Roland's VIMA JM-5: glorified karaoke, or entertainment powerhouse?

(ShackMan | Posted 2011-01-20)

Roland's VIMA JM-5: glorified karaoke, or entertainment powerhouse?

Much like the BK7-m, also by Roland, the VIMA JM-5 is a sort of band-in-a-box, but designed more for the solo singer looking for backing tracks. It makes use of the same Center Cancel function to suppress the original vocals in the songs being played so that the singer, or singers (there are two microphone inputs), can shine through. It still supports just about any audio file format including SMF, MP3, WAV, MP3+CDG, and VIMA Tunes via USB. WMA's are sadly not present on the list.

There are two microphone inputs, with only the first channel offering phantom power, limiting any two-microphone setup to only one condenser microphone. When singing along, users can change the pitch of the original tune as well as the tempo to suit varying vocal ranges and sing songs previously in unreachable registers. Also available are a set of vocal effects for tailoring your sound to the room and the recording, including Roland Space Echo, Ambience, Voice Transformer (for an extreme shift in sound), Reverbs, and an Auto-Harmony option. The display can show lyrics from CDG-enabled MP3's and supports slide shows.

As is standard with Roland, 128-voice polyphony makes sure that you have the head room to add all the harmony and layers you want without over-taxing the processor. Also standard in Roland Sound Modules is the ability to record to USB in WAV file format instantaneously while performing.

The VIMA JM-5 sounds good for some family fun, hotel and lounge entertainment, and some at-home recording ability can't hurt. Singers who play piano can record their own accompaniment through the unit at first and then add their vocals on a second pass, both through the microphone channels. In the long run, however, it's a karaoke machine, coupled with a CD Player and a slideshow screen, although it is most definitely a very good one. If Roland is smart, they'll see the family market available here and keep the unit on the cheap side; it seems to me to be a family product with live entertainment potential as well, and I have yet to have problems with Roland quality.

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook.

Got questions? Comments? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at

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