Roland M-200i Digital Mixer Review (Part 1)

November 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm




 

Video Transcript

We’re really excited about the Roland M-200i Digital Mixer. It’s part of the Roland V-Mix System and we’ve been installing a ton of Roland V-Mix Systems in churches around the country. So let me tell you a little bit about it. I’m Ron Simonson, President of CCI Solutions, and this is the Roland M-200i Digital Mixing System. So like I said, it’s part of the V-Mix System.

Roland started out at the top end with some really great, fine digital mixers, moving faders, all the digital mixer options that you want in an expandable system. That includes a stage box, a set of stage boxes like the S-1608. This is a 16-in 8-out stage box that plugs in with ethernet cable, just CAT5 cable that runs right to the mixer. So you can remote-mount this stage box up at your platform and have all your 16 ins and your 8 outs as well, so you can run powered mixers, or, excuse me, powered speakers for monitors, all of that type of stuff with just CAT5 cable. And you can do that with their upper end mixers. But now with the M-200i you can do it at a much more affordable price point.

Eventually you can go with on-stage monitor mixing like the M48. This is a personal monitor mixer that plugs into the same kind of a system. So it’s part of this whole system. But what’s really cool about the M-200i is that it is a lower price point, fully-featured digital mixer with full iPad control. And I’ve got to tell you. I’m going to show you how this iPad control works here in a bit. It is incredible. It’s incredibly responsive, full-featured. You’re just going to love it. But let me show you about the mixer first, because the story here is that you don’t have to have the iPad to run this mixer. The mixer is a fully self-contained digital mixing system with all the Roland quality, all the moving faders that you’ve come to expect from Roland, …or if you don’t know about Roland you’re going to be thrilled to find out about… and you don’t have to have the iPad. The iPad gives you the ability to run more features, easier, to do it remotely. So I’m actually going to take this iPad and I’m going to take it right off the mixer. And then we’ll take a look at that later.

So now, with a lot of mixers that run with iPads, you have nothing now, without the iPad you have nothing. That’s not the case here. What you’ve got is a 32-channel mixer. You see 16 faders plus a master, so there is a layering system here. The first 16 channels and then you go to 17 through 32. So you simply press the button, there’s one through 16, press the button here, 17 through 32. So it’s easy to flip back and forth. But did you see the faders move? So you’ve got the motorized faders now and they tell you exactly where each channel is. I simply grab them and change that channel and it will remember that setting. I don’t have to set some sort of a “match the level” like some mixers you have to recall a scene, but then you have to match each of the faders to the indicator level on that. That’s not the case here. All the settings are memorized and the faders move exactly to where they’re supposed be. You can instantly grab them. So if you need to make an adjustment after a scene recall, it’s easy to do.

So that alone, when I’m talking to my guys, they figure that’s worth $1,000 right there to them. Because it’s so much easier to work with motorized faders than it is to work with faders that aren’t motorized and you have to match up. So that’s an exciting feature that Roland is bringing to this lower price-point mixer. So, again, 32 inputs, on two layers you have 24 inputs on the back of the console. So you go “Well, wait a minute, I’ve got 32 channels on the front, but I’ve only got 24 on the back?” Well, there are 16 balanced mic inputs, plus there are 8 line inputs. So those can be routed to any of these inputs that are on the front. So there’s a digital patching system involved here. So you can take any input, and you can route it to any channel.

Also remember with the 1608 where you have 16 additional channels right here? With Ethernet? It plugs right in. So now I have a total of 32 mic inputs, plus another 8 line inputs. So that’s 40 inputs and I can route them to any of the 32 channels. I can patch them.  It remembers that. So when I do a recall, It will remember how it’s patched. So I can have one service that is set up with a group of microphones, say that I have an Hispanic service, on Saturday, I can have that patched in and then when I go to the other service on Sunday, I can have another group of microphones and inputs patched in. I simply select a recall and the entire system switches over to the appropriate microphones on the appropriate channels with all the EQ settings and all the level adjustments ready to go. It’s fantastic. I mean for that type of multi-service or youth service anything like this, you can’t beat this kind of a system because all the faders move and show you the recalled settings right there. It’s easy. It’s just instant recall.

So let’s take a little closer look at the console. On the input channel here you’ve got the fader. This isn’t a short little fader either. This is a full 100 millimeter fader and it’s very, very smooth. So you’ve got a really nice level adjustment here between zero, -10, -20. You can really make some very nice level adjustments and fades. Mute Switch, illuminated, right there. Very easy. I like that. I’ve got big fingers as you know, so I like something that works with big fingers. So I turn those channels on or off right here. And then I’ve got a level adjustment on every input and it is right over the fader. So I will see from -6, -18, -30, -42 plus an over. So I instantly get an indication if I’ve got an over. In fact you can see these two channels here are flashing yellow. So I know I’m right about where I need to be with that channel. And you instantly see that when I go ahead and switch there. You can see how those levels change. So instantly they change to whichever channel I’ve selected. And if I have an issue I can go ahead and just deal with the trim level right away. Solo…very easy. On a pair of headphones, I just hit the Solo there and away I go. So all the functionality that you need to mix right away is right there. You say “Well, what happened? I took the iPad away. Where’s the EQ? Where’s my Gate? Where are my Compressors and Limiters?” Well, they’re right here on this display and these controls. So if I want to go ahead and adjust the Gate on that channel, I simply select the channel right there, Channel 1, I go ahead and go to Gate, and I’ve got Gate right here.

And, I can adjust the parameters. This is the big “Value” knob. It’s the knob that adjusts your levels and you can go ahead and select whatever parameter you want to adjust and turn that up or down. So again, EQs, Gates, all the stuff you expect from a digital mixer is built in right here and ready to go. So if you have a simple service, or even a complex service, but generally for some of the simpler services, you just run this without the iPad. You don’t need the iPad. Plus, once you get everything set up, you can go through scenes. And when you recall scenes, then they’ll go ahead and bring back all the EQ settings, all the dynamic settings of each channel, as well as the levels.

Another very cool thing about a digital mixing console of this caliber is where you can go ahead and have “Sends on Faders.” The “Sends on Faders” function is where you flip these around, to be the Sends from this channel to  this Aux. So, say for instance I have… I sing on the Worship team. So I want to have a good vocal mix. I want to have some piano. I want to have some low end for rhythm. But I don’t need a lot of the fill instruments… So I simply select Aux 1… and that is Aux 1, my vocal feed, and I say, okay, I want to bring up the lead singer. I want to bring up some of the background vocals. Of course I want, always want more of me, so I push a little bit more me up in there. These I’m going to bring down. It’s all fill. I’m going to bring up a little bit of the keyboard right here…and maybe a little bit of kick or snare. And that’s it. I don’t need anything else in Aux 1.

That’s super easy to set up that mix. I didn’t have to go to each channel, and say okay, now I’m on Aux 1, and I adjust Aux 1 and then Aux 2… The faders automatically will change. Now I go to Aux 2 and there’s my setting. If I need to go ahead and make a little adjustment on that Send I can do that because the faders change. See how fast it is to mix on a mixing console that has moving faders and Sends on Faders? So, if you didn’t catch that, what I simply did is, each of these are still the same channels. It’s just this fader became an Aux fader instead of the Master Volume fader. And all I have to do to take that off is turn that off and now I’m back to the same input channel faders and of course they’re adjusting.

So, it’s just what you can do and how fast you can mix on a board that has moving faders and Sends on Faders. It’s like night and day. It’s fantastic. So, again over here, you’ve got channels 1-16, 17-32, but then the next button is my Aux Master. So remember I was adjusting each of the Aux levels from the individual channels, now I have the Masters here for Auxes 1-8 and they’re 8 Auxiliaries. So you can send 8 different Sends out. You’ve got four Matrixes. And the Matrixes include all your inputs plus Aux Sends, so it’s a full Matrix console. So if I want to take Sends to a foyer area, nursery, all of that type of thing, I can do that. Or, if I want to do a sub-mix I can do that, or a recording mix.

And then I have digital-controlled amplifiers. “DCAs” – Those are groups where I can take a group of instruments… Say my drum kit, and set up one fader so I can adjust the level of all of the inputs on that particular group. I just do that with my DCA levels. And then you also have User Layers. So you can set up for instance, if you have a stereo keyboard, and you want to go ahead and have one fader, but you need two inputs you put that input on the back side. If I have a choir that has 3 or 4 inputs, I can run those on the…when I say the “back side” that’s the 17 through 32, the second layer, I can put those inputs back there but bring it forward and just use one fader for those four microphones. So I can combine and stack channels.

You know how many channels you end up using for drum kits, possibly for choir, other things where you’re using multiple mics on one source or one instrument. So that makes it really easy to combine all that. So, Solo, Talk-Back, all of the things that you’d expect on a high-end digital console are here. Now, let’s take the exciting part of this, take a look at the iPad control. I’ve got the screen in back of me here. And we’re going to go ahead and put that up to take this fully-featured digital console with  moving faders, sends on faders, all the features that you’d expect of a really high-end digital console,  and add the functionality of iPad. Let’s take a look at that.

Click here for Part 2 of Ron’s detailed review of the Roland M-200i Digital Mixing Console!