Our friend MoRpH (whose work you’ve seen previously posted to archive.org and on the intro to our VMS video) was lucky enough to get his hands on an Edirol V8 – sequel to the venerable V4 – and followed it up by being awesome enough to send us this review.

Edirol V8 - topA few years back Roland rocked the VJ world by giving us the first ever VJ specific video mixer, the V4. Over time, other areas such as small AV companies and churches have adopted the wonderfully small and low cost (but full featured) unit as a workhorse in many environments. But taking one look at the unit you can see it was designed for VJs. Now with the release of the V8, Roland is back to up the ante again with a feature set that builds on the success of the V4, without bogging the unit down with hidden features or a large price tag. I was lucky enough to get some hands on time with the first one to touch down in Australia recently, much to my delight.

The most striking things that first hit you about the new V8 have to be the inclusion of 8 inputs (a god send on large multi source rigs) and the change to faders, instead of pots/knobs from the old V4. Clearly on this front Roland have been listening to their users, with the inputs now being BNC plugs on the rear of the unit with individual monitor outs and the faders being excellent quality. You can see that this is an evolution of the V4 design, which often caused problems with the top mounted RCA inputs and the Pots on the FX and White/Black fade needing to be replaced. A very well placed tweak to the White/Black output fade system means that – instead of having to keep the knob centered – we now get 100% signal on the fader all the way up and 100% white or black, selectable on a separate switch, with the fader all the way down.

Also on the fading front, we have individual bus fades, so at the press of a button your FX fader becomes a video level for the channel, which combined with the new Mix modes I’ll cover later makes this a perfect scratch video tool.

Edirol V8 - Back
Other new functionality that offers a lot of creative scope is the ability to now assign FX and fades to the transform buttons, allowing you to jump to an effect or a fade level etc. with a tap of the Transform button. I found this very useful for presetting FX as they can be saved into the preset knob, really starting to get to the creative side of live FX use. Another area for artistic exploration is in the realm of transitions, I’ve never been a huge fan of tacky transitions (although I once saw a set made with nothing but static & an MX1 doing transitions that stunned me silly), but with the new custom transitions, you can build your own multi stage transitions from the building blocks provided. This will definitely have you looking at new ways to “create” with your mixer instead of just the old switch/layer/fade.

People were pretty quick off the mark criticizing the original V4 for its lack of a proper additive mix mode like the MX-50, Roland saw to that with the new V8 and raised the bar with the inclusion of not only NAM (Non-Additive Mix) but FAM (Full Additive Mix). Basically, the difference between these two is that one mixes the signals together adding the luminance values of the pixels, the other actually selects which pixel to use based on brightness (or something similar). This description doesn’t really do it justice, as they are quite different effects. However, they are made even more useful by being able to use the BPM knob to adjust the fader crossover point on the fly, again a massive improvement over the older generation of mixers.

Including a (or multiple) VGA input was always going to be controversial, with most people then complaining of no HD out, or why not two? In this area Roland have struck a balance, by including one excellent quality scan converter with a manual switch between the two VGA inputs has kept the cost down (but the functionality up). I was splashing up the VGA input on some rather large plasma screens and was very happy with the quality, and unlike the old V5, the VGA input features the adjustablity of a good scan converter, with full H&V positioning and size, flicker, etc. to ensure you don’t end up with any horrible black borders: which is very handy when even some current generation laptops still don’t properly support full overscan. So at least you can ditch the external scanny.

Most of the other functionality is similar to the V4 with the addition of some new FX, etc. So the evolution continues without dropping any of the things we have come to rely on.

Edirol V8 - Side View

Build quality is – like the V4 – top notch, with a very solid t-bar, and still with the great ability to rotate it 90 degrees (I also presume that the X fader mods will also work in this unit). The metal body construction felt even more sturdy than the V4. One small trade off for all those extra inputs is a small increase in depth of the unit and possibly the need for more space behind it for all the BNC plugs, but with most people using them outside of a case (or using a case that allows custom foam) its still alot smaller and solider than anything else on the market.

An excellent next generation to a classic, definitely a great addition to any VJ’s kit; especially those looking to expand not only creatively, but input wise.

Thanks MoRpH! Some great news there, and it’s fantastic to get information gleaned from real-world use rather than just reading marketing materials. Has anyone else been able to spend some quality time with the V8 since release? Feeling that you might upgrade from your old trusty V4 to get those new blend modes? Hit us in the comments.

  • http://www.chromatouch.wordpress.com Leon Trimble

    cool.

  • http://www.myspace.com/decrepticon ilan

    A rather glowy review but misses the most important issue that is rather frustrating in that they did not try to include VGA output. On that count alone I see no reason to go V8. How about an alternate product called a V8-D?

  • MoRpH

    Simple, cause its an SD mixer that simply scan converts the VGA input to an PAL signal before it gets into the mixer part. NONE of the inside of the mixer modifies HD signals, so you could have a nice monitor out of the VGA input (which it does) or you could put in an expensice scaler to upscale the final output to HD (pricey, BIG & get a 440). Pain and simple its not an HD mixer its an SD mixer thats why it outputs SD.

    Now maybe you and Vade can go a complain on another article ;)

  • http://www.myspace.com/decrepticon ilan

    Whee! Yes! Vade and I love to complain. :) Now where is that line for the milk…

  • MoRpH

    LOL.

    Well its a great SD mixer with a scanny built into the back, pretty simple really. Posting in here for an HD mixer is like posting on a review about apples asking why can't you get some cheap oranges.

  • http://www.myspace.com/decrepticon ilan

    Not looking for an HD out solution. All this HD baaly hoo is eating peoples brains away. The majority of projectors out there for us mortals are mostly 640 x 480 or 800 x 600 which for all the mixing of say two laptops running modul8 (ermm… shameless self promotion here sorry) is plenty fo me. Just want to be able to do that with a 1 (just one!) normal VGA output. From there we can go into a TripleHead2go or whatever. We have contemplated trying to make one ourselves. No effects or anything. Just 2 VGA ins and 1 VGA out with a cross fader. So simple… or not… *sigh*

  • http://www.phononoia.at bilderbuchi

    one question that occured to me: would it have been _that_ much more expensive to include a second scanconverter, so ppl like ilan (and, i figure, many others) using 2 laptops/computers as sources could mix their signals with the V8? that would (iMo) greatly enhanced the value of the V8…

  • http://www.myspace.com/decrepticon ilan

    From what I understand this device does have 2 VGA inputs. So plugging in two laptops is there. It's the issue of no VGA output that busts my balls here. Or am I totally wrong about this? If so then bah! One more reason to NOT give Edirol money.

  • http://www.phononoia.at bilderbuchi

    yes, it has two inputs; no, you can't use both at the same time, you can only toggle between the two…

    @triplehead: for that (and the high bandwidth needed even for 3*800*600 or whatnot) i figure you would have to go HD all the way, pushing price off the charts, so that wouldn't have been a viable option anyways…

  • http://www.myspace.com/decrepticon ilan

    >yes, it has two inputs; no, you can't use both at >the same time, you can only toggle between the >two…

    Back to square 1. :(

    I am not sure how un-viable it is. There is a lot of hype surrounding HD. Usually that is a marketing ploy for companies to make a lot of money off of corporations/companies that spend a lot of money purchasing the next big thing. Looks good when bidding an expensive projects for car shows etc. This probably goes all the way up the ladder to the companies that make the components that make an HD mixer possible.

    Personally I don't mind waiting for that day to come when something simple like a V4 has a simple VGA output. It has no effect on the creative aspects of what (I don't) do (enough of because of spending time doing etc. like jabbing away on Create Digital Motion).

  • http://beatfix.com beatfix

    Regarding projector resolutions – you can get an XGA (1024 x 768) projector here in the states for under $400 these days. I would dispute the notion that the majority of projectors in use by VJs are SVGA (800 x 600) or lower. Of course, if you're only ever using your projector with SD output then you don't necessarily need higher resolution, but if you can afford a V-8 video mixer, you can most certainly afford an XGA projector as well. Personally, I sometimes use a mixer, and sometimes go straight out of my laptop.

    As for including a second scan converter, my guess is that it would have made the V-8 both more expensive and bulkier. Just not enough demand in the marketplace to justify it, though if enough people keep asking, maybe someone will do it eventually.

    Finally, I'm fairly sure that in order for the V-8 to be compatible with a device like the TripleHead2Go, you need more than VGA out – the V-8 would need to be able to output at widescreen resolution as well.

  • gabbo

    Hi, I just wanted to know what are the advantages of having BNC inputs rather than just using RCA inputs and outputs in the V8. Thank you

  • MoRpH

    BNC cables lock on.
    Most professional kit and long run cables are BNC.
    Sticking an adapter to BNC on the end of a RCA run (or leaving it on the BNC plug) is alot less bulky and easier on the socket than a BNC cable with an RCA adaptor on the end. The top mounted RCA plugs on the V4 were ok, although as they didn't lock if someone pulled a cable they could come out, but if you wanted to plug a BNC cable in you had to put a BNC-RCA adaptor on it and not only was that bulky it put alot of pressure on the input, same goes with those top mounted RCA outs, this way puts alot less stress on the plugs.

  • gabbo

    Thanks!

  • http://www.cinetrip.hu Laki

    BNC BNC BNC SVHS SVHS SVHS

    why only this

    I working on SMD led, this output quality not so good for me..

    hmmm maybe next modell.

    Cheers
    L

  • http://www.richarddesouza.com Richard De Souza

    Hey Morph,

    What were the faders like on the unit you tried? On mine the effects faders are very loose while the black/white fade has a nice movement to it.

  • Mikey

    I've tried long S-video cables(20metres or more) on the V-8 and the output video comes out black & white.What is the reason for this and what is the solution to it, if any?

  • sleegers

    I have bought a V8 recently and I noticed that when I use a laptop signal into the vga input the quality of the output is much worser than when I put this vga signal directly into the LCD projector. Is there something I do wrong or is this as much as I can get?

  • http://noisepages.com/members/jaymis/ Jaymis Loveday

    @Sleegers: That's because the V8's internal scan converter is converting your signal down to SD resolution (at best 720×572), whereas when you plug your laptop directly in to the projector, you'll be getting the projector's native resolution, which is probably considerably higher than that.

    It is indeed as much as you can get.