Last Updated on January 1, 2023 by Daniel Osakwe
Roland VR-4HD High-Definition AV Mixer Review
- Packed with features
- User-friendly menu system
- Takes time to setup
- Lots of functions packed into a small device
Roland has really hit the mark with the new VR-4HD. It’s an exceptionally versatile mixer and can be used in sound reinforcement, live events, and even recording studios. The features are extensive and extremely user-friendly. The only problem is that some of its features require a newer model of computer to operate, but those who already have computers will love this mixer.
Roland VR-4HD: Audio
- Contains 18-channel digital audio mixer
- HDMI Inputs
- USB Ports
- Easy to control
One feature that sets the VR-4HD apart from many other compact switchers is the entire audio console built within the control surface, which is obvious just by glancing at the console. Although the majority of video switchers can handle audio, relatively few do so with a control surface. The audio control is typically hidden in menu settings or a drop-down menu, and if you find it, the amount of control you have over it is relatively small.
The VR-4HD contains an 18-channel digital audio mixer with XLR, TRS, and RCA connections as well as integrated audio from HDMI inputs and the USB port for Skype audio, which is uncommon for video switchers that just handle program audio. Because only one operator is needed to create a distinct audio mix for broadcast, the console is excellent for streaming. Additionally, it has a USB 3 connector for direct streaming to or recording to your computer’s hard drive.
Roland VR-4HD: Video
- HDMI Connector
- Supports HDCP
The VR-4HD supports 720p, 1080i, and 1080p video resolutions via its three HDMI connections. The fourth HDMI input has a scaler that works with analog RGB and component inputs, as well as television and computer resolutions. Because it doesn’t need an external converter, this is excellent for older equipment. Additionally, it supports HDCP, ensuring that Blu-ray disc player content works properly with an HDMI workflow.
The menu system on this switcher is one of my favorite features. When choosing menu-based control for inputs, the menu displays the console’s I/O diagram and emphasizes the area you are currently working on. This makes certain that modifications made to a menu item’s input really affect the right physical input. The switcher also has an integrated multi-viewer that doubles as a touchscreen. The multi-viewer can also be distributed to an external HDMI display because it has an HDMI connector.
Compositing and effects
Because they often ask for a mixed effect (M/E), effects like downstream keying (DSK), picture-in-picture (PinP), split, and quad split are not typically found on smaller switchers. The VR-4HD can, however, composite backdrop, DSK, and PinP for a three-layer composite in a news-style manner. The end product is very similar to the weatherman’s TV station shot.
Corporate production standards like the split and quad split are used when dozens of people and a PowerPoint presentation need to be visible at once. Chroma (blue/green) or luminance (white/black) keying can be done on the DSK itself. A variety of video effects are also available, including colorizing, posterizing, negative, and monochrome, to mention a few.
Some manufacturers’ firmware upgrade procedures ought to be viewed as a breach of the Geneva Convention. Rarely is the process simple? To check out some new software capabilities, I had to update the Roland VR-4HD review unit’s firmware to version 1.5 as one of the first things I had to do for this specific evaluation.
The procedure for updating the firmware wasn’t difficult or terribly straightforward. Fortunately, the procedure was thoroughly described, and the updated firmware increased the mixer’s functionality by enabling control over still image capture, sending still photos from a computer, and adding a size value of 1/3 to the PinP control.
Reason to buy the Roland VR-4HD Switcher
The VR-4HD’s capacity to be remotely operated was one of its more surprising capabilities. You may fully operate the console with the VR-4HD RCS app from a computer, touch screen, or any external control device using RS-232C.
Additionally, it has a D-Sub nine-pin Tally/GPIO connector for RS-232C control and tally signal transmission. Larger production switchers are often the only ones with these features. They are on this switcher, which demonstrates Roland’s dedication to excellence and value.
Reason to avoid the Roland VR-4HD Switcher
The VR-4HD has a lot of functions packed into a relatively compact area yet being a powerful piece of equipment. This indicates that the control, while intuitive, is somewhat underwhelming. For example, it would be difficult to set up many of the controls for compositing and VFX rapidly and accurately on the fly.
Additionally, without transition control, the split effects can be a touch abrupt when applied. Similar to DSK, the PinP effect can only fade on or cut; it cannot wipe. The DSK effect also lacks control; while it is feasible to pull a clear chroma or luma key, setting it up takes time.
Gain, color, hue, and saturation are the only possibilities for keying management. This is excellent for defining the key’s color, but there are no sophisticated controls for correcting the key source’s color. The choosing process is quite “hit or miss” because it is based on a number range rather than a color picker. The keyed text thus occasionally has jagged edges.
To ensure text seems fluid, Roland advises using bold typefaces or a matte backdrop in the lower third of the screen. In other words, some of the more sophisticated keying functions present in Roland’s higher-end switchers are not present in the switcher. But Roland deserves praise for pushing the envelope and packing a powerful feature set into such a compact switcher.
The VR-4HD is an excellent value all around. For a compact, entry-level switcher, it is strong. There are several features on this product that, at a suggested retail price of $2,795, I would not have anticipated. Even while the Keyer doesn’t quite offer all the controls we were seeking, with enough setup time, those obstacles can be removed. The new Roland VR-4HD switcher should definitely be on the shortlist of switchers for churches wishing to expand their streaming presence.