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Review: Roland V-60HD Multi-Format HD Video Switcher

After testing Roland's new multi-format A/V switcher, the V-60HD, on three live events, I'll be switching over to the V-60HD as my main video switcher for live event production.

In early December of last year, Roland sent me its new V-60HD Multi-Format HD Video Switcher (Figure 1, below) with the latest shipping firmware to test for live event production. This new switcher retails for $2,995, and it packs a lot of features for a very affordable price.

Figure 1. The Roland V-60HD Multi-Format HD Video Switcher. Click the image to see it at full size.

For more than a year, I’ve been using the Roland V-1SDI, a smaller video switcher which sells for half the cost of the V-60HD. I was anxious to see if the new unit would be worth the extra investment—and I wasn’t disappointed. After testing the unit on three live events, I’ll be switching over to the V-60HD as my main video switcher for live event production.

Overview

The V-60HD is not just a video switcher. Unlike its little brother the V-1SDI, the V-60HD features more input and output connections to meet the demands of a multicamera live event. Perhaps more importantly, the V-60HD has a separate auxiliary (AUX) bus to have a separate program output from the master output. The switcher can output video at 50 or 59.94Hz (fps) at 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. We’ll dive into more of these features throughout this review.

The V-60HD is very compact, with a tabletop imprint of 8.5" x 11.5"—just slightly larger than a standard letter size piece of paper. The height of the console varies from 2” to 3” not including the video fader handle or knobs. The switcher and its power supply fit comfortably in a Pelican AIR 1485 case for transport and storage.

Another nice feature of this switcher is the 2.5" x 1.5" LED display at the top right of the console (Figure 2, below). You can review and adjust all of the settings for the switch with this display; you don’t need to reference a HDMI multiview monitor to access the settings. The knob to the right of the LED display allows you to quickly scroll through all of the major categories and enter new values.

Figure 2. LED display of switcher settings

Audio I/O

The V-60HD has four XLR audio inputs (Audio Inputs 1-4 in the console menu) and one pair of RCA inputs (Audio Inputs 5-6). The switcher has two XLR audio outputs as well as one pair of RCA outputs (Figure 3, below). Audio will also automatically be embedded into the SDI and HDMI outputs.

Figure 3. Audio I/O on the rear panel of the V-60HD

The input level for each XLR input can be controlled on the console, as well as in the menu settings (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. Input level controls for XLR inputs

One of my favorite features is the input signal control for each of the XLR inputs: Head Amp Gain, Digital Gain, and Input Level. The Head Amp Gain allows you to properly set a line vs. mic level gain on the raw audio signal coming into the switcher, while the Input Level allows you to fine tune the input signal. Digital Gain is used to control the SDI or HDMI digital audio input; in my tests so far, I haven’t had a need for it.

Each audio input has a dedicated equalizer (EQ) to adjust the sound quality of each frequency band, as well as noise gates and compressors. You can also adjust the audio frame delay, to perfectly sync the audio with the mixed signal. Be sure to check how any added audio delay affects the room mix.

You also have access to the audio channels available on all six video inputs, discussed later in this article. If you’re running microphones to your cameras or other video equipment, you can access these audio channels as well as the same EQ adjustments available on the analog inputs.

Another favorite feature of mine is the Audio Embedding options. For the SDI outputs, you can assign up to eight channels of embedded audio. The first two channels will always be dedicated to the Master out (L) or Aux bus (L), and the remaining six channels can record the direct (“dry”) or processed (“wet”) audio from the six audio inputs. With discrete channels of audio, you have much more precise control of audio mixing (or correction) in post-production.

You can also control the Audio Follow mode for each video input on the switcher. By default, Audio Follow is turned off for each of the video sources connected to the mixer. As such, the switcher will create a live audio mix of all of the audio sources. If you want to automatically mute other audio inputs when switching to a particular video input, you can turn on Audio Follow for that video input. You can also assign any of the XLR audio inputs to a video source with respect to Audio Follow as well. So, if you only want Audio 1 input active when Camera 1 is active, you can configure that with the console.

The last audio feature I’ll discuss is the Auto Mixing feature of the V-60HD. This holy grail of live audio production will automatically adjust the input levels of selected audio sources, and it also enables you to weight each source independently. For example, a primary microphone used by a panel moderator can attached to Audio Input 1 and given a higher weight than a secondary microphone used by a panel speaker using a microphone attached Audio Input 2, 3, or 4. To date, I haven’t had a multispeaker setup to test this feature, but I’m anxious to see how well it performs.