Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

The Coolest Thing I Saw at InfoComm

When I saw this in the Digico booth, my heart lept…If my blog layout had subtitles, it would be, “And why Aviom A-16II is now irrelevant.” Longtime readers of this blog will know that I’ve been a fan of the RSS M-48 personal mixing system since it was announced over a year ago. It sounds fantastic, has a ton of flexibility in signal routing, includes extras such as a built-in ambient mic, reverb, a 3-band EQ on each channel, a limiter, separate phones and balanced stereo line outs, and a record out function. The only problem has been it’s application has been somewhat limited since it works with the REAC digital snake system. This can be a good solution for analog mixing systems, or when used with the very competent line of M-mixers (M-400, M-380 and the new M-300) from RSS. However, for users of any other digital console, trying to use the M-48s required either a passive split, or a few extra D-A, A-D hops. That just changed with the introduction of the S-MADI Bridge.

This opens up the entire world of digital consoles for the M-48.The S-MADI Bridge is just that; a format converter between MADI and REAC. Since it’s doing simple format conversion, the latency is extremely low (well under 1 msec). And since every major digital console manufacturer is either based or supports MADI, the M-48 is now the simply the best personal mixing system on the market.

What makes the M-48 so unique is that it’s essentially a 40 channel digital mixer. It has the capability to present those 40 channels in any combination of 16 stereo groups the user desires. And that combination can be different for every user on the network. It took me a while to grasp exactly what that means, so let me show you how a system would be set up. In this case, we’ll use our new SD-8 as an example.

Hey, that even looks like an SD-8!As you can see, we take the MADI output of the console and send it to the S-MADI Bridge. In my case, I’ll simply copy MADI 1 to MADI 2 and in effect, send the first 40 inputs of my stage rack straight to REAC. I’ve had to do a little shuffling of my input patch to make it work, but since the SD-8 has a completely customizable surface, that shuffling will be invisible to the user. A single CAT-5 takes REAC to the stage and distributes it via an S-4000D distro. The S-4000D is controlled remotely either by an M-series mixer, or in our case, a PC running the remote control software. Here’s where it gets cool.

As I said before, each mixer receives all 40 channels. In software, you can select which channels go to which groups on the M-48. It’s really like assigning input channels to a group in a mixer, only in this case, you’re ticking off checkboxes in software. You could theoretically assign all 40 channels to one group, but that wouldn’t be very useful. Instead, we might assign all the drum channels to a stereo group 1, for example.

Assigning input channels to groups is as simple as ticking off Xs.As you can see, I’ve chosen 10 channels to assign to group 1. The Bass get it’s own group, Mark’s electric guitar (a stereo feed) gets assigned to group 3 and so on. So that’s pretty cool, but what if the bass player wants a little more kick in his drum mix. One way to do that would be to assign the kick to it’s own group and assign the rest of the kit to another. An alternative (and much cooler way) is to simply change the mix of the group.

Personal mixing for your personal mixer.As you can see in this shot, I’ve kept the level of the kick and snare up, while dropping the level of the toms and overheads. What takes the M-48 from the realm of “pretty cool” to “off the shizzle” is the fact that this change affects no one but the bass player. That’s right, you can individually manipulate the group mixes of each M-48 on stage, without affecting any other one. You’ll also notice I’m doing some panning of the inputs as well. Remember that this is for this mixer only.

When I was laying out my previously spec’d Aviom system, I spent a good 3-4 hours trying to come up with some magical combination to fit my entire band into 16 channels.I made it work, but there’s a good chance someone will be unhappy. I took a crack at setting up a few M-48s and discovered that I can do just about anything I want and easily come up with a custom config for each band member, and have a few groups left over on almost every mixer. Behold the power of stereo groups.

And this is what I think makes Aviom irrelevant. One of the big features of the SD-8 is that each channel can be mono or stereo; it doesn’t care or affect channel count. The M-48 goes that one better by taking as many input channels as you want into a stereo group, in each personal mixer, which frees up all sorts of aux sends, groups and matrix mixes on your desk. I actually have more of all three of those now than I know what to do with!

Added to all the additional features the M-48 has, and it makes it pretty near impossible to recommend an Aviom personal mixing solution anymore. And in case you’re wondering, it sounds great! The first time I heard the mixer, I was thoroughly impressed with the full, rich sound it produced; which is in contrast to the somewhat thin, brittle sound the Aviom is known for. The A-16II suffers from a lousy headphone amp, which does it no favors. Since the M-48 has balanced line outs, it’s much easier to connect to IEM transmitters, powered wedges or unpowered wedges (though the latter will require a few extra cables on stage.

Honestly, I think grey was a good color choice.I’ve been an Aviom fan for a long time, but times change. They’ve stood still in the personal mixing market while others have innovated and overtaken them. Just as I view the SD-8 as a digital console designed in this century, the M-48 is what the Aviom A-16III should have been, if only it existed. Sorry Aviom, our new monitor system will be a cool grey color, not blue

26 Comments

  1. miles.carmany@gmail.com

    We have the Aviom system, but I saw these personal mixers at a WFX a year ago.

    They feel very sturdy, and from a brief comparison, blows the A-16II away in that regard.

    If there is a chance that your gear might get roughed up, that may another point to consider during purchasing.

  2. miles.carmany@gmail.com

    We have the Aviom system, but I saw these personal mixers at a WFX a year ago.

    They feel very sturdy, and from a brief comparison, blows the A-16II away in that regard.

    If there is a chance that your gear might get roughed up, that may another point to consider during purchasing.

  3. Tweets that mention ChurchTech

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Sessler, Richie Allen. Richie Allen said: The Coolest thing I saw at InfoComm (and why Aviom is no longer a good choice for personal mixing) http://bit.ly/dc1BUl (via @mikesessler) […]

  4. emyers@colonial.org

    Another church here in town put these in last year (with the Roland V400 mixer). I went over to help them out with some audio training early on. I was blown away with the flexibility of these. I love em. The mixer isn’t bad either, especially for the features/price. Its a really solid digital mixer/digital snake/ personal mixer solution for less than $20k!

    We bought a Venue D-Show over 2 years ago, and the church purchased an Aviom system several years before I came on board. So, for now, we’re kinda locked in. But since Avid/Venue just “opened up” to the MADI format…

  5. emyers@colonial.org

    Another church here in town put these in last year (with the Roland V400 mixer). I went over to help them out with some audio training early on. I was blown away with the flexibility of these. I love em. The mixer isn’t bad either, especially for the features/price. Its a really solid digital mixer/digital snake/ personal mixer solution for less than $20k!

    We bought a Venue D-Show over 2 years ago, and the church purchased an Aviom system several years before I came on board. So, for now, we’re kinda locked in. But since Avid/Venue just “opened up” to the MADI format…

  6. erik@jerde.org

    This looks great, but it’s completely inexcusable to have rs232 has the local interface. In this day and age with a new product that’s a real dumb design decision. It should either be USB or ethernet.

  7. erik@jerde.org

    This looks great, but it’s completely inexcusable to have rs232 has the local interface. In this day and age with a new product that’s a real dumb design decision. It should either be USB or ethernet.

  8. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Erik,
    You are correct; RS232 is almost incomprehensible in 2010. I’ll see what I can do. There’s no reason at all to remote control that way, USB or better yet, make it a network device I can control from my office. I’ll push them for that, since we’ll be buying an entire system and all.
    Thanks for pointing it out; I missed that the first time around.
    mike

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Erik,
    You are correct; RS232 is almost incomprehensible in 2010. I’ll see what I can do. There’s no reason at all to remote control that way, USB or better yet, make it a network device I can control from my office. I’ll push them for that, since we’ll be buying an entire system and all.
    Thanks for pointing it out; I missed that the first time around.
    mike

  10. oqy1977@yahoo.com

    RSS is doing a good job on pushing their system to the market.
    Could be they are aggresively aiming for the House of Worship segment, which, cost is a always a concern.
    Although I never saw a demo yet (already requested), but their system/solution is very, very attractive. Digital Snake, audio networking, personal monitor system, and a Live Recording/ Broadcast audio solution.. these all falls down to a very attractive price point, although is still not cheap, but compared to the big names on those business, their system is an almost “We’ll take that” for churches with a budget.

    Yes, RS232 is a bummer, but if you dont mind going through adapters.. I guess that shouldn’t be a problem.

  11. oqy1977@yahoo.com

    RSS is doing a good job on pushing their system to the market.
    Could be they are aggresively aiming for the House of Worship segment, which, cost is a always a concern.
    Although I never saw a demo yet (already requested), but their system/solution is very, very attractive. Digital Snake, audio networking, personal monitor system, and a Live Recording/ Broadcast audio solution.. these all falls down to a very attractive price point, although is still not cheap, but compared to the big names on those business, their system is an almost “We’ll take that” for churches with a budget.

    Yes, RS232 is a bummer, but if you dont mind going through adapters.. I guess that shouldn’t be a problem.

  12. jgibby@gmail.com

    I’m almost giddy at the news of the newly released S-MADI Bridge. I almost felt RSS did themselves no favors by not having an simple and elegant interface solution to non-RSS digital mixers. Anyone have an idea of what the expected price will be?

    I agree that an ethernet remote control capability should be the default, and the RS232 should be there when there are network problems. Hooking the M-48 system up to a Yamaha M7CL and having remote control capabilities with both the Yamaha and the RSS wirelessly on a laptop would be awesome.

    john

  13. jgibby@gmail.com

    I’m almost giddy at the news of the newly released S-MADI Bridge. I almost felt RSS did themselves no favors by not having an simple and elegant interface solution to non-RSS digital mixers. Anyone have an idea of what the expected price will be?

    I agree that an ethernet remote control capability should be the default, and the RS232 should be there when there are network problems. Hooking the M-48 system up to a Yamaha M7CL and having remote control capabilities with both the Yamaha and the RSS wirelessly on a laptop would be awesome.

    john

  14. oqy1977@yahoo.com

    John… I think, that is already possible!

    http://www.rolandsystemsgroup.com/en/digital-snake-resources/459-yamaha-control-of-the-s-4000-digital-snake

  15. oqy1977@yahoo.com

    John… I think, that is already possible!

    http://www.rolandsystemsgroup.com/en/digital-snake-resources/459-yamaha-control-of-the-s-4000-digital-snake

  16. justin.langman@gmail.com

    That’s a little different – it’s mostly about using the RSS REAC digital snake, and having the HA control on your yamaha system effect control of the HA in the snake. You still need the input box at stage to get the signals into the snake. So if you weren’t using the digital snake already, you still need a split, and input box to get the channels onto the snake, for your M48 system to use.

    With the MADI bridge, you can use your desk of choice’s snake system, then interface directly to the M48 system.

  17. justin.langman@gmail.com

    That’s a little different – it’s mostly about using the RSS REAC digital snake, and having the HA control on your yamaha system effect control of the HA in the snake. You still need the input box at stage to get the signals into the snake. So if you weren’t using the digital snake already, you still need a split, and input box to get the channels onto the snake, for your M48 system to use.

    With the MADI bridge, you can use your desk of choice’s snake system, then interface directly to the M48 system.

  18. strobelightaudio@gmail.com

    We have the Aviom rack mounted hardware for our team to adjust. Is there similar for RSS? I don’t need more clutter on the stage.

  19. strobelightaudio@gmail.com

    We have the Aviom rack mounted hardware for our team to adjust. Is there similar for RSS? I don’t need more clutter on the stage.

  20. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Right now, there is not a rack mounted version of the M-48. I have not heard plans for one, but you never know.
    mike

  21. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Right now, there is not a rack mounted version of the M-48. I have not heard plans for one, but you never know.
    mike

  22. erik@jerde.org

    I was just looking at the REAC system on Roland’s website, and I’m thinking it may be possible to interface with the system via Ethernet. Apparently you can record straight off of the REAC stream via your PC Ethernet port. If this is the case then perhaps you can do all the mix building work needed via a PC attached to the REAC system. That would be the smart way to do things, so hopefully Roland is smart. πŸ™‚

  23. erik@jerde.org

    I was just looking at the REAC system on Roland’s website, and I’m thinking it may be possible to interface with the system via Ethernet. Apparently you can record straight off of the REAC stream via your PC Ethernet port. If this is the case then perhaps you can do all the mix building work needed via a PC attached to the REAC system. That would be the smart way to do things, so hopefully Roland is smart. πŸ™‚

  24. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Erik,
    My understanding is that connecting via Ethernet is for getting sound into a computer, not control. I could be wrong, or it could be a feature they’ve not yet implemented. Seems like just a simple matter of programming, however…
    mike

  25. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Erik,
    My understanding is that connecting via Ethernet is for getting sound into a computer, not control. I could be wrong, or it could be a feature they’ve not yet implemented. Seems like just a simple matter of programming, however…
    mike

  26. Yesterday was a great day!

    […] feature: the engineer surface. This was actually a suggestion that Mike brought to Roland back at InfoComm. I’m not sure if I can talk about it, but what the heck! Basically it allows our M-48 which […]

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