The Roland M-5000 Live Mixing Console Chosen for Vocalosity A Cappella Tour

A cappella touring act Vocalosity at a recent concert, pictured from the FOH position, which features the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.
A cappella touring act Vocalosity at a recent concert, pictured from the FOH position, which features the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.

When Vocalosity hit the stage in Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 17, kicking off a 33-city tour, it began a run that takes a cappella entertainment to a new level. This all-new live concert event from artistic producer Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) features 12 dynamic voices singing some of today's chart-topping hits in brand-new arrangements. Each city is invited to host an online video contest for local a cappella groups, with the winner being selected by Deke to perform as Vocalosity's opening act in their city. In some cases, voices will emulate entire bands, and only one audio console could manage this complex of a program: the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console. Vocalosity Technical Director and Front-of-House Engineer Tony Huerta helms an entire Roland REAC system that also includes one Roland S-2416 24 x 16 digital snake stage unit, the XI-Dante card, which allows another 64 inputs, and the XI-MADI Card for future integration with Waves SoundGrid®.

"The M-5000 is the only console I'd want to use on a live project like this, because it's the most flexible desk out there," says Huerta, who also owns Sonic Audio, a full-service Pro Tools recording studio and live sound production company based in Denver, Colorado, and who has worked with other leading vocal artists such as Take 6, Manhattan Transfer, and The Sing Off Live (NBC TV) Tour. "I've got up to 128 signal paths and 28 totally assignable faders to work with, for any combination of mono and stereo inputs or outputs. And the BOSS guitar effects that are built into the console let me do amazing things with a cappella vocals." For instance, one performance has five vocalists performing Led Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love" with voices alone; though, thanks to effects such as the BOSS guitar distortion pedals, digital delays and a sub-harmonic effect, the entire song, including guitar solos, is completely vocal, but sounds like real instruments. "The way the M-5000 is configured, I can have as many aux and matrix as I need," Huerta explains. "And the M-5000 is Dante™-ready, so using the XI-Dante card I can have all channels of the Shure ULX-D wireless microphone system going directly into the desk."

Vocalosity Technical Director and Front-of-House Engineer Tony Huerta, pictured with the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.
Vocalosity Technical Director and Front-of-House Engineer Tony Huerta, pictured with the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.

Universal Music Classics released Vocalosity's debut album in January 2016 to coincide with the tour launch. Like many tours today, Vocalosity will keep its fans engaged on social media with a steady stream of live performances taken from each night's concerts, and Huerta will be managing those using the Roland R-1000 Ethernet recording unit, which has the capability to record up to 48 channels of 24 bit, 48K WAV files directly off the REAC system. The R-1000 also has the unique capability of a virtual sound check, with no re-patching, the same gain structure, and quality as the actual live show.

But it all starts with the M-5000 and how it lets Huerta comfortably manage both FOH and monitor duties for this vocal-intense show, and at the same time deliver world-class sound. "It sounds incredible," he says. "The pre-amps are great — warm enough to make me feel good, super-clear on the high end and nice and tight on the low end. We need that for a cappella, especially for the bass voices. I couldn't imagine doing this show without the M-5000."