Posted by Phil Loose on 12 December 2014

Maybe you saw us this year on the WeAreWorship stand at the 'Mission Worship' Conference in Eastbourne. We set up a 'Silent Studio with the superb new Roland RD800 piano alongside the remarkable Roland TD1KV drumkit and then in the middle we had the brand new Roland HS-5 Session Mixer. In fact we had the only demo unit in the UK – as it wasn’t for sale yet. So we were keen to take a look and report back to you.

Our plan at Mission Worship was to setup a ‘Silent Studio’ – a pop-up space where people could come onto the stand and jam in a band with people they didn’t necessarily know. It was a musical community from WeAreWorship – in the way that we are an online community.

SilentStudio1

Pic: All through the weekend, people who didn't know each other came on the stand and jammed together!

 

First, some technical information….The Roland HS-5 allows up to 5 musicians to play together. Whether it’s a rehearsal session, a recording session or a songwriting demo, this bit of kit gives you the means to get on with it with minimum fuss and set up time. Each of the musicians can mix their own foldback in their headphones, add reverb to their mix and apply COSM amp guitar effects to guitars, bass or vocals. At the touch of a button you can record whatever is happening straight to a USB drive or with the addition of a USB cable and an outboard DAW (Garageband, Logic Pro, Pro Tools) you can capture the individual tracks for editing later. And all this in a unit no bigger than a dinner plate.

RolandHS5

Pic: The Roland HS-5.

 

Back to the story…. We plugged in, we put on our headphones and we played. The first comments were on the excellent quality of sounds from the instruments; the piano (Roland RD800) is ideal for worship as at the touch of a button add pads and strings, fading them in with purpose built faders and the drums (Roland’s new TD-1KV V-Drums) were perfect for rehearsal and would work well in a church setup with superb sound and a mesh head for the snare. But the beauty is that the band can rehearse in a small space, without the PA being setup and cranked up and without the need to turn up guitar amplifiers. The only noise you hear is the singer, maybe an acoustic guitar and the tapping of sticks on a mesh head electric kit.

The Roland HS-5 allows you to record in the box to stereo – so you can capture what you record right there. If you want to capture song ideas then you just hit record and you have it. The team at Roland has also provided a click tempo to help everyone lock into time. This is really useful if you go to the next level of recording – where you take the USB cable out of the HS5 and plug it into your external Digital Audio Workstation (such as Logic or Pro Tools). At this point, the HS5 sends all the tracks separately to be recorded. You can then take it away, remove the piano, edit the guitars and replace the drums. Essentially it’s a studio in a box – and it works.

RolandHs5 multitrack logic screengrab

Pic: When plugged into Logi or another DAW, the multitrack can be recorded very easily.

 

At Mission Worship, people gravitated to the stand and the music they made was wonderful to listen to. The drummer played and someone else grabbed the bass and jumped on the piano. In the middle of it someone else picked up the guitar – and music was made. Throughout the weekend this ever-changing band of strangers became friends as they shouted out chords or suggested songs to jam through.

We had a great weekend of worship and a great time bringing people together who may not know each other, to worship and laugh together. The Roland HS5 performed flawlessly and enabled a silent studio to work. It was fun to stroll up, see people playing silently and then put on your headphones and listen to the amazing music being made. In many ways, the Roland HS-5 blended into the background as the music flowed.

And maybe that’s the ultimate commendation it can receive.

The Roland HS-5 retails at £479. Check it out here. Roland HS-5

Absolute Special thanks to Steve and Andy at AbsoluteMusic.co.uk for supplying the equipment and adding so much to what we were trying to do. You guys rock.

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