Once upon a time, the music industry was impenetrable. If you wanted to succeed in the business, you needed a recording contract with a label in order to have access to a studio to record a single or an album. The option to record music at home just wasn’t there. Not only were good tape recorders expensive, but all the other equipment and know-how you would need to produce a recording good enough to release was next to impossible.
Fortunately, times have changed. Recording music is something you can do on a smartphone. Good quality kit has plunged in price and many musicians are recording and producing music in their bedrooms. We can now use loops, multitracking, and all sorts of nifty tricks to make a great melody shine. Money and equipment no longer stand in the way of talent.
To give an idea of how affordable audio gear is, this month I’m reviewing Roland’s Go-Mixer Pro X, a pocket-sized mixer that can capture a live performance and is just about small enough. to slip into a coat pocket. It’s a great little kit that works brilliantly with a smartphone for laying down tracks on the go. It even incorporates a small holder to place a smartphone or an iPad and does not need mains power thanks to a battery compartment that accepts four AAA batteries.
As well as working with smartphones, the Roland Go-Mixer Pro X is ideal for use with a laptop and can help make high quality recordings or live streaming. It’s perfect for recording a live set straight to a smartphone and there are a total of nine inputs. With four AAA batteries for approximately 4.5 hours, the Roland Go-Mixer Pro X can be powered from almost any USB power adapter or laptop using a micro USB cable. It would have been nice to see USB-C used, but that’s okay.
The entries are sufficient to record a group of musicians. There is an XLR jack for a microphone with phantom power plus a 1/4″ jack for guitar or bass. Two 1/4″ jacks can be paired together to create a stereo input, plus there’s a 3.5mm mini jack that functions as an analog input/output. The mini jack can be used to feed a backing track or take its output to a smartphone to record as an analog signal. All inputs have a dedicated mixer knob to adjust their gain levels.
There are also a few 3.5mm stereo line-in jacks on the front of the mixer. These do not have their own volume or level control, so the amount of signal must be adjusted using the volume knob on the source. Next to these inputs is a pad switch for the guitar input, as well as a 3.5mm stereo jack for headphones or a pair of headphones to monitor the combined signal. Finally, there is a loopback switch.
The device is so easy to use. Simply plug in all sources and adjust levels using headphones plugged into the output on the front of the mixer and away you go. The real advantage of this nifty little box is not only its relatively affordable price, but it can go almost anywhere, which is not the case with classic mixers which require the mains.
This mixer is great for recording in the middle of nowhere as long as you have battery powered bus amps for electric instruments. I tried the XLR input with a condenser microphone and with the phantom power feature I was able to get it to work fine. There is a bit of hiss from the headphone amp, but the main output sounds clean and distortion-free and ideal for capturing live performances or as small groups of instruments or vocals set as separate tracks recorded on a laptop.
Verdict: This handy and versatile little pocket mixer is ideal for capturing music directly from multiple instruments, devices and mics. The Roland Go-Mixer Pro X is simple and logical to use. Compared to Roland’s previous version, there’s now smartphone support, phantom power, a loop-through switch and the ability to power the mixer using batteries. With four AAA batteries providing just 4.5 hours of use, the Roland Go-Mixer Pro X is a bit power hungry, although the USB power option is a good backup. For budding musicians who find inspiration in the middle of nowhere, this is a practical and easy-to-use kit.
Price and availability: $149.99 / £129.99 / €149.99
More information: www.roland.com
- Audio channels: 9 inputs and two outputs
- Instrument jacks (L/MONO, R): 1/4 inch phone type
- Line input sockets 1 and 2: 3.5 mm
- Guitar/Bass Jack: 1/4 inch phone type (supports high impedance)
- Pluggable microphone jack: 3.5mm (supports pluggable power supply)
- Mic Jack: Combo XLR, 1/4″ TRS with DC 48V, 6mA phantom power
- Monitor Out Jack: 3.5mm Stereo
- USB port: USB Micro-B type
- Buttons: Instrument, Guitar/Bass, Plug-in Mic, Mic, Monitor Out
- Switches: LoopBack, Center Cancel, Phantom Power, Battery
- Indicators: Power, peak
- Power supply: USB 5v or four AAA batteries
- Current: 170mA
- Battery life: approx. 4.5 hours (alkaline)
- Dimensions: 104 x 155 x 41mm
- Weight: 220g