Roland VR 1HD AV Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12: Reviewed & Compared

Choosing the right mixer when there are so many on the market these days isn't easy.
Especially when many of them are built for one specific need but being marketed as an all-rounder 🙄
But not to worry, I've got ya!
I have taken a deep dive into two beasts in the audio-mixing game and gone head to head with them: Roland VR 1HD AV vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12.

We're looking at things like:
  • Sound Quality: This is the heart of the matter, right? How each mixer holds up in delivering crisp, clear audio. Are we talking about a mixer that makes your tracks sound like they're live from the garage, or are we hitting studio-quality sound?
  • Ease of Use: Nobody wants to spend hours figuring out which button does what. I’ll break down the user interface of both Roland VR 1HD AV and Zoom LiveTrak L 12. Are they plug-and-play easy, or will you need a PhD in mixology to use them?
  • Features and Functions: Ie. What's under the hood? Let's find out what sets them apart.
  • Durability: No matter your reason for buying, you want something that's gonna last, not fall apart after a few light sessions.
  • Price Point: Yep, money talks. When it comes to prices, we need to see which mixer gives us more bang for our buck. Is the higher price of one justified by its features, or is the other a hidden gem at a bargain price?
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: What's the word on the street? Sometimes real-world use tells a different story than what the sales page says.

Roland VR-1HD AV Streaming Mixer

I tested the Roland Video Switcher with audio capabilities for about a month, and here's my verdict: it's a compact powerhouse perfect for those tight on space but needing a robust video and audio solution.

Set-Up and Input Flexibility

Setting it up was a bit of a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it, the switcher's functionality was impressive. I connected a DSLR, a camcorder, and my laptop as input devices, alongside a 32GB storage device for still images and wave files. The lack of internal storage is a minor drawback, as all images and audio are stored on the external drive. Another minor hiccup is the need for images to be in Windows Bitmap File (.bmp) format, which requires a bit of extra work in conversion.

File Compatibility and Storage Tips

I encountered issues with a 128GB stick, but resizing BMP files to smaller than the maximum 1920 x 1200 pixels helped. Also, converting MP3 or MP4 files to wave format using Audacity or iTunes was necessary – a bit outdated, but manageable. It's a bit odd to still be using wave files in today's digital age, but overall, it didn't hamper the experience too much.

Streaming Capabilities and Support

A notable downside is that Roland doesn't include the USB A to B 3.0 cable needed for streaming, so be prepared to buy one separately. The setup is excellent for enhancing Zoom meetings or similar applications. However, don't expect to master it immediately – it requires some practice before using it for critical projects.

Reliability in Various Settings

The switcher has proven itself in different environments. From church services to educational settings, it's been reliable and easy to use. The build quality is solid, and the ease of streaming video and sound is commendable. However, there have been some issues post-software update, with the mixer crashing during live streams, which is something to watch out for.

Customer Support and Overall Satisfaction

When I faced connectivity issues with my iMac, product support was helpful in resolving them. Despite a few initial hurdles, I'm enjoying the switcher a lot. The ability to upload custom sound files and music adds a personal touch to the output.

Overall, this Roland Video Switcher is a great tool for anyone needing a compact, yet feature-rich, video and audio mixing solution. It's versatile, though it comes with a few quirks that require some workaround. But once you're past the learning curve, it opens up a world of creative possibilities.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: A Multifaceted Digital Mixer

Practical Design, Impressive Functionality

After spending three months with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, I've found it to be an invaluable tool for a musician, offering versatility in numerous situations. Its compact size belies its powerful capabilities, making it ideal for various settings from practice to live performances.

Rehearsal and Practice Sessions Elevated

Integrated Metronome and Recording Ease

The L-12 excels in practice environments. Its ability to connect multiple devices, such as a computer via USB for playing along with Spotify, is highly convenient. The built-in metronome and easy recording to SD cards are perfect for pinpointing and working on challenging sections. The recording feature is intuitive, simply arm the desired tracks, and you're set.

Rehearsal Powerhouse

Individual Monitoring and Built-in Effects

In low-volume rehearsals, particularly where everyone uses headphones, the L-12 is a game-changer. With five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, it offers personalized monitoring for each musician. The built-in effects, like reverb for vocals, add to the mix's quality.

Writing and Recording Made Simple

Instant Recording and DAW Integration

Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is effortless with the L-12. Its standalone recording capability, combined with the metronome, allows for quickly laying down initial ideas and building upon them. The seamless integration with DAWs for further editing is a significant advantage.

Live Performances and Mixing

Flexible Output Options for Shows

Though more suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can handle a full show, especially when using in-ear monitors. It offers up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and has both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers. Recording live shows for later mixing is a breeze.

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals

Effective for Diverse Rehearsal Setups

The current pandemic has made music rehearsals challenging, but the L-12 adapts well to different scenarios. Whether it's playing in separate rooms or outdoors, it allows for effective mic setups and clear monitoring of all instruments. The ability to quickly transfer recordings to a DAW like Logic Pro X is highly convenient.

Areas for Improvement

Minor Setbacks, But Still a Top Choice

Despite its many strengths, the L-12 has a few areas that could be improved:
1. The compression always writes to the recording and isn’t of the highest quality.
2. The preamps are adequate but not exceptional.
3. The file naming system, while functional, can be cumbersome to navigate.
4. The lack of motorized faders means manual adjustments are necessary when switching mixes.
5. There's no option for individual stereo or mono pairs for monitor outputs in live situations.
Despite these minor issues, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 stands out for its versatility and comprehensive features at its price point.

Final Verdict

A Robust, Versatile Mixer for Various Needs

Concluding, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is an excellent choice for musicians and sound engineers looking for a versatile, all-in-one mixer and recorder. Its strengths in various environments, from studio to stage, make it a valuable asset. While it has some limitations, its advantages far outweigh them, making it a highly recommended tool in the music and recording industry.

Head 2 Head: Roland VR 1HD AV or Zoom LiveTrak L 12

Zooming in on the Roland VR-1HD AV

Well, well, well… The Roland VR-1HD AV is one compact unit that packs quite a punch. This little wonder can double up as a video switcher and audio mixer, all while being small enough to fit into your backpack. Setting it up might make you wish you'd paid more attention in your high-school IT class, but once you've maneuvered through that learning curve, you'll be rewarded with a functional and versatile unit. It's like the Rubik's Cube of live streaming gear – a bit of a head-scratcher to start with but immensely satisfying once you crack it.

The VR-1HD AV allows multiple devices to be connected simultaneously – we're talking DSLRs, camcorders, laptops – and even handles storage devices for still images and wave files. But be prepared for some old school vibes as this bad boy requires images in .bmp format and prefers wave files over MP3s or MP4s. A little peculiar? Maybe. A deal-breaker? Not at all.

Live Streaming with the Roland VR-1HD AV

When it comes to streaming capabilities, the Roland VR-1HD AV will have you reaching for your wallet… literally. That's because they've skipped out on including the USB A to B 3.0 cable necessary for streaming! Once equipped with the right cable though, this nifty device enhances Zoom meetings or similar applications beautifully.

This digital mixer has proven itself reliable in various environments – from church services to classrooms – but it does take some practice before using it for crucial projects. And while there have been reports of the mixer crashing mid-stream post-software update (Yikes!), overall reliability is commendable.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Multi-talented Audio Interface

Now let's switch gears and talk about the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. This multi-track recorder has ‘talent' written all over it. It's the little black dress of the audio world – versatile, stylish, and suitable for any occasion.

Rehearse, Record, Repeat with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Whether you're in a practice session or a live performance, this audio interface has got your back. It allows multiple device connections and even features a built-in metronome for those rhythm-challenged bandmates (You know who you are!).

The L-12 is particularly brilliant during low-volume rehearsals where everyone uses headphones. It offers five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, meaning each musician can have their personalized monitoring. Now that's what I call music to my ears!

Live Sound Console Meets HD Video Recorder

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 isn't just an exceptional live sound console; it also doubles as an HD video recorder. Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is as easy as pie with this device. And when it comes to live performances? Well, let's just say you can handle a full show with this powerhouse and still have room for an encore.

The Verdict: Roland VR-1HD AV vs Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Alright folks, it's crunch time! While both the Roland VR 1HD AV and Zoom LiveTrak L 12 bring a lot to the table as video switchers and audio mixers respectively, there can only be one winner here.

So without further ado… *drum roll*… The winner is the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. This audio interface pulls ahead with its versatility, offering musicians and sound engineers a comprehensive all-in-one mixer and recorder. Despite some minor setbacks, it's a powerful tool that can adapt to various environments, from studio to stage.

So there you have it! While the Roland VR-1HD AV is an impressive piece of equipment, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 takes home the gold for being an all-around powerhouse in the music and recording industry.