So the first bit of good news this week is that I’ve shaken off the dreaded lurgy (horrah!) and can now focus on other much more interesting musical type stuff.
As mentioned at the end of my previous article, the lovely peeps at Roland asked if they could send me a very nifty bit of gear to have a good old play around with. I know, a tough decision to make – and, after a couple of milliseconds deliberating I decided to say yes to their mighty fine offer.
The unit arrived last week, and here it is… a Roland VR3 audio/video mixer.
Looks pretty cool doesn’t it?
It measures just 12″ long x 8″ wide and as you can see from my photo the left hand side is for audio and the right hand side deals with video. As some of you will already know, I’ve ventured into the world of streaming gigs online and am ever so slightly hooked. My current set up is pretty simple, just a laptop and a JVC HD camcorder.
I have to say I wish the VR3 had come along a lot sooner, as boy does it make life soooooo much easier having both audio and video in just one unit.It’s going to be perfect for my online gigs as there’s a USB out from the VR3 all ready to stream gigs.You don’t need any drivers, it’s literally just plug-in and play.
At the moment camera lady Lisa and I have just been using the mic on the camcorder to provide the audio, which has been ok, but in situations where we’re either in a large room or there’s a crowd of people, it’s not really been ideal.
The audio section of the VR3 has 4 XLR/Jack inputs that have independent gain, EQ & volume controls. So now I’ll be able to have my acoustic guitar and vocal mic all plugged into the VR3. This means that rather than just hoping the camcorder mic will pick things up, we’ve now got independent control over the audio and can mix each channel to sound however we want. Sa-weet.
If we want to include a bit of ambient room sound the VR3 has 2 built-in mics which have a separate volume control. So you can add a bit of audience sound into the mix or if the person operating the console wants to speak, they can do so (although I’m sure Lisa wont be keen on that idea).
As well as streaming online gigs you can also use the USB output from the VR3 to record gigs or live videos onto your computer to then upload to Youtube at a later stage. There’s also 2 audio outputs (both jack and RCA) if you’d like want the sound to go to an external source such as a PA or another recording device.
As you can see along with the jack/RCA connections there’s all sorts of ins and outs on the back, plus there’s 2 MIDI connections on the video side – not too sure what they’re for yet as my knowledge of MIDI is rather basic, but will let you know as soon as I’ve sussed it out.
So, onto the video side of things.
I think the coolest feature of the VR3 is that you can plug-in up to 4 camcorders (or 3 camcorders and a laptop) and switch between them via a touch screen panel on the front of the unit.
The laptop can be used for adding text and/or images. Another cool feature is the Key Level dial which enables you to take out a background (either black/white or blue/green) and add in a background picture from the laptop.
There’s also a Transition feature so you can choose how to flip between your different camcorders – this can either be a straight switch or you can have a mix or wipe effect.
There are tons more features for both audio and video and I really can’t wait to get stuck into it!
The main thing I really love about the VR3 is that it really is so user-friendly and extremely easy to use. I’m much more up on the audio side of things than the video, but the VR3 is super easy to navigate and you get use to the features very quickly. I love the fact that we now have a very portable unit that can deal with both audio and video at the same time. It’s going to make streaming gigs so much easier and we’ll have much more scope over what we can do both with the sound and visuals.
It’s selling at around £1,400, which when you see all it can do it’s actually pretty good value for money. I also had a look around and checked out similar units from other companies and I couldn’t find any that offered all that the VR3 can do for the same price bracket.
I also really like that it’s balanced nicely between audio and video. Quite often these units seem to be geared much more towards video, but the VR3 has everything I need.
I really can’t wait to stream an online gig for you guys using the VR3 – it’s going to be fun!