Roland’s V-02HD Micro Switcher

In Audio, Expendables Product Reviewsby Kristine Lutero

By: Holland Davis

For years, I have been a big fan of Roland’s innovative approach to designing products that solve problems for churches wanting to serve their congregations. One of their newest offerings, the Roland V-02HD Multi-Format HD Video Mixer, is a game changer – especially for portable churches like the one that I pastor in San Clemente.

Size, Construction and Layout

The Roland V-02HD is about the size of a person’s hand. Its compact size makes it an easy fit into equipment cases and backpacks, but don’t let the size fool you. This little device is encased in an attractive metal casing that is built to last. It feels sturdy and it weighs in at 1.85 lbs.The layout of the device is simple. The top row is focused on video effects and the bottom row is a simple and effective video switcher, with two large buttons and a left right slider. The layout is intuitive, with a menu easy to access and simple enough for an untrained volunteer to learn, with enough features to interest an expert user.

Setting up the Device

The Roland V-02HD is plug and play and works right out of the box, with no drivers needed. I handed the device to our volunteers with no instructions and they were up and running in a matter of minutes. However, there are some things we did learn. The V-02HD has a USB port that we thought could be used to link the device to a computer for broadcast, but it’s really only for backing up the unit’s settings or updating the system program. Beginning with Ver.1.1 you can connect an iPad to the USB to use the iPad Remote Control Utility download. There are two HDMI outputs, a Program Out and a Preview Out. We originally thought you could go directly from the Program Out into the HDMI input on the computer for broadcast. HDMI ports on a computer are output ports not input ports. You still need an external HDMI capture device. We used a Magewell USB Capture HDMI Video Capture Dongle that was completely plug and play and worked seamlessly.

There are many different ways you can set up the Roland V-02HD. The V-02HD is a two-camera switcher. For basic livestreaming, we input two Sony Handycams using the Roland’s V-02HD Micro Switcher HDMI outputs on the cameras and going directly into the two HDMI Inputs on the V-02HD. We used the Preview HDMI Out to go into a monitor and the Program HDMI Out to go to the Magewell USB Capture HDMI Video Capture Dongle into the USB input for the computer. If you have an HDMI router, you can split the Program Out to go into a recording device like the Blackmagic Design Video Assist 4K, which will let you monitor the actual broadcast and record the produced program to a SD Card.

We use Youtube’s free platform for non-profits, and record all our programs directly. You can also send the program out to a projector or directly to the screens. If you add a HDMI splitter to an input, you can take the HDMI output from the computer and have a clean lyric screen (without having to focus a camera on it). Then, when you want to go back to a second camera, you just select the camera. The simplicity of the Roland V-02HD gives you the flexibility to set the device up in a way that fits your situation.

Incredible Features

Because Roland was one of the first companies to focus on the house of worship market, they really know and are committed to features that are practical bread and butter solutions. One feature that I love is the CTL/EXP jack, which allows a foot control for video switching. In a portable church environment, the cameraman is the producer. Therefore, a foot switch is extremely helpful.

The device can also be mounted on a standard tripod, and it offers a built-in menu of simple video effects which allow you to choose between a mix or blend effect when switching cameras, or a wipe effect that simply moves the video image across to replace the previous camera.

Its Picture in Picture feature lets you broadcast the lyrics on a picture inset and see the worship team performing live at the same time, and in the menu selections you can adjust the position and size of the inset screen.

There are also 14 different visual effects you can add to your production in real time, including monochrome and colorizing the video, plus there is a built-in Chroma Key for those who use blue or green screens. You can also adjust the color balance of the cameras, which is necessary when using two different brands of cameras, which can be easily accessed through the menu settings.

One more feature that I have to mention is the built in scaler. Remember when you had to figure that part out? No longer. It’s done for you. That alone makes the V-02HD worth it.

The only weak link is the audio input section. I personally am not a fan of 1/8” inputs. My experience is that there tends to be noise issues when going from XLR to 1/8”. However, I will say that the audio section and the options are incredible. The Roland V-02HD has a built-in delay, high pass filter, noise gate, compressor, limiter, multi-band EQ and a few built in presets for the typical problems faced in interview segments, outdoor segments or when dealing with ambient sound, so can absolutely tailor audio to your needs. We initially had noise issues, but some trouble shooting revealed we had the input signal too high which caused a hiss. Also, the audio signal is extracted from the HDMI signal coming from a camera, and the device processes audio at 24bps/48k which is DVD-quality. All of this easily adjusted through the device settings.

What about the quality of the video?

The Roland V-02HD can output from 480p to Full HD. A total of 18 different qualities of output. Most programs broadcast at 1080i. A few (like the Disney Channel) broadcast at 720p. If you’re broadcasting at Full HD, which is 1920x1080p, you are producing an equal or better quality video program than most networks. Bottom line: I would recommend the Roland V-02HD. It ups the game for churches that want to get into live streaming but don’t have 50K to spend on video equipment. You can pick up the Roland V-02HD Multi-format HD Video Mixer for $ 595.