Transcript: Roland Quad Capture Video Review

Posted to YouTube May 6th, 2014

Hello and welcome back friends!

David here again from Basic Home Recording Studio, and no matter where you are, no matter how you got here - thank you for checking out the channel.

Today I'll be showing you the Quad Capture USB Audio Interface from Roland, and this is one you will not want to miss.

Starting off the unit is very compact and is quite similar, in appearance at least, to the Duo Capture EX that I reviewed previously, but make no mistake this one is different.

Inside the Box

We'll get to that soon enough right now in the box you have:

  • a 6-foot USB cable
  • a hard copy of the owner's guide
  • a CD with software drivers and a digital copy of that user's guide and finally
  • Cakewalk Sonar X1 LE recording software.

Remember that Sonar is supported for Windows operating systems only, so Mac users be aware of that as you make your purchasing decisions.

That is what's in the box let's now have a closer look at the unit in detail.

First Impression (Front Side)

The first thing I noticed about this interface is that it transforms into a jet!

Just kidding, but like a transformer this unit is more than meets the eye.

Starting off as usual we have 2 mic preamps.  They are combo jacks that can accept either a quarter-inch instrument plug or a XLR connector.  

Additionally input 1 can accept a guitar or bass directly by selecting the hi-z, which stands for high impedance, input switch, which is on the back panel.

And just a quick side note while it's on my mind about the hi-z, or the direct, input feature: this simulates what an external hardware piece called a direct box or a direct injection (DI) box.

And what does that do?

When you plug into an amp there is a circuit that prepares the output of your guitar before it goes to the input of the amplifier.

And that circuit is essentially what is in a direct box, DI box, and it is what is built into these interfaces.

So why use a DI box at all, or why use a hi-z input at all?

This is for the same reason and is that if you're going to get the best performance out of your electronics you want to give it the types of signals that it's expecting.

Okay, so just remember that it's all in the name.

Direct Box - DI - Direct Injection - Hi-Z - High Impedance... these are all the same thing.

Of course why would they give it one name when they can get it five names.

Now moving on we have gain control for input channel 1 and 2 which they are calling sense 1 and 2.

As I just this you can see LED the indicate the gain setting.

The peak indicator light here illuminates when your level is set too high, and just below it this button enables the auto-sense function, which I'll talk more about in detail in a moment, but just to give you a clue...

This.  Is.  Awesome!!!

Next the USB indicator light, if that is lit up you are hooked up and ready to go.

Mono button: mono as many of you know is Spanish for monkey so clearly that is what this is a reference to, but it's not just a reference to our friends in the treetops.

It also allows you to connect a guitar or bass into input 1 and if you don't have anything in input 2 channel, set this to Mono so that this lights up just like that, and you'll hear your instrument in both the left and right channels of your monitors or your headphones.

I have tried to explain this feature about seven different ways on seven different units, and I'll tell you that I'm really not happy with any of them hopefully that makes sense, but if you only remember one thing: Mono = Monkey.

The mix knob, that is what this one is.  It has a little notch here in the middle and I really like that because that tells you when you're at the 50/50 point.

When you go all the way over to one side you will get the processed output from your computer.

All the way to the other side here and you get the direct input from your input channels.

Some people might want to have this setup to the right for a direct monitoring setup, or if you are doing a lot of real-time effects, you have a really fast computer, latency is not a problem, you can move that to the left and get a lot of your processed effects.

The "Phones" jack here is for your quarter-inch input on your headphones, and the output level above it controls both the headphones and the main left and right outputs, which are located on the back side.

Just like with the Duo Capture EX, I wish they would have given us control of these independently, a little annoying, but not a huge deal.

First Impression (Back Side)

Turning it around here starting on the left.  USB connector delivers power to the unit and is also the data link to your computer.

MIDI in and out ports: a lot of modern MIDI equipment will have a USB input, but older stuff will have the classic MIDI in out.

Coax in and out is for your digital interface into your recording interface.

Main left and right quarter-inch outputs for your studio monitors.

These, as you can see the diagram above, are balanced, or TRS which stands for Tip Ring Sleeve, you can see the three words right there, Tip and Ring are your two signals and the Sleeve is your ground.

Speaking of ground, we have a ground lift button so normally you can keep this on normal, I guess is what that is, if you experience any hissing or buzzing noises you may be able to eliminate them by setting this to the lift position.

Ground loop can be a messy thing to diagnose and generally is caused by having more than one common ground for all your electronics.

What does that mean?

If you have a surge protector on one outlet and then you have some other stuff plugged into another outlet and then you connect those two things together you're not guaranteed to go to the same ground and you could induce what's called a ground loop.

So that's why it's a good idea to connect everything into one power strip to prevent this from happening.

Most studio equipment draws very little current so this is a safe thing to do with your gear it's not like daisy chaining a bunch of Christmas lights or other appliances, like vacuum cleaners & dryers, anything like that is going to obviously draw a lot of current.

But this stuff is pretty tame so that's one way you can prevent the ground loop in the first place.

Phantom power is serious business, and I take it seriously because I use condenser mics and this provides the power needed to use those in your studio.

And I'm not going to make a phantom power joke, but if I was... I would do it right now.

This final switch toggles input impedance to input 1 only and, like I mentioned earlier, this allows you to connect an electric guitar directly into the interface without a direct box or DI box when on the hi-z setting.

Software Demo

This is the Quad Capture Control Panel, and there's a lot of great things on here I wanted to touch on.

The biggest one though is this auto-sense feature.  

This is really the primary reason that I wanted to check this unit out at all.

I had previously looked at the Duo Capture EX and was not exactly blown away by it, so this is pretty similar to that in a lot of ways, and on paper this Quad Capture unit advertises this auto-sense will automatically set your gain.

Uh huh...

The question is does it really work?

After playing around with it for the better part of the weekend I can confidently say...

Hell Yes!

Check this out.  Over here we have a digital controls that mimic those on the front sense 1 and 2 physically on the front of the unit.

In fact I can physically move them, and I need to be careful because I'm using this to record so I don't want to turn that down to low, but it mirrors what I do on the actual unit itself.

And I really also like this built-in compressor another another layer that helps protect against clipping your signal.

All these controls here are common to any hardware or software compressor that you'll find and you can link your two inputs using this button here so that if I change this on one it will change on the other, so it's really nice.

But the real gem of this is the auto-sense.

Here's how it works.

Click this button, or you can press the one on the front panel that I show you earlier, and then play the loudest that you intend to during your recording and let it do the rest.

And that ought to do it.

You can either let it go for 4 seconds, or hit the button on the front and you can see that it sets your levels automatically.

A very, very cool feature... I Wanted to show this to you guys now let's wrap it up.

The Verdict

The Quad Capture UA-55 Audio Interface from Roland is super easy to set up and has great sounding quality components, but for me it's the special feature set that really sets this one apart.

The LED indicators for the sense controls are a small detail but I think they just look really, really cool.

Of course that doesn't result in better sound the performances but sometimes you just gotta be good looking just for its own sake.

I also like the control panel interface that allows you to see exactly where your levels are set as well as interface with the built-in compressor.

On the downside, just like the Duo Capture I'm not a fan of having controls you need access to located on the back.

Once you connect this up and have all your cables routed just how you like and it's on your desk you're not going to want to spin it around to hit these buttons.  Believe me.

I'm also not a fan of having one output control for both headphones and the main outputs on the back.

This really should be two separate controls or have some way to toggle between, and I can understand why they did this because honestly you're most likely going to be either using your headphones by themselves or your monitors and not both together.

So I understand but just because I understand doesn't mean I like it... and I just don't like it.

But all of that aside, if you're looking for a reason to pull the trigger on this unit look no further than the auto-sense feature.

This thing works exactly as advertised and I can't say enough about how great this is.

Nothing will burn out a beginner faster than finally getting set up, you finally have all your equipment, you're excited, and your songs are bad.

And by that I mean that your levels are set incorrectly and you're clipping or having a lot of noise, not that your songs are bad.

That's up to you... not much that this interface or anything else can do about that.

Anyway using the Auto-Sense and digital compressor from the control panel together makes it virtually impossible to mess this up, and if you have 8 channels maybe you leave them set for each instrument.

A few years ago I had an 8-channel interface and I had one preamp set for my dynamic mic and another for my condenser mic and my guitar, bass, piano, on and on.

And I'd get them dialed in where I wanted and I just leave them alone, but if you're only using two channels, like this interface has, and you'll be switching inputs often then this auto-sense feature is beautiful because you can hook up whatever you're using that day and BOOM!

You are ready to go.  No fussing with it, no wondering if you did it right.  You hit the button.  You play loud, and 4 seconds later you're done.

At $270 this one is a little bit more expensive than the other interfaces I reviewed, but listen you get what you pay for and this one is worth every single sent.

You may be asking is it really worth one-and-a-half of say a hundred fifty dollar unit?


I'd recommend this thing to you anyone, it's one of the best units and one of the best values you can find.

And that will do it for the Quad Capture review please subscribe to the channel, check out the website and join me on Facebook.

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My name is David and thank you for watching.

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