Finding the perfect switcher to suit your needs is often difficult. All the factors of size, inputs, outputs, power and weight all need to be balanced to find what we are looking for. The Roland V-1SDI is something that we have seen before in terms of size and weight but not in power and I/O. For us as a Livestream company, this balance is important. This review will focus on live streaming and how this switcher weighs up in a live environment. There are many other use cases for the V-1SDI, most commonly used as a main screen switcher. But due to its compact size and powerful layering we believe it can also be used to stream live events.
The V-1SDI is part of Rolands Pro video lineup of products. In many ways similar to its little sibling the V-1HD, but giving us access to 3G-SDI input and outputs. It is not quite as small as the Roland V-02 HD but has 3 SDI inputs, 1 of which can be switched for a HDMI, as well as one additional HDMI scaler input. This last input is very useful in most productions that require a powerpoint or some other format that is not standard. It also saves you needing a decimator.
On the back the Roland also comes with stereo RCA ins and outs, as well as dual SDI outputs for Program and Preview. As well as a HDMI multiview for a monitor. All of the video ins and outs support upto 1080p60, the HDMI scaler of course supporting many more formats.
On the sides we’ve got a microphone input and a headphone jack both in 3.5mm form, as well as an RS-232 port and a toggle for choosing the format of the switcher.
The top gives us a pretty basic and standard layout, similar to what you would find on a switching controller. We have dedicated program and preview buttons for each input. Selectable buttons for our transition types, a toggle T bar and various other buttons and knobs for cutting, accessing menus, controlling picture in picture and so on.
To note there is no controls for audio on the top of the switcher, all of which must be adjusted from the menu system. This is a little disappointing but also granted given the size of the switcher.
(The VR-1HD does come with audio controls on the top of the desk but does not include as many inputs as the V-1SDI).
The menu system is my main gripe with this switcher. Altohugh slightly understandable it cannot be ignored. There are a ridiculous amount of settings all laid out in a very boring text format. You use the T-bar for changing settings and the DSK and Auto button for traversing. While you are in the menu we also lose control over the rest of the desk. Meaning this switcher cannot be used for on the fly set up. If you find yourself in productions where you need to say adjust the size of your picture in picture, or change the scaler input setting, this switcher is not for you. Although you can still make hard switchers we do not have any other controls accessible in this time.
The compactness of the system is sort of removed by the need for 2 monitors on the system. The multi view does give a nice simple outlay but does not include a program and preview window. This means any layering, including picture in picture and chroma/luma keying do not show up on your multi view, only on the program and preview outputs. Again this is another reason why I would not suggest using this switcher for on the fly set up. I also feel like this again goes against the purpose of this switcher. It is small and compact, the people who will use this switcher are buying it because of these factors and are unlikely to also carry 3 monitors for the 3 outputs needed to use it properly.
If you do require heavy use of the layering then you will at least need 2 screens, if not if it is possible to get away with just the multi view. However it is quite a confusing layout for using as your main monitor and takes some getting used to.
The multi view also gives some indication of the audio levels for each of the inputs and the main output. However, the steps are far too large and are not labelled so makes it quite difficult to monitor properly. We would suggest monitoring from an external mixing desk, or if using a single microphone run into your camera over XLR and monitor it there.
Given these drawbacks, the Roland v1sdi still holds its weight with other much larger hardware switchers. Offering full low latency outputs and powerful layering. Although the audio controls are a bit lacking the v1sdi is still going to be viable for most setups.