Roland returns with yet another hot item from its AIRA line, showing that one of the pioneers is still alive and kicking, and with no lack of desire to continue innovating. This time we are offered what no one seems to have really thought of before, especially when dealing with a true live hardware musician: a true "performance" mixer! Welcome ladies and gentlemen, the AIRA MX-1!.
This beautiful companion to the AIRA series is not just meant to go along with the rest of your AIRA gear-though it greatly compliments it-it is a fully integrated instrument meant to allow not just the mixing of all your instruments live, but also the master step sequencing, as well as all of your effects; all in one box.
Starting off with 18 channels, the mixer can be switched between Mix Mode, External Mode, or MIDI Mode. In Mix Mode, the MX-1 allows for 6 analog channels, 1 digital Stereo channel, 4 dedicated Stereo channels for AIRA gear, as well as 2 PC channels for integration with your DAW; all mixed through the effects and master output. In External Mode, the device gives you the full range of 18 tracks for working with your favorite DAW, while still giving you the benefits of using the onboard effects and capabilities as it mixes your tracks back in. In MIDI Mode, the MX-1 allows for full control of your programs via the channel strips and Transport controls. What this means is that you have not just a great performance analog mixer, but also a great MIDI control surface, and a very high-quality MIDI and Audio interface for all your gear; available to you whenever you need it, however you need it!
The effects in this beauty is where stuff starts to get really interesting. The MX-1 gives you two options between "Beat FX", or "Master FX"; all of which can be step sequenced via the very clever TR style buttons, allowing for cool manipulations like chopping, or ducking of each individual channel, giving you the ability to create some very unique grooves. All of the effects are completely synchronized since the MX-1 is the center of your productions, allowing for full time tempo awareness whether the clock is coming from within, or your DAW. Effects included are Filter, Sidechain, and Slicer for Beat FX, and Delay, Filter, Scatter, Flanger, Bitcrush and Roll for Master FX. As mentioned, all of the effects are synchronized perfectly, which when adding the step sequencing options available, the possibilities become quite endless. Another cool option here is the Master FX "Combi" mode, which switches between effects in tempo per the step sequencer, taking things just a lil' further even.
The MX-1 also features another very cool option for faithful AIRA users, implementing the rest of the series into a fully functional studio or live rig. 4 USB ports provided allow for the sending and receiving of Audio, MIDI, and Sync data, also allowing for the complete powering of one AIRA device via port 3. The MX-1 also allows for transport control, so Start and Stop operations are all done from the device itself.
Other options include variable fader curves per channel, as well as DJ-style cue for headphones; which is perhaps just about the neatest thing for a live musician, since it will allow for more on-the-fly improvizations not possible with a normal studio mixer, or a 2-4 channel DJ mixer; we are talking more real estate here people, way more! Each channel also offers a tone and filter knob, which are great little effects to add a little spice to your sets. All performances can even be saved to "Scenes", so improv live sets can be recorded at home later, or cool studio sessions turned into great live acts.
On the rear, the MX-1 provides USB connectivity and is powered by a DC adapter, also featuring MIDI I/O, 4 USB ports (3rd port for powering of AIRA devices), 4 1/4" Mono analog inputs, 1 1/8" input, Digital Co-Ax I/O, AUX send and return for outboard effect boxes, as well as L/R 1/4" outputs, and a 1/4" headphones jack. The machine is well built like the rest of the series, with a brushed-metal panel, and sturdy plastic case, as bright LED's light up the show with style, making it very easy to use in dark nightclubs or studios.
Overall this new addition is a fine compliment to the series that has given Roland an upperhand once again, helping to truly innovate during this wild ride we shall call the "Analog Revolution". The AIRA MX-1 is available for sale through Sweetwater or your favorite retailer, ready to join your arsenal as its commander. Get it now, you won't be disappointed! This is a highly essential piece of technology for any gigging musician, or hardware enthusiast looking for a more performance type approach in the studio.
Written by: Santino Fernandez