Today I had the privilege of Roland stopping by with their new V-40HD video mixer. First off, this is a very cool and powerful box, with some awesome features I’ll get to in a little bit. Because I’ve already spoken at length between various posts about Blackmagic Design’s video switcher offerings, I figure the best way to discuss this is comparatively. There’s a video below where the Roland rep has the chance to briefly go over and demo some of the features I like best, but for now let’s jump into the pros and cons of this over the Blackmagic Design Television Studio.
First off, because the Roland V-40HD has physical controls, it only makes sense to compare this to the BMD Television Studio with Broadcast Panel price-wise. The Blackmagic Design TVS runs $945 and the Broadcast Panel runs $4,700 roughly (as of this writing). The V-40HD comes in at $4,495. Neither solution offers on board monitors, so that’s a wash.
The TVS offers 6 inputs (HDMI, SDI), and the Roland offers 4. However, this is one area the Roland excels: each channel has 3 possible input types: HDMI, Composite and VGA, and these inputs can be hot-swapped, meaning you basically have 12 inputs with 4 channels. Unlike the Blackmagic Design TVS, the Roland DOES include scaling, so your inputs don’t have to be the exact same size/resolution. This is a double-edged sword however, as a smaller resolution (480p vs. 1080p, for example) will look noticeably smaller. Roland is releasing an update to correct this, but I’m writing as it stands currently.
Both devices output a multi-view signal, the Blackmagic and Roland using 6 sources and 4, respectively. The Blackmagic does show you preview and program along the top, but the Roland gives you the option to make those preview sources full-frame, which comes in handy if you need to check focus, etc. Here comes a noticeable downside, or “catch” of the Roland: When viewing sources on the multiview out, each of the four windows drops frames. If you have two sources, each will drop one frame, if you have 3, each will drop two, etc. When you put a source as full-view, it will be normal, and it’s normal on the prog out as well, but this can be somewhat distracting at first when monitoring your various sources. Roland’s explanation on this made sense: to hit the price point, they had to decide between dropping frames, dropping quality, or requiring all sources be the exact same signal (Blackmagic Design), and Roland’s engineers chose this format.
Both systems have on-board keyers, and with both fairly limited, I’m calling that even. The V-40HD allows for multiple picture-in-picture controls, putting it far ahead of the Blackmagic offering in mixer effects: The name ATEM 1 M/E (Blackmagic’s step up from the TVS) means 1 Mixer Effect. If you’ll be using a lot of picture-in-picture or other effects, I recommend seriously considering the Roland. Additionally, the V-40HD offers the ability to duplicate sources. Let me explain: Say input 2 is using it’s HDMI source to bring in some talking heads. You can use input 4 (for example) to duplicate input 2. Why would you want to do this? I’m glad you asked: The V-40HD gives you control over position and zoom of each channel, so if you mirror input 2 in input 4, you can use input 4 to create a “close-up” of one of the talking heads, creating the illusion of a multi-camera shoot. It’s not a feature everyone will need or use, but it’s pretty cool.
The last point I’d like to address is DHCP: the V-40HD is compatible for DHCP, while many other mixers simply strip the DHCP. It works like this: You plug in a BluRay player via HDMI to your V-40HD, and it will recognize it as a source and be able to use it. The catch is, whatever it outputs to must also be DHCP compatible. This means you can’t livestream BluRays, etc. But you could route that player to a projector in-house for the room to see just fine. This covers your professional productions from a legal standpoint if including such things.
Overall, I still love Blackmagic’s mixers. Very inexpensive, versatile, and they offer SDI in, something the Roland doesn’t (though you can do a quick SDI to HDMI conversion). Where I personally see the Roland V-40HD shining is in corporate gigs, church productions, things like that. You get your physical controls, scan conversion and multiple effects all in one place, for a decent price. Blackmagic Design offers a cheaper solution out of the box, but requires more components put with it to truly give you a quality broadcast. It also doesn’t face the same limitations of the Roland, and vice versa.
In the end, I believe the two options are just solutions made for different productions. Feel free to watch the V-40HD in the video below, and as always, utilize the comments section on this page to ask any questions, as I’m sure there’s plenty of things I failed to mention already.