The Roland’s Go: Mixer series has found fans among musicians looking for a pocket-sized recording solution – and with good reason. The small mixers are lightweight, offer connectivity bags and won’t fail. The latest model, “Pro-X, “It brings some modest but important upgrades from the original Go: Mixer Pro.
The main novelty here is less in sound and more in compatibility: Roland claims that the Pro-X adds better support for Android phones and iOS devices. Do not worry is some additional audio features. Namely, the new amplifiers “pads” for guitars (to mitigate the volume on active pickups) and the headphone / monitor port are now two-way (ie it is also the input). Roland sets the latter as a way to record a built-in microphone into headphones, but you can also plug in a lavalier / 3.5mm source if you can live without tracking.
The rest of the Pro-X is the same as the Pro before it. On the right is one XLR combo port for microphones and 1/4 inch devices. Also on this side you will find a phantom power switch (for the use of condenser microphones), a 3.5 mm input for a smartphone / line and a guitar / bass connector. The front edge has two more 3.5mm inputs on the line, a new pad switch, an updated two-way headphone jack and a telephone feedback switch. The left side has just a couple of 1/4-inch instrument inputs and a battery cover for the four AAA cells needed for phantom power.
In short, if it has or can be converted to a 3.5mm port, a quarter-inch port, or an XLR connector, you can use it here.
On the top of the Pro-X you will find all the gain rotations for each input. However, keep in mind a few things: the 3.5 mm input of the “smartphone” has no gain control, you will have to adjust it on the phone itself. Although you can also connect the phone to one of a quarter of an inch using an adapter, in that case you will have volume control with one of the ports if that matters. It is also worth mentioning that the main volume is also the gain of the monitor, which is a bit inconvenient if you want high levels of tracking, but low gain on the recording or vice versa.
Since the Pro-X is designed to work with your phone, there is a handy comb next to the battery compartment that also serves as a slot for your handset. Obviously this means that your phone doesn’t need to lie like a tethered paper counter, but it also provides a good position for the camera if you want to perform live. My iPhone 12 with a case is gone quite it fits perfectly in the slot, but enough to keep the phone stable when you use it.
If I change something right away, it is an indicator of the “top”. Unlike a DJ mixer where you would have a full strip of LEDs showing the volume of each channel and separate for the main volume, the Pro-X has one LED that will flash red when any input exceeds the maximum threshold (i.e. the clip). It is quite possible to set the levels so that no red light is seen during the checks, and then only one plover can send it. If there was a way to constantly see how close you are to 0dB, that would be much more useful.
Worse than that, I’ve found that some of my shots do that it is not the trigger red light may be slightly distorted during playback. As he spoke into the microphone, everything looked fine, but the recording was often “crunchy” in the louder parts. Luckily, you can actually hear this in the headphones while this is happening, so you can adjust the levels before you hit the record, but ultimately what’s the use of a clipping light if it doesn’t reliably stop you from driving excessively? I was pretty nervous about each shoot until I experimented on different levels and put more confidence in the surveillance.
After a few tests with different microphones, it became clear that dynamic microphones were fine, but any condenser I tried needed a lot more headroom so it didn’t sound rough. It is not clear whether this is a problem of the preamplifier or the phantom power supply or just the extremely sensitive nature of the capacitor. For example, when I tested with the Shure SM59 (dynamic / no phantom power), I managed – in fact almost had to – adjust the gain to a lot, and even if the main volume was 75 percent, there was still plenty of headroom.
And that brings us back to the fact that monitor level control is equal to main gain. You probably want your levels to be pretty modest to make sure you don’t cut them, but at the same time your tracking levels are low, which makes it hard to hear your mix of how you want, you know, somehow important things.
I mostly avoided this problem by making sure I was shooting something that showed more detailed levels. The Rode’s Reporter app, for example, has a nice, wide meter that shows you how hot your signal is and it was a lot easier to use it as a total output meter.
Aside from problems with sprouting, once you set everything up, everything is very simple. As I mentioned above, I preferred to connect the phone (or any other 3.5mm source to be honest) via the guitar port. Having a rotary wheel to adjust the volume allows you to adjust the volume while walking much more fluidly, which is handy if you want to use music beds or other such sources where you may want to dynamically change the volume.
Also, if you want to use two XLR microphones – say for a podcast or a vocal and a microphone instrument) – you can co-opt one of the 3.5mm ports with something like iRig Pre 2. That means spending on a little more equipment, but if you shoot often, having an XLR adapter / interface up to 3.5mm is pretty handy to have.
As for this new recording capability with a built-in microphone on the headphones, all I can say is … does it work? These built-in microphones are never good, but it’s never bad to have multiple inputs and may work well for more conversational podcasts or just for recording phone interviews. As already mentioned, you can actually enter other inputs here if you don’t need to monitor, say if you’re recording a voice or something for a multitrack piece that you want to edit later.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for me otherwise can i use this for? The credibility of the portable mixer for musicians is obvious. But I also feel that it’s something convenient to have nearby if you’re working with sound in any way. I became something like an audio adapter collector. I have all kinds of cables, interfaces and various kinds of microphones. Something like Pro-X appeals to me as an easy way to combine many of them into a portable setup.
The richness of the input data means that it is also quite flexible. It’s a pretty striking combination right there. The question of levels I mentioned earlier relates to learning how things are set up. I once realized that this was rarely a problem after that.
I wish the volume on the monitor was separate from the main volume on those occasions where you really want to record a little, but still hear the mix sound together. Maybe that’s something we can hope for in a future model.
Whether you’re a garage band, a moving artist, or a podcaster who loves to get out of the wide world, there’s a lot to love here. With $ 150, it’s also a relatively modest investment for something you can easily fit in your back pocket.
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