Teacher Hub

Could this mixer replace the Roland HS-5?

Written by William Thompson17/10/23

With the sad demise of the excellent Roland HS-5 'hub' mixer, following the disappearance of the Jamhub equivalents a few years ago, it seemed that there was nothing available that offered the unique features for which these mixers were renowned.

If you had never encountered the HS-5 Session Mixer, then you wouldn't be aware of exactly what it was, and how well-suited it was to some school music departments.  The HS-5 allowed up to 5 musicians to connect, using either microphone or jack cables, with each musician having their own individual headphone control.  The beauty lay in the fact that each person in the band could decide exactly what mix they wanted to hear in their own headphones, without affecting anyone elses.  Add to this the ability to make a stereo recording of the performance onto a USB flash drive, and it became a key element in facilitating creative break-out sessions.

Many schools created little band 'set-ups' in their practice rooms, with digital drum kit, keyboard or piano, a couple of electric/bass guitars, and perhaps a vocal microphone. Built-in reverb gave an additional enhancement to the sound, which particularly helped any singers.  Other channels were equipped with guitar and bass modelling effects; this meant that electric guitarists were able to get a pretty good sound without having to use a guitar amplifier - which helped keep the practice sessions almost silent.

Some current schemes, including those developed by the excellent work of Musical Futures International, support the use of small breakout sessions, where students create and play music in a contemporary style using instruments that are interconnected by some sort of mixer that offers independent headphone mixes for each person.

When the HS-5 disappeared, it looked as though this option for small-group creativity, performance and recording had gone.  But maybe not...

Enter the Zoom LiveTrak L12 digital mixer and recorder.

With the LiveTrak L‑12, you can mix, record, and monitor with a single piece of equipment. It’s the only digital console at its price point that lets you mix a live performance, record up to 12 discrete channels – and all while providing five individual custom headphone mixes. The L-12 includes a host of professional features, such as low cut control, stereo panning, effects, built in microphone and metronome, and a lot more.

In school, this means that you can confidently send a group of students into a break-out session, knowing that they have everything they need to hear each other, get creative and end up with either a stereo recording, or even a set of individual audio tracks for subsequent mixing in your music software program - which is something the Roland HS-5 didn't offer.  The LiveTrak effectively operates as a multi-channel USB interface, so can also have an effective role in a small school recording studio.

Not only an excellent alternative to the HS-5, I am sure the L-12 will prove to have multiple uses within your music department.