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Almost Live with Streaming Media: Roland Systems VR-50HD All-in-One A/V Mixer

Shawn Lam and Roland's Doug Schouten discuss key features of Roland's VR-50HD an audio/video mixer/switcher with a multi-viewer touchscreen and integrated USB 3.0 output for live streaming.


Shawn: In terms of I/O as inputs on the video side, you’ve got the HD-SDI, you've got the HDMI. What about some legacy support for analog inputs?

Doug: It's good you mention that. Yes. We actually have support for composite and RGB component inputs as well. (Click on the image below to see the image of the real panel at full size.)

Shawn: Is there scaling of the input on each?

Doug: Yes, scaling on every input. It's a really nice feature, especially if you're transitioning to higher-definition cameras, you don't have to worry about having those converter boxes and making sure everything’s in the same format. This will actually do that for you, and all you have to do is tell it what format you want on your output.

Shawn: So, in addition to the composite and the component, what about VGA inputs?

Doug: We also have the RGB component VGA-type input. So for older computers and even for component-type inputs, you can have two of those input sources as well.

Shawn: I know that's definitely one of the challenges a lot of event producers face: They're given a VGA input from computers that are using it to push PowerPoint, or something like that. Sometimes it's direct from the computer, other times it’s through another video switcher that’s just for the presentation side of it.

Doug: Right.

Shawn: And VGA is really challenging.

Doug: Yes. Especially in the corporate world, you can get hit with all different kinds of formats, all different kinds of computers and sources, and this takes care of pretty much anything you can hit it with.

Shawn: In terms of resolution, is this 1080p60?

Doug: Yes. 1080p, 60 frames per second. And we're using a USB 3.0 screen, which will allow you to do up to 1080p at 60-frame to your computer.


Shawn: On the audio side, how many inputs are there? And can we see the levels? What are some of the other audio features?

Doug: The first four faders are for your XLR TRS, your mic-level inputs. You have Phantom power on those so you can use your condenser microphones. And then you have four additional stereo inputs on the back, and you can come in at line level with TRS or RCA. The other thing you can do is pick off your audio from HDMI or SDI sources. So if you had audio running along your HDMI, you can actually mix that source on the surface of the VR-50HD as well.

Shawn: In terms of audio monitoring, can we hear what's coming out of this from the switcher, or do we have to do that downstream somewhere?

Doug: We have a wide variety of audio outputs as well. There are onboard headphone jacks on the front. You have two sizes--quarter-inch and eighth-inch--and they're both active, so you can have a friend mix with you. You also have XLR outputs. There are actually two buses for audio. You can have this be your production switcher so you can have a stereo feed going to a PA in-house. And then you can create a separate mix and send it out in your USB.

What's kind of cool about that is maybe you have an announcer that’s addressing your online audience or you can add ambient mics to give people a sense of the space because that's something that you miss in an online stream a lot of times, the feeling that you're right there. It's a little dry. So you can add those mics specifically to your auxiliary, which will go out your USB.

Shawn: I know sometimes when I'm in the field and doing a live mix, doing the video and the audio at the same time, some of my different outputs need different audio levels for a variety of reasons. Can I have multiple audio-level outputs, maybe the USB or some of the aux outputs?

Doug: Absolutely. Right on board here you actually have a USB audio level, and you have separate control over that. You have your main level, which controls your main mix. And then within the system, you also have an aux master level as well. So you can control the actual volume of each of your mixes going out.

On the surface of the VR50 HD you have a nice big touchscreen right off the bat. You can see all of your four input sources right there. And you can see your preview source and your program setup. And then you can see a still that could be imported from a USB key.

Some of the other features are for the audio section. Each one has a little setup button. So when I hit a setup button, I get, I bring up the screen from my aux through kind of an audio suite for for each channel. That gives me a 3-band EQ per channel. And on my mic-level ones I have a gain and compressor. Even if I go into an edit button, I get even more parameter control as well. Plugging back out of that, I can also set up where my aux send is, so I have aux send level on. It’s as simple as touching and then turning my volume up to see exactly how much I want to add to my mix. It's very easy to use.

I also have reverb built in so I can adjust that as well. Then you have your Phantom power and all those operations. So that's an overview of the audio. If you go to your main audio out, you can patch which audio bus you want to send to which audio outputs. So for instance, let’s say I have my SDI program I'm going to come off my main. I could come off my aux. And a common example for a USB would be to use an aux here. So that's how you patch each one of those. And because there’s separate level control for USB, you can create a separate mix and you’ll always have control over the overall level of the USB.

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