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Review: NewTek TriCaster 455

Half the size of the NewTek TriCaster 855, the TriCaster 455 holds its own for live production and streaming at a lower price point. We really like the functionality of the 455, especially when it comes to one-button streaming, a robust but manageable control surface, and the ability to add AirPlay virtual inputs to the HD-SDI physical inputs.

When NewTek introduced the TriCaster 455 at NAB 2012, it took the place of the TriCaster 450 Extreme and became the latest addition to the assortment of TriCaster models designed to do what NewTek does best: bring professional-quality live video production and delivery to production crews with differently scaled needs, budgets, and production capabilities.

One of the more notable features of the TriCaster 455 (no longer called Extreme, but housing the same Extreme functionality) is that it's only the second TriCaster to incorporate NewTek's breakthrough ISOcorder technology. The first was the TriCaster 850 Extreme, which we reviewed in January (similarly renamed as the TriCaster 855). Beyond ISOcorder, though, how does the 455 compare with the 855 and the rest of the TriCaster family of video mixers?

Digital and Analog Inputs

On the TriCaster 855, both the audio and video input signal paths have analog and digital options, with the option of AES/EBU digital audio stereo pairs via XLR connectors. 

On the TriCaster 455, four internal video inputs using serial digital interface (SDI) can ingest SD or HD signals, up to 1080p/60. The audio inputs, however, are all analog, and only two inputs (one stereo pair) uses XLR connectors. The audio inputs consist of one stereo pair of balanced XLR inputs tied to video input 1 and three balanced pairs of unbalanced inputs, tied to video inputs 2, 3, and 4. In other words, one stereo pair for each internal video input.

This limited number of audio inputs means that most scenarios will rely on an outboard audio mixer. For studio production, this is a given, but it means that discrete audio recording is limited to eight tracks, and most likely to six tracks, as the two XLR inputs would receive a stereo mixdown signal from the outboard audio mixer to the TriCaster 455.

For field production, the one upside of the outboard mixer scenario is the smaller size of the 455: As it saves two rack units of space, the 455 should fit into a fly-away pack-along with a small outboard mixer-in the same space as the 855 but at about half the weight.

In lieu of using the four SDI digital inputs, you can use any combination of four composite, component, or Y/C analog inputs.

TriCaster 455 CS

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