We were tipped off that Roland were announcing something BIG â€“ and they were, sort of. Rolandâ€™s RSS Group who have been pushing their Digital Snake Mulitcore solution since we filmed them back at Paris AES, have now completed the loop by announcing the M-400 V-Mixer which bucks the trend of having a card based digital mixer and just has the CAT5 connectors (plus some extra analogue I/O) as the multi-core connection. Using the Digital Snake system, cable runs of up to 100 meters can be used without the need for heavy (five guys to lift it out of the truck sort of heavy) multi-core cables.
The M-400 desk itself is a 48 channel desk with 16 busses, channel and bus DSP, 4 stereo FX processors, 4 graphic EQs, built in stereo recording and playback over USB - ideal for recording the show, and many more features. We saw the pre-production model at the show and itâ€™s a thing of beauty, with a large colour screen and plenty of knobbage. Whatâ€™s more, itâ€™s actually quite small so could suit installations or transport where space is tight.
As with many digital desks, the M-400 is endlessly configurable but also allows the CAT5 signal to be split, using standard ethernet routers (you may need some other hardware to access the audio signals) so for instance one could set up an M-400 FOH (front of house) another as the monitor desk, and another out in the mobile recording studio. Not only that, but it is possible, again using CAT5 to hook up to a computer running SONAR to record up to 40 channels from the desk for live recordings.
Martin Thomas, our guide for the M-400 has much experience of FOH sound and was genuinely really blown away buy it. As, he says, are many of the people who've seen it.