Much anticipated, the release of the next product from Roland’s AIRA range is a pretty exciting one, the MX-1 Performer.
The AIRA MX-1 Performer looks to combine the features and functionality of a control surface, a mixer, a step-sequencer and an audio interface into one hub unit. Roland emphasise that as with all their AIRA products the design focus has been on innovative playability and essentially the MX-1 Performer allows you to creatively control and bring together all elements of your set-up, from your drum machine and synth right through to your DAW and sampler.
On paper, the MX-1 offers plenty of connectivity options, with 6 anolog inputs, four AIRA Link USB ports, digital I/O, plus sends / return jacks. You can stream 18 channels of audio both to and from your DAW set-up, and armed with robust yet smooth action faders, adjustable tone and filter knobs, EQ and Isolator circuits on each channel, you really do have total control at your fingertips. DJ style cue monitoring will add to the functionality and performance based nature of this mixer, whilst the ability to save your own settings and configurations will make for quick and easy recall on the go.
The FX section of the MX-1 Aira also looks powerful, with each channel featuring its own Beat FX section, which includes Filter, Side Chain and Slicer. The FX Incorporate tempo awareness and can be added to your mix using 16 TR style step sequencer buttons; fans of Rolands rich history in drum and rhythm based machines will most definitely feel at home here. With these powerful tools you can independently filter, duck, and slice your sounds per channel and all FX can be turned off and on with a simple dedicated illuminated buttons. Roland has still included an effects send if you wish to use any external effects and indeed included a selection of six master FX, with an easy to use large format control knob for adjustment. The master FX can also be step-sequenced for further variation and experimentation. The huge potential to make some really creative, interesting beats and rhythms with the MX1 most definitely looks to be one its strongest features.
The MX-1 can be operated in three modes, Control Surface mode, Mixer mode and External mode. In control Surface mode, the MX-1 acts simply as a professional midi controller for your DAW, a useful string to its bow. The mixer functionality is however pretty impressive, allowing you to mix all your connected inputs and sound sources. While there is a dedicated channel for the stereo output from your computer, you have the additional functionality of sending computer audio to the 4 USB channels if no other USB device is connected of course. This really does open up output routing options to an impressive degree. Finally in External mode, you can send all of your connected inputs straight to your DAW as the MX1 acts as a quality audio interface. You can also simultaneously mix 18 channels back from your DAW in this mode, with access and control to these channels over the on-board faders. You could then apply all the in the box functionality of your DAW with the addition of the MX-1’s cue monitoring, sync capabilities and performance optimised on-board FX and mixing features. The potential for sonic experimentation and creativity is all quite exciting!
With the ability to be used as a powerful standalone performance and production instrument, in addition to the connectivity and functionality as a DAW controller and interface, the AIRA MX-1 looks to be an impressive and truly innovative product, and as Roland claim, it seems that they have introduced a mixer than really can be played as an instrument.
We’ll be getting more info on this product and many more over the next few days so keep your eyes on the dv247 magazine to keep up to date with all the latest developments at NAMM 2015.