options doesn’t mean they will use them wisely. By going to a stereo mix for drums, or cutting back on drum channels you can free up extras for EFX and ambient micing. A good way to maximize your aviom or hearback investment. I agree w/the earlier comment about “early adoption”. Cost-wise, you can accomplish almost the same thing w/a decent M7 console and Aviom controllers.

  16. phil@philrowley.net

    The ability to select discrete sources for each band member is cool, but don’t forget that most worship bands only “need” certain things in their mix. Giving them more options doesn’t mean they will use them wisely. By going to a stereo mix for drums, or cutting back on drum channels you can free up extras for EFX and ambient micing. A good way to maximize your aviom or hearback investment. I agree w/the earlier comment about “early adoption”. Cost-wise, you can accomplish almost the same thing w/a decent M7 console and Aviom controllers.

  17. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hey Phil, You raise some excellent points. There are certainly plenty of ways to make the Aviom system work well, despite the 16 ch. limitation. I’ve used it quite a lot and through the judicious use of sub-mixes, one can pack a lot more information in there. And you’re right, just giving musicians access to 40 channels doesn’t mean they’ll know what to do with them. I think sound engineers will still need to be sound engineers and guide the users through the process of putting together a useful monitor mix. I’ve run into the same thing with the Aviom–just because the musicians can create their own mix doesn’t mean they know how to.

    The only thing I take issue with is the comment about accomplishing the same thing cost-wise with an M7 and an Aviom card. The M7 is nearly twice the cost of the M-400. Adding a digital snake pushes that cost ratio even further, as it’s a good $4,000 to add a StageBox and an EtherSound card to an M7. Don’t get me wrong–the M7/Aviom combination is great, and am a huge fan of the M7 (as well as the LS-9). However, RSS has broken new ground in terms of a cost/performance ratio with the M-400. Assuming the personal monitor system works as it should (and I’ve been really impressed with the M-400), it is a huge value for the price; it’s also arguably more flexible.

    Ultimately, the choice comes down to this: Does it solve a problem for your church? If yes, great. If not, there are other options. What is really exciting to me about Roland’s system is that it’s driving innovation. Development in the world of audio has been pretty slow, and it’s exciting to see new products like this come out and change things up. I honestly wonder if Yamaha would have come out with their Stage Box if it weren’t for Roland. The more new ideas that get turned into products, the better off we all are. Thanks for reading!

  18. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hey Phil, You raise some excellent points. There are certainly plenty of ways to make the Aviom system work well, despite the 16 ch. limitation. I’ve used it quite a lot and through the judicious use of sub-mixes, one can pack a lot more information in there. And you’re right, just giving musicians access to 40 channels doesn’t mean they’ll know what to do with them. I think sound engineers will still need to be sound engineers and guide the users through the process of putting together a useful monitor mix. I’ve run into the same thing with the Aviom–just because the musicians can create their own mix doesn’t mean they know how to.

    The only thing I take issue with is the comment about accomplishing the same thing cost-wise with an M7 and an Aviom card. The M7 is nearly twice the cost of the M-400. Adding a digital snake pushes that cost ratio even further, as it’s a good $4,000 to add a StageBox and an EtherSound card to an M7. Don’t get me wrong–the M7/Aviom combination is great, and am a huge fan of the M7 (as well as the LS-9). However, RSS has broken new ground in terms of a cost/performance ratio with the M-400. Assuming the personal monitor system works as it should (and I’ve been really impressed with the M-400), it is a huge value for the price; it’s also arguably more flexible.

    Ultimately, the choice comes down to this: Does it solve a problem for your church? If yes, great. If not, there are other options. What is really exciting to me about Roland’s system is that it’s driving innovation. Development in the world of audio has been pretty slow, and it’s exciting to see new products like this come out and change things up. I honestly wonder if Yamaha would have come out with their Stage Box if it weren’t for Roland. The more new ideas that get turned into products, the better off we all are. Thanks for reading!

  19. phil@philrowley.net

    Oh sorry…I should have clarified in terms of ONE M7 for both FOH and monitor duty. I was thinking about it in terms of using the single console and the associated Aviom hardware to get the job done. But, perhaps I read the intended purpose wrong.?

  20. phil@philrowley.net

    Oh sorry…I should have clarified in terms of ONE M7 for both FOH and monitor duty. I was thinking about it in terms of using the single console and the associated Aviom hardware to get the job done. But, perhaps I read the intended purpose wrong.?

  21. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Phil–Yup, right there with you. A single M7 is almost twice the cost of the M-400. I too was thinking using a single board (either M7 or M-400) for both FOH and monitors. The M7 is still a great board, though. I will miss it when we leave…

  22. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Phil–Yup, right there with you. A single M7 is almost twice the cost of the M-400. I too was thinking using a single board (either M7 or M-400) for both FOH and monitors. The M7 is still a great board, though. I will miss it when we leave…

  23. phil@philrowley.net

    Here’s a link to a recent review of the M-400: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1352100/the_new_roland_vmixer_m400_live_mixing.html?cat=15 Very in-depth and helpful info…

  24. phil@philrowley.net

    Here’s a link to a recent review of the M-400: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1352100/the_new_roland_vmixer_m400_live_mixing.html?cat=15 Very in-depth and helpful info…

  25. papa.stack@gmail.com

    Mike – I am very fortunate to have Roland Systems Group USA headquartered a mile up the street from the church we’re I’m the TD. 3 of the top-level management/sales guys all go to my church, and I’m friends with all of them. After reading your post, I was working out at the gym with one of the guys and I asked him about it, and he looked very curious as to how I knew about it. I told him, and the official word is there’s no official word. So I’m not sure where your dealer got his info. BUT I can say that the unofficial word is something around summer is when this new product should be rolled out, and it’s gonna blow Aviom out of the water! That’s all I can repeat though :-(. I’m actually taking a demo delivery of a complete M-400 system tomorrow for a couple weeks to give it a test run.

  26. papa.stack@gmail.com

    Mike – I am very fortunate to have Roland Systems Group USA headquartered a mile up the street from the church we’re I’m the TD. 3 of the top-level management/sales guys all go to my church, and I’m friends with all of them. After reading your post, I was working out at the gym with one of the guys and I asked him about it, and he looked very curious as to how I knew about it. I told him, and the official word is there’s no official word. So I’m not sure where your dealer got his info. BUT I can say that the unofficial word is something around summer is when this new product should be rolled out, and it’s gonna blow Aviom out of the water! That’s all I can repeat though :-(. I’m actually taking a demo delivery of a complete M-400 system tomorrow for a couple weeks to give it a test run.

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