mx-1_angle_2_gal

So, now you’ve got a lot of hardware.

You’ve moved beyond just a computer, and you’re back to the joy of making music with boxes with knobs and faders and keys. And you’re playing with them live. And maybe Roland’s AIRA had something to do with that, too.

Now, how do you put them together?

KORG’s SQ-1 step sequencer is one answer. And Roland has provided the next chapter to its AIRA hardware saga with a mixer, its sixth product in the AIRA line.

But this isn’t just a way of connecting all the audio outputs from those devices – finding mixers, after all, isn’t hard to do. Roland wants to go one step further, and have you think of that mixer as an instrument to play, too.

The MX-1 is more than just a live-savvy mixer: it’s a computer interface, it’s a way to connect AIRA audio and MIDI with just USB cables even without a computer, and a tempo-synced multi-effects box.

mx-1_back_gal

For starters, you can take audio from different sources:

Your computer: Up to 18 channels of audio come from your computer, via USB.

Your AIRAs: You can also plug in Roland AIRA devices via USB – so you can connect a TR-8, TB-3, or SYSTEM-1, with both 96 kHz audio transfer and MIDI tempo sync — over the same USB cable. (Yes, this is a USB host feature. Sadly, it’s AIRA-only – too bad that USB vendors aren’t making this work in a standard way. Cough.)

Your other synths and drum machines and things. Analog inputs cover all your other gear. There’s even a single coax digital jack that’s either an input or output.

Outboard effects. Here’s the thing they might have forgotten – but didn’t. There are stereo send/return jacks for adding external effects units, too. (Eventide, anyone?)

For connectivity, the AIRA MX-1 is a mixed bag. Whereas the other integration product in the AIRA line – last year’s sync box – played nicely with any gear you own, the MX-1 is a bit shy on inputs apart from the AIRA and computer interface. So you get four USB ins, but they’re AIRA-only. The reason: AIRA hardware isn’t class-compliant, so these USB host ports can’t work with other gear. Those computer audio inputs are handy, but also assume the rest of the features on option are desirable.

The remaining analog options: 1 stereo minijack, plus 4 mono audio jacks. That’s not a whole lot of inputs for a mixer this big, but it might be enough – especially if at least one piece of kit you’re connecting is an AIRA. (See specs below.)

That brings us on to the other AIRA MX-1 features….

The other reason to look at the MX-1 is that this is finally a mixer that’s been geared for live use, not studio use. The mixers have controls and customization that make them easier to “play” live, you can set up scenes for live use, and you get tempo-synced, step sequencer effects (if you’re into that sort of thing).

mx-1_top_gal

The mixer strips themselves look capable: you can choose up to six volume curves for the fader, adjust with a Tone/Filter knob, and mute. (Tone and Filter replace more conventional options like a 3-band EQ.) For once, the blind-your-eyes LED colors of an AIRA unit might be genuinely useful: the LED-lit faders light up or dim based on the mute settings.

And yes, there’s a DJ-style cue feature. That might be the most useful thing on here – you can finally see if that groove on your synth is about to wreck the sound of your set without, you know, also trying it on the audience.

Ripe for abuse (or loving abuse), there are also loads of tempo-synced effects. This will either make the MX-1 a must-buy, or annoy the hell out of you when someone goes nuts with it, or both. You get channel-independent Beat FX (Filter, Side Chain, and Slicer), plus Master FX such as Scatter, Roll, Bit Crush, and others. Because EDM.

Interesting: the master effects can’t be routed independently to tracks, but they can – mercifully – be disabled per track. What appears to be missing is something like reverb, but I’m looking up full specs.

I’m a little dubious about the effects, to be honest – they’ve never been a favorite part of a Roland box for me. But even if the effects are a complete disaster, this is still looking like a compelling box.

Look at it this way: you can now connect a computer and/or gear and/or outboard effects and/or AIRAs with a minimum number of cables, then get performance-style mix and tone controls over them, and DJ cueing. Without the AIRAs, there just isn’t much here – but with even one AIRA, this starts to get interesting.

Ironically, that might mean that, for all the MX-1’s computer connectivity options, it’s even easier to leave the computer at home.

Yes, we’ll review this soon. (And while we wait, I’ll talk to the product folks, so fire away with any questions.)

airawithmx1

Specs:

Tempo – 40-300 bpm
16×4 memory

Beat Effects: 5 types of filter, 5 types of sidechain, 5 times of slicer, 8 types of master FX delay, 8 types of filter, 8 types of scatter, 8 types of flanger, 8 types of bit crush, 8 types of roll

USB audio interface: 18 channels input, 18-channels output Note this – it appears the MX-1 also works as a perfect audio interface for recording. You’ll want that computer, it seems.

Outputs: headphone (stereo jack), stereo mix out (mono jack)

Analog inputs
1-4 : mono 1/4″ jacks
5-6: Stereo minijack Roland intends this for your iPhone, iPad, etc. – though this also covers the – cough – KORG volca series and MeeBlip, among others

Sends/returns
RCA phono (cinch) aux return (single L/R right)
RCA phono (cinch) aux send (single L/R pair)

Digital I/O
USB HOST 1-4 ports for your AIRAs (TB-3/VT-3/TR-8/SYSTEM-1 only, say Roland)
Note that these carry audio and MIDI, though only port 3 has USB bus power, so don’t forget your PSUs.

Coax in/out jack

MIDI in, out connectors (guess this is for running clock in or out over MIDI DIN?)

Dimensions
400 mm x 264 mm x 65 mm, 1.81 kg (four pounds – though Roland labels it 3 lb., 16 oz., which… is exactly four pounds, think they mean 15 oz.)

Videos

It shoots lasers.

Roland MX-1 Product Page

  • Korhan Erel

    There’s no EQ, right? only a tone/filter control.

    Is the sequencer for effects?

  • Korhan Erel

    There’s no EQ, right? only a tone/filter control.

    Is the sequencer for effects?

  • Korhan Erel

    There’s no EQ, right? only a tone/filter control.

    Is the sequencer for effects?

  • Deaq

    No that device with the sequencer is the drum machine, which is seperate

    • What? No, that’s not correct. There’s a TR-style step sequencer built in that works with the effects. Hang on, I’m slightly updating our story here.

  • Deaq

    No that device with the sequencer is the drum machine, which is seperate

    • What? No, that’s not correct. There’s a TR-style step sequencer built in that works with the effects. Hang on, I’m slightly updating our story here.

  • Deaq

    No that device with the sequencer is the drum machine, which is seperate

    • What? No, that’s not correct. There’s a TR-style step sequencer built in that works with the effects. Hang on, I’m slightly updating our story here.

  • Genjutsushi

    This is something I have been screaming out for. Any chance of it working in USB host mode with the Roland Gaia?

    • That’s an excellent question. For now, it says AIRA only.

      • Genjutsushi

        Someone ought to let Roland know that class compliant drivers exist for.. You know… Everything else!
        More positively though, this is the first product of its type on the market since the demise of the KORG zero8 mixer. I had thought of investing in a four channel pioneer, but this has piqued my interest despite some shortcomings

    • Avesta Dayeny

      The new 1.03 firmware allows the use of any Roland synth on the USB host ports.

  • Genjutsushi

    This is something I have been screaming out for. Any chance of it working in USB host mode with the Roland Gaia?

    • That’s an excellent question. For now, it says AIRA only.

      • Genjutsushi

        Someone ought to let Roland know that class compliant drivers exist for.. You know… Everything else!
        More positively though, this is the first product of its type on the market since the demise of the KORG zero8 mixer. I had thought of investing in a four channel pioneer, but this has piqued my interest despite some shortcomings

    • Avesta Dayeny

      The new 1.03 firmware allows the use of any Roland synth on the USB host ports.

  • Genjutsushi

    This is something I have been screaming out for. Any chance of it working in USB host mode with the Roland Gaia?

    • That’s an excellent question. For now, it says AIRA only.

      • Genjutsushi

        Someone ought to let Roland know that class compliant drivers exist for.. You know… Everything else!
        More positively though, this is the first product of its type on the market since the demise of the KORG zero8 mixer. I had thought of investing in a four channel pioneer, but this has piqued my interest despite some shortcomings

    • Avesta Dayeny

      The new 1.03 firmware allows the use of any Roland synth on the USB host ports.

  • !! can’t wait to try this out with my sansamp

  • !! can’t wait to try this out with my sansamp

  • !! can’t wait to try this out with my sansamp

  • teej

    I’d never make any Roland product a centerpiece, because I know they’ll be dropping support for it in a year or two. Been there, done that.

  • teej

    I’d never make any Roland product a centerpiece, because I know they’ll be dropping support for it in a year or two. Been there, done that.

  • teej

    I’d never make any Roland product a centerpiece, because I know they’ll be dropping support for it in a year or two. Been there, done that.

  • Freeks

    Nice that you can have one own FX. Better would be the minimum standard 2. Where is knobs for FX sends? I see only one knob: tone/filter.

    No Mic input?

  • Freeks

    Nice that you can have one own FX. Better would be the minimum standard 2. Where is knobs for FX sends? I see only one knob: tone/filter.

    No Mic input?

  • Freeks

    Nice that you can have one own FX. Better would be the minimum standard 2. Where is knobs for FX sends? I see only one knob: tone/filter.

    No Mic input?

  • André et Michèle

    Because EDM . . . lol! Now you can scatter your scatter 😉

    This mixer is an Intriguing concept. I love the USB host feature. Great that it has an aux send (agree two would be better), though it looks like you have to select the channel then use the menu on the left to adjust the send (and other things)? Menus/pages like that are the very thing I really try to avoid w/ a live setup.

    From the videos I’m not sure about the efx either . . .

    Right now this looks more like something I’d actually keep in the studio for experimenting and as a computer recording interface.

    • André et Michèle

      Just noticed it has a single “mastering” button, oh my . . . what does that do?

      • Avesta Dayeny

        Depending on what mastering mode you select it will either destroy your monitors or just bruise them lol

  • André et Michèle

    Because EDM . . . lol! Now you can scatter your scatter 😉

    This mixer is an Intriguing concept. I love the USB host feature. Great that it has an aux send (agree two would be better), though it looks like you have to select the channel then use the menu on the left to adjust the send (and other things)? Menus/pages like that are the very thing I really try to avoid w/ a live setup.

    From the videos I’m not sure about the efx either . . .

    Right now this looks more like something I’d actually keep in the studio for experimenting and as a computer recording interface.

    • André et Michèle

      Just noticed it has a single “mastering” button, oh my . . . what does that do?

      • Avesta Dayeny

        Depending on what mastering mode you select it will either destroy your monitors or just bruise them lol

  • André et Michèle

    Because EDM . . . lol! Now you can scatter your scatter 😉

    This mixer is an Intriguing concept. I love the USB host feature. Great that it has an aux send (agree two would be better), though it looks like you have to select the channel then use the menu on the left to adjust the send (and other things)? Menus/pages like that are the very thing I really try to avoid w/ a live setup.

    From the videos I’m not sure about the efx either . . .

    Right now this looks more like something I’d actually keep in the studio for experimenting and as a computer recording interface.

    • André et Michèle

      Just noticed it has a single “mastering” button, oh my . . . what does that do?

      • Avesta Dayeny

        Depending on what mastering mode you select it will either destroy your monitors or just bruise them lol

  • chaircrusher

    Missing dedicated controls for a bunch of important stuff, like fx sends.

  • chaircrusher

    Missing dedicated controls for a bunch of important stuff, like fx sends.

  • chaircrusher

    Missing dedicated controls for a bunch of important stuff, like fx sends.

  • (Looks at picture) Damn! A mixer plus audio interface with effects and a USB hub!
    (Reads article) “USB is Aira only”

    OH, COME ON.

    • I asked about that and they say it’s only “tested” with Aira gear. It “may” work with other gear : )

  • (Looks at picture) Damn! A mixer plus audio interface with effects and a USB hub!
    (Reads article) “USB is Aira only”

    OH, COME ON.

    • I asked about that and they say it’s only “tested” with Aira gear. It “may” work with other gear : )

  • (Looks at picture) Damn! A mixer plus audio interface with effects and a USB hub!
    (Reads article) “USB is Aira only”

    OH, COME ON.

    • I asked about that and they say it’s only “tested” with Aira gear. It “may” work with other gear : )

  • James Voos

    Great idea, but I buy no more Roland gear until it is class compliant. I don’t want a paperweight in 2 years. BTW, I own a RD700 and a GAIA, so I am a Roland customer

  • James Voos

    Great idea, but I buy no more Roland gear until it is class compliant. I don’t want a paperweight in 2 years. BTW, I own a RD700 and a GAIA, so I am a Roland customer

  • James Voos

    Great idea, but I buy no more Roland gear until it is class compliant. I don’t want a paperweight in 2 years. BTW, I own a RD700 and a GAIA, so I am a Roland customer

  • Eric Klein

    According to this video from Future Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh50EjLKbHE

    The price will be $599 (I’m guessing that’s MSRP) and there are EQs that can be slotted in as track FX.

    This thing looks really cool. Seems like a very nice way to tie together my hybrid live setup that uses some hardware and some VSTs in Ableton. Between this and the Launchpad Pro, my wallet is not safe!

  • Eric Klein

    According to this video from Future Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh50EjLKbHE

    The price will be $599 (I’m guessing that’s MSRP) and there are EQs that can be slotted in as track FX.

    This thing looks really cool. Seems like a very nice way to tie together my hybrid live setup that uses some hardware and some VSTs in Ableton. Between this and the Launchpad Pro, my wallet is not safe!

  • Eric Klein

    According to this video from Future Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh50EjLKbHE

    The price will be $599 (I’m guessing that’s MSRP) and there are EQs that can be slotted in as track FX.

    This thing looks really cool. Seems like a very nice way to tie together my hybrid live setup that uses some hardware and some VSTs in Ableton. Between this and the Launchpad Pro, my wallet is not safe!

  • Vic

    This definitely isn’t for me. I do have Airas, but I don’t even use laptop. I just need 5 channels and a decent reverb. Also, a mixer with no XLR? no EQ’s and gain controls? What?! One of the tricks of any mixer is that you can apply cheap overdrive with high gain amount on any channel without a pedal (which is what I do over the TR-8). So, not even a distortion effect? Shame.

    No, thanks. I’m happy with my Yamaha MG10XU

  • Vic

    This definitely isn’t for me. I do have Airas, but I don’t even use laptop. I just need 5 channels and a decent reverb. Also, a mixer with no XLR? no EQ’s and gain controls? What?! One of the tricks of any mixer is that you can apply cheap overdrive with high gain amount on any channel without a pedal (which is what I do over the TR-8). So, not even a distortion effect? Shame.

    No, thanks. I’m happy with my Yamaha MG10XU

  • Vic

    This definitely isn’t for me. I do have Airas, but I don’t even use laptop. I just need 5 channels and a decent reverb. Also, a mixer with no XLR? no EQ’s and gain controls? What?! One of the tricks of any mixer is that you can apply cheap overdrive with high gain amount on any channel without a pedal (which is what I do over the TR-8). So, not even a distortion effect? Shame.

    No, thanks. I’m happy with my Yamaha MG10XU

  • Fabrice Fortner

    Hi,

    I bought it to integrate the TR-8, TB-3 and System-1: the AIRA USB I/O work great, but:
    – I only get 1 stereo audio in from any AIRA devices (using TR-8 plugged with USB on a computer, you get separated channels output)
    – using the MX-1 as an audio interface required the computer audio clock to run at 96 KHz (which increase CPU activity and could have a real impact of the current audio network architecture: in my case the ADAT goes down from 8 to 4 audio channels).

    Also, I got the Eventide H9 (sounds so nice, for me) that I connected to the MX-1 Send/Return:
    – The Return input is noisy (even with no audio plugged in), a kind of white noise that could be funny to tweak but something not desirable here

    Other things I noticed:
    – Missing a 3 band EQ (the filter is capable, but I would like to keep using it for FX, not correction)
    – Missing a Reverb FX at the channel level (BFX)
    – Missing a second Send/Return (even more, let’s bring 4 Send/Return)
    – Missing the Send control per channel (you could use “Aux” + the channel filter knob)
    – Missing the Pre/Post setting of the Send per channel (looks like it’s Pre and I have not search if that could be changed)
    – The Master FX seems always applied to the return channel (at least, that’s what I heard, I have not check in detail)

    Besides that, it’s rather fun to use and the sound quality is quite good (in my opinion), the TB-3 even sounds a bit warmer in the low end (previously it was getting into RME Fireface UC mic/line ins, )
    I also managed to integrate easily with my MaxMSP (a hub for all my MIDI hardware, including AIRAs and other outboard gear) and Ableton Live using the various MX-1 MIDI port.
    My current setup was:
    – TR_8, TB-3, System-1 connected to MX-1 with USB (audio and MIDI synk)
    – 3 audio ins from Ableton to MX-1 (line 7/8, 9/10 and 17/18) // 2 synths and 1 sample audio channel
    – 2 stereo ins from an external drum machine (1/2 and 3/4 stereo paired)
    It has been working very well, with no crash: it’s funny to play around and notice that the computer goes to screensaver!

    The MASTER buttons brings a levelled audio I guess something like glue or parallel compression (and potentially other magic), one engaged I try to push the Level audio out and I started to heard cracks even if the output level was still under 0dBFS.

    Hope you will have fun too.

    Cheers.

    • Fabrice Fortner

      Lookingg at the MX-AUDIO SIGNAL-FLOW DIAGRAM, I understand there should be a setting for the Send/Return Pre/Post, if using Pre, then the return goes into MFX.

    • Avesta Dayeny

      Update your firmware to 1.03, that annoying hissing on the Send/Return goes away (at least it did for me).

  • Fabrice Fortner

    Hi,

    I bought it to integrate the TR-8, TB-3 and System-1: the AIRA USB I/O work great, but:
    – I only get 1 stereo audio in from any AIRA devices (using TR-8 plugged with USB on a computer, you get separated channels output)
    – using the MX-1 as an audio interface requires the computer audio clock to run at 96 KHz (which increase CPU activity and could have a real impact on the current audio setup between soundcards: in my case the ADAT goes from 8 down to 4 audio channels).

    Also, I got the Eventide H9 (sounds so nice, for me) that I connected to the MX-1 Send/Return:
    – The Return input is noisy (even with no audio plugged in), a kind of white noise that could be funny to tweak but something not desirable here.

    Other things I noticed:
    – Missing a 3 band EQ (the filter is capable, but I would like to keep using it for FX, not correction)
    – Missing a Reverb FX at the channel level (BFX)
    – Missing a second Send/Return (even more, let’s bring 4 Send/Return)
    – Missing the Send control per channel (you could use “Aux” + the channel filter knob)
    – Missing the Pre/Post setting of the Send per channel (looks like it’s Pre but I have not search if that could be changed)
    – The Master FX seems always applied on the return channel (at least, that’s what I heard, I have not check in detail)

    Besides that, it’s rather fun to use and the sound quality is quite good (in my opinion), the TB-3 even sounds a bit warmer in the low end (previously it was getting into RME Fireface UC mic/line ins, )
    I also managed to integrate easily with my MaxMSP (a hub for all my MIDI hardware, including AIRAs and other outboard gear) and Ableton Live using the various MX-1 MIDI ports.
    My current setup was:
    – TR_8, TB-3, System-1 connected to MX-1 with AIRA USB I/O (audio and MIDI synk)
    – 3 audio ins from Ableton to MX-1 (line 7/8, 9/10 and 17/18) // 2 synths and 1 sample audio channel
    – 2 stereo ins from an external drum machine (1/2 and 3/4 stereo paired)

    It has been working very well, with no crash: it’s funny to play around and notice that the computer goes to screensaver!

    All AIRA sequence are managed from Live and Push, however it’s easy to remove the computer and keep playing only with AIRA equipement and external drum machine.

    The MASTER button brings a levelled audio; I guess something like glue or parallel compression (and potentially other magic), once engaged I try to push the Level audio out and I started to heard cracks even if the output level was still under 0dBFS.

    Hope you will have fun too.

    Cheers.

    • Fabrice Fortner

      Looking at the MX-AUDIO SIGNAL-FLOW DIAGRAM, I understand there should be a setting for the Send/Return Pre/Post, if using Pre, then the return goes into MFX.

    • Avesta Dayeny

      Update your firmware to 1.03, that annoying hissing on the Send/Return goes away (at least it did for me).

  • Fabrice Fortner

    Hi,

    I bought it to integrate the TR-8, TB-3 and System-1: the AIRA USB I/O work great, but:
    – I only get 1 stereo audio in from any AIRA devices (using TR-8 plugged with USB on a computer, you get separated channels output)
    – using the MX-1 as an audio interface requires the computer audio clock to run at 96 KHz (which increase CPU activity and could have a real impact on the current audio setup between soundcards: in my case the ADAT goes from 8 down to 4 audio channels).

    Also, I got the Eventide H9 (sounds so nice, for me) that I connected to the MX-1 Send/Return:
    – The Return input is noisy (even with no audio plugged in), a kind of white noise that could be funny to tweak but something not desirable here.

    Other things I noticed:
    – Missing a 3 band EQ (the filter is capable, but I would like to keep using it for FX, not correction)
    – Missing a Reverb FX at the channel level (BFX)
    – Missing a second Send/Return (even more, let’s bring 4 Send/Return)
    – Missing the Send control per channel (you could use “Aux” + the channel filter knob)
    – Missing the Pre/Post setting of the Send per channel (looks like it’s Pre but I have not search if that could be changed)
    – The Master FX seems always applied on the return channel (at least, that’s what I heard, I have not check in detail)

    Besides that, it’s rather fun to use and the sound quality is quite good (in my opinion), the TB-3 even sounds a bit warmer in the low end (previously it was getting into RME Fireface UC mic/line ins, )
    I also managed to integrate easily with my MaxMSP (a hub for all my MIDI hardware, including AIRAs and other outboard gear) and Ableton Live using the various MX-1 MIDI ports.
    My current setup was:
    – TR_8, TB-3, System-1 connected to MX-1 with AIRA USB I/O (audio and MIDI synk)
    – 3 audio ins from Ableton to MX-1 (line 7/8, 9/10 and 17/18) // 2 synths and 1 sample audio channel
    – 2 stereo ins from an external drum machine (1/2 and 3/4 stereo paired)

    It has been working very well, with no crash: it’s funny to play around and notice that the computer goes to screensaver!

    All AIRA sequence are managed from Live and Push, however it’s easy to remove the computer and keep playing only with AIRA equipement and external drum machine.

    The MASTER button brings a levelled audio; I guess something like glue or parallel compression (and potentially other magic), once engaged I try to push the Level audio out and I started to heard cracks even if the output level was still under 0dBFS.

    Hope you will have fun too.

    Cheers.

    • Fabrice Fortner

      Looking at the MX-AUDIO SIGNAL-FLOW DIAGRAM, I understand there should be a setting for the Send/Return Pre/Post, if using Pre, then the return goes into MFX.

    • Avesta Dayeny

      Update your firmware to 1.03, that annoying hissing on the Send/Return goes away (at least it did for me).

  • Avesta Dayeny

    They just put out a new update for this thing (1.03) that FINALLY allows you to use other Roland synths on the USB host 1-4 ports. The FAs, Jupiters, JDs, pretty much everything work. I’ve got my FA-06 and JD-Xi plugged into USB 1-2 and I’ve been able to get rid of a big bundle of audio and midi cables. Roland is impressing the hell out of me these days.

  • Avesta Dayeny

    They just put out a new update for this thing (1.03) that FINALLY allows you to use other Roland synths on the USB host 1-4 ports. The FAs, Jupiters, JDs, pretty much everything work. I’ve got my FA-06 and JD-Xi plugged into USB 1-2 and I’ve been able to get rid of a big bundle of audio and midi cables. Roland is impressing the hell out of me these days.

  • Avesta Dayeny

    They just put out a new update for this thing (1.03) that FINALLY allows you to use other Roland synths on the USB host 1-4 ports. The FAs, Jupiters, JDs, pretty much everything work. I’ve got my FA-06 and JD-Xi plugged into USB 1-2 and I’ve been able to get rid of a big bundle of audio and midi cables. Roland is impressing the hell out of me these days.