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.

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.