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Review: Roland V-1HD Audio and Video Switcher

The Roland V-1HD is a versatile and portable entry-level video switcher that features 4 HDMI inputs and a 12 channel audio mixer that differentiates it from video-only switchers and many video switchers with integrated audio functionality.

Before I was a video producer, I was a professional musician. Back then, Roland had a well-earned reputation for providing music gear and I often used their audio equipment. In the early 2000s, Roland, via their old Edirol brand, launched the very successful V-4 SD video mixer that was popular with both the video producer and the video DJ crowd. I remember researching the V-4 and V-8 and being interested in their capabilities, albeit for an area of video services that my company wasn't providing at the time.

Fast forward to 2016. After being involved on many live video switch crews as a freelance camera operator, I was ready to make the leap to owning my own video switcher and producing my own live switches, as a technical director. I was very interested in the Roland V-1HD because it offered loads of features for an attractive price ($995). After booking a job where a product with the V-1HD's features would serve me well, I bought one.

Considering my previous life as a musician, I found it appropriate that my first video switch event was to film and live-switch a day-long performance with dancers and musicians. The shoot required two HD cameras, live-switched, with the program output projected to two screens and recorded to a external HD recorder. Unlike the ensemble cast I would be filming, I would be operating as a one-man band to film and live-switch this event, so my entire workflow had to be compact and easy for me to operate everything at the same time (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. My compact switching setup with the V-1HD. Click the image to see it at full size.

I/O

The Roland V-1HD supports up to 4 HDMI input sources. In addition to being able to switch HD video cameras, it also allows you to connect computers and anything else with a compliant HDMI signal (Figure 2, below). And yes, the V-1HD supports HDCP pass-through, so you can connect it to a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or other device that has HDCP protection. Just note that if an HDCP signal is a part of your workflow, you may not be able to record the program output on an external HD recorder.

Figure 2. Inputs and outputs on the V-1HD with a 2-camera setup. Click the image to see it at full size.

Supported video input formats include 720 50/60P and 1080 50/60 I/P. Interlaced signals are automatically converted to progressive, and you can choose from two methods of deinterlacing: bob and weave. To set the input resolution and frame rate you actually set the output frame rate and resolution first. This is because the V-1HD lacks any up/down/cross converters that would be required to switch mixed formats. If you're working with mixed formats that require conversion and/or scaling, Roland has an entire line of VC-1 converters for this purpose.

There are two HDMI outputs. The program output is always the program output, but the preview output is programmable. You can assign the preview output to display either the preview, a quad-view display, or a duplicate of the program output. As I mentioned before, the output format determines the accepted input resolution and frame rates.

Switching

Switching on the V-1HD is similar to using most other hardware M/E video switchers (it also supports PGM/PST mode). You push the input buttons on the active bus to immediately change to a different input using a straight cut. Selecting an input on the non-active bus changes the preview input.

To change between the preview and program, you move the T-bar to manually switch or the Transformer buttons to switch using a set transition duration.

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