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New Roland M-480 Digital Console eases into role at Welsh College

With public performances rising to the 300-a-year mark, including everything from orchestral concerts and recitals, to drama and opera, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama required a new mixing console - M-480 - that could handle the varying performances and demanding requirements.

Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has incorporated a Roland Systems Group M-480 Digital Console as part of an on-going refurbishment at the multi-venue facility.

The revamp features two additional facilities – the 180-seat Richard Burton Theatre and 400-seat Dora Stoutzker Concert hall, which now have the support of a flagship M-480 Digital Mixing Console, as well as the existing Roland Systems Group’s equipment. Some of which is located in a recording studio attached to the theatre that can be patched into both new venues.

Reading-based AV hire and sales specialists SFL Group supplied the new system, which had been chosen on the basis that it could seamlessly integrate into the pre-installed devices thanks to the Roland REAC (Roland Ethernet Audio Communication) technology. The already-established list includes a 400 Digital Console, S-08106 FOH units and a pair of S-0808 8×8 I/O Units.

Roland system’s group say the REAC’s 24-bit, 40×40 channel protocol is able to deliver pristine digital audio via lightweight, inexpensive and easy to install cable Cat5e / Cat6 eliminating externally induced signal quality degradation or hums and buzzes typically found in analogue systems.

Additionally each of the new venues – which will play host to over 300 performances over the coming year – has a REAC S-1608 stage box built into their rack rooms.

All the devices are said to work together to provide the college with a flexible, transferable and modular system with every part of it ‘plug and play’.

The M-480 is used primarily in the recording studio attached to the main concert hall, whilst the M-400 remains in the theatre but they can be swapped over to suit performances in particular.

Processing power of the M-480 supports a range of venues and applications with its new mixing engine that provides a 4-band fully parametric EQ, gate, compressor, and delay on each input channel, 214 possible patch points with 90 discreet outputs

‘The ease of use of the Roland products are very high on our priority list – and all the features are built in to the M-480 so we don’t need any outboard – the same with the recording to USB function – we don’t need any extra hardware, it’s just easy’, said Matt Rogerson, senior technician at the college.

Large color display and dedicated knobs and buttons in the channel edit section are said to make using the M-480 intuitive, with a user interface designed to be easy to learn and use, combining the cursor buttons around the value dial provides optimized and efficient operation. With a USB port on the rear of the desk and a USB memory recorder/player built in, recording to USB is very simple.

Lecturer in Creative Music, Odilon Marcenaro, is using the M-480 day to day in the recording studio, he said ‘the M-480 is a lovely desk with a small footprint, just stick in a cable and ‘hey presto’ you have 40 channels of input – the ease of use is phenomenal. When I received the M-480 I had it out of the box and played with it for 2 hours before I even looked at the instruction manual. The ability to record straight to USB is also a great feature – it is ridiculously easy’

The ease of use of the M-480 is also extremely beneficial to the varying skill levels of students (and other users). The intuitive design of the M-480 means that they are able to walk in and start using the desk immediately. Another feature of the M-480 is the offline setup using a PC. This feature allows preparation of teaching sessions offline from a desk, with a simple email or upload to USB to put on the M-480 and be up and running very quickly.

‘There is a lot of preparation involved in this type of subject, so the configurable offline editing is very good. It is really a lovely desk and I am very happy with it,’ he continued.