The GO:LIVECAST promises to transform your smartphone from a craptacular lo-fi hassle into an all-in-one multitasking studio.
Webcasting, livestreaming, livecasting, broadcasting, recording, podcasting … let’s drop all the buzzwords and put this into one category. You know the drill: if you’re a one-person show, or you’re on the go, there’s a lot to juggle. And going mobile means doing exactly that – juggling.
The smartphone should be a great solution, until you realize it isn’t. Sound is the main issue, in that it’s a chore to get past the internal mic – even worse if you need to mix, say, voiceover and an instrument. And then the other tasks you have to solve tend to multiply from there.
The funny thing is, these problems now span a big group of people and use cases, blurring together “casual” and pro. Let’s not ever use the word prosumer again – this is really about mobility and autonomy. Smartphones have given us the promise of recording and broadcasting in all places. And people are doing it, regardless. The question now is, will we get tools so that the creation process isn’t frustrating and the results don’t look like crap.
Roland is one of the companies most aggressively vying to fill that use case, and crossing traditional audio production with new consumer uses. (See also: Zoom/Samson.)
GO:LIVECAST does aim to solve a lot of your problems, and it looks like it might pull it off.
Roland’s GO:MIXER is already a solid solution for mobile audio mixing, and if it’s just audio you’re dealing with in your smartphone recording, it might already be enough. But GO:LIVECAST also lets you easily integrate multiple audio feeds with your stream, and has an ambitious list of other functionality:
Add in audio inputs. No more relying on the internal mic on your phone. You get multiple ways of merging your phone’s high-quality imagery with (finally) higher-quality sound:
- Built-in mic. (Roland claims this captures “high-quality” sound, so we’ll have to compare their hardware with popular phones to find out.)
- External XLR input so you can use a proper microphone.
- Stereo line input (for your synth or instrument or an external mixer, etc.)
Plus, there are actual knobs for adjusting levels, not to mention a reverb option for if you want to sing.
Monitor what you’re doing. GO:LIVECAST has the headphone jack that your phone now probably doesn’t, and the ability to monitor the other audio inputs, too.
Trigger titles and media. Radio has long had “soundboards” for triggering audio buttons or sound effects or IDs. This is that for not just sound, but also titles, photos, and videos, since you need this capability for AV generally. It appears the push-buttons on the device integrate with Roland’s app.
There’s some pre-built content (ewww) or you can make your own libraries (oooh).
Multi-camera support, with phones! You can use wifi to add a second camera, not only with the app, but even – didn’t expect this part – with the hardware.
An app to solve all those problems logging in, starting, and monitoring. Anyone who’s tried to do a live stream knows this agony, especially as one person. There’s dealing with logins for streaming services. Then you have people commenting and want to respond. It’s a major pain bouncing between different interfaces.
Roland says they solve all of this with their app. The app logs you into popular services. (That’s YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch plus other “major” options – have to find out which.) And it lets you handle the camera and other features alongside checking comments in-app.
There’s in-camera mirroring so you can see yourself, and automatic switching between portrait and landscape modes (another major pain). There’s even a skin filter (took me a second to work out what they mean – I think as in the skin on your face, though some of these features are controversial elsewhere, so we need to see how they implement that.)
I/O: Runs on USB power, connects to Android and iOS devices, stereo minijack line in, XLR and 1/4″ TRS phone input with phantom power.
I’m a little concerned about those buttons and having them locked into Roland’s app. And it’s annoying that Roland is still on microUSB and not USB-C (though they have an adapter cable in the box). But the functionality looks useful, especially if paired with the existing GO:MIXER.
It all looks great – will it deliver? Roland definitely has the right idea. I’m keen to test this to see if it delivers on its promises.
And actually, far from being experienced pros, I think as musicians we’re even more desperately in need of help. Music making doesn’t necessarily prepare you for video production tasks. It makes you more demanding of sound quality, but you also have to deal with, you know, trying to play music and be inspired at the same time, leaving little bandwidth for streaming headaches.
Roland’s GO:MIXER was great, which gives me hope. And the basic features here really do look useful. Plus Roland in general – via their Edirol brand – have been on top of these kinds of production needs at the mid- and high-end, too.
I’m sure there are other streaming tools around CES this week, too. Stay tuned.
Check Roland’s product page, meanwhile: