Roland OHRCA M-5000 Mixing System

(Ed. Note. If you have not seen the M-5000 from Roland, you may want some context. Take a look at their Web site LINK HERE of the specs and what not. But here is the basic deal. The M-5000 both moves Roland into the mainstream and pushes them actually past some of the more”tour recognized” brands at the same time. The mainstream part is becasue—unlike Roland boards of the past—you are not tied to the REAC transfer protocol. REAC is good. I dig it. But, let’s be real. Dante is taking over the world. Via XI-Expansion cards that includes DANTE, REAC, MADI, and WavesSoundGrid, the M-5000 plays nice with everyone. The M-5000 is an open platform that works with virtually any audio transport protocol.

The, “moves past” part. Only a few others are doing this yet, but it WILL become SOP. We have to stop thinking about ins and outs and start thinking about audio paths. Every “hole” in the m-5000 can be anything you want it to be. You get 128 audio paths to work with. It takes the idea of flexibility to whole new levels. It’s similar to what the SSL live console does and newer DiGiCo products.

Enough of my blathering. Take it away Big Daddy…)

My take on the new Roland M-5000 console.

Well….”It doesn’t suck.”

The term that has been immortalized in the H.A.S Productions Facebook post that was seen by thousands and especially after it was reposted by Roland.  If you know me, you realize this is quite a compliment. To those that are meeting me for the first time…nice to meet you and welcome to LARRY’S WORLD.

Our local Roland rep and Roland Sales Engineer, Doug Schouten made their way into our shop last week to show us the new M-5000 console.  After a very thorough run thru of the console with my staff (I was unable to attend), my team was excited to take it out and try it.  We had an arena show with a “tribute” band so FOH and MON were to be covered by our staff.  This seemed like the perfect time to put the M-5000 through the wringer.  I decided that I would mix FOH and use the M-5000 to see how it sounded in a PA we know very well (D.A.S. Aero 40) and in a venue we know very well (Star of the Desert Arena).  As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to attend the walk-thru of the console earlier in the week, so I was flying a little blind come show day.   One of my mix engineers had built a show file for me the previous day, so I had a starting point but that’s it. 

I flipped the console on 30 mins prior to soundcheck.  Having a starting file (input names and assignments only) I had to dial from scratch on a work surface I had never laid hands on before.  In about five minutes, I was able to understand the layout and workflow of the console.  Select a channel, tweak, adjust, and move on.  I found the workflow very easy to digest and understand.  Like all consoles you touch for the first time, it takes a bit of time to get the muscle memory working but once it does, I found myself flying around the M-5000.  

“So how did it sound Larry?”

My initial response was “Wow..this thing sounds pretty damn good”.  The EQ was responsive to what I threw at it, the dynamics were clean and quiet, and the mic amp rivaled those at twice the cost or more.  Upon completion of soundcheck, is when I typed that famous phrase of “it doesn’t suck” into a Facebook post because quite simply….it didn’t.  I didn’t think it was going to suck by any means but I did not expect it to have the sound that it did nor the ease of workflow that it presented.  It was about this time that I was also informed by my tech that it was running at 48k in order to have all 64 channels of recording to capture that artist that night on the Roland Recorder.  I was even more excited to know how good it was sounding and still had more to offer (flipping to 96k).

 

The show went off without a hitch.  I was able to make changes rapidly and efficiently on the console and felt comfortable very quickly.  Nothing hidden to dig up, nothing buried deep in the menu layers anywhere, everything in front of you when a channel is selected.  The sound of the console was really good.  This is a room we know very well with a PA we know well and changing from our normal “house” console to this one brought a nice smile to the audio crew (even the monitor guy was smiling) because pound for pound it hangs in with some of the bigger players.   

A feature I didn’t get to use but find very cool is that the console itself is configurable and not fixed format.  It has 128 audio paths.  You decide how you use them (inputs or outputs).  This makes this console very flexible in terms of FOH or MON use.  Notably corporate work where very few inputs are needed but piles of outputs are required. This kind of flexibility is not found on many consoles let alone one at this price.  (ED. This significant feature is part of the O.H.R.C.A. which stands for Open, High-Resolution, Configurable Architecture and is the core platform that the Roland M-5000 is built upon.)

Anything you didn’t like Larry?  While this would normally be a long list, I didn’t really dislike anything enough to rant about.  There are some things in the software that we will give feedback on for better workflow, placement, etc.  Much of this due to this being the first “larger format live” console that Roland has put on the market and is simply a matter of feedback from the users to get all of that in line.  Roland has been building digital consoles for a very long time and they are well aware how to build them to work everyday.   Reliability is not something I feel I need to question.   It’s built well, easy to use, sounds good, and is affordable.  That ticks all the boxes for me. 

Larry Hall

President

H.A.S. Productions INC.