RSS S-MADI Bridge; First Thoughts

Yesterday we unboxed and hooked up our pre-production S-MADI Bridge loaned to us by Roland Systems Group. It was a momentous occasion. I've been eagerly expecting this since I saw it at InfoComm several months ago. The S-MADI is an interface that bridges the gap between MADI and REAC, the proprietary protocol used by the M-48 personal mixer and Roland's digital snakes. It essentially takes the first 40 channels of the MADI stream and makes them REAC.

Installation is simple enough; take a MADI feed from the console into the device, set a few parameters with the front panel switches and make the software connection. This is my only real complaint about the device; it uses a RS-232 serial connection for control. RS-232 is a fine protocol, but there hasn't been a computer made with a nine-pin serial port on it for years. What RSS needs to do is put either a USB or Ethernet port (on the back please) on the device. I already told them that, and I'm still holding out hope for actual production models...

Anyway, after we got the correct version of the software (still in beta) from RSS, we were up and running. We had a few minor configuration issues (including a real Doh!-type moment), but after a little playing around, it worked exactly as advertised. Which is to say, it's really cool. After just a few minutes, I had mixes set up for drums, background vocals, guitars and the rest of the band. It all worked and sounded great.
I'll be posting a lot more as we get the rest of the system set up, but wanted to let you know the future of personal mixing has arrived. As far as I know, final product launch is still slated for November (which might mean December). Pricing is TBD, but expect something in the $2500-2700 range. Stay tuned!