Edirol CG-8 Review


In December, in Holland the month of presents, I got the luxury to test EDIROL's new product: the CG-8 visual synthesizer.

With all the good memories I had of the EDIROL V4 I couldn't wait to unpack my present. When I did so I found out the CG-8 was a monster of a machine. My desk was directly filled with knobs and lights. Thats what a VJ likes!! I was sure, the CG-8 is a real showoff.
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The technical part

Where you normally expect a synthesizer to produce audio, the CG-8 produces video.

These video images are generated by using files on the hard disk (40gig). You can upload JPEG, BMP (512 x 384) and PNG-files (512 x 256) with the USB-reader. When uploaded the files will be automatically scaled to the right resolution. So no worries about that. The CG-8 also has graphical effects which don't use uploaded pictures. These are mainly particle effects (which look a little like the visualizer you get with Windows Media Player or iTunes). The output screen is build out of a background (photo) and a front (stamp) which both can be controlled separately.

The CG-8 uses the uploaded images as a texture in the premade effects (60 in total). You can control an effect whenever its active. There are all sorts of inbuild controllers to do this. There are turningknobs (color, speed, fade-effects and movement X, Y and Z-axle), a X-Y pad, a scratchpad, 16 triggerpads, automatic modulation and a D-beam. Theres also the possibility to use a footcontoller and/or a midi/V-link controller (keyboard, V-Synth, V-Drums). Enough to play with.

For the people who aren't familiar with the use of controllers: - The X,Y and Z-axle can be used to move objects left/right, up/down and zoom. This to, for example, move a camera or objects in a 3D environment.
- The X-Y pad is almost the same, except its used by touching it with your finger. - The scratchpad is a turningwheel which sends information by turning it. In the presets this is mostly linked turn around objects.
- The 16 triggerpads are just used as shortcuts for photos and stamps. By holding you can switch banks. - The modulation controller sends, when on, a signal in the chosen pattern. You can put it on linear, sinus or step, but also on the sound input (which send a signal straight from the inbuilt microphone input). The speed of the modulation can be changed with the 'Rate'-button. - The D-Beam is something special. Its made out of two infrared beams (a left and a right) which send signals when interrupted. The signal is linked with the distance from the infrared source to your hand. In most of the presets its used to change the color of your movie, but it can be linked with any parameter you want (for example: zoom).

In most of the effects the controllers are already linked to parameters. There are also already premade combinations of pictures and effects (patches). So its a real plug and play thing. Of course it can be altered whenever you want.

Next to the controllers you'll also find some other functions on the deskboard.
- Its possible to loop your use of controllers for a while. You can do this by recording it with the 'Grab Motion'-function. It can be played in a loop again any time.
- You can alter the soundinput (which you can use with the modulation controller). On this part of the deskboard theres an inbuilt microphone, a line-in/microphone switch and two knobs to alter the signal. You can amplify the input (if the volume of the audio is too weak) and you can make use of the higher or lower frequencies (base or snare for example). The leds show you if you have an audio signal or not and if this signal is overrated (peak).
- On the end we have the well known 'auto switch' for when you have to take a break. This option lets you automatically switch between effects in the pre set speed.
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This all will deliver you a VGA (640 x 480) or composite/S-Video (PAL of NTSC) signal. So if you check the technical part the CG-8 can be best compared with an all-in-one VJ set up: a computer with inbuild hardware, VJ software, presets, scenes, effects and controllers.

Usage

The CG-8 is really easy to work with, at least for the technical guy (DJ, VJ or LJ) which is already in-to the scene.

It takes a while to find out what kind of effects the CG-8 has and what parameters can be controlled. But this is done within a day. In the same day you'll also find out what kind of files fits best with the effects. For example photos with a nice border of fade to black, loopable textures and logo's with a transparent background seems to give the best results. This restriction is also directly the biggest disadvantage of the CG-8. The VJ is and stays always the creative guy who tries to keep on improving his visuals by using new ideas. The VJ wont be able to with the CG-8. Whatever you do, your sets will keep on looking the same.

Positive of all this is of course the plug and play usage of the CG-8. All you have to do is to get some pictures, upload it and you're ready to go.

Positive:
- Easy to use
- Compact and light
- Strong and stable
- Real time graphics and good control
- Good overview

Negative:
- No video input
- Style restrictions
- Resolution is pretty low for a real time graphics machine.
- Scratchpad sends out a step signal.


Conclusion

Whenever it get affordable its interesting for the beginning VJ which wants to have fast results (easy to work with). Also it can be used for clubs who want logo's and photos on small screens (low resolution). For the creative VJ: better skip this machine. I give it a 3 (out of 5), mostly because its pretty difficult to make a machine like this.


Emiel Ament
emielament@hotmail.com