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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.

Effects and Filters

There are 4 types of mix effects and 30 types of wipe effects to chose from, most of which I will never use as I rely on traditional cross-dissolves and cuts for most of my work.

On the effects side, the V-1HD features 3 compositing effects: Chroma/Luminance Key, Picture-in-Picture, and Split. I wish the PiP effect provided more sizing options than the two available sizes, but in most cases, one of the two sizes will suffice. I do like that I can at least move the smaller window anywhere in the frame.

The Split effect allows you to composite two inputs in a split configuration--side-by-side or one on top of the other--with several configuration controls.

There are also four filter effects to choose from: Silhouette, Color Pass, Negative, and Findedge. These effects are great for more creative types of live work and, along with the BPM Sync function, are sure to please Roland’s video DJ market (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Accessing effects in the remote app.

Accessing the Controls

There are two ways to access the controls for the V-1HD switcher: using the hardware controls on the V-1HD and using Roland’s free remote app, available on Windows, Mac, and iPad (Figure 4, below). The remote app connects to the V-1HD via USB-B and show the full details of all of the controls on the hardware switcher, including which effects and transitions you have selected, full audio VU meters and level controls for each input and for the output.

Figure 4. The V-1HD remote app for Mac, main window. Click the image to see it at full size.

It would be nice if the connection could also be over wireless or Bluetooth instead of USB, so you could take the controls with you on a laptop or iPad if you needed to move away from the hardware for any reason or to allow secondary controls to another operator.

Memory

The V-1HD will save presets for audio, effect, and output settings to one of 8 buttons on the hardware console, that are also available on the remote app. This is great when you have several different show configurations you want to set and recall quickly.

You can also back up all of your settings to the remote app if you want to do a factory restore or upgrade, which can be useful when you are experimenting with settings and especially for the rental market.

Audio Mixing

Considering Roland’s lineage with professional audio equipment, it is no surprise that their video switcher has professional audio features that really differentiate it from video-only switchers and even many video switchers with integrated audio functionality. As a former professional musician, I appreciate the importance of professional audio controls and was very happy with the audio features that Roland incorporated in the V-1HD, especially considering it is one of the least expensive professional video switchers on the market.

The V-1HD can mix up to 12 channels of audio via six stereo channel inputs. There are four channels of embedded HDMI audio, one mic-level mini-jack input, and one line-level RCA input. As for outputs, you can send the program audio out via the HDMI outputs, mini-jack headphone output, and RCA outputs. The mini-jack mic-level input and headphone outputs both have convenient level control knobs on the hardware controller.

You can control the professional audio controls via a convenient menu that appears on your preview output or via the app. On each input level you can control EQ, reverb send, and delay. The mini-jack mic-level input also adds compressor, gate, and highpass filter. On the master output level you can also control audio using EQ and reverb, in addition to the noise suppressor and enhancer.

When working with the HDMI audio inputs you can either mix each input level separately or set the V-1HD to audio-follows-video, which switches to the corresponding embedded HDMI audio automatically when you change to that camera angle. You can also assign the mini-jack and RCA inputs to follow any of the four HDMI inputs as well.

If you need to provide an audio feed for a PA system, you can use the RCA outputs, but generally you would need to first send this signal to a small sound board. I would have preferred if the V-1HD had 1/4" outputs instead, as I would be able to easily convert that to XLR as both of those are more common professional audio connections.

Although at first glance it might not appear that you can control the audio levels from the hardware switcher itself, you can, but there are serious limitations. You access the audio channels by pressing the audio button, the corresponding input. The video input buttons double as audio channel buttons on the A bus for the HDMI inputs and the RCA, mini-jack, audio follows video on/off, and master controls on the B bus. Then you use the T-bar to control the level.

Unfortunately, the T-bar is not motorized, and does not recall the current audio levels your audio was last set at. In practice, this means that if your T-bar is at the top, when you select an audio input, your levels will jump to the maximum level the moment you start to make an adjustment on the T-bar. If your T-bar is at the bottom, your levels will be turned right down. As the V-1HD automatically recalls the last audio channel you select when you hit the audio button, you almost always run into this limitation. For this reason, I recommend using the Remote App for all audio level controls.

MIDI and Beyond

I am very pleased with my Roland V-1HD. Since my first live video switch live event, I have used the V-1HD in two additional different configurations on two additional shoots. Owning a versatile and portable entry-level video switcher with so many features saves me hassle, time, and cost compared to renting a video switcher when the need arises.

Since purchasing the Roland V-1HD Audio and Video Switcher, I have taken my setup one step further by adding an external MIDI controller attached to my tripod (Figure 5, below). Because HDMI and USB cables don’t lock as securely as the bayonet connector on an HD-SDI cable does and the cables all connect to the all-in-one switcher and controller hardware, I wanted to find a way to separate the cables from the controller. An external MIDI controller gives me a degree of separation, while still being able live-switch.

Figure 5. MIDI controller attached to the tripod. Click the image to see it at full size.

There are a few features that I would like to see in future updates. I would like to have the ability to edit the names of the six inputs using the remote app. This would make it easier to remember which video devices are connected on the individual channels. I would also like to have the T-bar Fader remember the last audio level setting, similar to how it remembers where the effect transitions are. If and when the newer version comes out, I would hope to see a motorized T-bar Fader to remember all audio and video positions, dual-slot SD cards for recording the program, built-in Ethernet for live streaming, and Wi-Fi for the wireless remote app and wireless MIDI.

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