New Edirol SD AND HD mixer and upscaler – comparison to Newtek Tricaster

Just found some info on the Edirol site about this new combination SD & HD/RGB mixer and upscaler. Some very interesting features for the VLOBLIVE or church install gig, including 4 channels of SD mixing, and upscaler and 4 channels of HD or RGB (VGA) mixing in one box.

Read more for more discussion on how this is EXACTLY the product that most of us could really use…(depending on price) and how it compares to the other hot product right now – the Newtek Tricaster.

This is a new combination SD mixer, upscaler and HD/VGA mixer from Edirol called the V440-HDYou can find more info from Edirol on their site and can download the user manual.

It has some unique features that make it look very interesting for VLOBLIVE or church install types.

  • separate 4 channel SD mixer (for mixing and recording IMAG or video sources) with separate outputs
  • upscaler to convert the SD mix to High Definition video OR to VGA for projection
  • additional 4 channel HD mixer that accepts either HD video (1080i or 720p) from an HDV camera or deck, or VGA
    graphics from a PC source.
  • multiple outputssuggestion that it supports 16:9 aspect ratio

Of course you could achieve most of this already using separate mixers, scalers or seamless switchers, but putting them all in one box under one control surface is a REALLY clever move by Edirol and avoids a lot of the system integration headaches that affect other solutions.
In particular acknowledging thatHD is something that even churches and VLOBLIVE gigs are starting to consider, given the drastic price reduction in prosumer HD gear and projectors.
How many churches have now bought Sony Z1 HDV cams to use for IMAG or filming in HDV?

I am guessing lots and lots.
This gives an option to use them live to their full potential – assuming of course your projectors can handle it!

There has been a lot of buzz in VLOBLIVE and church video install circles recently about the Newtek Tricaster
PC based video mixing ‘appliance’. It’s basically a PC with a powerful DSP card and some great software that turns it into a very effective live video production station with a huge number of features and facilities for lower end productions (and some high end ones too). All this combined with a killer price of around $5000 US.

At the time I wondered if all lower end video video products would go this way – PC based dedicated video mixing software, simply due to the comparative costs of developing dedicated hardware versus DSP and software development for the PC platform.

Well, it’s interesting to see Edirol answer that challenge with this new product.

From reading the literature it would seem that the V440-HD may have some advantages over the tricaster

  • 8 inputs vs 4 on the tricaster (3 x video and 1 x iVGA). Admittedly you can probably have multiple iVGA PCs set up and switch between them on the tricaster, but there’s something nice about having a HW button per input.
  • High Def video support – this is going to be more and more significant as prosumer HDV cameras and reasonably priced higher resolution projectors become available. UPDATE: the tricaster pro supports HD output, but not HD video input.
  • 16:9 aspect ratio support (to be confirmed) – this is a biggie, as especially for church installs there are
    strong benefits in 16:9 use.
  • separate outputs for the SD and HD mix (you can KIND of do this on a tricaster by sending ONLY the iVGA input directly to the VGA output, while still mixing inputs to the video outputs, but it’s not as straightforward)
  • full hardware implementation – power on and it works. This might be a big deal for some places who are worried about users having to learn software like the Tricaster. having said this I don’t think the Tricaster SW is THAT hard to learn.

The tricaster, however, has it’s own unique advantages which include:

  • iVGA screen capture via ethernet from
    other PCs
  • Digital disk recorder to record and
    playback clips instantly
  • keying and titling options
  • built in preview monitors
  • recording options
  • web streaming options ? etc. etc. – lots of cool stuff!

It’s impossible to make a true comparison without knowing the price of the V440-HD – it’s rumoured that the
street price will be around $10k US, which puts it at about $4k more than a Tricaster with control surface, which makes it an interesting battle.

The tricaster wins hands down on bang per buck, but if you need HD video and 16:9, then the Tricaster can’t deliver….YET! That’s the advantage of SW based platforms – new stuff is only the next release away!!

It’s very encouraging to see more and more video production hardware solutions aimed at the low and medium end of the market, but keeping up with the latest specs and standards.

Let me know what you think – leave a comment below.


3 Responses to New Edirol SD AND HD mixer and upscaler – comparison to Newtek Tricaster

  1. Joseph says:

    So whats the cheapest i can get this mixer for, now?

  2. Ian Beyer says:

    Interesting analysis. I’m trying to figure out a solution for our church’s internet campus broadcast. We currently use a regular switcher for our IMAG feed, which is what will usually end up on our internet stream, but we also need to be able to use other feeds for when we’re showing copyrighted video, as well as bumpers before and after the broadcast, as well as any studio work on either end of the broadcast. The tricaster looks attractive, but our video engineer here has a visceral aversion to it when mentioned. I think it would work well for our purposes, especially given that it streams to flash as well as some of the virtual set technology.

    Any idea if there’s special pricing for churches?

  3. drc says:

    Hi Ian,
    The Tricaster has moved on a lot since I first wrote this post. They have added new features, more professional connectors and also I’ve heard the stability is a lot improved.
    It does need someone with a ‘PC-centric’ approach to be totally comfortable with it. If you’re a ‘one knob per function’ kind of guy it’s not for you.
    Having said this it does some stuff (like instant playback, live titling, live PPT etc.) that are very hard to replicate without a lot of money.

    Re: special pricing, it’s always worth asking if any educational discounts apply to churches.


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