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Roland VR-1HD Review: Great Choice for Churches

Video switchers often can be overwhelming, with too many options, but the VR-1HD puts to the forefront the most critical items.

The Roland VR-1HD A/V streaming mixer is a great streaming option for churches, allowing for professional grade video switching equipment, at consumer grade pricing. The VR-1HD has many well thought out options, giving a lot of control back to the user. It is done in a way that isn’t overwhelming to a novice user.  As a result, this makes the VR-1HD a great choice, when it is used by a team comprised of volunteers on a church tech team.

At first glance, the VR-1HD has a variety of well-labeled and well-constructed buttons and faders on the front panel.  This puts the simplest controls right at your fingertips. The backlit buttons eliminate the guesswork of what is, or isn’t, selected.

Worship Tech Director product review, Roland

A quick glance at the faders, will tell you exactly where your volume level is, for each camera. Video switchers often can be overwhelming, with too many options, but the VR-1HD puts to the forefront the most critical items.

Turning the Roland unit around, the layout of the video inputs and outputs has good spacing, so that you’re not fighting to squeeze things into places that they weren’t meant to be.

There are some things to note however; first is the video switcher’s USB connection is a USB 3.0 port, so if you are still using older USB 2 A-B cables, they won’t work. This makes sense, though, as when connecting to a computer, you want the fastest possible connection for your broadcast.  The USB connection allows you to view the VR-1HD as an input source with software like OBS, and makes streaming from the VR-1HD simple.

Another issue to take into account, is that there are only HDMI input connections for video, for those of you who might want flexibility there. Again, though, I don’t find this to be a huge deal, but if you have a camera feed that uses SDI connectors, for example, you’ll just need to convert it first. Overall, I see the HDMI ports as an advantage, where one can easily plug in a DSLR or other camera, without having to go through multiple conversions.

The left side of the VR-1HD has audio connections. It’s clear that Roland understands both the audio and video environment, and has given a huge amount of flexibility in the connections for the audio. First there are standard XLR inputs, which is great coming from your camera or even an audio console. Those XLR inputs are the newer style, which also allow for ¼-inch connector input. With this flexibility, there are no worries on what type of audio cable you may have in your current setup, and fiddling with direct boxes or anything else.

Roland takes things a step further and adds phantom power to the mic inputs on the VR-1HD. This allows you to truly get the best possible sound for your video.

If people are seeing, but not hearing your livestream clearly, it isn’t going to go far.

Lastly, Roland adds in some backwards compatibility, with RCA inputs and outputs. If you have an older camera, you may need to use these connections, and they haven’t left you behind. Not only for that, but it can allow for another audio device to be connected and add music or even instruments to be connected.

From my perspective, I found that the feature set on the VR-1HD is pretty rich, to where there are a few specific things that churches can take advantage of. The first of these is the ability for your audio to follow your video. This means if you have multiple cameras, as you switch camera views, the audio will follow to that camera. If you’re doing a special production with multiple cameras, and you have multiple people speaking (like during a Christmas program), you will get the audio from exactly where you want it, to where you don’t have to be dynamically adjusting your volume as different people speak. This simplifies your work as a church tech, all toward successfully making a high-quality production.

Another great feature included in the VR-1HD is the ability to display multiple sources at once in your feed. In our church, Hillside Community Church, we have some long-term missionaries overseas, and this can allow our streaming audience to see both the pastor in church, along with the missionaries at the same time, as they have a conversation.

Roland gives the options here to have this be a picture-in-picture display, a side-by-side view or a top and bottom view. This again allows you to put forth a high-quality production, without having a lot of extra equipment.

The documentation available for the product is very comprehensive as well, with the Roland website having the software downloadable for both Mac and PC, to allow for control and updating the switcher.  

Overall, the Roland VR-1HD is a great choice for churches that want to quickly and easily begin a high-quality video production ministry.  The design and feature set that is comprised in the VR-1HD gives exactly what you need, while not breaking your budget.

Learn more at https://proav.roland.com/global/products/vr-1hd/

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