Hands-On Review: LiveU Solo PRO


As a live producer, I'm always on the lookout for the latest and greatest tools to help me bring my visions to life. When it comes to livestreaming, the LiveU Solo Pro SDI/HDMI 4K Video/Audio Encoder is the reigning champ in the encoder world. LiveU technology is used by many news organizations around the world. The Solo portable encoder is routed in the pioneering technology that has made LiveU the go-to for live transmission. The new Solo PRO works great, in the field or in a studio setup where redundancy is key.

LiveU Solo Pro SDI/HDMI 4K Video/Audio Encoder

LiveU Solo Pro SDI/HDMI 4K Video/Audio Encoder

This unit can handle resolutions up to 4K, which means your audience will be treated to crystal-clear, ultra-high-definition visuals. With support for SDI and HDMI inputs, you've got plenty of flexibility when it comes to choosing your cameras and other video sources. H.265 streaming is also a huge plus—it has gotten me out of a pinch in low-bandwidth scenarios. LiveU also has a proprietary LRT protocol (which I’m sure is similar to SRT) but I haven’t played around with it much yet. However, if you’re out in the field and need to get signal back to a central location (think control room or studio), or if you just need to stream to the Web from a tricky location, LiveU is a great option to bring high quality to your broadcasts. Normally I would never advise this, but in an absolute emergency, you can use local Wi-Fi as a modem.

Weighing only 2 lb, this encoder is compact and comes with a custom pouch for storage that can also be used as a sling. It looks a little geeky, in my opinion, and I hate adding bags and such for on-the-go setups, but there are production people who will love it. There is a 1/4"-20 mount on the unit, so I would just attach it to your camera rig with that. While it appears that the battery will last for a while (it survived for the entire duration of testing I performed), I do wish it had standard V-mount batteries so I could change them on the go. I like that this unit uses USB-C to charge, so you could, in theory, add your own battery pack, but I wish this were more integrated from the start.

I have to say, the LiveU Solo PRO is a breeze to set up and use. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, and the encoder comes with a helpful quick start guide that will have you up and running in no time. Plus, with the LiveU Solo App, you can easily control your stream and monitor its status from your phone or tablet.

One of the standout features of the LiveU Solo PRO is its ability to bond multiple Internet connections, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 4G/5G mobile networks. This feature, known as "LTE bonding," allows you to stream from just about anywhere, even if you don't have access to a reliable wired Internet connection.

Reliability is key, and I prefer to have multiple paths to the Internet. I’m not a big fan of modems that use only one cell service—if you go into a dead zone, you’re toast. Additionally, if you’re using this for an event that has a very large audience, you’ll need to add hard-wired Internet to avoid congested cell traffic. Other than that, it’s a reasonable alternative to satellite.

If you're worried about data usage, the LiveU Solo PRO lets you set limits on your data usage, so you can avoid overage charges.

In addition to the physical LiveU Solo PRO Encoder, you also get access to the LiveU Solo App. Although I am fine with using the front face panel for most of the settings I need, the app is a nice option to have.

LiveU Solo Portal is a great, cloud-based way to route your video signals and stream to multiple destinations (like Facebook, Youtube, etc.) or to different control rooms you might have set up. There’s a reason nearly every news organization uses LiveU Solo Portal—its management software makes linking units to control-room decoders (sold separately) very straightforward, and its customer service has been helpful in the past.

With LiveU Solo Portal, you can set up and control multiple streams, monitor their status, and access detailed analytics on your viewer engagement. You can also use LiveU Solo Portal to schedule and automate your streams and to collaborate with other team members.

LiveU Solo Portal is a subscription-based service that is available in three different tiers: Solo, Pro, and Enterprise. The Solo plan is designed for individual content creators, while the Pro and Enterprise plans are geared toward larger organizations.

There are plenty of other video encoders on the market that are like the LiveU Solo PRO SDI/HDMI 4K Video/Audio Encoder. Some of the most popular options include the Teradek VidiU, Bond, and Wavel; Haivision Makito X4; and Mobile Viewpoint UltraLink. But what sets the LiveU Solo PRO apart from these other options? Here are a few key points to consider: The LiveU Solo PRO is one of the few encoders on the market that can handle 4K resolution, which means you can stream ultra-high-definition video to your audience.

The LiveU Solo PRO's ability to bond multiple Internet connections (including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 4G/5G mobile networks) makes it a great choice for content creators who need to stream from just about anywhere. The LiveU Solo PRO is also small and lightweight, and has a built-in battery, which makes it a great choice for content creators who need to stream on the go. And finally—this might be just in my experience—many clients I work with are already integrated into the LiveU ecosystem, so it just takes a phone call to link this up to most news organizations and NOC facilities.

So, what's the verdict? If you're in the market for a reliable, high-quality video encoder that can handle just about any livestreaming situation, the LiveU Solo PRO is definitely worth considering. It may not come cheap, but in my opinion, it's worth every penny to have peace of mind for high-quality broadcasts.

What are your thoughts on the LiveU Solo PRO? Let us know in the Comments section, below.


Does the unit cover CBRS frequencies?