NAMM 2015: Roland introduces Aira MX-1 'performance mixer'

NAMM 2015: If you're an Aira fan running the TR-8, VT-3, TB-3 and System-1 simultaneously in sync while tweaking a tune out of them, your prayers have just been answered. The new similarly-styled MX-1 fixes all potential problems, operating as one central control for all your green 'n' black boxes.

The MX-1 makes no sound itself, being what Roland is calling a 'performance optimised mixing instrument', and while it's clearly ideal for use with multiple Airas, it can be used as a digital mixer (with six analogue ins on the back), or as a control surface (with the knobs and sliders all assignable to CCs) as well. In fact, Roland is so keen to stress its multiple uses that the company stopped short of edging the unit in Aira-green, despite the similar styling.

Control of each of your Airas comes via four dedicated 'Aira Only' USB connections on the back which allow you to hook up your kit with a single cable each. The USB carries sync and control information from the MX-1 to the connected Airas, while also carrying audio back to its mixer and extensive filter and effects sections. There's even an external effects send and return for you to get your old outboard involved.

It's worth 'noting' that the MX isn't a sequencer, and all note info is supplied via the patterns onboard your Airas or via a laptop connected to the MX (via a fifth USB socket) running your DAW of choice. So that's all your other synths, your DAW output and your Airas all in one place, ready for tweaking with the MX-1 before being outputted as a mixed stereo out via its built-in audio interface.

The onboard effects - including DJ-styled filters and Aira's trademark Scatter - can be programmed and sequenced via a TR-style 16-step interface which runs alongside the musical patterns being played elsewhere. In action, it's a highly tweakable fast track to brand new performance possibilities.

The MX-1 looks like the perfect partner for an extended Aira setup and a state-of-the-art digital mixer (with built-in effects and interface). Or it's a super-tactile mix/synth tweaking control surface, with a further option to take hands-on control of 18 channels of DAW output.

Price is TBC; check out the Roland website for more.

Roland Aira MX-1 feature highlights

  • 18 channel performance mixer with step-sequenced FX, transport, and tempo control
  • Three kinds of step-sequenced Beat FX (Filter, Side Chain, Slicer) with TR-style buttons
  • Six kinds of Master FX (48 variations) with large performance control knob
  • Beat FX and Master FX can be applied to any or all inputs; Beat FX are per channel
  • Combi mode rhythmically alternates the Master FX using the step-sequencer
  • Four AIRA Link USB ports support audio, MIDI, sync, and bus power (on Port 3) for AIRA gear
  • Mix mode provides six analogue, one digital (stereo), four AIRA (stereo), and two PC channels through mixer and FX
  • External mode provides 18 channels from DAW through mixer and FX (all inputs direct to DAW)
  • Control Surface mode for full DAW control via MIDI
  • DJ-style cue monitoring, quick mutes, and six fader curves per channel
  • Per-channel Tone/Filter knob with ten kinds of EQs, filters, and isolators
  • Transport and tempo control with fine, shuffle, and tap-tempo functions
  • Instantly save and recall complete setups including all FX configurations
Daniel Griffiths

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment, tech and home brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of music, videogames, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. He’s the ex-Editor of Future Music and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Computer Music and more. He renovates property and writes for